Summer is here….Is it messing with your child’s sleep?

Today is the first official day of summer. Hurray! I can hardly wait for the long, warm evenings outside and the lazy days basking in the sun. With the sun rising early and setting so late, it can affect our sleep. We typically sleep less in the summer and more in the winter due to exposure to sunlight. But what does this mean for your little one? We can’t have bedtime at 11pm and morning starting at 4am.

I have three products I recommend that are very useful this time of year to encourage earlier bedtimes and later mornings.

1. The sleep sack is great tool to signal that bedtime is coming and help your baby sleep through the night. I recommend using it starting at three months old when you make the transition from the swaddle to sleep sack. It keeps baby a constant temperature throughout the night and prevents getting tangled up in a blanket or the blanket coming off. During the summer months you can even just put a onesie on your baby with the sleep sack.  Different sleep sacks are available for summer and winter. Use a lightweight one for summer.  If you introduce a sleep sack when your baby is little, they learn to love the sleep sack. And then down the road when your child decides they may want to climb out of the crib, it helps prevent children from doing that.

 

2.  The gro-clock can be introduced around the age of two. This is when most children are able to understand the visual cue it provides. It is brilliant as it provides that concrete visual cue that it is still nighttime or that it is morning and it is okay to get out of bed.  You can set the clock to a pre-determined time to show the sun coming up in the morning. Being consistent and attaching a reward and consequence to staying in bed until the sun comes up in the morning is very effective for toddlers.

 

3. And the third one is the gro-blind. This can be really great to use when you are sleeping away from home. It is a portable black-out blind that uses velcro and suction cups to stick on the window at the cabin, a trailer or even grandma’s house. Exposure to light is what sets our body clock and we all sleep better in a room that is very dark. At this time of year with the sun setting so late and coming up so early, having a very dark room is critical for children to sleep well. I always get an influx of calls this time of year with children who are having very early morning wakings. It’s usually related to just a little bit of light coming in the room.

Click here to see me chatting about these products on CTV Calgary News.

 

The Perfect Sleep Environment

A great sleep environment leads to great sleep.  So what constitutes a great sleep environment….

1.  Ensure the room is dark and I really mean pitch dark.  If light is going into your child’s eye then it signals to the brain that they should be awake.  Therefore the sleep hormone melatonin is not released and then your child will have difficulty drifting off the sleep or even staying asleep.  If their little peepers happen to open during lighter sleep between sleep cycles, they wake up and and then nap is over.

Some parents are concerned that their baby will then need to always sleep in the dark.  I can understand their concern. However, the darker it is, typically the better we sleep as humans.  Most of the time baby will be at home sleeping in the crib so that is really where we want create the perfect environment. Sure, naps out and about may not happen in total darkness, but that is not where most of your baby’s sleep is taking place, so no need to worry.

2.  There should be nothing in the crib other than your baby, either swaddled or in a sleep sack.  You can introduce a small lovey in the form of a stuffed animal or blankie once your baby can roll over both ways comfortably. Mobiles, aquariums and stuffed animals that play music are just too stimulating and send a mixed message.  Baby now wonders if it is sleep time or play time.

3.  Swaddling works great until a baby reaches 3 months old and then I reccomend the sleep sack.  It keeps your baby cozy and the same temperature throughout the night.  And you can rest easy not worrying about her getting tangled in a blanket. It has an added benefit down the road.  Babies who sleep in a sleep sack are a less likely to make a break for it and climb out of the crib.

4.  White noise can be a great tool to drown out external noises that may wake your baby.  If you live on a noisy street, have a dog or other children in your house, white noise can provide that buffer of sound to drown out all of the startling noises that may wake your baby