Part of beginning my work with families is to work out the reasons why they may want to hire me.
Being exhausted, all though is often why I am contacted is truly a good action step forward it is not always the number 1 reason why.
Before I begin ANY sleep work I find out the main goals and to reassure them that their child is “not broken” and that any sleep issue can ultimately “be fixed”.
- You are unhappy with your child’s sleep habits.
No matter how many people you talk to, if you are happy with how your child sleeps, day and night then you AINT got a problem. Reasons being unless you think there is a problem, you won’t be able to stay consistent with any plan a sleep consultant sets up for you!
2. You have “tried everything”.
Many parent’s tackle sleep training on their own or implement “wait it out method” (insert 2-4 years of sleep deprivation). My take? If NOTHING has worked- time to enlist a individualized sleep plan. It is time to “do” not “try”.
3. You and your partner keep arguing over the approach you implement.
Its time to stop the good cop bad cop method. It frustrates your child as well as each other. It is really annoying to start the good cop (dad) at bedtime, then at 3am turn into bad cop (mum). I create a sleep plan that both parent’s feel comfortable with, and lead you step by step forward.
4. Your pediatrician suggests you should get help OR try Cry It Out.
Most parent’s don’t realize that their Pediatrician, GP or Child Health Nurse are actually NOT trained child sleep specialists. Yes they are trained specialists BUT not in sleep. Often their training is less than 6 hours in their entire degree! I have worked with ALL of these specialists and they have no idea on healthy sleep habits, foundations, and the myriad of underlying influences on sleep stealers! And they come to me because they don’t want to do the behavioral method Cry It Out. #walkthewalk
5. You are starting to resent your baby or your current sleep situation- the volcano approach.
Yup in the first 12 months after birth we lose up to 950 hrs of sleep ( 44 days in total). Some of us cope well, others of us don’t. Nothing can prepare us for the amount of time our child requires from us. Our mental health is paramount for health and happiness. Many families are scared to contact me, fearful of spending money in case “it doesn’t work”. Well it won’t if you are fearful, just leave the volcano simmering and smoking… it will if you are ready to take action before you erupt, when those teeny tiny feelings of resentment start to crop up.
Child sleep can be complicated and confusing to parents. The longer I work as a Holistic Sleep Specialist I find so much more to consider. An individualized assessment and plan for your family is the best approach to short term and long term success.
The end of daylight savings can be quite depressing as it can mean that those gorgeous summer days are over! For those children that are going to bed at 8pm currently the transition back an hour to 7pm is still totally ok, so only transition if you feel the future wake up time is going to impact on your daily routine and the sleep quality of your child.
I totally recommend to parents to be proactive and prepare for the clocks going back on Sunday the 3rd April 2016.
Obviously I am all about trying to minimize the interference to a baby’s sleep and help them adjust much quicker to the change whilst protecting their (and your sanity) sleep health as the colder climate sets in. Lets face it being up when it is cold for hours on end is not fun!
It is important that you start the transition at least 5 days before the clock changes as this gives your child’s body clock time to change to the bedtime, the wake times, the nap time and often meal time changes that a new schedule can impede on. Also as well it can co-inside with a schedule change as your bub has got older!
So here is a guideline for transitioning and the end of daylight savings:
I will assume your current bedtime is 7pm and it is easier to do the changes in 15 min increments over that week.
Night ONE: Bed Time is 7:15pm – All sleep and feed times are moved 15 minutes later, so when the wake up the next day, feed your bub at 715am. Put your baby down for naps 15 mins later.
Night TWO: Bedtime is 730pm- All naps and feeds through the day 15 mins later, and yes they may be tired, but this is why we do it slowly.
Night THREE: Bedtime is 745pm- All naps and feeds moved from 15 mins again. So the first feed on the day is actually 745am now move from 7am.
Night FOUR: Bedtime is 8pm- clock goes back, and wake your child at the new 7am, to begin your day with the new routine and schedule 🙂
A few tips to consider:
The mornings will be lighter now so consider block out blinds if need be to prevent early rising. These stick on ones are awesome available through Sleep Tight Babies online : Easy Gro-Anywhere Blackout Blinds
Another tip is a Sleep Trainer Clock- a simple visual for your child that the moon is still up so time to be asleep. Children do rely on cues as whether it is light or not. A sleep trainer clock can also help parents to be consistent.
Here is a few to consider if you believe it would be of benefit for your child: Sleep Trainer Clocks
Most importantly while your child is getting used to the new time, stick to your usual bedtime and naptime routines. Try not to implement any new additional sleep assistance.
For any further advice contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Wrapping is a useful tool for settling and keeping babies safe when sleeping in the first 5-6 months of life. Wrapping also reduces crying time and promotes sleep by lessening the frequency of spontaneous arousals or the moro reflex or startle reflex. This normally disappears by the time a bub is 4-5 months of age, but I have seen it occur longer especially in the case of premature babies or multiples.
So when is the right time to wean from wrapping? SIDS recommends when your baby is rolling from their back to their tummy and their back again during supervised play. This is when being wrapped can prevent a baby from rolling from their tummy during sleep, back onto their back again.
So if this is happening in your household now is the time!
Transitioning from swaddle to sleeping bag for some babies can require up to a week of lots of support, patience and reassurance to help your baby get through this new phase and learn how to fall asleep without his or her arms being restrained. I always recommend introduction of a comforter of some type before transitioning and even a few days of practice rolling in the new sleeping bag, not at sleep time, so the baby can begin to experiment with their new found freedom.
Begin the transition by swaddling with one arm in and one arm out for three days and then both arms out for three days. Swaddling with one arm out allows the baby to use one arm to lift his face and head from the mattress if he does roll. Often I suggest with transition during the bedtime sleep to begin with, as often once the baby has night sleeps sorted then to begin with the day sleeps. Prevention of over tiredness being the key.
It is absolutely fine to adopt a “what ever needs” approach to settle for a few days such as patting, stroking or rocking your baby’s body back and forward with your hand (in the cot) for a few days to help him adjust to the lack of swaddling.
Aim to be to reduce the touch and wean off this assistance, once your baby begins to settle easier, so that these do not become new assisted sleep associations. It is best to use methods of settling in the cot rather than picking up and swinging and rocking to sleep as it is usually easier to gradually withdraw and wean off from in-cot settling methods.
Now there are of course many types of swaddle transition sleep products. They can include swaddles with pop ups, that you undo at the arms, like the Ergo, then there are the zip off arms like the LTD 50/50,
OR then can have the all in one sleep sacks like the Zippadee Zip Sleep Sack.
OR you could try the Sleepy Wings!
So no matter what product you choose to implement be mindful of the tog/ temperature of the product and plenty of time with your bubba rolling to practice his or her new found skill!
You only have to pause at the entry door into a baby shop and glance around to become overwhelmed with what your baby’s nursery should or could look like! Colours, decorations, mobiles, matching laundry hampers my babies needed all of this!! 😉 The thing that did stump me was a night light.
First of all did my baby need one? Would it disturb them, confuse them, overstimulate them?
Secondly how did I feed/change/settle/find my way out of the room in the dark, without doing any of the above?
Thirdly would I create a bad sleep habit by introducing a little light or confuse the day/night thing?
So I recently had a FTD (first time dad) ask me what is a night light?
A night light is a little light you leave on at night to illuminate your or your baby’s room. They should have a soft glow that is not bright and not white.
So why have a night light?
1. So you don’t have to turn on a big light for night feeds and nappy changes.
2. Parents can easily see their child during a peek-a-check in, without turning on a hall way, walk-in-robe, or bathroom light.
3. It allows babies older than 4 months of age to easily find their comforters, without fully wakening up from the REM phase of sleep, or during normal nocturnal arousals through the night. That means they are less likely to call out for parental assistance unless something else is bothering them.
4. They do comfort the older child who is going through separation anxiety and night scaries.
5. Night lights can actually be cheaper than normal household light. Big tick for saving extra $$$ in a new parent household.
6. It actually is beneficial for us as parent’s in the ease of returning to sleep, once we have been up. Our brain is not briefly stimulated by white light, which tells our brain its time to wake up.
There are many different types of night lights all equally gorgeous and room matching.
- Projection Night Lights- very pretty, bright and quite stimulating. ok for the elder child, but maybe not for the younger baby. They can be blurry if you don’t get the distance from the placement to the ceiling correct.
- Plug In Lamps-Popular and original and often come with a light sensor that turns on and off depending on the light availability. I am wary of the motion sensor ones, especially if you have a pet in the house!
- Toys with night lights in them. Be aware of the age recommendation and SIDS requirements.
- Light and temperature lights. Like a Gro-Egg, a personal favorite- kill two parental sleep stresses at once.
- Salt Rock Lamps. Another person favorite, due to the healing benefits of Himalayan Salt. You will need to change the globe wattage though to 4-7 watts. These often come with 15 watt globes which will light up your child’s room like a normal lamp.
- Glow-In the dark stickers/wall decals- older kids love these. Some glow all night, which might be a issue, some fade in the first few hours. Can be a great way of keeping a child in bed!
Which Colour Night Light is best?
White light or blue light (like our TV’s and phones), tells our brain to stop making melatonin or delays melatonin secretion. This is due to a set of receptors in our eyes that responds to the naturally blue-rich light of daytime which keeps us alert. We and our children want to fall asleep naturally, be better rested on wake up and give our circadian rhythms the best chance to function properly.
Thus the winning colour is red/orange- just like a sunset! When choosing your night light research shows that these are the best colours for being less disruptive to our brain in switching from alert to snooze. :-). Red and orange lights are soothing for babies (think about their womb environment) and in fact after black, white and grey the first primary colour a baby sees is red!!
Night lights are not toys- they may look cute, but check the product disclosure details. Often they have small parts, cords, and compartments for where batteries go.
Pay attention to recalls, especially toys that are night lights as well. Be aware of what might happen if your child accidentally gets the night light/toy wet.
Happy shopping and happy snoozing 🙂
What are sleep associations?
Sleep associations are the routines, habits and patterns or objects that we connect with feeling sleepy, and to help us transition off to sleep feeling safe and secure.
We might watch TV, listen to soothing music, read a book, have a calming tea, and the object we use most obviously a pillow! These are the types of things you associate with going to sleep each night. Can you go to sleep without your pillow, or what happens when you wake up and your pillow is missing or on the floor? You would have an issue going back to sleep.
Sleep associations can be extremely powerful. Meet the Beanie Boos- small fluffy, big eyed stuffed critters that rule our bedtime like a fluro stuffed show! Each have a name, a date of birth, and must all be present and accounted for each. every.night.
Sleep associations help us drift off to sleep. They also help us go back to sleep when we wake during the night.
You can create and use cues to help your baby understand that it is time to go to sleep and to help your baby feel comfortable doing so. Sleep associations for babies, might be white noise, a darkened room, putting them in a swaddle, a comforter, a dummy, cuddling, rocking and feeding be it breast or bottle to sleep.
Positive or negative sleep associations-I like to talk about sustainable sleep associations.
I have had clients use hairdryers, tumble dryers, over head stove, exhaust fans, vacuum cleaners, bouncing on balls for hours at a time, 24/7 rocking in a pram then transferring into bed, and the old car ride. In fact you probably have listeners now out driving their kids to sleep.
Often these associations don’t become a problem, unless it becomes a problem and sleep deprivation, time and emotions are affecting your functioning of health, relationships, work and daily life- or your hair dryer blows up. Sleep fragmentation that makes you exhausted and makes your baby cranky.
The problem with sleep associations lies in the fact that your baby needs you to recreate the environment in which they fell asleep. You become their “hair dryer” and when they wake up between sleep cycles sleep its gone and they don’t know how to go back to sleep. So, they will call out for us to help them go back to sleep.
Which is fine whilst it is sustainable for you.
The main key is to set up sleep associations that will allow your child to go to sleep the same way each nap time, night time, and wake ups through the night, and when you wish to change a associations you need to consider the depth of attachment your child has to each one.
The ideal time to remove a sleep association say like a dummy is before 4-5 months. This is before the developmental stage “object permanence” kicks in.
For a child older than 6 months, I suggest to not abruptly remove something that brings your child comfort and expect her to be okay with it. Often though with a dummy cold turkey is the only way if you are having a repeat plugging issue for hours through the night.
I work with clients to find a way to gently support your child through that transition. This does require patience, and thus you need to be able to see it through and not buckle after 10 minutes. You need to be able to “top up” on all the other associations your child finds soothing.
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Amanda you have worked your magic…again! I appreciated a lot in your advice, the fact that you do not lay down the law as to this is how things must be done ( in the super nanny kind of way)- instead you provide logical and even scientific reasons explaining cause and effect. For instance, several people had told me that babies should go to sleep early and yet as many had told me that you should keep them up until they are ready to sleep. But I never knew which was correct or why.
You explained the connection between overtiredness and cortisol and the waking in the first part of the night. It just made so much sense that I was able to accept it immediately and put it into practice.
Also for example, some well wishers had suggested giving him pentavite previously but I had felt that was suggesting that he was not getting adequate nutrition from what I was feeding him. When you explained the link between being low in iron and the restless leg syndrome ,leading to night waking, it was again very clear to me and I was ready to put him on it.
Your approach is very supportive and considerate, which has really helped us.To give you an update, we did not even get to the point of putting into practice all your suggestion yet the initial changes have started making a difference already. It took us a while to bring the bedtime forward as we only did about ten minutes a day, but I’m happy to report that now his night-time routine starts a whole hour earlier than before.
I must say he seems much happier and somehow a bit more manageable. And I am enjoying being with him also because I’m not so exhausted!
So ….the iron supplement, the total embargo on iPhone/iPad, limited tv watching ( and that too only in the a.m), and additional warmth/ layers at night; these combined with the earlier bedtime are the main changes. Plus I’m also generally giving him more iron- rich foods. And also tuning in a bit more to his cues as per your advice, such as when he starts to get tired, environmental factors such as noise or over tiredness.
One other thing, not sleep related, that I find is working really well is the “not for you” when he reaches for something that he should not have – 9 times out of ten he will accept that!
I feel like a different person to the one who called you that first time!
I’m aware that things may change again very quickly but now we have your advice and all your suggestions to fall back on. And as time goes on, we will start implementing the toddler clock and cutting back the bottle etc. and if and when we need, all the other steps you have given.
The thing that appealed to me the most about your advice was that it was very holistic and looked at everything from diet and nutrition to his environment to his personality. Unlike most other sleep therapy which takes a very adversarial approach to sleep training and I was never comfortable with. You have helped me understand my child better and I feel like I am better equipped to deal with this situation now, should it occur again. Thank you so so much Amanda!
I LOVE toddlers. I should- I have had 3! I have learnt so much about life from simply stepping back and observing their innocence and basic inquisitive way of how simple the world can be- before we grow up. Wanting to preserve that innocence and enhance it to become a part of their authentic being. So yes, when it comes to sleep issues, they are my most common client in the family home. This age and drive for independence makes them tough little characters to please!
On average toddlers need about 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. When they reach about 18 months of age their naptimes will decrease to once a day lasting about one to three hours.
Many toddlers experience sleep problems including resisting going to bed and night time awakenings. Night time fears and nightmares are also common. Many factors can lead to sleep problems. Toddlers’ drive for independence and an increase in their motor, cognitive and social abilities can interfere with sleep. In addition, their ability to get out of bed, separation anxiety, the need for autonomy and the development of the child’s imagination can lead to sleep problems. Daytime sleepiness and behaviour problems may signal poor sleep or a sleep problem.
Chronically over tired children may not seem tired, and don’t always act tired. They will always resist sleep and need us to help them form good sleep habits.
Signs of over tired toddlers are:
-tend to be whiny, fussy or clingy
-sucks thumb, finger, or wants to suckle other than at bedtimes.
-carries blanket, stuffed toy around during the day.
-is hyperactive, especially at times when you think they should be tired.
-is overly stubborn.
-has regular temper tantrums, or easily becomes upset or angry.
-has difficulty falling asleep when put to bed
-falls asleep frequently when in car, bus or train.
-falls asleep in front of TV
-sometime’s falls asleep on the couch or floor before bedtime.
-takes a long time to become alert and awake in the morning.
-does not appear to be well rested and full of energy.
-doesn’t seem as happy as she should be.
Key Points to help your toddler slip into sleep.
-Maintain a daily sleep schedule and consistent bedtime routine.
-Make the bedroom environment the same every night and throughout the night.
-Set limits that are consistent, communicated and enforced. Encourage use of his favourite stuffed toy or comforter.
-All children need a comforting bedtime routine, and they need it from early infancy right up through the school years. It gives them a healthy sense of predictability and it’s a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to slow down and reconnect peacefully at the end of the day.
-Give your toddler choices before bed like which pjs does he/she want to wear, which book may he/she want to read or what extra toy (quiet), he/ she might want to take to bed. It will make him/her feel in control and make him/her less likely to resist when it’s time for light’s out. Think about creating your own unique bedtime ritual which you will share for years come: a special song, sharing two things you liked about your day, reading out loud, prayers, blessings or sending kisses and love to others.
-Done right, bedtime can be a special, loving time to celebrate closeness; a time your child will look forward to and cherish. If two parents take turns at bedtime, they don’t have to follow an identical script but should have a similar routine, style and response to any bedtime power plays, fears or stalling.
-A soothing bedtime routine signals the body and brain to slow down and prepare for sleep. The tone of bedtime should be calm, quiet and reassuring as you prepare your kid to separate from you all night.
I emphasize strongly every child is an individual and it’s important to listen to the cues that your toddler is giving you. What may have worked for your friend/sister/neighbour doesn’t necessarily work for another. Clear rules and parental consistency is essential for transitioning sleep situations…mixed liberally with plenty of love, cuddles, and kisses!
And MOST importantly be wary that your expectations are that of an adult not as a 12,15,18 or 24 month old.
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