Sleep Over The Holidays

Sleep Over The Holidays

Sleep Over The Holidays

The Importance Of Maintaining Your Child’s Schedule

The holidays are here! Many new parents have well-founded fears that their babies – who have recently gotten on a sleep schedule – might regress during this season. The travel, the excitement, the constant attention… The holidays are the single easiest way to throw all of your hard work out with the wrapping paper. But I’m happy to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! With some strategic planning and an iron will, you can keep that carefully orchestrated routine running nearly the way you did at home. There are three major impediments to your little one’s sleep over the holidays… Travel, family and friends and room sharing. We’ll tackle all of these tough topics here.

Holiday Travel

If you’re thinking about starting sleep training but you’ve got to take a trip in a few weeks, my suggestion is to put that off until you get back. (Although if you’re looking for an excuse to cancel your trip, not wanting to throw your baby’s sleep schedule out of whack is a pretty good one. Just sayin’!) If you’ve already started, don’t worry. Taking a trip typically won’t help your little one sleep better, but if you can maintain some semblance of normalcy throughout, you and baby should be ready to get back to business as soon as you get home.

If you’re driving to your destination, a clever trick is to schedule your driving time over baby’s naps. Car naps aren’t ideal, but compared to no naps at all, they’re the lesser of two evils by a mile. So if at all possible, get on the road right around the time that baby would normally be taking their first nap. If you’re really committed, you might even look for some parks, tourist attractions or other outdoor activities that are on your route where you can stop when baby gets up. It’s a great chance to get out into the sunshine and fresh air, which will make the next nap that much easier.

If you’re flying, well, my heart goes out to you. It’s no secret that planes and babies just don’t seem to like each other. So I suggest (and this is the only time you’ll hear me say this) that you do whatever gets you through the flight with a minimum amount of fuss. Hand out snacks, let them play with your phone, and otherwise let them do anything they want to do. The truth is, if they don’t want to sleep on the plane, they’re simply not going to. Don’t try to force it, which will only end up frustrating you both. (And, most likely, the passengers around you.)

Get The Travel Guide

Family & friends

You arrived! And hopefully you’ve managed to maintain some sanity. Now, I’m sorry to say, comes the hard part. Because in the car or on the plane, everybody is on your side, right? Keeping baby quiet and relaxed and asleep, is exactly what everyone is rooting for. But now that you’re at Grandma and Grandpa’s place, it’s the opposite. Everyone wants baby awake so they can see them, play with them, take a thousand pictures, and get them ridiculously overstimulated. It’s exceptionally difficult to tell all these loving folks that you’re putting an end to the fun because baby needs to get to sleep.

So if you need permission to be the bad guy, I’m giving it to you right here and now. Don’t negotiate. Don’t make exceptions. Don’t feel bad about it. Firmly explain to anyone who’s giving you the “I’ll just sneak in to take a quick peek” rationale that your baby is in the middle of sleep training and you’re not taking any chances of them waking up. Let them know when baby will be getting up and tell them to hang around, come back, or catch you the next time. Better yet, tell people in advance when to expect some baby awake time based on her schedule.

I know it sounds harsh. But the alternative is an almost immediate backslide right to day one. Baby misses a nap and gets all fired up because of many new faces and tons of activity. Then overtiredness kicks in and cortisol production goes up. The next nap is ruined, which results in more overtiredness and derails nighttime sleep. Before you know it, you’re headed home and it seems like baby did nothing but cry the entire trip. I’m not even exaggerating. It happens that quickly.

Room Sharing

Now that’s done! You steeled your nerves and let everyone know that you are not budging on baby’s schedule. She took her naps at the right times, and now it’s time for bed. The only catch is, with all of the company staying at the house, there’s only one room for you and baby. No problem, right? Bed sharing for a few nights isn’t the end of the world, after all. I wish I could say it’s that easy for you, but again, you want to make this as little of a deviation from the normal routine as possible. Unfortunately, babies can develop a real affinity for co-sleeping in as little as one night.

This may sound a little unorthodox. However, if you’re sharing a room, what I suggest is simple… Make it into two rooms. I’m not suggesting you need to bust out the lumber and drywall. But I do suggest hanging a blanket, setting up a dressing screen, or (yes, I’m going to go ahead and say it) put baby in the closet. It’s not crazy. A decent sized closet is a great place for baby to sleep. It’s dark. It’s quiet. She won’t be distracted by being able to see you or by people accidentally walking in the room.

While we’re on the subject of “no exceptions,” that rule extends to all other sleep props. You might be tempted to slip baby a pacifier or rock her to sleep if she’s disturbing the rest of the house. But baby is going to latch on to that really, really quickly, and chances are you’ll be waking up every hour or two, rocking her back to sleep or putting her pacifier back in, which is going to end up disturbing everyone worse than a half hour of crying at 7:00 at night.

Defend The Sleep

Now, on a serious note… I find the biggest reason that parents give in on these points is, quite simply, because they’re embarrassed. There’s a house full of eyes, and they’re all focused on the new baby, and by association, the new parent. The feeling that everyone is making judgments about how you’re parenting is nearly overwhelming in large gatherings. At those moments, remember what’s really important – your baby, your family, and their health and well-being.

There may be a few people who feel a bit jaded because you put baby to bed right when they got in the door, and your mother might tell you that putting your baby in the closet for the night is ridiculous. Remember, you’re doing this for a very noble cause. Perhaps the most noble cause there is! So stand tall and remind yourself that you are a superhero, defending sleep for those who are too small to defend it for themselves. If you want to wear a cape and don a cool superhero name, you go right ahead. Like any superhero, you may be misunderstood by the masses. Ignore them. You’re on a mission.

Back To School Tips

We’ve been through the wringer this year, so letting sleep rules slip during summer is completely understandable. The mission now is to get your child back on track, to be well-rested and ready for learning!

Sleep Over The Holidays

The holidays can disrupt all things sleep. Deal with impediments like travel, family and friends and room sharing. Prepare to defend your baby’s needs and stick to your sleep schedule as much as possible.

Preventing Overtiredness

Like adults, children have a natural rhythm for sleep. Our bodies secrete hormones to keep us up during the day, and different ones to help us rest at night. Timing and transitions for all this are very important.

Need Some Help?

If you are struggling with your child’s sleep, book a complimentary 15-minute phone evaluation to discuss your sleep obstacles and how my program can help your family.

Daylight Saving: Fall Back

Daylight Saving: Fall Back

Daylight Saving: Fall Back

Every year, I get a TON of questions on this topic. If I had my way, there would not be a daylight saving time. It really does have an effect on all of us, and can increase our sleep debt. Children tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. That’s why our youngest ones can be the most negatively impacted.

To make this transition as easy and successful as possible, check out my Fall Back Guide, Day-By-Day Steps and Additional Tips. Just a few days of adjustments and you will have your small sleeper back to being a pro. Remember, these effects are short-lived and everything should be back to normal within a week or two. However… Contact me with any concerns you may have before or during the process. Or you can purchase my official Daylight Savings Guide.

Fall Back Guide

Thankfully, most people aren’t as worried about this season time change and gaining an extra hour! For Fall Back, my recommendation to all parents is to leave the clocks alone the night before, so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me! Here’s my handy visual guide to take steps from there…

Day-By-Day Steps

Infant • More Than One Nap

Example Schedule … If your child normally wakes at 7:00 AM and naps at 10:00 AM.

Day 1  •  Leave in bed until new 6:15 AM if possible. Shift entire schedule 15 minutes later. Equals… Nap at 9:15 AM.

Day 3  •  Two days later, shift schedule another 15 minutes later. Leave in bed until 6:30 AM. Equals… Nap at 9:30 AM.

Days 5 & 7  •  Repeat the 15 minute shift every 2 days. At the end of the week, you’re back to… Wake at 7:00 AM. Nap at 10:00 AM.

Toddler & Older • One Nap or No Nap

Example Schedule … If your child normally wakes at 7:00 AM, naps at 12:30 PM, and is asleep by 8:00 PM.

Day 1  •  Set wake for new 6:30 AM. Shift entire schedule 30 minutes later. Equals… Nap at 12:00 PM. Bed at 7:30 PM.

Day 4  •  Set wake for new 7:00 AM. Shift entire schedule remaining 30 minutes. You’re back to… Nap at 12:30 PM. Bed at 8:00 PM.

Additional Tips…

 

Take Baby Steps
Don’t just set the clock back an hour and expect your child to get in sync right away. Shifting your child’s naps and bedtime gradually and incrementally as described will help ease your child through the time change. For some families shifting a full hour is required due to family schedule. It will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to the time change.


Control The Lights

Melatonin is a chemical released by our brain to help us fall asleep and stay asleep. Melatonin also plays a critical role in regulating our body’s circadian rhythm, our natural body clock. Melatonin increases in the evenings, as it becomes darker. Daylight saving time throws that natural body clock out of sync for a bit and can be particularly difficult for children. In the evenings, I recommend dimming the lights and turning off all screens, including TV, iPads and other electronic devices, at least 1 hour before bedtime. In addition, during the day get your child in the light as much as possible, natural light is best.


Invest In Black Out Curtains

In the spring, your child may wake up early with the sun rising and may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside; so darkening the room can be very helpful. Even though there are extra hours of daylight, children still need the same amount of sleep. It is also worth it to have a discussion with your children as they get older – that sleep is more about our body’s need, versus the position of the sun.


Stick With A Routine

A bedtime routine is a cueing system for the brain and body that sleep is near. I stress the importance of a bedtime routine every night. But if you don’t have one already implemented, now would be a good time. When daylight saving time begins, it is especially important to stick with a bedtime routine, as your child is now dealing with a change in schedule that might throw him off.


Get Enough Sleep Now

In the days before you change your clocks, make sure your child is getting the proper amount of sleep. Sleep begets sleep. So going into daylight saving time more well-rested will greatly help your child because he won’t be cranky or overtired, which makes falling asleep even harder and affects the overall quality of sleep.


Be Sympathetic

In the days following daylight saving time, your child may throw an extra tantrum or may seem frustrated or difficult for no particular reason. The time change and sleep disturbances can cause short-term changes in your child’s mood, but understanding and support will him adjust a little better. With all the focus on your child’s sleep, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Many adults feel sluggish and cranky too. Make sure you’re getting the rest you need, so you’re not overly tired and irritable with your child.

Preventing Overtiredness

Like adults, children have a natural rhythm for sleep. Our bodies secrete hormones to keep us up during the day, and different ones to help us rest at night. Timing and transitions for all this are very important.

Daylight Saving: Fall Back

Daylight Savings time changes can greatly affect your little ones. Chasing Dreams created this handy day-by-day guide and collection of tips to help your whole family Fall Back successfully this November.

Back To School Tips

We’ve been through the wringer this year, so letting sleep rules slip during summer is completely understandable. The mission now is to get your child back on track, to be well-rested and ready for learning!

Sleep Over The Holidays

The holidays can disrupt all things sleep. Deal with impediments like travel, family and friends and room sharing. Prepare to defend your baby’s needs and stick to your sleep schedule as much as possible.

The Perfect Nursery

One of the joys of pregnancy is the excitement of planning for your little bundle of joy’s arrival. Planning what clothes he or she will wear, organizing the home to be ready for baby, designing the perfect nursery.

Need Some Help?

If you are struggling with your child’s sleep, book a complimentary 15-minute phone evaluation to discuss your sleep obstacles and how my program can help your family.

Back To School Tips

Back To School Tips

Back To School Tips

Alright, let me start off by saying that this blog post is NOT about sending judgment about what has been going on in your household at night in the past few months. Y’all we have been through the wringer with everything that has been going on, so letting those sleep rules slip is completely understandable. Plus, we only get 18 short summers with our child(ren), so enjoy them!

The mission now is to get your child back on track, so they are well-rested and ready for learning. I promise nothing will help them go into the new school year with a better attitude and positive outlook than getting plenty of sleep. They’ll be happier,1 more socially outgoing,2 and ready to learn.3

Set A Bedtime And Stick To It

Easy enough right? Well, making sure you pick an appropriate bedtime is key. I recommend children under 12 years old should have a bedtime between 7:00-8:00 pm. I know that may seem early, but here is my reasoning behind it. First, kids need at least 10 hours of sleep a night and an extra hour or two on top of that is never a bad thing. Of course, however, you can make adjustments based on your own observations.

With some families doing remote learning or homeschooling, your wake up times may look a little different, but even if they do not need to be up by 7:00 am, you still want your child in bed and ASLEEP at 9:00 PM at the latest! Factor in the time it takes for them to actually fall asleep, and the inevitable request for another bathroom break or glass of water, 8:00 PM is pretty much the latest you want to put them in their bed to ensure enough sleep.

Second, you, as a parent, deserve some child-free time. Those few hours each night that you can get back with your partner, or time to eat wherever you want without having to share, or being able to watch a movie with adult language is important as an adult to recharge your batteries.

Don’t Leave It To The Last Minute

The best way to get back on track is little by little. Try moving their bedtime up by 15 minutes every 4 days until you are at the desired bedtime. Don’t be afraid to adjust clocks in their rooms so they don’t notice their bedtime moving up earlier. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. 😉

Use A Timer

Kids seem to love things like bath time and reading, and HATE when it is over. Statements like “Please just five more minutes in the tub” or “please, mom, just ONE more book!” seem to put you in the defense and have to become the sheriff. Parents can be reasoned with, but the timer, ah, timers cannot. It also takes the blame off of you and puts it on the timer.

Turn Off Those Screens

I understand if you have let the rules of screentime at home go. They were home more and no homework. I get it. Screentime is fine throughout the day when it comes to sleep, however two hours before bed it should be turned off. I am talking about phones, TVs, computers, and tablets. They put off a massive amount of blue light, which is something out brains associate with sunshine and daylight. So when you think the activity of relaxing while watching tv may help with sleep, the blue light actually fires the body back up. This also applies to adults! So if you are having a hard time sleeping, try reading instead of settling with TV or your phone.

Darken Rooms

You may have noticed that it is not dark outside when you are putting your child(ren) to sleep by 8PM. Depending on where you are in this world, it may still be light outside. I suggest investing in blackout blinds. They also have something called non-adhesive window film you can get in addition to, or instead of blackout blinds. Just like the blue light mentioned above, the light coming into the room can trigger booting up their systems again.

Stick To Your Guns

Lastly, as we try to make adjustments to the nighttime routine, you may notice your skills as a lawyer being tested. Pushing bed times, pushing the use of screens, trying to stretch out the routine to make it later. You may see it all. Just stick to your guns and remind yourself this is for everyone’s good that they stay to the routine. After all, you are in charge!

1) “Manipulating Sleep Duration Alters Emotional Functioning and Cognitive Performance in Children” / Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Volume 38, Issue 10, Pages 1058–1069, November-December 2013  / Jennifer L. Vriend, PhD / Fiona D. Davidson, MA / Penny V. Corkum, PhD / Benjamin Rusak, PhD, FRSC / Christine T. Chambers, PhD / Elizabeth N. McLaughlin, PhD.

2) “Sleep and Social-Emotional Development in Infants and Toddlers” / Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, Issue 46:2, Pages 236-246, DOI: 10.1080-15374416.2016.1188701, 2017 / Mindell J / Lee C / Goh D / Leichman E / Rotella K.

3) “Sleep efficiency (but not sleep duration) of healthy school-age children is associated with grades in math and languages” / Sleep Medicine, Volume 15, Issue 12 / Gruber, Reut, et al.

Back To School Tips

We’ve been through the wringer this year, so letting sleep rules slip during summer is completely understandable. The mission now is to get your child back on track, to be well-rested and ready for learning!

Sleep Over The Holidays

The holidays can disrupt all things sleep. Deal with impediments like travel, family and friends and room sharing. Prepare to defend your baby’s needs and stick to your sleep schedule as much as possible.

Preventing Overtiredness

Like adults, children have a natural rhythm for sleep. Our bodies secrete hormones to keep us up during the day, and different ones to help us rest at night. Timing and transitions for all this are very important.

Need Some Help?

If you are struggling with your child’s sleep, book a complimentary 15-minute phone evaluation to discuss your sleep obstacles and how my program can help your family.

Preventing Overtiredness

Preventing Overtiredness

Preventing Overtiredness

If there is anything worse than a cranky child… It is a cranky AND overtired child. Just like us, children have a natural rhythm when it comes to sleep. Our bodies secrete hormones to keep us up and running during the day, and different ones to help us rest at night. Your body relies on many factors to know when to secrete which, and timing is a huge factor.

So what happens when their body goes through the transition of hormones and gives those sleep cues, but your child stays awake? Well, their body assumes that there was a reason they did not go to sleep and there is a need to stay awake, so their daytime hormones fire up again. And this is when the chaos happens.

Once those daytime hormones fire up again, boy are they hard to turn off. Less sleep means more daytime hormones, which is like a black hole of chaos. The BEST thing we can do as parents is to get Baby to sleep before the window of sleep hormones ends. But babies, especially newborns, can sometimes have a hard time showing the window of opportunity. Knowing what to look for is important!

Unfortunately those signs are sometimes mistaken for being hungry, so also keeping an eye on the clock will help. Newborns can usually handle less than an hour of awake time before they are ready for another nap, so keeping a mental note (or write it down if that will help!) of when they woke up can help you determine if those signs are telling you they are ready for another nap. I know that sometimes it seems like just enough time to get everything needed in, but take advantage of those naps while you can for yourself!

As they get older, their wake times will increase. Refer to this sleep reference guide to help you figure out how long your wake times should be based on your child’s age. Always error on the side of more sleep than less when you are determining when is a good time for another nap. See my full month-by-month Wake Times Chart.

Once your little one is a toddler, they have their own little habits when they become overtired. The sudden change to daytime hormones can actually make them manic, which means giggly and really happy for a while. Doesn’t really seem like they need a nap anymore? It is like the calm before the storm. Just wait for it, their mood will transition to the ultimate crankiness and you’ll have the case of bedtime battles on your hands.

I promise you, no client of mine has come back saying their child is getting too much sleep when they implement a schedule like above. Just give it a couple of weeks and you should see the overtiredness battles disappear and a happier baby.

Back To School Tips

We’ve been through the wringer this year, so letting sleep rules slip during summer is completely understandable. The mission now is to get your child back on track, to be well-rested and ready for learning!

Sleep Over The Holidays

The holidays can disrupt all things sleep. Deal with impediments like travel, family and friends and room sharing. Prepare to defend your baby’s needs and stick to your sleep schedule as much as possible.

Preventing Overtiredness

Like adults, children have a natural rhythm for sleep. Our bodies secrete hormones to keep us up during the day, and different ones to help us rest at night. Timing and transitions for all this are very important.

Need Some Help?

If you are struggling with your child’s sleep, book a complimentary 15-minute phone evaluation to discuss your sleep obstacles and how my program can help your family.

The Perfect Nursery

The Perfect Nursery

The Perfect Nursery

Links on this page may be affiliates, which means I can receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Function is most important

One of the joys of pregnancy is the excitement of planning for your little bundle of joy’s arrival. Planning what clothes he or she will wear, organizing the home to be ready for Baby, designing the perfect nursery. There are so many cute themes, and it is just so much fun envisioning your little bundle of joy in this space. A special space just for them.

But have you ever thought about the function of the space? I am not here to tell you to not make this the perfect space for your little one and just the way you want it. But I do want you to take into consideration a few things. Here is a sleep consultant’s view on what the perfect nursery looks like… It should be dark, cool, comfortable, and boring.

Hear me out. We need a room that is conducive for a good night’s sleep. If you have been following me long enough you know how I feel about tv and Ipads before bed; they are stimulating and stimulation and sleep are like pickle juice and peanut butter – they do not work together. So we want to try to keep anything stimulating out of the room. So what does this look like?

It’s Dark

I am talking pitch black. You should not see your hand in front of your face. It should be as dark during the day as it is in the middle of the night. At night, light will prohibit the release of melatonin, the hormone that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Having a bright room can also be very distracting for a child, as now they are too busy looking around the room instead of sleeping. To capture this, blackout curtains help tremendously. They also sell blackout window covers that can help to seal out the light. I really like these Blackout EZ Window Covers.

And I am also a huge advocate of baby sleeping in the same place for naps AND nighttime, so naps should be done in the crib too. With a dark room you will notice nap times are easier. We want to aim for level 10 darkness 24 hours a day.

It’s cool

Studies have shown that babies sleep best when the room is 68-72 degrees. Look for clues from Baby on this one, but babies tend to sleep best when in a cooler room and in a comfortable sleep sack or onesie, then no cover and in a warm room. Avoid using loose blankets for babies under a year old. If you are worried about your baby being too cold, here is a reference on how to best dress Baby for sleeping in different temperatures.

It’s comfortable

Babies sleep for nearly half the day, so a great mattress is worth the investment. It is really worth the time to look into mattresses and really do your research. After all, this is the surface your baby will be on most of their time.

It’s boring

As much as we think adding soft music, cute pictures, lots of color, and flashing lights help soothe your baby, it actually does the opposite. All of these things are stimulating. Like we mentioned above, stimulation does not help with falling asleep.

I know this may not line up with the dream nursery you had envisioned, but I promise that better sleep is better than a wild nursery. After all, this room serves a crucial function in your baby’s day to day life, and that’s to provide sound sleep. And remember, as they get older, they will want to design their own room, and I am sure they won’t hold back.

Back To School Tips

We’ve been through the wringer this year, so letting sleep rules slip during summer is completely understandable. The mission now is to get your child back on track, to be well-rested and ready for learning!

Sleep Over The Holidays

The holidays can disrupt all things sleep. Deal with impediments like travel, family and friends and room sharing. Prepare to defend your baby’s needs and stick to your sleep schedule as much as possible.

Preventing Overtiredness

Like adults, children have a natural rhythm for sleep. Our bodies secrete hormones to keep us up during the day, and different ones to help us rest at night. Timing and transitions for all this are very important.

Need Some Help?

If you are struggling with your child’s sleep, book a complimentary 15-minute phone evaluation to discuss your sleep obstacles and how my program can help your family.