Expect the Unexpected: Traveling with Young Children

Today’s blog is a guest blog by Lauren Stevens, a client of mine more than SIX years ago! She recently embarked on a two-week European vacation with her husband and six-year-old son. Lauren’s here today to share how hopping continents and time zones went and how she handled major changes in her son’s typically consistent bedtime routine.

Thanks so much for having me, Jennifer! As Jenn shared, we sought her assistance when our son, Declan, was eight-months-old (barely napping during the day and waking every 2-3 hours at night). Since that time, I’ve checked in with Jenn each time we hit a stumbling block — climbing out of the crib and leaving the room and dropping to one nap at three come to mind — and also to share sleep wins. Full disclaimer — Declan, now seven, would still stay up all night if we didn’t have a routine, and often wakes in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep. Basically, Declan phases in and out of being a super sleeper, but more nights than not, he’s getting 10-11 hours of sleep.

Catching some zzzs on the train from London to Cologne

We were doomed from the beginning

Okay, so that’s a little dramatic, but let me frame this for you. We planned our departure date for a two-week trip to England, Germany, and the Netherlands, and I was stoked that it coincided with Declan’s field day. We booked a red-eye, leaving just a couple hours after Declan’s normal bedtime. Perfect, I thought, he’ll be exhausted from field day and then sleep on the plane. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

What I didn’t factor in was how excited Declan would be for his first flight. We sat in the first row, so we had our own TVs, and Declan wanted to test out every button and gadget he could. Not only that, the novelty of a personal TV, which he could watch whatever he wanted, proved to be the dealbreaker. I should add that I had brought along melatonin — which works really well when he needs it — but his excitement overrode any effect it would have possibly had. Because he didn’t sleep, I didn’t sleep, and we started our trip off tired. And then there was the issue with daylight.

Oh, the light

I should preface the fact that this trip was me taking my family to visit places where I had lived as a child. And while I vaguely remember black trash bags covering my windows, it didn’t really register until our first night in England.

Visiting in May, the sun didn’t go down until around 9:30 pm in England and 10:30 pm in Germany. Despite explaining to Declan that daylight lasted longer where we were, he continually tried to rationalize why it couldn’t possibly be his bedtime. Thank goodness for German shutters!

Roll with it

Dealing with different time zones, and the entire family suffering from jet lag, we took a page out of Jenn’s book and decided to break all the rules. And while this meant some dicey afternoons with a cranky kid, it also meant that we could roll with a different schedule each day. And the reality is that Declan would end up conking out whenever we traveled, be it by train, car or bus — we rolled with it.

While we were all exhausted from jet lag and long days of sightseeing, I’m really glad we decided to break the rules. If we were constrained to having to make it back to our apartment each evening in time to bathe and put Declan to sleep, we would have missed out on some amazing travel opportunities.

The reality is that when you’re traveling between time zones, you’re going to have jet lag, no matter how much you prepare for it. I think the key is to channel patience and adopt a carefree attitude (if you don’t already have one) because you’re on holiday. Lastly, anticipate an adjustment period when you get home. For us, it was almost two weeks before we were back to our normal sleep schedules.

 

Snoring, Mouth Breathing…and Sleep

There is almost nothing more adorable than a conked-out baby, arms splayed around their head, gently snuffling away in slumber, right? The term, “sleep like a baby,” captures the peaceful, relaxed nature of babies sleeping, and it’s the type of sleep that a lot of adults aspire to achieve. However, those cute baby snores–and mouth breathing–can be signs that something else is afoot; something that can be preventing your little one from getting the healthy, restorative sleep they need.

Nose breathing

Apart from giving our face a distinct look, our nose serves an important purpose in our breathing. First and foremost, the nose acts as a filter, with our nose hair–or cilia–retaining irritating particulates from the air we breathe, such as pollen and other microscopic foreign bodies. The nose also helps warm air before it enters the lungs, as well as humidifying the air we breathe with help from the mucus that lines our nasal passages.

Without going into great scientific detail, nose breathing is more beneficial because our lungs are able to extract more oxygen from breaths inhaled and exhaled through the nose, than that of the mouth. Because the nose is a narrower passage than the mouth and throat, the air is taken in and released at a slower rate, allowing the lungs to extract more oxygen than quick inhales and exhales through the mouth.

So, because nose breathing filters, warms, humidifies and regulates the air coming into our bodies, it is more beneficial for us to take in oxygen in this manner. So, what happens if you’re not breathing through your nose?

Mouth breathing

If you’re not aware that you’re breathing through your mouth regularly, think about the last time you had a head cold and your nasal passages were completely congested. Those who normally breathe through their nasal passages will immediately experience the downsides of mouth breathing (dry mouth, bad breath).

Where the nose filters and humidifies air, breathing directly through the mouth can dehydrate you, cause dry mouth and make you susceptible to infection. You may be unaware of your own mouth breathing at nighttime, but if you wake up hoarse, with a sore throat or with dry mouth, you’re likely snoring at night and feeling fatigued, despite getting your eight hours.

If your little one snores, you should contact your pediatrician to discover–and remedy–the cause. According to Healthline, mouth breathing is caused by some type of nasal obstruction, which can include any of the following:

  • nasal congestion caused by cold or allergies
  • deviated septum
  • enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • nasal polyps
  • size and shape of the nose or jaw
  • enlarged turbinates
  • tumors
  • obstructive sleep apnea

Effects of mouth breathing

In addition to potentially causing chronic sleep issues in children, mouth breathing can have long term effects on growth and development, if not caught and corrected. Healthline shares that children whose mouth breathing goes untreated can develop abnormal physical traits (elongated face, poor posture, overbite) and suffer cognitive difficulties.

In addition to physical changes, children who mouth breathe often suffer from poor sleep. The effects of inadequate sleep in children are far-reaching and can affect their physical development, academic performance, and lead to chronic sleep issues.

The breathing and sleep connection

So, what does breathing have to do with sleep? A LOT! If you have a little one who seems to have difficulty with sleep or doesn’t seem well-rested, their breathing may be the culprit.

Healthline shares the effects of mouth breathing in children, which includes irritability, slower growth rate, problems with concentration, increased crying episodes and feeling fatigued throughout the day. In short, mouth breathing can cause your child to be deprived of the healthy, restful and restorative sleep they require to grow and develop.

So, that snoring and snuffling that seemed so cute should really be attended to. Of course, if your little one is snoring because of a cold, you shouldn’t raise the alarm as they’ll likely be back to breathing normally once their congestion clears.

How to Get Your Toddler to Stay in Their Bedroom (All Night)

It seems just yesterday that your baby finally learned to sleep through the night, and you were off-the-hook for night-wakings every two hours. Once your baby was sleeping 10-12 hours each night, you started to relax a little more in the evenings, relishing the alone time with your partner, or just taking in the extra hours of calm you now had. And then, just as you’re settling in to watch the latest episode of This Is Us, your toddler materializes at the side of the couch. What are they doing up? Ugh.

Independence = testing boundaries

While it’s fascinating to watch our babies grow and learn, developmental milestones can introduce frustrating routines and bad habits. After crawling comes walking, and one of the first words your baby likely learns is “no.” It’s all about autonomy and independence once your baby becomes a toddler, and they realize that they are their own person, and they have choices…and they exercise them with frequency.

Maybe it begins with refusing certain foods, or maybe your little one resists being buckled into their car seat. Whatever form it takes, your little one is learning about the world around them by testing limits with their behavior. And one of the ways toddlers like to manifest their independence is with sleep and their bedroom boundaries.

Leaving the crib or bedroom

Perhaps your toddler is still in a crib, or maybe they’ve transitioned to a toddler bed–either way, they’ve figured out that things happen after they go to sleep and they want to discover exactly what goes on after hours. A one-off wake-up and bedroom escape is not a big deal, and you can easily escort your little one back to their room and get them down to sleep. However, once your little one learns to leave their room, it may be the beginning of an escape artist stage that can wreak havoc on both parent and child, especially when break-outs occur at all hours of the night.

Things get even trickier a.) if your toddler is talking, and b.) is super cute (aren’t they all?). Navigating your little one back to the bedroom is more difficult when they’re telling us that they feel sick, thirsty, scared, lonely, etc. This is where you need to find your resolve, parents.

Providing that you’ve ascertained that there’s no illness going on, but rather a clever bit of negotiation, you need to come up with a plan of action, and fast. The longer these nighttime escapes go on, the harder it is to break your toddler from the habit.

Keeping your toddler in bed

The best way to break the habit is to introduce consequences if your toddler continues to leave their bedroom.

“If you get out of bed again, we’ll ________.” Fill in that blank with whatever consequence works for your family. For some, it’s taking away a fun activity, or maybe it’s removing their lovey or favorite blanket from their crib or bed for increments of time until they learn to stay in bed.

Whatever the consequence, make sure it’s not one that will traumatize your little one. Don’t take away a night light or something that makes them feel safe and secure while they’re alone in their room (for some toddlers this may be their lovey, so don’t take that away if it will create even more problems).

The simplest consequence is also the most effective, in my experience: close the bedroom door. Many parents leave their toddler’s bedroom door cracked open at night so that they can hear nighttime cries (should they occur). Letting their little one know that they will close the door if they get out of bed again is often the most effective consequence to serve jailbreaking tots.

Stay the course

Whatever consequence you choose, the key is remaining consistent. If your toddler continues getting out of bed, you remain firm with the consequence. There may be tears and pleading, but giving in will not keep your tot in their bedroom all night. And if they continue to attempt to open the door, you may need to hold the handle on the other side. Once your toddler realizes that you won’t play their game, they’ll realize that they need to stay in bed.

But what about early morning wakings?

Some of you may have arrived at this blog, not because your toddler is waking and leaving their bedroom throughout the night, but because they’re waking up at the crack of dawn and leaving their bedroom.

Depending on your little one’s age — and number knowledge — early morning wakings can be remedied by introducing a clock. For younger toddlers, I recommend the Ok to Wake! Alarm Clock & Night Light. The concept is simple and perfect for youngsters — set the clock to the time you want your kiddo to stay in bed until, and once it’s that time, the clock glows green, letting them know that it’s okay to wake up.

If your toddler knows their numbers, you can introduce a digital clock and let them know what number signals the time for them to wake up. For example, I have a client whose son knows that when the clock shows “in the sixes,” he’s allowed to get out of bed and go downstairs.

Whatever you decide, make a pact with yourself to remain firm and to enforce consequences with consistency. It may take a few days — or even a week — but your toddler will be back to staying put and getting a good night’s sleep in no time.

If you need help with your little one’s sleep routine, sign up for a complimentary 15-minute sleep consultation.

What You Eat Can Affect Your Sleep

While I am a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, specializing in the sleep habits of babies and young children, I also want the parents I work with to get healthy sleep — a well-rested family is a happy family! So, from time to time I like to cover topics addressing self-care for parents, which is as important as healthy sleep for your children.

Did you know that what you eat can affect your sleep?

Identifying the culprit

If you’ve ever struggled with sleep for any period of time, you likely ran down a list of things that could be adversely affecting your sleep — stress, lack of exercise (or exercising too late in the evening), too few hours of sleep, the list goes on. You may have even gone so far as to make significant changes to your bedtime routine and environment — which is never a bad thing — such as eliminating screen time for at least an hour before bed, changing your bedroom lighting, adding blackout shades, and even purchasing new bed linens and pillows.

Sometimes adults continue to struggle to catch enough Zzzs, even after changing their routine and environment, leaving them scratching their heads. What they may have overlooked is what — and when — they’re eating throughout the day.

The food-sleep connection

Some things are no-brainers — having that cup of coffee, tea, or soda in the evening can obviously make it difficult for you to fall asleep at bedtime because of the caffeine. I won’t judge, but if you like an evening bowl of ice cream, coffee or mocha flavor is probably not the best choice as you’ll sneakily be getting a dose of caffeine in your cold, sweet, and creamy nighttime treat.

Research shows that what we eat during the day affects the quality of our sleep. More specifically, “low fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals.”

While what we eat is essential, when we eat affects how we sleep as well. There’s a reason why people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — it’s healthier to consume more of your calories earlier to fuel you throughout the day. If you’ve ever had a heavy meal late in the evening, you may have found yourself uncomfortable when lying in bed later — perhaps even having to take antacids to quell indigestion. But heavy meals even earlier in the day can still throw our bodies off.

Try to maintain a balance

Shifts in what and when we eat has an effect on the body’s circadian rhythm and significant changes in mealtimes or diet can shift the body’s natural sleep cycle. The connection between metabolism and circadian rhythm is complex, but can be summed up by saying that there is a delicate balance that needs to be maintained the ensure our bodies are nourished and well-rested. Exercise is an additional and important component to this, as it helps maintain a balance between caloric intake and energy consumption within our body; when that balance is upset, such as consuming a diet high in fats, sugars, and calories, but not burning at an equal rate, our bodies begin changing at the cellular level, sending messages that, in turn, affect our circadian rhythm.

In a nutshell, eating a well-rounded, healthy diet and exercising regularly creates a balance that is conducive to healthy sleep patterns. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, and you’ve taken care of the environmental disruptions, take a look at your diet and exercise patterns — the key to a good night’s sleep may simply be what and when you’re eating.

Check out these Amazing Benefits of Sleep


Bypass the Baby Gear

If you follow any parenting sites or skimmed over headlines last month, you likely saw reports about the massive recall for Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘N Play Sleeper. Enormous in scale, the Sleeper recall includes all models from the product’s inception in 2009. Sadly, the Rock ‘N Play is attributed to more than 30 infant deaths. After much thought, I decided now was as good a time as any to talk about the billion-dollar baby industry that continually markets items to sleep-deprived parents, promising to help their babies sleep…and how you don’t need any of them to have a well-rested baby (and self).

Safety first

If you’ve not checked out safekids.org, it contains a wealth of information for parents and has a worthy mission: “Safe Kids Worldwide is a global organization dedicated to protecting kids from unintentional injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost 1 million children die of injuries each year.”

A quick look at the recall section of safekids.org shows that there have been ten products recalled in the first four months of this year that are related to children and sleep. Ten! In my mind, this is an excellent argument for keeping nurseries minimalist, and supporting evidence for skipping the gadgets and snake oil fixes for infant sleep support. Simply put, there is no easy fix for sleep-deprived babies; it takes routine and consistency to take your baby from multiple night wakings to sleeping through the night.

Pay attention to environment

Your baby’s safe and healthy sleep starts with the nursery or sleep environment you’ve established. Whether you’re room-sharing or baby’s sleeping in a separate nursery, you want to make sure that it’s conducive to sleep.
Think of some of the best nights of sleep you’ve had. For me, it’s been in a cool, quiet room that was as dark as a cave. The ideal — and safest — sleep environment for your baby is a room that is dark, quiet, and cool. You want the place you’ve chosen for your little one to ooze sleep vibes, which means you need to forego decorating it busily and brightly. Cool, neutral tones — think minimalist — are conducive to relaxation and sleep.

Routine is everything

While baby gear like swings and rockers provide rhythmic movements that lull your baby — much like rocking in your arms — the rhythm you should be focusing on is that of routine. Same time, same place, same way. When the swings and rockers stop — or your baby outgrows them — you’re left with an unhappy baby who is dependent upon a mechanical item to go to sleep.
Instead of investing in expensive gadgets, consider investing in a consistent sleep routine, day in, day out, letting your little one take cues for sleep and learn to soothe themselves into slumber. No more tired arms trying to mimic rhythmic rocking, just a tried and true routine.

Skip the gadgets

Whenever you’re adding something to the nursery or your baby’s sleep environment, you want to be extremely cautious. In the case of the Rock ‘N Play mentioned above, it had initially been rated for babies ages three months and younger; in other words, the rocker was rated for babies not yet able to turn over, yet we all know that every baby is different and hits milestones at different times. The Rock ‘N Play became dangerous as soon as a baby was able to roll, which often happens before 3 months of age.

If you’ve ever heard of baby boxes, you understand the simplicity I advocate for in your baby’s nursery. A flat surface, no blankets, no toys — keep your baby’s sleep area as boring as possible, both for safety and to eliminate the possibility of stimulation keeping your little one awake.

If you need help creating a healthy sleep routine for your little one, or are interested in a nursery assessment, a complimentary 15-minute sleep consultation.

The ADHD-Sleep Connection

A recent study, presented at the American Physiological Society’s (APS) annual meeting, shows that teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may benefit from more nightly sleep. This finding got me thinking about the young children I work with, and whether a suspected or early diagnosis of ADHD might be premature. Let me explain.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

I’m not a doctor; I don’t proclaim to be, but I do know a thing or two about sleep. Think about your immediate network of friends and family — more than likely you know of at least one child diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder (ADD) or ADHD. And if you ask your friend what first made them suspect their child may have the neurological disorder, they likely had particular behaviors they cited.

The most recent National Survey of Children’s Health (2016) reports that 6.1% of children between the ages of 2-17 are diagnosed with ADHD. That statistic doesn’t include undiagnosed children, but 6 percent is still pretty significant.

On the whole, however, ADHD tends to impact executive functioning in those suffering from the disorder. If you’re unfamiliar with executive functioning skills, they include:

  • Paying attention
  • Planning and organizing
  • Staying focused through a task
  • Time management
  • Remembering details
  • Multitasking

Think about times when you’re not getting enough sleep. How does lack of sleep affect your life? Do you have difficulty concentrating or remembering things? You see where I’m going here, right?

Inadequate sleep

I’m not here to say that every child with ADHD is improperly diagnosed. But, as The Child Mind Institute illustrates, we do see similar traits between ADHD and the behavior of children not getting a healthy amount of sleep, so much so that it can be difficult to distinguish the two.

It’s pretty standard for children with ADHD to have sleep difficulties, whether it’s falling asleep or staying asleep — there are even studies showing that children with ADHD have a later circadian rhythm than those without the neurological disorder. And when our ADHD kiddos aren’t getting an adequate amount of sleep, their quality of life plummets as their executive functioning takes a hit — it’s a vicious cycle.
Having a bedtime routine is incredibly important for these children, especially for those who have difficulty falling asleep. A routine can help train their growing bodies to begin relaxing before bedtime. And while you might think your elementary-aged child has outgrown a bedtime routine, and today’s busy schedules make consistency difficult, all kids benefit from a set bedtime and routine.

The more sleep, the better

Back to that study I referred to earlier. In the teens with ADHD studied, researchers found that “Increased sleep may significantly [and positively] impact academic, social and emotional functioning in adolescents with ADHD, and sleep may be an important future target for future intervention.”

It’s not a huge leap to guess that if the researchers had performed the same study with younger children diagnosed with ADHD, they’d find that more sleep results in greater efficiency in executive functioning.

I see it all the time with young children with poor sleep habits who are carrying around a sleep debt. The Child Mind Institute addresses this perfectly, saying “Parents sometimes ask if a child might be misdiagnosed with ADHD when what’s causing his symptoms might really be a lack of sleep. And we hear anecdotes from parents of children whose ADHD symptoms diminished or disappeared when their sleep problems were solved.”

If you think your child can benefit from more healthy sleep, but you are struggling to make it happy, know that I’m here to help. I offer a complimentary 15-minute sleep assessment so I can get to know the specifics about your situation.

There’s a Science Behind Set Bedtimes

If you’ve glanced at headlines or spent any amount of time on social media in the last month or so, you likely saw flashy headlines proclaiming that children lacking a set bedtime suffer physical effects similar to jet lag. The adolescent sleep study’s findings are valid, but it’s actually old news (it’s from a 2013 study). Alarmism is fashionable today with the 24-7 news cycle, so I wanted to address the study in today’s blog…in much more gentler terms.

The study findings

So, the 2013 sleep study in question, published in Pediatrics, is entitled, “Changes in Bedtime Schedules and Behavioral Difficulties in 7-Year-Old Children.” In reality, the study has nothing to do with jet lag, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The UK study included over 10,000 children, with data collected when they were ages 3, 5, and 7 years. The results were obtained from both parent and teacher questionnaires at each of the three age “check-ins.” What the study found was that those children who lacked a regular, predictable bedtime exhibited more behavioral issues than those children with routine, regular bedtimes.

The interesting part of this sleep study, aside from the behavioral findings, is that the behavior was affected even if the children slept for the same number of hours each night. A fluctuating or irregular bedtime, in this case, is directly related to behavioral issues.

What does jet lag have to do with it?

The behavioral issues researchers found included scoring higher in areas including “unhappiness, being inconsiderate and fighting.” Motherly reports that:

According to the study’s lead researcher, Yvonne Kelly, putting kids to bed at 8 o’clock one night and 10 o’clock the next results in a kind of “social jet lag,” even if they’re getting the same hours of sleep. “Without ever getting on a plane, a child’s bodily systems get shuffled through different time zones, and their circadian rhythms and hormonal systems take a hit as a result.”

Additional findings

A follow-up study, conducted in 2017, added academic shortcomings to the list of effects of an inconsistent bedtime. The Conversation reports that the follow-up study found that “Children with irregular bedtimes had lower scores on maths, reading and spatial awareness tests.”

I don’t know if it’s possible to find a stronger argument for a set bedtime than scientific studies pointing out an increased feeling of unhappiness, fighting, and lower academic scores among kids with irregular bedtimes!

What it means for you

As a parent, you know that your child’s early years are full of development at incredible rates. Their brains and bodies are working overtime, growing and gathering information about the world around them. What shouldn’t be underestimated is the role that healthy, consistent sleep plays in early childhood development — it’s crucial! According to the National Sleep Foundation, “sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs.”

Take a look at your little one’s sleep routine and see if it can use some tweaking. Are you consistent with bedtime, or does bedtime vary in your household? One of the easiest changes you can make is to determine a bedtime and stick to it — your little one will thank you later (and you may have fewer behavior issues to combat)!
If you’re having trouble determining the right bedtime for your family’s routine, call me. I can work with you and your family’s schedule to establish a routine that’s right for you. If you think your family’s sleep could use an overhaul, contact me for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.


Please Don’t Throw Out Your White Noise Machine

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I’m an advocate for white noise in the nursery (and kiddo bedrooms). Whether you have a busy household, noisy neighbors, or just a little one who startles or stimulates easily while sleeping, white noise can be the answer. While you may have read some of the negative press surrounding noise machines, I implore you — please don’t throw out your noise machine!

What is white noise?

If you’ve ever seen the movie Poltergeist, the snow screen on the television is an iconic example of white noise. And then there’s the movie, White Noise, which has an even more frightening take on white noise. Despite the scary movies and alarmist headlines, white noise isn’t terrifying.

White noise is created by combining sounds at various frequencies, at equal intensities; the result is a constant or static sound. The blended noise white nose machines create is capable of masking background or environmental noise — this is why many people sleep with fans in their rooms or add them to their children’s rooms. With so many Americans facing sleep deficits, disruptions, and dysfunction, it’s not abnormal to find adults using white noise in their bedrooms.

Why white noise?

You may be wondering why I’m advocating introducing an item into your nursery, let alone one that creates noise, but bear with me. While I am a proponent of a stark and uncluttered sleep environment for babies, the addition of a white noise machine will not create any stimulation for your little one.

If your newborn has a sensitive startle reflex, as most do early on, the slightest noise can cause your baby to react and wake themselves with physical movement. Adding white noise to the nursery can help muffle environmental sound, reducing the possibility of your baby’s startle reflex being triggered.

White noise machines can also help drown out household noises while your little one is napping throughout the day, as loud noises can stimulate your baby into alertness. An alert baby is the last thing you want when you’re trying to get your little one’s daytime naps on-track [setting them up for healthy nighttime sleep].

Is white noise bad?

Okay, it’s time for me to address the elephant in the room. After significant studies in the 90s showed that white noise could help babies fall asleep faster — and stay asleep — inevitable alarmist headlines have appeared in recent years. Much like the caffeine debate — it’s terrible for you, it’s good, it’s bad — splashy headlines denounced white noise machines and scared parents across the globe.

One particular study, published in 2014, discussed the possibility of white noise machines contributing to hearing loss in infants, which set the news media on a white noise witch hunt, and scared parents enough to make them throw out their noise machines. Those who took the time to research the findings realized that the study tested fourteen sound devices on the market, and each exceeded the maximum noise level recommended for infants in hospital nurseries. And three of the noise machines tested exceeded safe levels, registering more than 85 decibels. What the study didn’t say — despite news media proclaiming in clickbaity headlines — was that hearing loss is possible in your infant if you have your white noise machine volume set to its highest level and balanced next to the crib.

The American Academy of Pediatrics shared the results of this study, reiterating the study’s recommendations, “Even though the maximum output levels were measured in this study, the authors encourage parents to move infant sleep machines farther away than 200 centimeters and to lower the volume to protect infants’ hearing.”

In short, just be smart about your white noise machine’s placement and volume level. Keep your machine more than seven feet away from your baby’s crib, and know that white noise doesn’t need to be set to a high volume to be effective. Most importantly, don’t throw out your noise machine!
Still unsure about a white noise machine and whether you should introduce one into your nursery? I offer a complimentary 15-minute sleep assessment so I can get to know the specifics about your situation.


Solids and Baby Sleep: Will It Make My Baby Sleep Longer?

If you’ve ever shared your woes about your baby’s sleepless nights, you’ve likely been given a lot of unsolicited advice; and if you haven’t, you’re one of the lucky ones! If you’ve ever been told to put cereal in your little one’s bedtime bottle to make them sleep longer, this blog’s for you. Today I’m tackling the myth of solids and baby sleep.

Stock Image by tung256 on Pixabay

Solids and baby sleep

So, the old wives’ tale is that giving your baby solid food before bedtime will keep their tummy full, therefore alleviating middle of the night wakings for feeding. Whether it’s giving breastfed babies formula at bedtime, or adding cereal to the bottle, many a new parent has been given this bogus advice. In fact, researches studied infant sleep and bedtime cereal and found that feeding your baby a more substantial bottle before bed does not affect your baby’s ability to sleep through the night.

Disrupted sleep

While cereal in the bottle before bedtime myth persists, many a baby will suffer as a result. The reality is that feeding a baby cereal too soon or too early can cause digestive issues that may actually disrupt your little one’s sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, feeding your baby solids before four months of age may:

  • Pose a risk of sucking food into the airway (aspiration)
  • Cause a baby to get too much or not enough calories or nutrients
  • Increase a baby’s risk of obesity
  • Cause upset stomach

The Mayo Clinic adds this as a side note, “Also, starting solids before age 4 months hasn’t been shown to help babies sleep better at night.” The Mayo Clinic recommends waiting until your baby is between four to six months of age to introduce solids because your baby is better able to develop the coordination their mouth needs to move food around and swallow, and their digestive system is advanced enough to begin breaking down simple foods.

Is it hunger?

When well-meaning friends and family tell you to add cereal to your baby’s bottle, they’re assuming that your baby is waking because they’re hungry. If you have a newborn, this is likely the case, as they typically need to eat every 3 hours. However, if your little one is six months or older, and is still sleeping in 2-3 hour clips through the night, you may want to take at your baby’s daytime routine because the culprit may be poor sleep habits.

Infant sleep tips

Now that we’ve dispelled the myth of solids and baby sleep let’s take a look at the ways you can help your little one rest through the night.

Creating an environment conducive to sleep — dark, quiet, and cool — can absolutely get your baby to sleep better. Do you have a bedtime routine in place? If not, that’s the perfect starting point and may be what you need to get your little one on-track.

Take a look at how your baby is napping through the day — are they getting enough sleep? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.” If you’re unsure what your little one’s daytime nap schedule should look like, to ensure that they’re getting enough sleep during the day, please call me — I can create a plan that works for your family.

If you’re co-sleeping, as many of you are when your baby is in their early months, there are some strategies you can employ to help your baby get a healthy night of sleep, such as switching for co-sleeping to room-sharing.
So, before you add cereal to your baby’s bedtime bottle, implement some of the strategies above. If you’re still having trouble getting your baby to sleep, give me a call. I offer a complimentary 15-minute sleep assessment so I can get to know the specifics about your situation.

The [Amazing] Benefits of Sleep

You, like many other people, probably think of sleep as a time when your mind and body rest and slow down, but in truth, sleep is a time when your body is working at a furious pace. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs.” It might surprise you to learn that how and why we sleep is still unknown to scientists, but they do know that sleep is required for us to remain functional and healthy. Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits of sleep, and why it’s not only crucial for your baby to get a healthy amount of sleep, but why slumber is vital for you as well.

Brainpower

Perhaps the most vital role sleep plays in our daily lives is brain function. You’ve likely suffered from poor sleep or sleep deprivation, which means you’ve felt the effects of reduced cognitive functioning as a result; difficulty putting thoughts together and poor memory recall are two of the most common effects.

Learning and memory in the human brain are divided into three critical functions: acquisition, consolidation, and recall. When we sleep, our mind is furiously processing and arranging the information we’ve taken in throughout the day, in addition to carefully storing that information as memories for later recall. When people suffer sleep deprivation, their cognitive function is substantially impaired.

Think about how much a growing baby — and children — are learning each day. So, babies and children who don’t get enough healthy sleep each night will be adversely affected. I can not stress how vital sleep is for humans — especially growing humans!

Healthy Body

We’ve all seen the news headlines proclaiming that sleep is essential for our health, but how exactly does that work? Sure, sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, among other health issues, but why? The National Sleep Foundation sums up sleeps role in our overall health and wellbeing by sharing that long periods of sleep are necessary “to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.”

Not only does your infant or child require long periods of sleep for cognitive development, but it’s also vital to your little one’s physical development as well. And when your little one is sleeping well, you can sleep well, making every family member able to perform at their peak and maintain their overall health! Sleep deprivation is not a necessary rite of parenthood, trust me — you need healthy sleep to care for your growing child.

How much sleep should you get? Adults typically need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep each day to let their body rest and restore. If you find that sleeping 6 hours works for you, without you feeling tired or irritable throughout your days, then that’s your number and keep doing what you’re doing! Let your body be your guide.

Check out these Healthy Sleep Tips for Adults

Children require different amounts of sleep depending on their age and developmental level. The National Sleep Foundation has a handy sleep chart that provides the recommended amount of sleep for each age, from newborns to young adults, ages 18-25.

Check out these 4 Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep Better

Healthy Mind & Body

If you’re reading this, you likely experienced a period of sleep deprivation with your baby, so you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that inadequate sleep is proven to make people irritable. Healthy sleep is incredibly important for your overall mood. In fact, even partial sleep deprivation can result in feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and mental exhaustion, according to study findings from University of Pennsylvania researchers.

It’s evident that sleep is beneficial for our overall health and is extremely important for the entire family. If you think your family’s sleep could use an overhaul, contact me for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.

Check out these 5 Common Myths About Sleep Training