Daylight savings time is coming up this weekend. Most parents don’t mind it so much in the fall when they gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they hear they are going to have to lose an hour of sleep! Every year I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep. So here it is: (more…)
Author Archives: jenbabywhisperer
Raising kids is a high-stakes responsibility, and in this age of social media and easy access to information about anything and everything, parents are easily overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. As a sleep consultant, I see this all the time from parents whose babies aren’t sleeping well. One of the other major contributors to the, “I’m doing something wrong,” sensation is separation anxiety; that oh-so-challenging part of a child’s life when they start to completely flip their lids whenever Mom’s not around.
The thought process, it would appear is one of…
- Mommy’s not in the
- Therefore, Mommy is somewhere
- I would prefer to be there with
- Make that happen, or mark my words, I shall raise the most unimaginable of And those ruckuses leave us, as parents, to wonder, “Am I doing something wrong?
After all, a well-adjusted child should probably feel reasonably safe when they’re separated from their parents for a little while, shouldn’t they? I mean, Beth from the office says her baby is perfectly content being left with her sitter, even overnight. And that one mom in your Facebook group said that her baby will happily play by herself for hours at a time, and actually takes her toys to her room occasionally in order to get a little ‘me’ time.”
About Separation Anxiety: Two things to keep in mind.
First, never compare yourself, or your child, to the mothers and babies described in the parenting groups on social media. Much like everything else on Facebook and Instagram, these experiences are almost always conveyed through the rosiest of lenses.
And second, separation anxiety is completely normal, expected, and a sign of a healthy attachment between parent and child.
So what is it, exactly?
Separation anxiety typically starts to occur around 6-8 months of age, when your little one starts to realize that things continue to exist, even when they’re not in sight. It’s a cognitive milestone known as “object permanence” which is defined as, “the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed.”
In other words, out of sight no longer means out of mind.
So as your baby begins to grasp this concept, they realize that if you, their favorite person in the whole world, are not there, you’re elsewhere. And, hey, wait a minute. If that’s the case, then you might not be coming back.
It’s kind of fascinating when you think about it, but it’s also a little heartbreaking. This realization, for a baby, is obviously cause for full-blown panic. The thought of a parent leaving and not returning causes anxiety in most grown-ups I know, so you can hardly expect an infant to take it with great decorum.
Anyways, that’s what happens in your little one’s brain when they suddenly start having a fit every time you leave the room. It’s normal, it’s natural, and it’s a sign that your little one is learning, and that they have a secure attachment to their parent. Awesome.
But, as many of us know, it also means that leaving them with a sitter or dropping them off at day care can be an absolute horror show.
But what we really want to know, or at least what I really wanted to know when it happened with my children, isn’t “What’s causing this?” What I wanted to know was, “How do I prevent it?”
Well, the truth is, you probably wouldn’t want to if you could. I mean, really, wouldn’t you be just a little devastated if you left your child with a stranger and they were just completely OK with it? “Bye Mom! See you at dinner!
Don’t worry about me. You guys have fun!”
I’m guessing that would actually be significantly more troubling than some tears and howling.
But we obviously want to keep things at a happy medium, and if you’re struggling with a child who’s pitching an absolute fit every time you try to run an errand or head out for date night, I’ve got some suggestions to take the edge off until this phase runs its course.
1. Lead by Example
Your little one follows your cues, so if you’re not willing to let her out of your sight, they probably, albeit un- consciously, feel like they’re not safe if you’re not in the room. So designate a room where they can explore a little and play without your direct supervision. It’s a small adjustment, but it has a tremendous effect.
2. Don’t Avoid It
Learning about separation and reunion is an important milestone, so don’t just take the path of least resistance and stay with your child 24/7 until they’re seven years old. (It happens. Believe me.) Let them know that it’s okay for them to get upset when you leave and reassure them that you’ll always come back when you do. If there are some tears around it, that’s alright. This is an important concept that they need to get on board with.
3. Start Slow
Once your little one has started to demonstrate the understanding that they’ll be spending some time with someone besides a parent, make it a short outing. Don’t plan on dinner and a movie or an overnighter for the first few attempts.
4. Start With Someone Familiar
Kids typically do a little better being left with a grandparent or family friend who they’ve already spent some time with, and who they’ve grown to trust a little, so call in a favor, put some wine in the fridge, and plan to spend at least an hour away from the house for the first few attempts.
5. Stick Around for a While
After your sitter, parent, friend, or whoever is watching your little one arrives, plan to hang around for a half hour or so. Seeing that this is someone you’re familiar with will go a long way in reassuring your child that they’re “good people” and worthy of their trust.
6. Face the Music
Many of us have, at least once, attempted to distract our toddlers and then sneak out the door without saying goodbye. After all, it’s the goodbye that provokes the reaction, right? But even if it provokes some tears, it’s important for your child to understand that you’re going to leave sometimes, and that you’ll be back when you say you will.
7. Establish a Routine
Much like bedtime, a solid, predictable goodbye routine helps your little one recognize and accept the situation. A set number of kisses and hugs, a memorable key phrase, and a clear indication of when you’ll be back should be just the right balance of short and reassuring.
8. Speak in Terms They’ll Understand
Instead of telling them how long you’ll be gone, tell them when you’ll be back in regards to their schedule. After nap time, before bed, after dinner, before bath time, and so on.
Nothing is going to prevent your child from getting a little bit upset when you leave, (And as I said before, thank the stars for that, because if they didn’t, oh your poor heart,) but you can definitely keep the fuss to a minimum.
Now, I should add here that these techniques are suggested for kids who are dealing with ordinary, everyday separation anxiety. There is also a condition called Separation Anxiety Disorder which is obviously more serious and warrants a trip to your pediatrician if you suspect your little one might be afflicted with it.
But for run-of-the-mill fit-pitching when you try to leave the house for an hour or two, these tips should go a long way towards remedying the problem. Be consistent, supportive, assertive, and calm. Before long, your child will understand the concept of you leaving and coming back.
In fact, this concept that will also come in handy when you start to leave them alone in high school.
“I’m leaving for the night, but rest assured, I’m coming back. So you just remember that before you invite your rowdy friends over.”
But until then, if you feel like your little one’s separation anxiety has led to some not so great sleep habits…I’m here to help. A FREE Sleep Assessment call is just a click away. SCHEDULE A CALL WITH JENNIFER
With the holidays approaching, many new parents who have recently gotten their babies sleeping on a schedule are worried that they might regress a little over the holidays.
And I can assure you, those fears could not be more well-founded.
Between the travel, the excitement, the constant attention and then travel all over again, the holidays are the single easiest way to throw all of your hard work out with the wrapping paper and turkey bones.
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 just the way you did at home.
There are two major impediments to your little one’s sleep over the holidays. One is travel and the other is family and friends, so I just want to tackle both of those topics individually.
First off, travel.
If you’re thinking about starting sleep training your little one, but you’ve got to take a trip in a few weeks, my suggestion is to put off the training 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, not to worry. Taking a trip typically won’t help your little one sleep better, but if you can maintain some semblance of normalcy until the end of your trip, 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 that 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 just not going to, so don’t try to force it. It will just result in a lot of frustration for both of you. (And, most likely, the passengers around you.)
Alright! So you’ve arrived, and hopefully you’ve managed to maintain some degree of 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 hopefully asleep, is just what everyone is rooting for.
But now that you’re at Grandma and Grandpa’s place, it’s just the opposite. Everyone wants baby awake so they can see them, play with them, take a thousand pictures, and get them ridiculously overstimulated. And it’s exceptionally difficult to tell all of these friends and family members 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, and don’t feel bad about it. Firmly explain to anyone who’s giving you the “I’ll just sneak in a take a quick peek,” routine that baby’s 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. Or better yet, tell people in advance when to expect some baby time based on baby’s schedule.
I know it sounds harsh, but the alternative is an almost immediate backslide right back into day one. Baby misses a nap, gets all fired up because of all the new faces and activity, then overtiredness kicks in, cortisol production goes up, and the next nap is ruined, which results in more overtiredness which derails nighttime sleep, and before you know it, you’re headed home and it seems like baby did nothing but cry the entire trip.
I’m not even slightly exaggerating. It happens that quickly.
So OK, you’ve steeled your nerves and let everyone know that you’re 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 that, 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 make it that easy for you, but again, you want to make this as little of a deviation from the normal routine as possible, and babies can develop a real affinity for co-sleeping in as little as one night.
So this may sound a little unorthodox, but if you’re sharing a room, what I suggest is simple.
Make it into two rooms.
I’m not saying 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.
That sounds crazy, I know, but really, 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, and people accidentally walking in and out of the room are much less likely to distract her.
And 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 baby back to sleep or putting her pacifier back in, which is going to end up disturbing everyone a lot worse than a half hour of crying at 7:00 at night.
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 these family gatherings, but in those moments, remember what’s really important here.
Your baby, your family, and their health and well-being.
There may well be a few people who feel a bit jaded because you put baby to bed just when they got in the door, and your mother might tell you that putting your baby in the closet for the night is ridiculous, but remember you’re doing this for a very noble cause. Perhaps the most noble cause there is.
So stand tall and remember that you’re a superhero, defending sleep for those who are too small to defend it for themselves. If you want to wear a cape and give yourself a cool superhero name, you go right ahead. WonderMom, UberMama, The Somnum Inducere, if you’re feeling really fancy. Just remember that, like any superhero, you may be misunderstood by the masses.
Ignore them. You’re on a mission.
Your baby’s first year is typically marked by a blur of amazing milestones, and a healthy sleep routine is often the most difficult to master. Many parents are often surprised to find that they are often the cause behind their little one’s sleep difficulties. Today I’m going to share five ways parents unintentionally sabotage their little one’s restful sleep routine.
Don’t Be a Night Owl
With many parents working long hours, it can be tempting to keep little ones up late. Many parents will push back baby’s bedtime in order to spend a little more time with him/her, with some parents going so far as to wake their little one to fit in a snuggle. It can be tempting to push back bedtime, but you and your baby will be happier when you’re all well rested. Set an early bedtime and enforce it nightly.
Set a Routine…and stick to it
An integral part of your baby’s sleep patterns is teaching him/her when to sleep. By setting a sleep routine, your baby will know what to do and when to do it; this goes for naps and bedtime. Instead of hoping your baby will master the art of expecting the unexpected, set a sleep routine that leaves out the guesswork. Your routine can be as simple as setting bathtime for six o’clock each night, and running through a familiar BATH-BOTTLE/BREAST-BOOK-BED sequence. By six-thirty, your baby knows that it is time to sleep.
Don’t turn ON the lights!
Newborn and infant nights are marked with feedings and diaper changes, but those sleep interruptions don’t have to last an hour or more. The fewer stimuli you present during the night, the quicker your little one will fall back into a restful sleep.
No Midnight Dance Parties
It can be tempting to rock, bounce, walk, sway, and cajole your baby, in an effort to get him/her back to sleep in the middle of the night. Not only do some of these actions stimulate your baby into a more wakeful state, but you’re also sabotaging your little one’s ability to learn how to soothe him/herself back to sleep. Treat sleep like any other skill you practice with your baby during his/her first year; learning to sleep is a skill just as important as learning how to eat from a spoon, grasping objects, or even crawling. Save the dance parties for daylight hours.
Save the Helicopter for Flying
As tempting and instinctual as it is to rush to your infant’s crib at the sound of every mewl or whimper, try to give your little one time to soothe him/herself. Sleep is a skill, and babies need the time to learn how to effortlessly glide from one sleep cycle to the next. When parents rush in at the slightest peep, they are unintentionally disrupting a learning process [that adults take for granted]. When you hear your baby stir in the night, pause for a couple of minutes to allow your little one to soothe him/herself into the next sleep cycle. As parents, we’re attuned to the needs of our children, and fostering healthy sleep habits is of the utmost importance. If your nights are disrupted, or bedtime is a battle, remember these five tips and get back on the road to restfulness. Are you ‘0’ for ‘5’? Keep up the great work! Are you unintentionally sabotaging your little one’s sleep? A few adjustments will get you back on track. Not sure where to start? Contact me! I want to hear from you!
When we become first time parents (or even second or third time) to a newborn, we are so worried about so many different things such as baby night feedings, is the baby eating enough, pooping and peeing enough, are they sleeping too much during the day or not enough?
And are you recording all of it to share with the doctor during her first month well visit?
It can all get to be a bit overwhelming.
It boggles the mind that a person so teeny tiny can run us ragged and make us question everything. Well, as my little gift to all of you new parents out there (whether it’s your first rodeo or not), I’d like to impart some wisdom that I have learned first through being a new parent myself (twice) and also through all of my training to become a child sleep consultant. Mistakes to avoid for baby night feedings.
Mistake #1: Turning on the light when it is supposed to be night.
I too made this mistake when I was a first time mommy. When my newborn awoke in the night to feed, I’d go into her room and turn on a light or two so I could properly see what I was doing while changing her diaper and making sure she latched on properly. This is probably one of the worst things I could have done! While I was in the process of trying to fix her day/night confusion, I was sabotaging my efforts by turning on the lights. This sends the wrong signal to your little baby. The signal that WAKE UP! Let’s interact! Definitely not conducive to a healthy sleep environment.
While I recommend that parents make the daytime feedings as bright as possible, during the night I suggest that you accomplish the feed and everything that comes along with it in as much darkness as you possibly can. Why? Because we want the baby to learn that night time is boring and should be a time to sleep (because…well…there’s nothing better to do). This means that if you can become a pro at changing the diaper in the dark…YOU ROCK! Although those soiled diapers can cause a bit of a harder time to sort out if you can’t see what you are dealing with. If you do need at least some light, make sure it is as low as possible and turn it off as soon as you no longer need it. This will help keep your baby’s body in the zone for sleep and that much quicker to return to his or her crib or bassinet once the change and feed is complete.
Mistake #2: Late night TV – Catching up on all the shows on your DVR.
Sure, sitting in the dark while your baby takes her time feeding can be pretty tiring and boring. I know I thought turning on the TV would help keep me awake through the feed and also keep me entertained. Boy, could I have been more wrong. It’s probably one of the worst things I could have done for my daughter’s sleep habits at night and my own. Television equals entertainment. It also equals stimulation via the picture and sound. Televisions emit blue light which is stimulating to the human brain. So while I was trying to keep myself entertained with the late, late show, I was also waking my brain (as well as my daughter’s) making it that much harder for me to go back to sleep once my babe was tucked back into her crib. The sound was also a problem because it was causing a distraction for my daughter. She should have been solely focused on eating. Instead she was torn between her hunger and all the action coming from the TV. Some of those early night feeds took forever.
Mistake #3: Cuddle them close, but don’t look them in the eye.
It’s the middle of the night. You’re exhausted and all you want to do is sleep. That’s a reasonable request from a sleep deprived parent. To help get you tucked back into bed sooner, I recommend that when you are feeding your little one via nursing or bottle, do not make eye contact or talk to your newborn. By doing so you again are stimulating the baby and rousing her more out of sleep. While we don’t want to make a feeding a sleep prop (Heavens no!) we also want the little mister or miss to get down to business and eat so they can go right back to sleep once finished. If you are not looking and smiling at or talking to the baby, he or she will again find the night time pretty boring and realize there is no pajama party going on in the wee hours of the morning.
Mistake #4: If you are currently making the mistakes to avoid when feeding your newborn at night…
Relax! You can fix it! The great thing about newborns is that they haven’t been around too long to form deep rooted habits. Tonight, follow the tips above and begin teaching your precious little bundle of joy that night time is for sleeping and daytime is for interacting and play (as well as many, many naps).
If you are finding that making the transition to becoming a new parent is a bit harder than you thought it would be. I want to tell you that you are not alone. I am available and more than ready to help you guide your baby on a path to healthy sleep habits. I welcome you to contact me today 267-382-0826 and let me know that you would like to learn more about my Newborn Sleep Consultation. Be sure to mention this blog post for a special discount.
My blog post this week is to help move bedtime earlier for the start of school this fall. This school year my newly minted five year old daughter Lizzy will be starting Kindergarten. How did this happen. Just 5 short years ago she was a tiny adorable newborn with a set of lungs that could wake the dead. In what seems a blink of an eye, she has grown into an amazing young girl and now is preparing to make the big leap to riding a school bus and continuing her education. And boy is she ready (read insanely excited).
One of the responsibilities that I have as a mom is to make sure that she is ready for this new chapter in her young life. I need to make sure we have purchased a new back pack, new clothes, new shoes, a year’s worth of school supplies and that we both know where her bus stop will be. But another and equally important responsibility is to make sure that Lizzy is physically and emotionally ready for the first day of school.
One way I can ensure this is that she is getting her necessary 11 – 12 hours of sleep each night. This all starts with an age appropriate school year bedtime.
During the summer months, like many families everywhere, we, pushed bedtime back a bit to accommodate the longer sunshiny days. There is so much to see and do during the summer between running and playing and trips to Grand mom’s pool that we need an extra hour or so to accomplish it all.
So now this leaves me with a daughter who is able and expecting to stay awake until the sun begins to set. What’s a mother to do to correct this before school starts? She will need to wake up earlier in the morning to get ready for school as she is not a child that can be rushed in the morning. Lizzy loves to slowly acclimate to the day ahead and as hard as there is no pushing her to move faster.
Well no fear if your child is similar to my Lizzy, here is a gentle solution that will slowly acclimate their young little bodies to an earlier bedtime and hopefully keep the first weeks of school mid week meltdown to a minimum.
First thing that needs to be done is to make sure you have good black out shades installed in their room (I have blogged about the importance of black out shades in the past for healthy child sleep habits). The brain (and child) can become confused as to what to do if sunlight is still streaming through the windows when the body is being tucked into bed for the night. If the room in which the bedtime routine is taking place is appropriately dimmed prior to the start of the bedtime routine, your child’s body will pick up on bedtime cues and continue to release melatonin into the system.
You will also want to (if you haven’t done so already) limit screen time before bed. This includes TV, iPads, tablets, smart phones and computers. As I have discussed previously, all of these devices emit blue light which acts as a stimulant to the brain and for many children can make it much more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime. My advice is to turn all of these devices off at least 45 minutes prior to bed and spend time together as a family doing something a little more low key.
The next order of business is to slowly begin moving bedtime earlier by 15 minutes every 3 – 5 days. What this does is gently allow your child’s body to adjust to an earlier bedtime rather than go cold turkey the night before school starts and they are bouncing off the walls and full of energy when you are trying to calm them down for bed.
Sound familiar? Continue moving your child’s bedtime earlier in 15 minute increments every 3 – 5 days until you have reached your desired school year bedtime. Many children can make this adjustment easily by moving bedtime every 3 days, but for the little ones who need a bit more time to adapt, you’ll want to stick to the 5 day plan.
While making this adjustment, be prepared for your little ones to push back on what you are trying to achieve. It’s in their nature and should be expected. Just remember to stand your ground and stick to the plan. As long as you are consistent, they will see there is no wiggle room and cease protesting.
And finally, be sure to build excitement about the school year ahead and all the new and great experiences that your child will experience. I for one am treasuring the time with my Lizzy. She is so excited about Kindergarten and I am going to enjoy this because I know eventually, years down the road, the beginning of the school year will be met with lackluster acceptance rather than the bubbling enthusiastic daily countdown we are dealing with currently.
Sweet Dreams everyone and we’ll be seeing you at the bus stop. J
As you pack your bags for holiday travel, do not forget to pack what you’ll need to ensure a safe sleeping environment for your baby away from home.
Infants who can only lift their heads slightly rely on you to ensure that they are placed on their backs, and that they always have space to breathe that is free of pillows and soft bedding. If a child is placed on his or her stomach on a soft surface such as a pillow, sofa or adult bed, they cannot clear their faces enough to breathe.
In 2010, there were 35 injury-related deaths to Kentucky children under 1. Of those, suffocation was the cause of at least 60 percent, with 34 percent involving suffocations in bed. That’s a whole classroom of kids lost to unsafe sleep. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome rates have been decreasing since we started to place babies to sleep on their backs. Unfortunately, deaths from unsafe sleeping conditions continue but are preventable. Here are some simple guidelines to use in making sure your child is sleeping in safe and healthy conditions:
- At home, decorate yournursery walls and furniture with color and imagination, but leave your baby’s crib free of any extra soft material that can cause suffocation.
- Use a bassinette, portable or permanent crib with a firm, well-fitting mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Bassinettes are useful because you can place them right next to the side of the bed within your reach, but the baby remains safe in his/her own protected space, and they can also be easily moved to another room during the day.
- Find fitted sheets in bright patterns or colors, in cotton or soft flannel, but always keep blankets, bumpers, pillows, clean laundry, stuffed animals and other toys out of your baby’s crib.
- Keep the room comfortably cool to avoid overheating, and dress your baby in a sleeper warm enough that they do not need a blanket.
- Smoking is associated with an increased rate of SIDS as well as other health problems.
- At home, and especially on the road, a portable crib can be very helpful. Adult beds, infant car seats and swings are not safe places for babies to sleep. Babies in adult beds can end up under the arm or body of a sleeping adult. A baby in an adult bed could also fall into the crack between the bed and wall or headboard and becomewedged there.
- Avoid using positioning devices that claim to reduce SIDS, as none have been shown to do so, and some wedges were recalled after actually being found to increase the risk of suffocation deaths
Every month in Kentucky, we review deaths of babies who died because of unsafe sleeping environments. Please use the above information to be sure that your baby is safe at home, during travel and while visiting. Dr. Susan H. Pollack is a pediatrician at Kentucky Children’s Hospital and is Kentucky State Safe Kids coordinator. LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 4, 2012) – The following column appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Sunday, Dec. 2. By Dr. Susan Pollack
Summer is in full swing and you know what that means…VACATION! While the idea of traveling on your much anticipated holiday is very exciting, for some parents it can also be met with a bit of anxiety. The reasoning might very well be because you have worked hard to get your little one on a great schedule and sleeping through the night. Now that everyone’s sleep is back on track you probably don’t want to do anything that is going to cause you to undo your great work. Below are some of my tips and suggestions to make your vacation one to remember while also creating a great little traveler.
Many parents want to make the most of every moment of their vacation. While seeing the sites and enjoying the attractions are why you planned your family’s vacation, keep on the agenda time every day (preferably at the same time) to allow for rest and relaxation. A great time to pencil this in is early afternoon just after lunch. It allows everyone to recharge their batteries for the remainder of the day while also allowing your little napper the sleep time they need. And speaking of naps…
Limit The Number of Naps That Your Baby or Toddler is Taking in The Car
The occasional car nap is okay once in a while, but if you find your little one napping often in the car over the course of your vacation, you may run into difficulty getting them to take naps in their crib or bed once you have returned.
Avoid too late bedtimes
A slightly later bedtime during your vacation is okay, but if you consistently keep your little one awake well past their bedtime, you are setting the scene for the perfect toddler meltdown storm. And we parents like to avoid that at all costs.
Keep to the same bedtime routine and rules while away on vacation
Although you might be miles away from home, continuing with the normal bedtime routine will help set the stage and expectation of sleep. Babies and toddlers love to test boundaries, and if given an opportunity during the vacation, you could be looking at bedtime battles every evening and wakings during the night. If night wakings do occur, respond as you would at home and guide your little one back to sleep independently.
Create Your Child’s Own Sleeping Space in Your Home Away From Home.
If they are small enough to use a portable crib for sleep, I suggest bringing along your child’s lovey, blanket or sleep sack, and your own crib sheets (and pack n play if possible). Familiar sleep items and the familiar smell of your child’s sheets will help reinforce the sleep expectation while also guarding against the temptation to bring your baby or toddler into bed with you. Speaking of bed sharing…
Don’t Bed Share with Your Little One if You Don’t Normally Do It at Home.
If your child spends a week in your bed while on vacation they will surely want to continue this new standard once they are home. Besides the possible safety issues I can guarantee that your baby would much prefer sleeping with you than in their own crib.
If possible, Allow Your Child Time to Fall Asleep Alone in Your Hotel Room.
Now, I am not advocating leaving your child unattended. But I am suggesting that once you put your little one down for the night you sit right outside your hotel room door or on your balcony (preferably with some prearranged wine and snack via room service) for at least a half hour to allow your sleep trained child to fall asleep without distraction. Once they are asleep you can move back into the room and get ready for bed yourself.
Portable White Noise
Hotels and the area around some vacation houses can be rather noisy throughout the night. If your little one normally listens to white noise while sleeping at home, I strongly suggest you continue use during your vacation. I am a huge advocate of using white noise in a child’s room to reduce possible waking in the night due to environmental noise. I know that Amazon.com has quite a few portable options to choose from that can fit right in your baby back.
Enjoy yourself and your family
Vacations are a great time to reconnect and refresh. Enjoy the time you spend together and make the most of the experience while also keeping a watchful eye on your little one’s sleep needs.
When a baby is a newborn, they pretty much do the following: eat, have a brief period of being awake and sleep (and repeat…often). With a baby that small, they spend much more time asleep than awake.
But this is very important because during the many naps a newborn takes their brain and body is doing some serious growing and maturing. Newborns can easily have 4 or more naps during a 24 hour period (sleeping up to 18 hours a day!) and it is rare that they will sleep more than 2 – 3 hours at a time due to their tiny tummies and constant need for refueling (usually every 2 -4 hours depending on if they are breast or formula fed).
Mixing Up Day and Nights
A common problem that parents of a newborn face is the day/night mix up or confusion. A great way to combat this is to make sure your little one gets plenty of early morning sunlight to help set the clock for the day and also to make sure the daytime naps don’t turn into a marathon sleep period.
As a newborn matures and grows, their night time sleep begins to organize a bit better to allow for longer stretches of sleep (usually around 6 weeks). During the day, their naps will be many throughout the day and won’t start organizing into any set timing or schedule until around 3 months of age.
The nap pattern at 3 months of age usually consists of 3 or possibly 4 naps that vary in duration and are on their way to becoming routine…but they aren’t quite there yet. Once the baby has settled into a fairly consistent 3 nap a day schedule (morning, early afternoon and late afternoon/early evening) they will keep this schedule up until between 5 and 7 months. Around this time their body will need to transition to 2 naps a day to preserve a healthy nap routine and their early bedtime. Here are a few tips to help with making that transition to get your baby to sleep better and nap as well.
Signs That Your Infant Is Ready To Change Baby Nap times
The first thing you need to know is what are the signs that your baby is ready to make the transition
- Nap length is decreasing.
- Stamina (the ability to stay awake) is improving.
- Baby exhibits long periods of crying or playing in their crib before finally falling asleep.
If your baby is demonstrating one or more of the above criteria for 2 or more weeks then it is time for the transition. Again, a common age to make this transition is somewhere between 5 and 7 months.
Changing Nap Times
How to make the transition?
- Naptimes need to be pushed back between 30 and 45 minutes to bridge the gap in daytime hours.
- Making this change may instantly improve nap length, but it could also lead to a decreased nap length due to slight overtiredness.
- It would also be a good idea to move bedtime up (earlier) by 30 minutes for about two weeks to help prevent the baby from becoming overtired.
Please note that it will take the body about 4 -6 weeks to fully adapt to this significant change in sleep patterns and for the schedule to normalize and get your baby to sleep better.
Reducing Nap Times
The next nap transition will take place most commonly just after baby’s first birthday. The most common approximate age is 14 months. Some babies transition earlier while others keep their two naps a day schedule until they are a year and a half. I always loved making this transition with my two girls because it meant that we had more freedom to get out and run errands or have fun “field trips” in the morning. I also was a huge fan of the transition because the length of the afternoon increased and allowed mommy to have some much needed down time.
But, moving from two naps a day to one can be a tricky one. The transition involves extending your young toddler’s awake time to stretch to an appropriate nap time for the afternoon. To be sure that your little one is ready to make the change to one nap there are a few things to look for.
What Are The Signs That Your Toddler Is Ready To Make The Transition To One Nap A Day?
- Your little one might begin to sleep longer for the morning nap and an increasingly shorter nap in the afternoon.
- Many toddlers who are ready to transition will often play in their cribs for the entire time they should be napping. Or, they will fall asleep too late into the afternoon and then you will need to wake them to preserve their normal bedtime.
- Some toddlers will scream and cry during the afternoon nap rather than play in their crib (definitely not fun).
- Occasionally it will be the morning nap that becomes problematic and the toddler is stuck in a nap limbo where one day they will sleep in the AM and the next one they will not.
As previously stated, if your toddler is demonstrating one or more of the above criteria for 2 or more weeks then it is time for the transition.
How To Make The Transition?
- The best strategy I have found is to slowly push back the timing of the morning nap over the course of several weeks until the timing of the morning nap is now occurring when the new afternoon nap should be.
- To reduce afternoon overtiredness during this transition, I suggest giving your little one some quiet time up in their crib in the afternoon and allowing for a short nap while still preserving bedtime.
Please note that it will take the body about a month or so to fully adapt to this change. Although it is challenging, it is better to make the switch from two to one nap instead of the waffling back and forth between the two.
Making any change to any child’s sleep pattern or schedule is most likely going to cause a bit of disruption at first. But if you follow the steps above and keep a patient and positive attitude, the disruption will be short lived and you will have a happy child who is once again napping well and engaging and energetic while awake.
Good Luck! I wish you nothing but sweet dreams!