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

What You Need to Know About Split Nights

Your baby went to sleep without any issues, and you’ve finally hit R.E.M. sleep — YES! Then, you’re awoken by your baby’s cries. You go into the nursery to calm your little one, change a diaper, and maybe take care of a feeding, but your little one is wide awake and ready to play. It’s tough to be upset with that adorable little smile, but what on earth is going on here? Today I’m going to talk about split nights.

What are “split nights”?

You may already be familiar with the term “split nights” if you’ve undergone a sleep study for sleep apnea, but split nights with babies and toddlers is an entirely different thing. Split nights in our case is when your baby goes to sleep at night and wakes a few hours later for an hour or more. Babies experiencing split nights will be wide awake in this interim period, frustrating tired parents with their 2 a.m. playtime.  

Causes

I’m going to delve into the science behind sleep quickly, so as not to lose you — but it’s important for you to understand your baby’s night wakings in context.

Human sleep is regulated biologically and is regulated by two processes: circadian and homeostatic. You’re likely familiar with circadian rhythm, which is the human body’s sleep/wake cycle, based upon the 24-hour clock. Human’s homeostatic sleep drive asserts that the longer one stays awake, the more tired they are — you practice this with your baby by responding to sleep signals to put your baby down when they need sleep.

So, your baby’s body is still working on responding to natural sleep cycles, which can quickly change with their rapid growth and development. When their body’s need for sleep — or natural sleep cycle — shifts to accommodate growth and development, but the schedule you’ve been maintaining doesn’t shadow this, your baby’s sleep is easily affected. They can miss sleep windows and become overtired, or even sleep too much during the day (leading to dreaded split nights). This sounds more complicated than it is, so keep reading.

What to do about split nights

If your baby’s nighttime sleep is disrupted with a middle-of-the-night wake-up, you should first take a look at what’s going on during the day. Getting your baby back on track is often a matter of tweaking their daytime nap routine. While it’s not necessarily the concrete answer you’re looking for, you may find that shifting naps earlier or ensuring that your baby doesn’t sleep more than a specific length of time solves middle-of-the-night wakings.

Take a day or two to watch for baby sleep signs carefully, and see if they correspond to the schedule your baby is currently following. If they differ, you’ve found the answer and should shift according to the natural sleep signs your baby is demonstrating; use your baby as the guide to their newly adjusted schedule.
If you still are unable to find the right schedule to eradicate your baby’s split nights, give me a call. I offer a complimentary 15-minute sleep assessment so I can get to know the specifics about your situation.

Time Zone Travel: Dealing with Jet Lag

If you read my recent post about holidays and sleep, you may have noticed that I, ahem, skimmed a bit in the plane travel section. Plane travel can be tricky with sleep, not only because of the sheer amount of time it takes between arriving early and then flying but also because cabin pressure often causes uncomfortable physical effects that easily disrupt your little one’s ability to relax. Throw in travel between different time zones and you have a veritable obstacle course to tackle with your baby’s sleep patterns. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can deal with jet lag when traveling between time zones.

1. Be realistic

Think about how comfortable you feel on a long haul flight, crammed into an economy seat, and realize that your little one is likely not much more comfortable than you. Without the ability to move about freely, your little one may get antsy, so be realistic about your expectations of the flight. It’s highly likely that your kiddo’s regular sleep pattern will be disrupted, with excitement, cabin pressurization, and pent-up energy affecting their body.

Your goal for the flight — even if it means bending or breaking your own rules — is to try to keep your little one occupied and as comfortable as possible. Don’t be afraid to allow unlimited screen time — but consider bringing along blue-light-blocking glasses — or shower your kiddo with coloring books, crayons, and snacks (but try to avoid sugary treats). While you may just want to close your eyes and sleep the flight away, realize that this may not happen with your little one in tow, and plan accordingly by packing activities to occupy your little one.

2. Break the rules

Yes, I’m saying that you have my permission to break the rules and do whatever it takes to get your little one to grab some Zzzzs on your flight. Whether it be rocking in your arms or popping a pacifier in their mouth, don’t be afraid to break the rules if it means your child will be more comfortable and will rest easier. Once you get back home and into your routine after traveling, you can work on getting back on track, but right now, you just need to keep everyone happy (including your fellow passengers).

3. Roll with it

If your child already sleeps well, you’re in good shape to take on this trip. Without an existing sleep debt — like most adults typically have — your child will likely respond to a disrupted sleep routine with fatigue, and adapt more easily to the new time zone. Don’t try to keep you or your kiddo on your old schedule; instead, allow your bodies to naturally adapt to the new time zone and worry about adjusting back when you return.

4. Go with the rhythm

To help your little one adapt to the new time zone, make sure that they get as much sunlight exposure as possible so that their body’s natural clock adjusts. Go for plenty of walks, play in parks, take advantage of time outside during the day while you’re away. On the flip side, try to be indoors in dim lighting or the dark for at least two hours before putting your little one to bed and try to limit screen exposure; this will give your little one’s body time to naturally release melatonin and prepare them for sleep on the new schedule.

The change in time zones and travel may mean that your baby is ready for a nap at an odd time — go with it. It’s better to have a rested kiddo than an overtired one, so don’t be afraid to go off schedule. The good news is that it should only take a couple of days for your little one to adjust to the time zone, allowing you to make the most of your time away. And when you return, your baby will have an easier time falling back into their routine with familiar surroundings.

 

Jet lag takes its toll on everyone, but you’ll find yourself better equipped to deal with it when you plan in advance. Know that the flight over may be uncomfortable, but having activities packed and allowing yourself to break some of your rules can help ease you through. Remember that adjusting to the new time zone may take a couple of days and that throwing yourselves into the new schedule with plenty of sunlight exposure during the day and dark time before bed will speed up the process. Most of all, don’t forget to enjoy yourselves — safe travels!

 

Holidays and Healthy Sleep

In the blink of an eye, the holiday season is here again, and I know that I have many nervous parents wondering how they’re going to stay on top of the busy season and keep their little ones well-rested and healthy. I’m here to tell you that it likely won’t be perfect, but with a bit of planning and foresight, you can help your baby stay on some semblance of a sleep schedule.

Now’s not the time to start

If you’re reading this and you’re about to begin sleep training, I suggest waiting until your holiday travel plans are complete before committing to consistency. Knowing that you’ll likely not be able to maintain a set schedule while traveling will just prolong the training period, frustrating everyone involved.

 

Expect and plan for disruptions

From November through January, many people are on-the-move, traveling to spend time with family — near and far — and getting as much quality time in as they can. Whether you trade holiday visits between both sides of you and your partner’s family or open your home for the season, you’ll likely experience a little disruption with your little one’s sleep schedule. Whatever you do, don’t panic!

Travel tips

Plane rides and road trips can easily interfere with your baby’s sleep routine, which is why you want to plan ahead of time. If at all possible, plan your travel times around your baby’s schedule — I know, I know, it’s not always possible, but if you can, do it.

By car

If you’re traveling by car, try to plan your travel to coincide with nap times. While car naps aren’t always the best sources of sleep, getting your baby to nap a little on schedule while you’re headed to visit family will help them stay on their sleep schedule. Don’t forget to pack your little one’s favorite stuffed toy or blanket to provide a little bit of homey comfort while you’re away.

With especially long road trips, try to make planned stops to get a little exercise and fresh air — weather permitting, of course. If you can get your toddler to have a nice run around a park or a quick sightseeing stop along the way, it may help tire them come bedtime.

By plane

Flying introducing a myriad of different variables, not least of which is pressurization — changes in cabin pressure are enough to throw your baby off for the entire flight. Again, a perfect scenario would be to try to schedule travel time around your baby’s nap schedule, but even the shortest flights are still time-consuming, between advance check-in and boarding. Bearing the lengthiness of air travel in mind, I’m going to do something I never do and suggest that you do whatever you need to keep your little one comfortable and content on the plane.

The reality is that flying on a plane is exciting for children, and they’re surrounded by lots of unfamiliar faces, which can cause overstimulation. In all likelihood, your little one won’t sleep on the plane, so you’ll want to find ways to keep them occupied throughout the flight. If you need some ideas for in-flight activities, check out Parenting magazine’s 50 Ways to Entertain a Kid on An Airplane or these 10 Busy Bags Ideas to Make Traveling with Toddlers Easier.

Establish expectations with family

Whether you’re traveling to visit family or family is coming to visit you, your little ones are going to be doted on by relatives. The extra family time alone can cause overstimulation, not to mention well-meaning relatives who want to see your baby alert and awake. Resist the urge to cave into your relatives’ demands and treat your little one’s nap and bedtime as sacrosanct.

Stick to your regular nap and bedtime routines and schedule — as closely as you can — and make sure you establish that the baby’s room is off-limits. Because of your baby’s sleep routine, you can tell well-meaning family members and friends when your little one will wake, and invite them to visit with them at that time. If you need to be forceful, explain that your baby is sleep training and minor disturbances or disruptions can throw off their schedule, making for a grumpy baby who will likely not be in the mood to visit.

Work with the sleeping arrangements

Whether you’re in a hotel, staying with family, or using the nursery as a spare room for visiting family, you need to try to keep your baby’s sleeping arrangements as separate from yours as possible. If you’re relegated to a single room, try to find a way to divide the room into two sleeping areas — one for you and one for your baby.

While it might sound strange, a closet is actually an excellent option for room-sharing. Not only will your little one be in a dark, muffled area, but they also won’t be able to see you and your partner, and they’ll be insulated from people coming and going from your room.

 

While you’ll likely not make it through the holiday season without a few bumps and bobbles in your little one’s sleep routine, having a plan going in can make a huge difference. Most importantly, don’t let minor setbacks throw you off — consistency is what will get your little one back on track.

A Bedtime Reading Routine is Beneficial for Babies

The first five years of a child’s life are explosive in terms of their overall development and will set the stage for the person they will become. By age three, your toddler’s brain is 80% the size of an adult’s and reaches 90% of its potential size at age five. According to First Things First, “The early years are the best opportunity for a child’s brain to develop the connections they need to be healthy, capable, successful adults. The connections needed for many important, higher-level abilities like motivation, self-regulation, problem solving and communication are formed in these early years – or not formed.”

The developing brain

Ronald E. Dahl, in a study published in Sleep, reviews the widely held belief that the three “most fundamental requirements for healthy growth and development in young children include a) loving support and protection by parents/caretakers, b) adequate nutrition, and c) adequate sleep.” It’s the importance of sleep that keeps my phone ringing and my email inbox full of messages and questions from concerned parents who simply want their little ones to sleep better.

Books and babies

Ongoing stimulation in the form of reading goes a long way to building important, lifelong brain connections for your little one. Study after study has shown the correlation between reading to young children and emergent literacy. And indeed, according to Kids Health, your baby will have mastered all of the sounds needed to speak their native language by the time they’re one. While this early language mastery can be accomplished by regularly talking to your baby, reading aloud to your little one is where it’s at! (Psst! Listening to audiobooks together counts, too.)

The benefits of reading to your baby are many, including:

  • teaching a baby about communication
  • introducing concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes
  • building listening, memory, and vocabulary skills
  • giving babies information about the world around them

And perhaps most surprisingly, a recent study points to a correlation between reading aloud to children and an absence of behavior problems. Dr. Perri Klass explains the study findings in a New York Times article, saying, “A new study provides evidence of just how sustained an impact reading and playing with young children can have, shaping their social and emotional development in ways that go far beyond helping them learn language and develop early literacy skills. The parent-child-book moment even has the potential to help curb problem behaviors like aggression, hyperactivity and difficulty with attention, a new study has found.”

Sleep is key

If you’ve heard the term, “Sleep on it,” it refers to waiting overnight to make a decision, allowing your brain to recharge before jumping in with both feet; there may be some science to that.

Referring to another study, this one entitled, “Sleep and the Developing Brain,” Dahl shares that a study showed an incidence of cognitive deficits and high hyperactivity scores in six-year-old children who did not get enough sleep when they were two-and-a-half. Says Dahl, “This suggests that obtaining insufficient sleep during the first few years of life may have long-standing consequences.”

Research shows that both reading to your children and ensuring that they get enough sleep have lasting impacts on their social, emotional, behavioral, and mental development. The brain needs sleep in addition to stimulation to develop healthily. Now you can understand why I’m a such an advocate for books being a part of a child’s bedtime routine.

Books and bedtime

Creating a consistent bedtime routine can help your little one get the sleep their tiny body so desperately needs. Whether you read a book before bathtime or directly before the lights go out, make sure that reading to your child is part of their bedtime routine each night. Not only will it help build those essential brain connections, but it will also it will help you relax and unwind at the end of the day, too!

If you need help coming up with a bedtime routine that works for your family, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me HERE!!

Tips for Dealing With The Time Change and Daylight Savings for Children

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:

If I had my way, there would not be a daylight savings time. I think it really does affect not only children’s sleep patterns but adults, too. In fact, statistically, there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings time kicks in. It really does have an effect on all of us, and it can increase our sleep debt – especially in children, who 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 is usually why people notice it the most in young children.

Fall Back - Tips for Dealing with Daylight Savings Time

So what is the best way to handle it?

My advice is to “split the difference.”

Tips for Dealing with Daylight Savings Time 

 

For “Fall Back”

My recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone 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!

 

If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30, you will adjust this to 9:00 for the three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap.

Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7 p.m. I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 p.m. for the first three days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.

If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back o

n track and sleep until their normal wakeup time. 

If you are dealing with a baby, you cannot do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6 a.m. is okay now. So if she normally wakes at 7:00, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait till ten after the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 6:30 the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.

On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.

For “Spring Forward”

Tips for Dealing With The Time Change and Daylight Savings for Children

The same “split the difference” rule applies. So if naptime was usually 9:30, it’s now 10:00 a.m. The same goes for the afternoon nap, and bedtime is 7:30. This will mean that your baby is going to bed a little earlier or sooner than the normal wait between sleeps, but again it’s not so much so that it’s going to interfere with her schedule too much. It may take her a bit more time to fall asleep since she may not be as tired, but in a week’s time she will be back on track again. 

On day and night 4, move to the correct time on the clock again.

Give it time and know that your little one will get back on schedule within a week, possibly two

Healthy Sleep Tips for Adults

I’m going to switch gears and focus on YOU. Are you practicing what you preach when it comes to healthy sleep? While my main focus is on helping families get their babies to sleep soundly, it’s still essential for you to get a good night’s rest. If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to fall asleep and get the requisite number of hours of sleep your body needs to perform, this post is for you.

Sleep Aids

Unfortunately, I have no advice for those of you who suffer from a sleep disorder because I am not a physician and I’m sure your doctor has already offered you strategies. What I can do, however, is share some helpful tips to begin implementing a healthy sleep routine of your own.

If you find yourself taking an over-the-counter sleep aid, you could likely benefit from a sleep routine. However, the best sleep aid you can have is one similar to your baby’s — create a bedroom environment conducive to sleeping. As hard as it is, avoid the temptation to bring your cell phone or tablet into bed at night and keep the television out of the bedroom. You’ll also want to keep your room cool and dark; basically, do everything to create an environment that allows you to relax.

You’ve likely already about the adverse effects blue light has on our brains and that it affects sleep, but did you know that our gadgets can change all aspects of our sleep, start to finish? According to the National Sleep Foundation, our electronics can suppress the release of melatonin — thus disrupting sleep patterns and signals — and keep our brains alert (making it difficult to fall asleep), in addition to causing sleep disruptions throughout the night. Again, if you’ve eliminated screens from your children’s nighttime routines, you will also benefit from doing the same; bring a book to bed if you must (but do not read on a tablet!).

How much sleep do I need?

According to the American Sleep Association, 35.3% of adults report less than 7 hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period. A third of the adult population in the US are not getting adequate sleep each night, which contributes to a slew of additional problems: daytime sleepiness, irritability, depression, increased risk of developing diabetes & heart disease, memory & concentration issues, weight gain, and driving accidents. The first step to battling sleep deprivation is figuring out the right amount of sleep for your body because sleep needs differ by person.

Henry Nicholls, author of Sleepyhead: The Neuroscience of a Good Night’s Rest, spent months researching the science of sleep, to help people sleep better (Nicholls suffered from narcolepsy). What he found was that knowing how much sleep one needs, and carving out a routine that protects that amount of sleep, are keys to getting a better night’s rest.

If you’ve ever tried an elimination diet, the concept with determining optimal sleep amounts is similar. Keep a sleep diary and tally the hours you sleep each night; make sure you enter any notes pertaining to how you feel each day — mental clarity, alert/sluggishness, etc. Nicholls says that the average number of hours over a two week period of journaling sleep will be the number of hours your body needs.

Sleep Stability

Once you’ve determined your optimal number of sleep hours, create a consistent sleep routine every day of the week. This means going to bed and waking at the same times each day and resisting the temptation to stay up late and sleep in on weekends. The other key to a better night’s sleep? Practicing what Nicholls calls good sleep hygiene: “you have to implement basic sleep hygiene, which is not drinking caffeine after midday, or exercising too late, or drinking alcohol before bed, and just eating sensibly.”

And like I tell my clients, give it a couple of weeks of consistently adhering to your routine and your body will start to respond. You may even find that you no longer need to set your alarm — wouldn’t that be great?

Switching From a Crib to a Bed

Determining when to switch from a crib to a bed is a common toddler-parent question I receive, so today I’m going to address it. In addition to being asked when the right time is, I’m also asked how to go about the process of switching from a crib to a toddler bed. It’s easy, so let’s take a look.

 

 

If you stumbled across my website because you’re looking for ways to teach your toddler the skills to sleep through the night, put this blog to the side because now is not the right time to make a switch. Right now, you need to focus on getting your little one into a healthy sleep routine, rather than making further changes to their sleeping environment.

Thankfully, many manufacturers make convertible cribs that transition between crib and toddler bed, so the leap is not such a big one for many little ones. But I’ve noticed a trend of people putting their little ones into beds earlier and earlier, some as young as a year-and-a-half! Let me reassure you unless they’ve outgrown the length of their crib, there is no reason to rush your toddler out of their crib and into a bed.

Identify your concerns

Take a moment to think about what it is about the transition that makes you apprehensive or worried that the switch from crib to bed won’t be a smooth one? If you’re concerned about your little one slipping out of bed in the night, the reality is that is less likely to happen if they’re well-rested and sleeping through the night. So, the moral is, make sure that your toddler is sleeping well before considering the switch from crib to bed.

If your little one is sleeping independently through the night, and you’ve deemed it’s time to transition, let them know. Explain that they’re going to be getting a new bed and let them know when the switch is going to happen. Keep the conversation positive and upbeat, and allow them to utilize some of their newfound independence by helping choose new bed linens to create a space that’s comfortable for them.

Once you’ve chosen a bed, let your little one help assemble it if they’re interested — anything you can do to make them a part of the process will help smooth the transition. Make sure that the bed occupies the same space as your toddler’s crib; this is not the time to make significant changes with furniture arrangement.

Treat the first night in the new bed like any other. Try not to make a production out of the new bed, and make sure you keep the bedtime routine the same. Toddlers are at a time of uncertainty in their lives, not knowing whether or not they want to do the whole “growing up” thing, so keep things low-key.

What to expect

You’ve gone through your little one’s bedtime routine, turned off the lights and cracked the door. Here are some scenarios that may play out:

  1. Your little one adapts to their new bed and sleeps through the night. In this case, celebrate because you are among the minority.
  2. Your toddler adapts immediately, but after a week or two begins leaving their room, playing with their toys, or calling you back in several times during the night.
  3. Your toddler doesn’t adapt immediately, is up from the bed and leaves their room, plays with toys and calls you in throughout the night.

With the latter two scenarios, offer a warning when your toddler demonstrates unwanted behavior and give them a consequence if they do it again. Make sure you follow through with the consequence if your toddler follows through with the action. Don’t attempt to manage your toddler’s behavior differently, as the focus here is getting them to adjust to the change in bed, not a change in discipline.

It’s highly likely that your little one will have some hiccups with the transition from crib to bed, so remember that you are in control. Remain calm and don’t go back to the crib — remember, with any transition, it can take a week or two for your little one to adjust. Trust me, you’ll get through it!

If you feel you need a little more guidance, give me a call! I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation with new clients to see if your family can benefit from working with me.