Spring Forward!

With Spring & Summer approaching we prepare to enjoy the warm evenings and extended daylight by springing forward this coming Sunday, March 13th at 2am. So before you head to bed Saturday night, make sure that you set all your clocks ahead by one hour. Here are my tips on how to handle this change in time when it comes to your little one’s sleep schedules.

  • For the first three days following the time change I want you to “split the difference” when it comes to nap time and bedtime. If your child normally naps at 9:30am, you should put them down at 10:00am. If they normally go to bed at 7:00pm, you should put them to bed at 7:30pm.
  • This means that your child will be going to bed a little earlier or sooner than the normal wait between sleeps but it’s not so much so that it’s going to interfere with their schedule. It may take them a bit more time to fall asleep since they may not be as tired but in a week’s time they will be back on track again.
  • On night 4 move your bedtime back to the normal time and know that it will most likely take your child about a week to adjust to the new time.
  • This may even help those of you who have children that are currently waking up a little earlier than you would like.!

Good luck! Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have; kathryn@sleepstars.ca or 778.881.4345

Fall Back ~ How to Handle the Time Change

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Most parents don’t mind so much in the Fall when they gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they hear they are going to have to lose an hour of sleep in the Spring!

If I had it my way there would not be a daylight savings time. I think it really does affect not only children’s sleep patterns but adults too. 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”.

For “Fall Back”

My recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone the night before 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 your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!

Naps: If for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30am, you will adjust this to 9:00am for the first three 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 their schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap. On the fourth day just get in line with the new time so your baby is back going down for naps at their regular time.

Bedtime: Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7:00pm I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30pm for the first three nights following the time change. This will feel like 7:30pm to your child. 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 fourth day, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back going to bed at their regular time.

Mornings: 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 minutes so they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock but they can’t see the minutes which often confuses toddlers. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week they will be back on track and 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. You don’t want to send a message that waking up at 6:00am is okay now. So if they normally wake at 7:00am but is now up at 6:00am you will wait 10 minutes the first day, 20 minutes the second day, then 30 minutes the third 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.

How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?

In amongst the millions of things that run through a new parent’s mind each day, there are always questions surrounding sleep. Number one: How much does my child need? And number two: How do I get them to do it? So today let’s start with the “how much,” but be sure to check back on my blog regularly for the “how to” part.

To begin with, let’s talk about how long your child should be awake at one time, as this can vary greatly from that exciting day you bring them home from the hospital, right up until they reach toddlerhood at which point you decide they no longer need a nap during the day. Take a look at my chart for a good idea of what an “awake window” looks like based on your child’s age.

Age

Awake Window

0 – 3 months

45 minutes

3 – 6 months

1.5 – 2.5   hours

6 – 12   months

2.5 – 3.5   hours

12 – 18   months

4 – 6 hours

18 months –   3 years

4 – 12 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These times are approximate and every child is a little different, so while keeping this guide in mind, it is a good idea to also be aware of what your child’s tired signals look like. Some common signs of tiredness in infants and toddlers are:

  • Pulling ears
  • Arching back
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Pushing face into you
  • Yawning
  • Crankiness
  • Overactive (especially in toddlers)

The number of naps a day your child has from day one may seem endless, especially when a newborn should only be awake 45 minutes at a time and they spend at least half of that being changed and fed! But over time, patterns will emerge and the need for a nap schedule can be very beneficial for you and your child. Children crave routine and by following a schedule it will ensure that your child is getting all the sleep they need to thrive. Nap length will vary up until the 3 month mark but once your child is on a more consistent nap schedule a good length is around an hour and a half although some children may nap for longer. If your child is napping for less than an hour, you should consider working with them on lengthening them as they are likely just making it through their first sleep cycle and then are unable to put themselves back to sleep for the remainder of their nap. Take a look at how many naps a day your child should be taking based on their age:

Age

# of Naps

0 – 3 months

4-5

3 – 6 months

3

6 – 12   months

2

12 – 18 months

1-2

18 months –   3 years

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to night time sleep, while a newborn’s schedule can vary for the first few months due to their elevated feeding needs, by the age of 3 months children should be getting anywhere between 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. A good schedule to work with is a 7pm bedtime and a 7am wake up.

Overall sleep needs for a child in a 24 hour period should look something like this:

Age

Total Sleep Hours

0 – 3 months

16-18

3 – 6 months

16-17

6 – 12   months

15-16

12 – 18   months

13-16

18 months –   3 years

13-15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now we have covered the “how much” part! Please leave any questions you may have in the comments, email me at kathryn@sleepstars.ca or give me a call at 778.881.4345; I’d be happy to discuss your child’s ideal sleep schedule with you.

Sleep well,

Kathryn

March 20, 2017 - 1:53 pm

Violeta Perez - I co-sleep with my 1yr old, and he now has restless night, I regret not training him earlier. Am desperate now because we just found out am pregnant and my only worry is that our son Ethan is not sleeping in his crib. I desperately need help training him.

Long Days & Warm Nights – How to Keep Sleep on Track

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With spring quickly unfolding to the point that it’s felt like summer over the past couple of weeks, the warmer evenings and extra hours of daylight may have some of you concerned about keeping bedtime on track. Of course we want to enjoy these nice nights with our little ones; however, we don’t want our great routines to unravel, leaving us with overtired, cranky children who fight sleep and commonly wake up far too early in the morning because of it.

Here are my Top 3 Tips to help you reach the right balance between enjoying the warmer evenings while still keeping your child’s sleep needs intact.

 

Adjust Mealtime    

Try to start planning your dinner a little bit earlier to allow for ample time for fresh air and outside play after you’ve eaten. This will do a couple of things for your family: studies show fresh air during the late afternoon/early evening helps to make falling asleep at bedtime easier; it also will ensure that your little ones feel as though they had “enough” time to play and burn off their last energy of the day. Go for a walk, play in the yard or visit a park after dinner; take advantage of this family time together and get away from electronics, which have a detrimental affect on sleep.

Use Light as a Sleep Signal

Light is the most powerful time cue our bodies have, so use this to your advantage when preparing for sleep. Once you’ve come inside for the day, draw your blinds, say goodnight to the sun and keep light to a minimum an hour or so before you want your child to go to bed. This will help stimulate melatonin production, making them sleepier. I highly recommend using blackout blinds at this time of year to ensure for a dark room not only when your child is falling asleep but also when the sun comes up in the morning. There are lots of options out there now that can fit anyone’s budget.

Bedtime Routines

Keeping bedtime routines consistent is very important as it helps remind your child what is expected of them each night. As always, I recommend including a bath in this; however, with the warmer weather I suggest a cool bath to help your child’s body temperature regulate before heading to bed. Being too hot when trying to fall asleep isn’t easy for anyone. Dressing them appropriately for bed is another thing to keep in mind. Short-sleeved tops and shorts rather than pants are great options for warm nights. Onesies and lighter sleep sacks are perfect for babies. Think about what you would wear to bed and dress them similarly. An ideal room temperature for a child is between 18 and 21 °C. Draw their blinds early and set up fans as needed to ensure that they are going into a dark, cool and comfortable sleeping environment.

Of course, best-laid plans don’t always happen and there is sure to be a late night here and there. If you have given your child the sleep skills they need to adjust every now and again, there is absolutely no harm in that late baseball game or visit to the ice cream shop. Just make sure that it’s the exception to the rule and not the rule, and enjoy the sunshine everyone!!

Testing the Waters ~ Keep Control of Bedtime

Testing the waters is something that all children do frequently when growing up and is an important learning technique for your child. Only by periodically testing to see if the rules have changed will your child know what is expected of them. Children are naturally curious creatures. They love to experiment and see what reaction to their different actions will be.

Although children are constantly testing and pushing their boundaries, they are always very reassured when they discover that the new rules have stayed the same. This is usually all that your child is doing when they suddenly start protesting at bedtime after months of hassle-free nights. The most important thing to remember when this happens is that YOU remain in control of bedtime. I’ve gotten many calls from parents who have lost control of their child’s bedtime. Their son or daughter has been sleeping very well for months, but suddenly started making more and more demands before bed – and before they knew it, their child was sleeping in bed with them again!

If and when your little one starts trying out their old bedtime tricks on you, it is extremely important to be firm and consistent. It can only take one or two nights of caving in and allowing your child to climb into bed with you before they are permanently installed between you and your partner again!

content courtesy of The Sleep Sense Program

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