New Years Resolutions? Get some sleep!!!

iStock_000052835144LargeHappy New Year everyone! With 2015 in full swing you are more than likely thinking about your resolutions; maybe you want to eat better, spend more time exercising, watch less TV, play more with your kids…but one resolution that is often overlooked when thinking about being healthier is ensuring that we are all getting enough sleep to live these active lives that we so crave.

For parents getting this sleep is often completely dependent on the way that our children sleep. We may aim to get to bed early and to get a solid 8-9 hours each night (which is what most adults need to feel well rested and ready to take on the day), but when you have a child that takes hours to settle at bedtime and is waking you 2,3,4+ times a night, this is an impossible task. By not getting the right amount of sleep each night for adults and children alike, you are setting yourself up for long tiresome days where you don’t feel like doing much of anything, let alone making healthy meals and being active with your family.

If you have thought about making changes to your child’s sleep but something has been holding you back, let me know what your concerns are, ask me questions, tell me your fears and we’ll talk through it. Weigh out the pros and cons of addressing the sleep issues you are having in your home, here’s a few to get you started:

PROS

  • Well rested children who are less cranky and irritable during the day
  • Peace of mind that your children are getting the rest they need to thrive developmentally and to meet their milestones
  • More energy to play with your children or to exercise independently
  • Increased alertness and productivity during the day allowing you to accomplish more whether it be at home or at work
  • Relaxing evenings to connect with your partner, family, friends or even yourself!

I could go on and on about the benefits of getting good rest for you and your family. But what about the cons? What is stopping you from working on your child’s sleep issues?

CONS

  • My child will cry

9 times out of 10 this is the answer I get from parents when I ask them this question. Crying is your child’s way of protesting change, and you can expect that making changes to their sleep habits will result in some protest. That’s why I’m always sure to tell parents that my program will most likely involve at least some amount of protest on the child’s part.

Please understand that I will never ask you to leave your child to cry alone, nor will I ask you to ignore their cries. The reason that the Sleep Sense™ Method is so effective is that it lets you develop a plan that you feel comfortable with, based on what you know about your child. Any crying that happens is always short term and the long term benefits of you and your children getting the rest they need is immeasurable.

2015 will be an amazing year and what better time to make a change if sleep is a challenge in your household. I am currently offering 15% off my rates for my New Years Special and have just introduced a Mini Consultation. So if you or someone that you know is struggling with sleep in their home, email me today to set up a FREE 15 minute call just to chat. There is no obligation and I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns that you have. kathryn@sleepstars.ca.

Happy New Year!

Tips for Halloween Night!

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Happy Halloween Everyone! Here are some tips to help keep your child’s sleep on track while still enjoying the fun of this spooky evening!

Plan ahead, for example, if your children usually go to bed at 7:30 then it’s important to have a time in mind that you’d like to see them leave the house, how long they’ll be out and how willing you are to move bedtime later.

Have an easy dinner planned so you can get the kids out the door at the scheduled time and have a return time in place before kids head out the door.

Set a candy limit ahead of time. 3 treats on Halloween night is enough to feel special but not too much that it’s going to wire your child on sugar.

I recommend not letting bedtime go later than 30 minutes past the regular time or their sleep debt will be too high the next day and depending on how late they are up, it can take up to 3 or 4 days to catch up on that sleep. This is especially important this year as well because Halloween falls on a school/work night, you don’t want to be battling your child the next day to get up and get moving!

Don’t rush the bedtime routine too much. It’s very difficult for children (especially if they are wound up from an exciting sugar charged evening) to just jump into bed and go to sleep. A warm bath, a couple stories and even some warm milk can help their bodies transition from day to night and will calm their excitement so that sleep will come more easily.

Stay safe and have fun!

Should I Feed My Baby at Night?

Baby breastfeedingAh, night waking…every parent’s dream come true.

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 and will depend on the rocking and walking. Instead, try putting him down after a quick burp. He will most likely surprise you, at least some of the time, and go back to sleep all on his own. If not, you can still soothe him while he lies in the crib by rubbing his back. If he really starts to scream, pick him up briefly and give him a little cuddle before laying him back down again.

.   Keep the lights down low. Artificial lights interrupt melatonin and can seriously affect your child’s ability to go back to sleep. This means that when your baby cries in the night it’s not a good idea to walk into the room and immediately switch on a lamp or the overhead light. 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.

If you’re looking for a customized plan that will help you through this phase or you’re looking to help your little one wean off night feeds, I am just a phone call away. Contact me today to set up a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to discuss your specific situation and about how I can help. kathryn@sleepstars.ca or 778.881.4345

Content courtesy of my mentor Dana Obleman, creator of The Sleep Sense Program.

How to Avoid Car Naps

So you’re out doing your grocery shop and you can’t help but notice that naptime is drawing near. You hustle to get through your list, strap your little one into their car seat and cross your fingers that you make it home before they pass out. Checking the rearview mirror you see the slow blink starting to happen and the next thing you know, heads bobbing and they’re out. No! Now what? Why does this always happen when we’re driving?

Baby sleep in a carCar naps can be a problem for a few reasons: they can throw your child’s and your schedule off for the day, they aren’t as restful and restorative for your child causing overtiredness and crankiness, they are often short (the length of one sleep cycle) and if you try to transfer them, more often than not they wake up leading to an even shorter nap with no hope of getting them back down in their crib. So how do you keep this from happening and what can you do if it does? Here are my Top 5 Tips to avoid car naps and my advice on how to handle them when they happen by accident.

 

Tip #1: Avoid taking your child out when they’re overtired. If your child falls asleep every time they are strapped into their car seat or their stroller they are more than likely living every day in an overtired state. Ensuring that your child is getting all the sleep they need within a 24 hour period is the best way to avoid this by allowing for early bedtimes and ample napping opportunities in their bed during the day. Refer to this chart for how much sleep your child should be getting based on their age.

age nighttime sleep daytime sleep              (# of naps) total sleep awake window
0-3 mths 8-10 8 (3-5) 16-18 45 min – 1 hr
3-6 mths 11-12 4-5 (3) 15-17 1.5 – 2.5 hrs
6-12 mths 11-12 3-4 (2) 14-16 2.5 – 3.5 hrs
12-18 mths 11-12 2-3 (1-2) 13-15 3.5 – 6 hrs
18-24 mths 11-12 1.5-2.5 (1) 12.5-14.5 4 – 6 hrs
2-3 yrs 11-12 1.5-2 (1) 12.5-14 4 – 6 hrs
3-5 yrs 11-12 0-1.5 (0-1) 11.5-13.5 4 – 6 hrs

 

Tip #2: Avoid motion of any kind 30-45 minutes prior to naptime. It can be very tempting for the motion of a car, stroller or swing to lull your baby to sleep if they are nearing naptime. Plan outings for when they wake from naps and do your best to be home a minimum of 30 minutes prior to naptime. Children can become very reliant on motion and it can be a strong sleep prop for them which can difficult to break. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where they only way you can get your baby to sleep is by taking them for a walk or a drive in the car.

Tip #3: Don’t give your baby a bottle or pacifier while driving in the car. Sucking can be a very soothing action for a tired baby and again can aid them in falling asleep more easily when tired. This is especially true when your baby has possibly used this as a method for falling asleep in past or currently uses it as a way to fall asleep. Need help breaking them of this habit? Let me know, I can help!

Tip #4: Use distraction to get them home in an awake state. Give them a favourite toy or book when buckling them in. What about a snack or their favourite children’s songs CD playing? Turn it up and don’t be afraid to sing along loudly despite the looks you may be getting from other drivers…9 times out of 10 you will probably make them laugh J Rolling down the window and letting some fresh air in can help as well if all else fails. Of course, while driving safety should be your main priority, so if there is someone else in the car with you give them the job, especially if it’s an older sibling, they will love having this task!

Tip #5: Add a quick stop on your drive home. If you’ve tried everything and the long blinks are still threatening a nap, don’t hesitate to simply pull over for a few minutes at the park or get another quick errand in. Getting out of the car seat for a few minutes and having a change of scenery may do the trick and be the only option if you still have a ways to go before arriving at home.

But what do you do if they fall asleep despite your best efforts? If your baby is younger than 6 months you can try to transfer them into their crib and hope for the best, if they wake they most likely won’t go back down for you right away so push naptime a little later than normal and know that your day will be a bit off. If they are older than 6 months I would suggest letting them sleep under your supervision while keeping an eye on their head and neck position to ensure that their airways aren’t restricted. They will probably only sleep one sleep cycle (30-45 minutes) so just call that their nap. The next naptime or bedtime will need to come sooner that it would have so keep that in mind when planning the rest of your day.

In my opinion naps are equally important to parents; whether it’s simply to have a little break for yourself or you have bigger tasks to accomplish that you just can’t get done when they’re awake. These days will obviously happen from time to time and it’s not the end of the world, you can always get back on track tomorrow. I would just suggest doing your best to ensure that it isn’t the norm and that you make nap time a priority and avoid car naps whenever possible. Hopefully these tips will help you accomplish that, good luck!!

Sleep well,

Kathryn

Do You Have a Light Sleeper?

iStock_000022694965SmallAre you the parent of a light sleeper? I often chat with parents who feel as though a lot of their child’s sleep struggles stem from the fact that they are woken very easily when they’re sleeping. So I wanted to address this in a blog post and talk a little bit about why this might be happening and what you can do to help them in order to ensure that they’re getting the sleep that they need.

The first question that I always ask parents is “how does your child fall asleep for naps and bedtime?” Do they need to be nursed, rocked or bottle fed to sleep? Do they often fall asleep in your arms and then you transfer them into their bed? You’ll want to look at what your child’s sleep strategies are and how they are getting from Point A, being wide awake, to Point B, being asleep. If they need your help to take this journey either some or all of the way, then if they were to be disturbed while sleeping by a loud sound such as an ambulance, laughing or a sibling screaming, then they will more than likely start crying almost immediately. They wake and are alarmed, not so much by the sound that woke them, but by the fact that they are not in the same position that they fell asleep in. You can’t blame them for that, any of us would be alarmed to wake up in the middle of the living room floor when we had fallen asleep in our beds, wouldn’t we?

If you have a child who has strong independent sleep skills that is able to fall asleep on their own in their bassinet, crib or toddler bed, then if they were to be awoken by a sound, they may recognize that they had woken up but would be comfortable in their surrounding and would be able to put themselves back to sleep without crying out for Mom or Dad to come and help them. They will be less bothered by environmental noises in general when trying to sleep.

That being said you should always be respectful when your child is sleeping; they’re asleep, not in a coma! Just like you or your partner would want things “quieter” when you’re trying to take a nap, you should give the same level of respect to your child’s sleeping environment. That doesn’t mean that you should tiptoe around the house though, if you’re doing that, then yes, most likely any loud sound will disturb their sleep leading to an unnecessarily short nap.

Sound machines can also help eliminate any wake-ups during nap time, the evening or early in the morning when others in your home may be awake, particularly loud toddler siblings when you have a baby trying to sleep. Make sure that if you are using a sound machine that it’s set to white noise (no obvious pattern with a beginning or end) and that it can play for the entire duration of your child’s sleep.

However, if your child can’t fall asleep on their own that is the best place to start to help your “light sleeper” sleep more soundly and get the rest that they need to thrive.

If you feel like you could use some support in doing this, I can help! Contact me today to set up a time to chat about your child’s specific challenges and how we together can gently guide them to be independent sleepers.

Sleep well,

Kathryn