Are You Ready To Stop Seeing Your Clock Before 6:00am?

Some babies are natural early birds, but most are not and there are many things you can do to encourage a later morning.

You might be surprised to hear it all starts with bedtime. Here is a list of must dos…

  • Ensure the bedtime feed is before bath or at the beginning of the routine and your little one is wide awake for the feed.
  • Ensure baby is going down wide awake all on her own with no one in the room.  This includes not falling asleep with a soother!
  • Ensure baby is not at all overtired. Try bedtime 10-15 minutes earlier.
  • If baby wakes between 5am-6am it is best to stay out of the room if at all possible.  Seeing mom or dad is just too stimulating and now they know you are awake too, so there is usually no going back to sleep. They think it is party time!
  • Wait until a minimum of 6am to take baby out of the crib.
  • After taking your baby out of the crib, turn on the lights, open the blinds, do a diaper change and then offer a feed. Make sure baby is wide awake.
  • Ensure the room is pitch dark and you are using white noise to drown out all of those early morning noises like Dad getting ready for work.
  • Make sure nap one is not too close to taking baby out of the crib in the morning. I suggest counting the amount of wake time from 6am, not from the time your baby woke early.  If I knew I could get back into bed an hour or two after I woke, I wouldn’t mind starting my day before 6am either.
  • It can take 4-6 weeks of being super consistent before your baby’s body clock is reset and he starts sleeping in later.

Uh Oh! Time Change

Daylight Savings:  Spring Forward 

I love the fact it is light out later and summer is coming but I am always sad to loose that hour of sleep. It not only affects children’s sleep patterns, but adults as well. 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.

So what is the best way to handle it?

My advice is to “split the difference.”

So if nap was usually 9:30am it is now 10:00am.  This will actually feel like 9:00am to your baby. Do the same with afternoon nap and bedtime. This will mean that your baby is going to bed a little earlier or sooner than the normal wait between sleep, but it is not so much that is should interfere with their schedule too much. It may take her a bit more time to fall asleep as she may not be as tired, but within a week she will be back on track again. On day and night 4, move to the correct time on the clock again.

The good news is the spring forward time change is typically an easier one than the fall back change. Most parents like to see the clock says 7:00am as opposed to 6:00.spring forward

Does My Baby Need to Eat During the Night?

“My daughter is five months old, and wakes to eat every two hours. Is it OK to not feed her?” Well, the short answer is yes. It is OK not to feed her. When we look at this, eating every two hours is similar to what a newborn would need.

With her being five-months-old, there’s really no reason why, unless she’s having some serious health issues. But apart from that, there’s really no reason why she is needing to wake up every two hours for a feed. What I really want you to look at is how she gets to sleep at bedtime.

I always tell people, the first place to look is bedtime. What’s going on there? My guess is that she’s bottle feeding or nursing herself to sleep at bedtime, and then you transfer her to the crib.

What happens then is that a baby believes that a bottle or breast is the fastest and best way to get into sleep. It’s not a matter of hunger. It’s more a strategy for getting to sleep, as they do not know any other way. When she has a wake up in the night, her response is to cry, mostly like, have you come, and recreate the sequence of events that happen to get her to sleep in the first place.

This is a strategy issue. She’s using that bottle or breast through the night to get herself back to sleep. The good news around all of this, is that this is a fairly easy fix. If we get her falling asleep independently at bedtime, not allowing her to fall asleep on the bottle or breast, that’s going to solve a lot of these night wakings because she’s going to learn how to get to sleep.

If she has any kind of wake up in the night, she should be able to start handling this more herself, and relying less and less on the bottle or breast. I would encourage you to start there. Let’s get this baby sleeping through the night, because really, given her age, there’s no reason why she can’t be sleeping a solid 10 to 12 hours a night. That’s the good news there.

Sounds like a great idea, but many parents are unsure of how to get their baby falling asleep on their own. First ensure that baby is not getting sleepy during the bedtime feed, the easiest way to do this is to move the feed to the beginning of the bedtime routine, yes even before bath. At about 3 months, I always move the feed to the beginning of the routine.

Babies become metabolically capable of beginning to sleep through the night at approximately around 13 pounds and 3 months. When I work with a baby, I always take it case by case for babies between 3-6 months if we are going to cut out all night feeds.

With every single child I  work with our goal is always to get them falling asleep independently at bedtime. This is where all the magic happens!

Testing the Waters

Just when you think you’ve nailed this sleep business and your baby has been going to bed happily and sleeping through the night for weeks…BAM! Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, he’s waking up every few hours and crying for long periods of time.

Before you start to panic and tell yourself you are destined to an eternity of sleepless nights with a cranky baby, let me just reassure you that this is perfectly normal and happens to many babies who have previously been sleeping well. There is usually a good reason, and it’s often only a phase that will pass soon enough.

Here are the top reasons this might be happening.

1. Your child could be simply testing the waters. As adults, we usually understand that once we learn a rule (don’t drive on the wrong side of the road, don’t cut in the front of the line at the bank, don’t drink a double espresso before bed), it’s always going to be the rule.

But children don’t think that way, and for them this new bedtime knowledge is not yet crystallized. In their minds, just because something was the rule today, this does not necessarily mean it will be the rule tomorrow or three weeks from now.

Most children will repeatedly test you around everything, as you probably know, but they will especially test your expectations around sleep. That’s why it’s so important to stick to the plan. Don’t start bringing baby into bed with you at night when he cries, or rocking him back to sleep every two hours…not after all that hard work you did. Just stay the course and soon he will figure out that bedtime and sleep routines are here to stay.

2. If your baby was sleeping soundly every night and is suddenly waking and crying, it’s possible she might have an ear infection. With some children it isn’t as easy to detect, and they may not be pulling on their ears or fighting a fever (usually a telltale sign). If you suspect your baby might be waking from pain, take her to the doctor and have her ears checked out. Once she is treated she will most likely start sleeping soundly again.

3. If your baby is protesting at night and it seems out of the blue, it’s also possible it could be related to a developmental milestone. If your child has recently learned a new skill (rolling, crawling, walking etc.) this could be what’s causing the momentary ripple in bedtime routine. Remember to stick to the plan and it should blow over in a couple of weeks.

Remember: Whatever the reason for your baby’s night-waking or tantrums at bedtime, don’t panic and rush in and resort to sleep props to get them to sleep. You have to remain consistent with your response and expectations or you will quickly undo all the progress you’ve made. The more you stick with the plan, the more your baby’s healthy sleep habits will just become part of his daily routine, which will set him up for a lifetime of sleeping well.

What have I learned in the last 4 years?

It has been 4 years since I embarked on my journey of becoming a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. I am a big believer in personal reflection and want to share with you what I have learned over the last 4 years.

•I have the best job in the world.
•Sleep is a skill that must be learned.
•Sleep is becoming more valued in our society.
•Sleep consultants are becoming much more common and widespread. When I started, I was the third person in Calgary that worked with families to help improve the sleep of their children. Now there are over 40 sleep consultants in Calgary.
•I am truly blessed to be the first Sleep Sense Consultant in Alberta.
•Dana Obleman, the founder of SleepSense is an amazing women and mentor.
•Lack of sleep can tear a family apart.
•No parent likes to hear their child cry.
•Having a child go to sleep without relying on anything external to themselves is where all the magic happens.
•Every parent hits their breaking point when they just can not take the lack of sleep any longer at different times.
•The sooner you teach a baby to sleep well, the better.
•Sleep training does not mean sleeping through the night.
•Balancing work and family is difficult.
•The group of SleepSense Consultants I am part of is a wonderful and supportive group of women whom I admire greatly.
•Our yearly conventions are a highlight of my year.
•Referrals are the backbone of my business.
•My family comes first.

Sleep Training During the Holidays

This may sound a bit strange, but it’s my opinion that the holidays can be a good time to “sleep train” your child.

I know, I know. Things are busy, you’ve got shopping to do and parties to go to… But here are TWO reasons why you should consider this:

Reason #1:

The Christmas season is the ONE time of year that pretty much everyone is able to take a few days in a row off work. This is a big one, because it frees up both you AND your partner to be able to fully participate in the process. The first few nights and days always go much better if both mom and dad can be there to help and support each other. And no one has to get up early for work.

Reason #2:

You’ve usually got a lot of friends and family around… and they can help you out! If your sister is staying with you for a couple of days, feel free to ask her to take the baby while you grab a nap during the day.

Tip: I’ve found that friends and family respond really well to something like this… “I’ve been doing some research, and we’ve decided to make some improvements to our son/daughter’s sleep. It should only take a couple of days, but do you think you could help me out by_________.”

(Just fill in the blank with a small job or two that would make your life easier. Maybe get them to make dinner for you, or do the laundry, etc.)

If this sounds like something that will work for your family, then you can download the sleep sense program right away.

Clink on the link below to find out more….

No need to wait until the new year to start those resolutions!

Holiday Travel Plans

Now that you have worked so hard to get your child sleeping well, the last thing you want to do is see their sleep regress.  Do Christmas travel plans leave you feeling nervous?

Here are a few tips to keep your little one sleeping well during the holiday season.

An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime probably isn’t going to do too much harm, but if your baby spends a couple of days taking car seat naps here and there and having late bedtimes, she may become so overtired that by the time bedtime rolls around , she has a complete meltdown and seems to “forget” all her sleep skills and just cries the house down.

If that happens, you might start to get very nervous because (a) your baby, who has been happily chatting herself to sleep for weeks, is now crying again, and (b) your mother-in-law is standing outside the door repeatedly asking you if you’re sure the baby is okay. You may start to give into this pressure and bend your expectations for your baby’s sleep. It’s easy to see how you could revert back to your own familiar ways in no time if you gave into this pressure and fear.

 It’s very normal for babies and toddlers to test the boundaries around sleep when they are somewhere new. Just because the rule is the rule at home, that does not necessarily mean the rule is the same at Grandma’s house. This may mean that your baby cries for some time at bedtime or has a night waking or two. The best way to handle it is to not do too much different than you would if the regression happened at home. You can go in every ten minutes or so to offer a bit of reassurance, but other than that, don’t bend your rules. If you hang on tight to your consistency, within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again.

 Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket and white noise!

Another big mistake parents make is to bed share with their baby or toddler while traveling. Bed sharing is a big no-no! Even it’s it is only for a few nights, if your baby decides this is her new preferred location, you could find yourself starting all over again when you get home. Most hotels have a crib you can use or rent, or take your pack and play along and use that as a crib.

 If your child is eight months or older, my advice is to try to make some sort of a private space for your baby to sleep. This could be the bathroom (if it’s big enough) or the closet. Anywhere that you can build some sort of a partition between you and your baby, so that if she has a wake up in the middle of the night she is not so excited to see her two favorite people that she ends up wide awake thinking it’s play time! Of course, getting an extra bedroom for your child is great if that’s an option for you.

May your days be Merry and Bright and your nights be Silent.
Safe travels!

Neugeborenes mit Nikolausmütze

Night Wakings

Ah, night wakings….

Young babies still need to eat during the night, so getting out of bed to feed your baby is a necessity. But night after night of interrupted sleep can catch up with you and make you feel like the walking dead when you make that sleepy trek to the crib.

Worse still is when your baby just won’t settle after feeding and you spend what feels like hours rocking and soothing, only to have your child wake up the second she lays her little head down.

Fortunately, there are ways to make the process less painful. Here are some tips to help make night feeding faster and less exhausting for everyone:

First of all, remember that it’s not your job to put the baby down asleep. Nothing is more frustrating than feeding your baby for 20 minutes and then having to spend another half-hour trying to get him back to sleep. Soothing your child to sleep every time you feed him will just set you up for more frustration down the line, as your baby will not learn to self-soothe. The key to cutting out night feeds is to ensure your baby stays awake for the feeding and you the put him back in the crib awake.  If he really starts to cry, pick him up briefly and give him a little cuddle before laying him back down again.

I always recommend starting the night feed with a diaper change to ensure your baby is awake enough to take a great feed. Keep the lights down low. Artificial lights interrupt melatonin and can seriously affect your child’s ability to go back to sleep. You can keep a dim light on in the hall, but you don’t want full light in the room or your baby will not be able to settle easily. It’s also important to keep any electronics with lights (alarm clocks, stereos, laptops etc.) out of the baby’s room, as the light they emit will also affect melatonin.

Keep things business-like. It’s not party time; you just want to feed your baby and put her down and go back to bed. Keep your voice quiet and gentle and don’t greet your baby with too much excitement. The more enthusiastic you sound, the more your baby will think it’s time to play, not sleep.

Even when you remain calm and quiet and keep the lights low, your baby still might not settle right back to sleep. But don’t panic and pick him right back up again if he squawks or cries a little. Wait and see if he will fall asleep on his own. Remember that this phase won’t last long, and soon your baby (and you!) will be able to sleep through the night.

Baby feeds on MOM's breasts

Oh No, My Baby is Sick!

You have worked so hard to get your little one sleeping well. And then they get sick!

Today I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that you don’t derail all your progress. There’s a few things that you do need to keep in mind.

The first is your baby is going to wake in the night. Anyone who is ill does not sleep as well as they normally do. So do not panic, even the best sleepers do not sleep well when they are sick.

It’s realistic to expect that your sick child is going to have some night wake-ups. How you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference.

One of the big mistakes people make is that they start to intervene in their child’s sleep skills. Meaning they go in, they try to rock or they start to feed again. They try to lull baby to sleep in their arms or go back to all their old sleep props.

I understand why people do that because you want to comfort your baby when she’s sick. I’m not saying don’t comfort her. You can absolutely go in.

Have a short cuddle, wipe her nose, give her a drink of water, whatever you need to do to offer some comfort, but you don’t want to interfere with her sleep skills.

You’re not going to rock her back to sleep. You’re not going to feed her to sleep. You’re not going to do any of the things that you’ve worked so hard to get rid of.

The only time you would ever go back to a nighttime feed, obviously, is if your doctor or pediatrician suggests it. If she’s had a high fever for several days, she might need some extra fluids through the night.

You want to make sure that those only happen for a few nights. Three is kind of my rule of thumb. If anything happens for more than three nights, then there is the danger that the baby is going to now expect this and start waking up looking for feeds even once the sickness is gone.

Another big mistake people make is that they bring their baby into bed with them.
I understand where that desire comes from. Again, you want to comfort your sick child. If you’re really concerned about your child through the night, it is much better for you to go to him than to bring him to you.

Throw down an air mattress. Spend a night or two in his room to keep an eye on him. Again, remembering my rule of threes, try not to do it for any longer than three nights or you might find yourself six months later still sleeping beside his bed.

If everything falls apart, cut yourself a bit of slack. Sometimes it happens. Know that as soon as your baby is well again, just get right back on track.

Just start again. You know that she can do this. It’s just a matter of proving to her that she needs to use her own skills once again.

And if you need some help, I offer 20 minute to calls to past clients for a discounted rate of $39 or a refresher package which includes 2 phone calls and a week of e-mail for $149.sick baby

Fall Back

Time change has snuck up on us once again.  And now we are left with the task of resetting our children’s body clock by an hour. This year it just so happens on Halloween night.

My recommendation to all parents is that they just leave their 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 a cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way!

If for example your little one usually takes a morning nap round 9:30, you will adjust this to 9:00 am for the 3 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 PM, I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 PM for the first 3 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 to any kind of change in sleeping habits. On the 4th night at bedtime, just get in line with the new time. So your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm, and adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.

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 minute numerals, 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. I would just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30, it reads 7:00 and I would let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that by the end of the week, they would be back on 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 7:00am, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait until 6:10 on the first day, and then 6:20 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.

Our little creatures
Our little creatures