Identifying Baby Sleep Signs

If you’re letting your baby dictate her own schedule, it can often be difficult to spot her sleep signals, which can lead to an overtired baby (and a struggle to get her down). Don’t wait for your baby to yawn to recognize fatigue, there are many other baby sleep signs that indicate that it’s time to put your little one to bed.

Yawns and face rubbing aren't the only baby sleep signs. Read on to learn how to spot signs your little one is ready for a nap.

It can be tricky to get into a sleep routine during your baby’s first few months, especially as her body is adjusting to their natural circadian rhythm. You’re waiting for adorable baby yawns, and even some eye rubbing, but they rarely appear – what’s going on?

Less Obvious Baby Sleep Signs

Infants can exhibit less obvious sleep signs, which are often difficult for new parents to decipher. If you notice your little one scrunching her nose, pulling her ears or rubbing anywhere on her face, it’s a good sign that she’s ready for a nap.

Irritability

Irritability is another common sign of fatigue in babies. One minute she’s cooing at you, the next she’s red-faced and crying. As you begin your checklist (hungry, wet, etc.) she suddenly calms down and is all smiles again – what’s going on? Your baby has already become a master at hiding her fatigue, and her “mood swings” are the result of trying to fend off sleep.

Hyperactivity

If you’ve ever experienced the wrath of an overtired baby, you know that it can be unbelievably difficult to rein her in after she’s past the point of no return. Overtired babies are active babies. Squirming in your arms, arching her back, crawling around everywhere; babies in overdrive are tired babies. Some babies will push through fatigue, or hide it from you completely, by becoming more active to overcome feelings of tiredness. Your baby may even seem a bit hyperactive when she’s overtired.

Monitor Awake Time

If you’ve missed the signs, or have a calm little one who exhibits absolutely no baby sleep signs, you’ll want to gauge naps and bedtime by paying attention to your baby’s awake time.

Infants can handle approximately an hour-and-a-half of awake time before needing a nap. If your baby wakes for the day at 6am, then she will be ready for a nap at 7:30am. Once she wakes up, you’ll want to take a look at the clock and note her next nap time, an hour-and-a-half from then; continue this throughout the day. Have an older baby? I’ve included a simple awake time chart, by age, in this blog with baby sleep tips.

If you’re still having difficulty determining a healthy sleep schedule for your baby, I’m here to help. I offer a 15-minute sleep assessment, at no charge, for parents struggling to help their baby get restful sleep.

When Your Baby Won’t Sleep

I receive questions from tired and frazzled parents every week. Sometimes the answers are a simple solution that fatigue caused weary parents to overlook, and other times the issue is a little more involved, taking a bit of investigative work to uncover. This is often the case when your baby won’t sleep, as in your baby catnaps day and night, but never gets a solid block of good sleep. I’m here to help.

You feel that you've tried everything, but your baby won't sleep. Let's take a look at what might be interrupting your baby's sleep.

As I said, most questions I receive revolve around the amount of sleep their baby is getting (how much should she be sleeping?), how to lengthen the duration of naps, or how to stretch nighttime blocks of sleep. I’ll let you in on a little secret — all of those items are typically the cause when your baby won’t sleep.

To master a skill, one often needs a solid foundation as a starting point. When your baby isn’t getting enough sleep for his age, not napping long enough during the day, and not getting solid stretches of sleep through the night, this disrupts the chances of your baby establishing a healthy sleep routine. As I tell all of my clients, sleep begets sleep.

Let’s take a look at how your baby sleeps when she is sleeping. Is she getting the proper cumulative amount of daily sleep for her age? If you’re unsure how much sleep your baby should be getting at her age, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests babies between 4 months and one year of age get around 14 hours of sleep per day, from there on until preschool age, your child should be getting around 12 hours of sleep per day.

How Is Your Baby Falling Asleep?

How are you putting your little one down to sleep? Are you nursing him to sleep and transferring him to the crib? Are you rocking him to sleep and then transferring? I throw out these ideas because the majority of parents soothe their infants to sleep and then put them in their crib. By soothing your baby to sleep, you’re a.) not allowing him to learn to fall asleep on his own, b.) unknowingly teaching your baby to sleep only when soothed by yourself, and c.) creating a scenario in which he may wake once the rocking or soothing stops (when you go to transfer him) or he may wake and be startled to no longer be in his parent’s arms. Ideally, you want to put your baby in his crib when he’s drowsy, but not completely asleep.

Establish a Routine

I often find that there is a lack of routine or lack of consistency in routine when I encounter a family with sleep concerns. In order for your little one acquire healthy sleep habits, you have to practice over and over and give it at least two weeks to become firmly ingrained. Take a look at these 7 baby sleep tips for help in establishing a healthy sleep environment and routine.

Are YOU the cause?

I understand completely — you’re tired, you’re frazzled, you’re new to parenting and you just want everyone to sleep. Don’t get upset with me, but you may be the cause. I don’t think you’re purposely trying to sabotage your baby’s sleep, but you’re inadvertently creating a stumbling block. Take a look at these 5 ways parents sabotage their baby’s sleep and see if you’re guilty of any.

Call For Backup

If you’ve gone down the checklist, tried establishing a routine (and gave it a couple of consistent weeks) and your baby won’t sleep, it may be time to call for backup. Sometimes you just need an outside [well-rested] eye to take a look at your baby’s sleep practices to determine the culprit. I offer a complimentary 15-minute sleep assessment to struggling families, so now might be the best time to call. I look forward to speaking with you!

Crib Toys: Use Them or Lose Them?

Imagine you are drowning in a sea of toys, the Legos, Barbies, stuffed animals and stacking blocks slowly creeping past your chin. You’re wading through those toys, trying to get a secure footfall to climb from them, but the toy level continues rising until you’re head is almost covered.

Everywhere parents look, toys are being marketed to them or their children. Get the scoop on crib toys and whether or not you should buy them.

It’s every parent’s nightmare, and I’m sure this scenario has never happened, but the toy creep is one of parenting’s unsolved mysteries. You set out with good intentions and through the course of the year, birthdays and holidays add to the growing toy collection in your home.

Before you know it, you have toys in your car for entertainment, toys in your diaper bag, cribs toys strapped to the crib with plush toys creating a pillow top for the crib mattress — you even have special toys just for the bathroom. It happens to the best of us, but I want to talk about the toys that may be in your child’s bedroom or nursery, specifically crib toys.

Toys are educational, some are cute and cuddly, others sing songs and have flashing buttons for your child to interact with – in short, most toys marketed for babies these days have some educational value, which is great and I encourage you to use them with your baby…just not in the crib.

These days you can find crib toys including everything from a projector to a moving seascape that can be strapped to your child’s crib – they’re cool, they’re fun — but they don’t belong in the crib; cribs are for sleeping.

Those projectors? They’re sabatoging your efforts to put your child to sleep. The lights, the movement, all of that serves to stimulate your baby’s brain, rather than lull her to sleep.

While I do advocate the use of one security toy (or “lovey”) in the crib, once your child is old enough, I do not advocate the use of any other toys in the crib. Not only are toys, blankets, and other loose articles unsafe for your sleeping baby, they also communicate the opposite message of what you’re trying so hard to convey – cribs are for sleeping, not playing.

Think about it from your own perspective. If someone ushered you to a bed full of books you’ve wanted to read, movies you’ve been waiting to see, apps and gadgets, would you be sleeping in minutes or staying awake to enjoy all of your favorite things? The exposure to screens – TV, cell phones, tablets – before bedtime are the first things sleep specialists recommend doing away with when an adult comes in with sleep issues. Babies and children are no different.

Although baby toys are not the same as electronics with lighted screens, your baby will want to play with crib toys, stimulating his brain when he should be winding down for the day. Even if your little one is tired, those toys will keep him awake (like you checking Facebook “one last time” before you go to bed).

To reiterate, I am not against babies having toys, they just don’t belong in their crib. The only item I suggest having in the crib with your little one is the attachment or security object I mentioned earlier, as a way of soothing or providing comfort for your baby (I recommend that mom sleep with the object before introducing it to your little one’s crib so that her scent also serves to comfort).

Remember, not only is a bare crib a safe crib, it’s also conducive to healthy sleep!

Baby Sleep Products That Don’t Work

Parents with little ones struggling with sleep issues are often prey to companies willing to exploit people to make a dollar. If you take a look at the sheer number baby sleep products being marketed, your head will spin with the countless choices available. These products offer the promise of soothing your little one into a peaceful slumber, but are they really worth the expense?

The number of baby sleep products being marketed today can be enticing, but don't fall prey to placebos and sleep aids.

 

Yes and no. Take a look at the billion dollar diet industry, rife with products that promise quick fixes and weight loss…with absolutely no changes to your routine. We know successful weight loss requires a change in lifestyle, and sleep is no different. Enacting healthy sleep habits for your baby requires a plan and a change to your old bedtime routine; you’re teaching your child healthy habits instead of using baby sleep products that function as aids or placebos.

Melatonin

Would you take a supplement unregulated by the FDA? If the answer is no, then why on earth would you give it to your child? Does Melatonin work? Yes, it can, but it can be harmful as well, not to mention the fact that administering melatonin does nothing to correct the underlying issues causes sleep disruption. I’m adamantly opposed to administering melatonin to children, and you can read more of my thoughts on this topic in my blog post, Melatonin and Children.

Herbal Syrups

There are a plethora of herbal syrups available on the market, each promising to help your baby sleep. Ever hear of a Snake Oil Salesman? You’ll be wanting your money back after you purchase one of these concoctions.

Lotions, Oils, Balms and Sprays

So many to choose from, but which do you choose? These products can definitely calm and soothe your little one, and are great for promoting bonding and loving touch and massage. But, these lotions, oils and sprays can give you a false sense of security when your baby stops crying, calms and goes to sleep. It’s a miracle! Or is it?

Guess what? You’ve still not targeted the root of what’s causing sleep issues with your little one, and taught her how to sleep on her own. More than likely, she’ll be up in a couple of hours, and then a couple of hours after that, and so on and so forth.

Lullaby Plush Toys

Your aim is to teach your little one how to go to sleep by himself, so why, oh why, would you put him in the crib with a toy that can stimulate him? Blinking lights (no matter how “soft”), talking and singing stuffed toys serve only to create a stimulating, play-like environment for your little one. Keep the crib austere and simple, and your little one will know that when they hit the crib it’s time to get down to business, the sleep business that is.

A Book Promising to Put Your Child to Sleep

If you’re a parent, with a young child, who watches the news or is on social media, you can’t have missed the recent news stories touting a new book, developed by a scientist, that promises to make any child sleep. Look, I get it. Many parents are desperate to help their child sleep more/better/quickly. You gave up on the myriad of sleep help books on the market, but are thinking that this may be the easier route to go. Don’t do it. Well, you can get the book to read as a nice bedtime story, but don’t put all of your sleeping eggs in the miracle sleep book basket. Plain and simple, this book is a sleep prop, a band-aid that doesn’t get to the root of the sleep issues your child is having.

If you’re at your wits-end, and find yourself considering one of the products mentioned here, call me instead. I offer a complimentary phone consultation, and can work with you to ditch the props and placebos, working towards healthy sleep routines for your baby.

When Illness Causes Baby Sleep Problems

You and your baby have finally mastered an amazing sleep routine and your little one has never slept better. Whammo! Your baby gets sick, you fall into bad sleep habits to comfort your little one, and the healthy sleep routine is out the door…or is it?

 

When illness causes baby sleep problems, keep the following tips in mind.

 

There is no need to completely throw away all of the amazing work you and your baby have done to ensure that sleep is happening in a healthy environment and in a routine manner. When illness causes baby sleep problems, keep some of the following tips in mind.

NIGHT WAKINGS

It’s a given that when a cold or illness strikes, the ‘Sleep Fairy’ goes on vacation. Think about how you sleep when you’re sick, and the level of discomfort you feel at nighttime — your baby is no different (except she can’t take Nyquil). So when illness causes baby sleep problems, anticipate night wakings, prepare yourself by having a plan for dealing with those wakings. Here’s the key — how you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference.

I’m also a parent, so I understand how tempting it is to go into the nursery when your little one is sick and do whatever you can to help assuage the discomfort by rocking or re-introducing a feed. Don’t do it. I’m not saying you’re not to comfort your little one, definitely go into the room, but don’t fall victim to all of the sleep props you’ve worked so hard to rid.

By all means, share a short cuddle with your little one, wipe her nose or offer some other type of comfort, but do not interfere with her sleep skills. Don’t rock her back to sleep, don’t feed her to sleep, don’t re-introduce any of the sleep props you eliminated (or start adding new ones!).

NIGHT FEEDS

The only time you should re-introduce nighttime feeds is if your pediatrician recommends it (IE your baby may need additional fluids due to his illness). Even then, you should only feed your little one at night for a few days, as in three days. Three days is my rule of thumb, any longer and you risk creating a new ‘routine’ for your baby, with him now waking each night expecting a feed long after the cold is gone.

MUSICAL ROOMS

I know it’s tempting, but please do not bring your baby into bed with you at night. I know, I know, you want to comfort your little one and be right by her side, but don’t do it. Routine, remember? Your baby needs to sleep in her room, in her crib (or whatever room or bed she usually sleeps in). If you feel the need to be by your child’s side while she’s sick, go to her.

That’s right, go to your baby’s natural sleep environment instead of uprooting him and bringing him into yours. Drag some cushions or an air mattress into your little one’s room and sleep in there for a night or two to monitor him.

Remember my rule of thumb? Do not spend more than three nights in your baby’s room, or else you may find yourself moving in permanently (and neither I nor you want that to happen).

What happens if everything falls apart? First of all, go easy on yourself, tending to a sick baby is not easy. Second, remember all of those healthy sleep skills and routines you and your baby worked so hard to achieve? You remember the structure, right? Well, get right back on the horse as soon as you and baby have come through the worst of it.

Start over, and if you need support to get back on track, remember that I’m just a phone call away.

Baby Waking Too Early?

You’ve finally gotten into a groove, the whole house is sleeping great at night. Getting eight glorious hours of sleep has allowed to stay up past 9pm with your partner, enjoying some kid-free time. Just as you’re beginning to get really comfortable with this routine, you hear a cry. It’s 5:30am. As the days go on, your little one begins waking earlier and earlier, and you find yourself setting the timer on the coffee maker for 4:30am. Your baby is waking too early.

Morning wake time is getting earlier by the day and your baby is waking too early. These 5 tips will help you turn your early riser into a great sleeper.

If you’ve just begun The Sleep Sense Program, you’re used to your baby waking too early; early waking is pretty normal in the first couple of weeks, as your little one learns how to consolidate sleep. Don’t worry, the early mornings will become later as your little one becomes a master at sleeping.

If you’ve been working on transitioning your little one from being an early riser – with no success – give these 5 tips a try:

1. Make sure the room is dark enough.

I’ve stressed the importance of keeping the nursery dark for naps and bedtime, but you also want to make sure that the room is dark enough to facilitate sleep. You may need to adjust your window coverings with the changing seasons, as summer brings early daylight – a change in the lighting in the room, no matter how slight, may be enough to stimulate a wake up. My advice is too ensure that the room is as dark at 5:00am as it is at 3:00am.

2. Implement white noise.

Environmental noise is one of the top culprits of sleep disruption. Remember those early sunlight hours I was just referencing? Well, the birds will be up with the sun and they can get pretty noisy (so can the garbage truck that rolls by at 5:30am).

While I recommend investing in a white noise machine, you can easily use a fan to help block out any errant noises.

3. Remain steadfast with your minimum wake time.

Pick a minimum wake up time (for me it’s 7:00am) and stick to it. It’s amazing how the time can creep up on you when you relax your minimum, allowing for ten early minutes. Before you know it, those ten minutes turn into twenty minutes, and then an entire half hour earlier. Pick your minimum and stick with it.

4. Take a look at your bedtime.

Many parents are taken aback when I tell them to move their child’s bedtime earlier. The fear is that moving bedtime earlier will create an earlier wake time. The reality is that their child is very likely waking early due to overtiredness. Try moving your baby’s bedtime just 30 minutes earlier and see if it makes a difference in his morning wake time.

Much like sleep training, you need to give your baby time to adjust to changes in her sleep schedule. If you put her to bed early one night, and don’t see any change in her wake time, don’t give up! Allow two weeks before trying something different.

5. Be aware of sleep associations.

Does your baby get fed as soon as he wakes up? If your baby loves to nurse, and nursing has played a large role in his sleep associations, he could be waking early because he’s looking forward to nursing.

Just like bedtime, it may help to put a little distance between wake time and first feed (or whatever your baby is anticipating first thing in the morning). Change a diaper, sing a little song or dance and then transition to nursing/feeding. Having a short break between waking and feeding can help break the association.

Hang in there and remember that you’re doing a great job! If you need more suggestions or a customized plan for you and your little one, please give me a call.

Is My Baby Sleeping Too Much?

I know, I know, you never thought you’d be asking this question, especially after all of the sleepless nights you’ve endured. But now you’re noticing some changes in your little one’s sleep patterns, which is leading to you to wonder if, perhaps, your baby is sleeping too much.

Is my baby sleeping too much? The simple answer is that there is no limit on daytime sleep for babies, but there are signs to look for.

The simple answer is that there is no limit on daytime sleep for babies. Every baby has different sleep needs; some sleep for a solid three hours, others do well with a quick one-hour nap to recharge. If your baby is responding well with the length of daytime naps he takes (and not exhibiting signs of overtiredness) then the question of your baby sleeping too much shouldn’t be an issue; there should be no need to tweak his schedule.

On the flip side, if your little one is struggling with bedtime, it may be an indicator that she’s getting too much sleep during the day. Take a look at the last nap of your baby’s day. Has her last nap lengthened, pushing closer to bedtime? If so, you may want to begin gently waking her from that nap.

The best way to gently wake your little one is by creating noise outside his door; open the nursery door, make some noise in the hallway, turn on the light. While I normally wouldn’t advocate for waking a sleeping baby, if the last nap of his day is interfering with his bedtime, you may gently wake him (but be prepared – he may be grouchy for the next 10-30 minutes!).

I’ve not encountered too many babies who “slept too much,” but every so often I come across a baby who sleeps more than the recommended hours for her age. If you’re concerned your baby is sleeping too much, consult your pediatrician. In very rare cases, an underlying health issue is the culprit (ie. low iron). For the vast majority of babies, there is no such thing as too much sleep.

Always remember that sleep begets sleep. If your baby is napping well throughout the day, she is setting herself up for a restful night of healthy sleep. Many well meaning friends and family members may instruct you to pull daytime naps or keep her up during the day to make her tired for bedtime — please do not do this.

Keeping your baby up during the day, in an effort to ensure bedtime sleep, will only result in an overtired little one. Once your baby hits the point of overtiredness, it can be extremely difficult to get him calm enough to get himself to sleep. I’m sure you’ve experienced being so tired you couldn’t sleep; this is exactly what your baby is experiencing when he is overtired.

Let your baby nap throughout the day and try not to wake her. If you are concerned that your baby is sleeping too much, consult your pediatrician to rule out any underlying health issues.

If you’re having difficulty getting your baby to nap well throughout the day, I’m more than happy to work with you to offer suggestions.

7 Baby Sleep Tips

As a sleep consultant, I am constantly asked for baby sleep tips: what is the secret to getting your baby to sleep through the night? The reality is that there is not one secret, or one way, to get your baby to sleep through the night. Teaching your baby healthy sleep habits is the best foundation for getting your little one to sleep through the night. These baby sleep tips will help you set the foundation for healthy sleep habits and a good night’s rest!

7-BABY-SLEEP-TIPS

 

#1 WATCH THE WAKING HOURS

Sleep begets sleep, so ensuring that your baby or toddler is napping well during the day helps prevent overtiredness. Overtiredness is a sleep killer, making naps and nighttime sleep difficult for your little one. Let’s take a quick look at how long your child should be awake between naps throughout the day:

NEWBORNS (0-12 weeks): 45 minutes of awake time

3-5 MONTHS: 1 1/2 – 2 hours of awake time

6-8 MONTHS: 2-3 hours of awake time

9-12 MONTHS: 3-4 hours of awake time

13 MONTHS to 2 1/2 YEARS: 5-6 hours of awake time

The key to great naps is ensuring that your little on is put down before she gets overtired. Once you’ve mastered nap times, you’ll find that bedtime will be a smooth process.

#2 DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK

It’s no secret that humans, adults and children, sleep better in a dark environment. Make your child’s room as dark as possible, using blackout shades or curtains, to create a dark and cozy environment conducive to sleep. Be mindful of any ambient light you may have in the room, such as digital alarm clocks or night lights, as these items can possibly disrupt sleep.

#3 BE PREDICTABLE

Babies and toddlers thrive with the predictability of set routines and schedules. Establishing nap and bedtime routines aids greatly in creating healthy sleep habits. Keep your child’s bedtime routine predictable as well, lasting no longer than 30 minutes. Establishing these routines signals sleep for your little one. Here is an example of a typical bedtime routine:

  • Bath (5 minutes)
  • Put on pajamas (5 minutes)
  • Nurse or bottle-feed (10 minutes)
  • Read a book (10 minutes)

The keys to establishing your baby’s bedtime routine is ensuring that a.) it happens at the same time each night (or within a 30 minute window), and b.) the routine follows the same order each night (predictability, remember?). Remember that bedtime is a time of quiet, devoid of any stimulation, so be boring. If your little one throws a blanket or stuffed animal from their crib, or stands up, quietly replace the item and leave the room — no talking!

#4 FEED AFTER NAPS, NOT BEFORE

A vast majority of babies and toddlers have difficulty sleeping because they associate feeding with sleep. Unknowingly, you’ve created an association that makes your little one think that she needs to nurse or have a bottle before she can fall asleep. By feeding your little one after nap time, you can break this association.

NOTE: This tip pertains to naps only; your little one needs a full tummy at bedtime to prevent night wakings.

#5 SAME PLACE, SAME TIME

As I’ve stated, routine and predictability are the secrets to establishing healthy sleep habits for your baby or toddler. Place your child to bed in the same place each day for both nap and bedtimes. If your child is with a caregiver during the day, create a similar sleep environment to establish familiarity. Keep nap and bedtimes on a set schedule (or within the same 30 minute window) to establish a predictable routine.

#6 TRY THE 1, 2, 3 SYSTEM

Night wakings can be one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome with babies and sleep. When your baby begins to fuss, try to wait before running in to tend to her.

The first day, wait one minute before going into the nursery, two minutes the second day, three minutes the third day, and so on. The purpose of this is to allow your baby time to self-soothe back to sleep. Everyone wakes briefly at the end of each 45 minute sleep cycle, including babies, and the 1, 2, 3 system helps you teach your baby what you already know — how to transition between sleep cycles.

#7 TAKE FIVE

Once you’ve gone through your baby’s nap or bedtime routine, be mindful of the final five minutes of the routine. The last five minutes of your child’s sleep routine should be calm and quiet, setting the tone for sleep. This means no tickle fights and no television (ticklefights are perfect for when your little one wakes!).

These baby sleep tips are often all that is needed to get your child to sleep, and sleep well. If you find that you’re still struggling after implementing these tips, I’m available to give you guidance.

Napping After Age 2: No-No or No Worries?

You and your little one have finally mastered a sleep routine and the entire family is feeling rested. Your 2 year old has healthy sleep habits, knowing when and where to sleep, and she follows her routine with precision and mastery. You secretly pat yourself on the back and relish the fact that you and your toddler are sleeping soundly through the night. Then, you see an article saying that napping after age 2 serves to disrupt sleep, rather than provide restorative benefits for cognitive and physical development. What do you do?

A new study purports that napping after age 2 can interrupt healthy sleep; here are my thoughts on these findings.

 

A recent study (Thorpe 2015), making rounds on the internet and causing a buzz among parents of toddlers, presents findings that show that “napping beyond the age of 2 lengthens the amount of time it takes for a child to fall asleep (sleep onset) and shortens the overall amount of night-time sleep s/he has” (Science Daily).

As of now, there are no long-term studies showing a link between napping after age 2 and any impediment in cognitive and behavioral growth, in addition to overall health (Science Daily). So, what do you do with this information?

As with any information, there are a multitude of factors to take into consideration before coming to a conclusion; the most important factor is your own child. Take a look at your toddler’s current sleep habits before making any changes to her routine. Is your toddler/preschooler still falling asleep at her usual bedtime, or are you noticing that she stays awake or has difficulty falling asleep at her bedtime?

My professional opinion is that if your child is napping well during the day, while maintaining an early bedtime (allowing for eleven to twelve hours of continuous sleep per night), and appears happy and well rested, then there is no need to transition away from the afternoon nap. However, if your child struggles to get to sleep each night, and/or begins waking several times a night of for long stretches, then it is a clear indication that they no longer need to nap during the day; at this point, the family should work on transitioning away from naps by using afternoon quiet time.

The bottom line is that this study’s findings are not a ‘one size fits all’ statement about napping after age 2. The circumstances always depend on the individual child’s needs, and many toddlers still benefit from an afternoon nap. Again, take a look at your little one’s sleeping habits and let that be the decision maker, not a scientific study making a blanket statement.

If you’re unsure whether your toddler is ready to transition from an afternoon nap to quiet time, I’m more than happy to evaluate your child’s needs. I offer a fifteen minute child sleep assessment at no charge, to assess whether you can benefit from my assistance.

Three Myths About “Sleep Training” Your Baby

This is for all of the parents out there who are apprehensive about sleep training, or simply can’t imagine it being a smooth process. Like anything, the best things in life are earned, and if you’re having trouble helping your little one develop a rhythm of healthy sleep habits, common misconceptions about sleep training can only serve to hinder any progress. When I hear arguments against sleep training, it seems that three myths prevail:

SLEEP-TRAINING-MYTHS

 

YOUR BABY WON’T LOVE YOU IN THE MORNING

Who loves, cuddles, snuggles, feeds, plays, changes wet diapers and nurtures your little one? You do! When most of your baby’s day is spent being cared for, do you really believe that a week of sleep training is going to negate everything else you do for her?

Making changes to a sleep routine, no matter the age of the person, will likely be met with some resistance, and change can often be difficult. Will your baby be a little unhappy that you’re no longer rocking her for an hour to put her to sleep? Likely, yes, but once she falls into a healthy sleep routine and begins getting the sleep s/he needs, you’ll more than likely have an even happier baby than before!

SLEEP TRAINING MEANS LEAVING YOUR BABY TO CRY IT OUT

Perhaps the number one misconception, in terms of sleep training, is the idea that babies are left to cry, and cry…and cry, until they are so exhausted that they fall asleep. Folks, this couldn’t be further from the case. Let me be perfectly clear, the Sleep Sense Program is not a “cry it out” program; in fact, you can remain in the room with your little one if it makes you more comfortable.

Babies communicate through crying, and when you change their bedtime routine they’re communicating their confusion. Think about it, you’ve been rocking your little one to sleep each night, and gently placing her into her crib once she falls asleep, of course she is confused! The good news is that your tired arms will get a rest and your baby will likely only take a few days to get over her confusion. Children adapt to change quickly and your little one will be getting herself to sleep calmly in no time at all.

SLEEP TRAINING IS TOO STRESSFUL FOR BABIES

Let me allay your fears: there is no evidence that sleep training produces any long or short term psychological effects on children.

Will there be crying? As I previously mentioned, your baby will likely be confused by the changes you’re making to her sleep routine, which can be anywhere from five to forty minutes of crying. Again, if the thought of your baby crying makes you cringe, you are more than welcome to remain in the room with her. The big picture is that it will only take a few days, with a bit of crying, for your baby to learn to fall asleep calmly and independently; the “stress” felt by your baby is minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

You can choose to do nothing. You can continue to rock your baby to sleep, rushing into her room anywhere from one to ten times a night to rock, nurse, or bounce her back to sleep. In this scenario, neither parent nor baby gets healthy sleep, depriving one or both of them of the sleep s/he needs to feel rested and refreshed. This can go on for months, and even years, creating poor sleep habits that can affect your little one later in life; there is evidence linking poor sleep with difficulty focusing in class, and even obesity, in school age children. The slew of problems associated with unhealthy sleep, and the trickle down effect, seem more stressful to me than a few fussy nights!

If one or more of these sleep training myths has hindered you from contemplating making simple, yet effective, changes in your little one’s sleep routine, I hope I’ve put your mind a little more at ease.

Where do you start and how do you begin making changes towards ensuring your baby adopts healthy sleep practices? Call me for a Complimentary Sleep Assessment so we can get acquainted and to discuss your baby’s sleep habits!