Are Mornings Starting Too Early?

Is your baby an early bird?  And now with the time change…  Ugh!

 

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.

Helping your Baby Adjust to the Time Change

Most adults love the extra hour of sleep in the fall and despise losing the hour in the spring. With children that all seems to change. The extra hour in the fall now means that baby is waking at 5am instead of 6am.  Rest assured, within a week, you can reset your child’s body clock to adjust to the new time.  And here are some tips to make it easier!

Get up at your usual time and start the day. Once everyone has had breakfast now go and change your clock back one hour.

The best way to make the transition to the new time is to split the difference.

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 because it will actually feel like 10am, but not so much that it will disrupt her overall schedule. Do the same for the others naps.

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.

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 ten after on 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 she should be waking up at her 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, and adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.

Are You Addicted To Your Baby Monitor?

Are you addicted to your baby monitor?

I have worked with families that report their baby rolled over at 2 am, at 3:37 am he was awake but did not make a sound and they think he may have sneezed at 5:07am. How do they know this? Because they watch their video monitor throughout the night.

Monitors have a time and a place. If you are in the basement exercising while your baby is napping, it can be a great tool. If you are teaching your child to sleep well, it is great to keep an eye on her. Does she have an arm stuck in the bar? Is there any need for me to intervene or be concerned? But for some people that are so tuned into the monitor, it is disrupting your sleep.

You don’t need to hear every little squeak and squawk that your baby makes through the night. Some babies are very, very noisy sleepers. Every time they squeak and squawk, you are going to wake up and it is going to wreak havoc on your sleep.

If you’ve got a baby who is now successfully sleeping well through the night, I would encourage you to turn it down and start getting the good quality sleep that you deserve as well. Your baby will let you know if they need you!

And if you do not have a baby that is sleeping well, then you know who you can call!

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

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.
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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.

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

Baby Headbangers

All parents of toddlers have witnessed the full body flailing of their enraged child. It is something to behold. Kids definitely don’t hold back when they’re angry or upset! This can be disconcerting to the parent, but even more disconcerting is when your toddler repeatedly bangs her head against the wall or the sides of her crib or the floor—for apparently no reason at all.

According to parents.com, as many as 20 percent of babies and toddlers between the ages of 6 months and 24 months intentionally bang their heads. For some, this can last a few weeks and for others up to a few years, usually settling down by the age of three or four.

Why do they do it?

Comfort – You know how rocking in a rocking chair or falling asleep on a boat can be soothing? The back and forth rhythm can be calming and help you relax. Head banging has the same effect for some babies when they discover that the repeated motion helps them feel at ease.

Anger or frustration – Young children do not have the verbal skills they need to express the storm of emotions they go through, so banging can help them vent these feeling.

Pain – Some babies and toddler bang their heads as a way to self-soothe when they have teething pain or earaches.

Attention – Children who realize that you find the head banging upsetting might do it to get your attention. The more you try to stop them, the more they will see it as something that can get a rise out of you.

In very rare cases, repeated head banging can be a sign of an underlying issue such as autism. If you notice other behavioural or developmental issues with your child, it’s always a good idea to get him checked out, especially if the head banging continue past the age of four.

So what do I do?

The first step is to make sure your child is safe and protect her from hurting herself. Children that head bang will generally not cause themselves harm; they will only bang hard enough to comfort themselves, not to cause actual pain or injury to themselves. Resist the urge to line the side of the bed or crib with pillows, as this is a suffocation risk. Remember that your child will not bang hard enough to cause himself pain.

Give her some extra attention when she’s not banging. This is always helpful for most attention-grabbing behaviors from kids. A few extra minutes playing or sitting down to read books can go a long way to giving your child what she needs. Try not to get too upset or make too much of a fuss when she’s actually banging, because this will set up a negative reinforcement situation. Just make sure she’s safe and try to distract her if possible. If not, let the banging session run its course and carry on with your day.

Offer your child other solutions for soothing himself, such as cuddling and playing some calm music, giving him a warm bath, singing a song or telling a story.

wunder bumper
Wunder Bumper – A fantastic product to soften the blow for headbangers.

Once your child develops the ability to speak and express himself more, he will most likely stop the head banging. Remember: we all have our ways of expressing anger, frustration and sadness. Head banging might seem like an alarming way to do it, but most of the time it’s perfectly safe and won’t cause any long term damage or trauma.