Sometimes just a few small changes can make a world of difference when it comes to your baby's sleep. Yes, every child is different, but that doesn't mean that every child can't get a good night's sleep. Many families that I talk to struggle with the same main issues which are as follows:
1. Multiple night wakings past 6 months old.
2. Too short or too few naps.
3. Waking too early for the day.
4. Needing a sleep association to fall asleep.
Below are five tips for getting a better night's sleep for your baby and your entire family.
Sleep Begets Sleep
As strange as it seems, the more sleep babies get, the better they tend to sleep. Babies and children up to four years old need A LOT of sleep. The better rested a child is during the day, the better he generally will sleep at night. If there are no limits and routines set during the day, it is very difficult to have them at night. Creating a consistent and reliable schedule for your child is very important.
Children and babies need an early bedtime. For some children, this piece is the key to suddenly getting them to sleep through the night. This also tends to help with bedtime battles and early rising. It's a win win because your baby will be asleep before he is overtired and you will get some time with your spouse. When baby's are put down too late and when they are overtired, they tend to night wake more and not sleep as soundly and can wake up very early for the day.
Bedtime Routines are Important
Yes! Bedtime routines are essential. Children thrive on consistency and routine. Your routine should be basically the same every night, no more than 20 minutes and can include stories, songs, snuggling etc. Following a similar pattern every night will help prepare your baby for sleep. Turn your white noise on 30 minutes before you start your routine. This tells your child's body sleep time is coming.
Sleep crutches are what a baby/child relies on in order to fall asleep. Examples would be nursing to sleep, bottle feeding to sleep, being rocked to sleep, held to sleep, patted to sleep, sleeping in the swing or stroller etc. For toddlers some sleep crutches can be when a parent lays with the child, holds the child's hand, let's the child twirl mom's hair etc. Sleep crutches become a problem because your child needs YOU in order to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night. Babies need lots of love and snuggles and this is SO important. It can become a problem when you are rocking or nursing your child all night long and you have decided that it's not working for either of you any more. The key is to have your baby or child fall asleep the same way that they will need to soothe themselves in the middle of the night. Putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake is a great start.
Consistency is Paramount
No matter what method you use or how you decide to go about it, consistency is always key! Your baby needs to know what to expect from you and how you are going to respond to her. Sticking with your plan is the key to your success. You also have a much better chance of being successful if you are using a method that you are comfortable with and is in line with your parenting style. This makes it less likely that you will find yourself wanting to quit. Be patient. With time and consistency, results should come!
Spring and summer vacations are upon us. I have been asked many times about vacations as parents are excited yet nervous at the same time. We work so hard to get our babies and children into wonderful sleep routines that the thought of upsetting the apple cart is just something we can't bare to think about. There are some things that you can do so that baby stays rested and your family vacation is one to remember.
First, do your best to plan your travel time when it fits well into your child's schedule. If you have to travel during nap time, that is fine, but try to be settled in a place where your child can sleep for the night around your child's normal bedtime. This is important to get your vacation started on a positive note. You don't want to start your trip with an overtired child. Bring your child's bedtime routine with you. You want to keep things as familiar as possible for your child. Bring your white noise, story, lullabies, lovey, pacifier etc. Expect that there will be a transition period as your child is in a new place.
While you are away, it's okay to stray from routine, but know that if your child misses a nap, then you should plan for an early bedtime that night. What you want to avoid is disregarding the total schedule because your child will quickly become overtired. If your child is out to dinner late and goes to bed late, make sure he gets a nap in the next day at a good time and a good bedtime the next day. It is also good to plan to be at a place where your child can lie down for nap, if possible. Also, do not plan more than one activity a day. Being on vacation is very stimulating to children because everything is new and exciting. Please keep that in mind as you are making your travel itinerary.
Also, avoid going back to any previous sleep crutches that your child had in the past. For example, if your child used to co-sleep and you have since broken that habit at home, you do not want to co-sleep on your vacation. Instead use a pack n play or travel crib for your child.
Make sure that your child stays well hydrated and fed. It's sometimes hard to provide a good quality diet on vacation. Plan to bring fruit and healthy snacks to keep in your child's bag, so your little one can have fruit at every meal and will be less likely to become constipated.
Lastly, enjoy your vacation. You will probably pay for your vacation when you get home, but if you go right back to your consistent routine at home, things will get back to normal fairly quickly. You may have a transition period at home for the number of days that you were gone, so if you travel for three days, it may take your child three days to return to your normal routine once you get back home. Be sure not to bring your vacation habits home with you though. Return to your normal routine immediately as soon as you arrive home. Have a safe and fun trip this summer!
So many have asked me why I became a sleep coach, so I decided to talk about that today. I like many of you, one day became a mother. Life as I knew it completely changed. This little person who I absolutely adored became my number one priority and my life began to center around her. I always wondered why the most important job in the world...becoming a parent...never required a license, an exam or even came with a manual on how to get started. These little people are born and we are on our way home 48 hours later. Most families have no idea what they are in for. Sleep deprivation by far was the number one hardest adjustment for me as a mom. I remember being so tired that I felt nauseous. I wasn't sure when this "phase" was going to end or how to get past it. I started doing research. I checked out books. I read them. I scoured the internet. I selected an approach and tried it out. I had great success. I started sharing with my friends what I had learned and they in turn were trying with their children. Years went by. I had two more children. I became certified to teach swimming lessons and I was teaching for Florida Virtual School. Kim West (The Sleep Lady) offered the training program and I thought how perfect for me. I knew I would love it and it would be so natural for me. I jumped on the opportunity. I do indeed love it and it is very natural for me! I love how I have the gift to turn lives around for children and families. I love the reward and satisfaction I feel when my families are successful. I love helping others. I just love it period...all of it. My job is to not only help families come up with a plan that they believe in, but also support them through the ups and downs of sleep coaching. I am fulfilled. I am SO happy. Anybody that knows me will tell you this is where I am meant to be and I'm looking forward to serving many families in Florida and the surrounding areas in the future. So, there you go. That is why I became a sleep coach!
It's the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are a time we treasure with our families. Many good memories are made and great times spent with our loved ones. Of course our little ones are in on the excitement as well. Holidays can make for many overtired babies and children. All of those missed naps, short naps and late bedtimes really take a toll on our littlest family members. There are some things that you can do to ensure that the little people in your life get in on the holiday action, but stay well rested at the same time. Here are my suggestions.
1. Make sure your children are well rested prior to the big events. Make sure they are starting the holidays with a full sleep tank. Plan to be home as much as possible and keep them on routine in the days prior.
2. Try not to overbook your family. Young children have limits. Chances are if you are tired from all of the activity, your baby is exhausted! Every year I say, "What was I thinking?" You don't have to say "yes" to every invite.
3. Go to events around your baby's schedule, as much as possible. For example, if it is an 3:00 event and you know you will be out past baby's bedtime, let your baby get a good afternoon nap in and go to the event a little late. We are always a bit late every year on Christmas Eve because I make sure my children get that afternoon nap in prior, anticipating a later than normal bedtime.
4. After the holidays plan to be home for a few days to get your baby caught up on rest and back on track. Babies and children need some downtime to rest after the festivities.
5. Enjoy yourself! If your baby misses a sleep period, it's okay. Babies who are on good routines will bounce back relatively quickly as long as you give your baby ample time to do so after the events are over. Some babies do better with this than others, depending on their temperament and how solid their normal routine is.
6. If you have to choose between a missed morning nap and a missed afternoon nap, opt for the missed afternoon nap, but be sure that your baby gets to bed at an early time. The morning nap usually sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Please enjoy the holidays as much as possible. Baby's sleep can be worked on once you return home and the holiday events are over! Happy Holidays to you and yours! May your wishes of a good night's sleep come true!