6 06, 2018

Your Child’s Sleep and Summer; How to Enjoy Both

June 6th, 2018|Categories: Travel Tips, Uncategorized|

Sleep and summer; the two CAN co-exsist when you have kids!

Summer is approaching! Woohoo!

But wait, we have kids. 😉

And if your kids are like mine, they turn into hot (literally and figuratively) messes when their sleep routine is off.

So how do we mange to enjoy the summer, but still keep our little one’s sleep on track? Can our children’s sleep and summer both be enjoyed without sacrificing one for the other?

Why yes, yes they can.

Here are my top summertime sleep tips for families.

Create an Ideal Room Environment

Whether you’re traveling on the road or, enjoying a stay-cation, your child’s sleep environment can make or break a quality sleep session-especially naps. Since sleep is regulated by the brain, it is the brain that we need to pamper and work *with*, not against.

Therefore, you need to ensure three things are in place…

1) A dark room 
The master clock that regulates our sleep is called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus which is located behind the optic nerves in the brain as seen in this diagram…

 

When the brain perceives darkness, it sends signals to your child’s brain to release melatonin into the bloodstream. Since melatonin is the hormone that makes your child feel sleepy and helps them fall asleep easily, we want to encourage this as much as possible.

Make your child’s sleeping location as dark as you can, especially for nap time so that Mother Nature does the work for you. At home, this is relatively easy to do, but when travelling, you may need to be a tad creative. I always travel with several king sized sheets for exactly this reason. 😉

2) A cool environment 
17-21 degrees Celsius is the recommended room temperature for sleeping. This isn’t just for kids, but for moms and dads as well. The cool environment mimics what the body wants to do naturally during the sleep process- lower its core temperature. And again, this helps your child to go to sleep quicker.

3. White noise
The birds are loud first thing in the morning, usually before the sun is even up! Since this corresponds with your child’s lightest stages of sleep, using white noise will help to mask this unwanted interruption.

White noise is also wonderful for camping or hotel stays. We
I prefer white noise to music as white noise blends all the sound frequencies together, whereas music does not, leaving the potential for an early wake up.

Plan Travel around Naps

I often get asked the question; “if we have a long day of travel ahead of us, how do we factor naps in”?

First, we need to understand that naps en route are not the same quality as a nap that is in a flat and motionless bassinet, crib or bed.

The brain isn’t able to descend into the deep stages of sleep (think of yourself trying to nap during a car ride) and thus produces a more shallow, less restorative or refreshing nap.

However, any sleep is preferable over NO sleep. If your child naps easily while travelling, then you can take advantage of that.

I do recommend to parents to try and leave after the first nap of the day. That way your child can start the day off with a fully restorative nap in their own environment.

If they should take a short second nap (many older babies are too stimulated by all the sights and sounds to nap for long periods), at least they had a good foundation at the beginning.

If they day is exceptionally long, and the naps are exceptionally short, an extra nap may sneak in, or, better yet, plan for an early bedtime to help recoup the lost daytime sleep.

For older toddlers and preschoolers, naps should end by 3pm to ensure that they will easily go down for bedtime.

If the older ones skip their nap entirely, plan for a super early bedtime to avoid a large sleep debt forming.

Encourage Quality Sleep in Different Locations

Whether your child is going to be napping in a hotel, tent or another house during summer vacation; we want them to be able to fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply. How do we do this?

1) Maintain Routine
Regardless of your child’s age, the first rule is to maintain a similar daytime napping schedule (as best as you can)(see previous tip) and wind down routine. By doing this, not only does it help your child to fall asleep quicker in the new location, but it also puts the biochemical reactions in motion and cues your child’s body that it’s time to sleep.

2) Recreate Home 
This isn’t the time to be creative, unless you like gambling with sleep. 😉 Bring your child’s lovey, white noise, night light-whatever they use at home, you should take on the road. It’s also helpful to use the same sheets and pajamas without washing them, so they have the familiar scents of home.

3) Give Them Time
Don’t just plop your toddler in a new Pack and Play and expect them to go to sleep. Give your child time to get acclimatized in the new location *before* you put them down to sleep. They will want to explore it, so let them! This allows the novelty to wear off, gives them play time without the stress of hoping they will fall asleep and allows you to troubleshoot while they do so.

Manage Bedtime During Summer Events

There are a few different options if you have an event that runs later into the evening. You can choose whatever feels right for your family.

1) Hire A Babysitter

This option is best for children that are already sleep trained and familiar with the babysitter. If your child doesn’t know the babysitter, then to ensure success (and less stress for you!), have the new caregiver do a few trial runs with you present in the days or weeks leading up to the event.

 

Want your child to sleep through the night before you head out for vacation? Download the FREE sleep guide; Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night

2) Half and Half

In this situation, everyone attends the event and then one parent leaves and takes the child home at bedtime. You can also then hire a babysitter to watch your kiddo once they are asleep and return to the event, or, that parent stays home for the rest of the evening.

3) Move Nap

If your child can handle it, you can move their nap a touch later in the day. Most kids need a short morning wake period, and if we move the morning nap too late, it will backfire and result in a super short nap.

So if your little one is on a two nap schedule, I recommend leaving the morning nap where it is, but pushing nap two out a little later in the afternoon. If they are down to a one nap routine, then this is the one you would move later.

Don’t do anything too drastic because again, it can result in a shorter nap, so stick around the fifteen to thirty minute mark.

When we move this nap later, the hope is that your child will still nap for their regular amount, but it now ends later in the afternoon. This will give you more breathing room for a slightly later bedtime, without making them overtired.

4) Put Them To Sleep at the Event

This is a wonderful option if you are at someone’s house, but would like to stay later without compromising your child’s sleep.

In this scenario, you would bring your child’s Pack and Play, lovey, white noise, etc., and put them to sleep in a quiet room in the house at bedtime. Do a regular bedtime routine at this new location-don’t panic or feel you need to extend it-just get them down at their regular bedtime.

When it’s time to transfer them to the car, keep all the lights off so the daytime hormones don’t start to interfere with things.

Once home, do the same thing; keep the house dark and get them into their crib or bed. Should they happen to wake up during the transfer, treat it like it’s a night waking at two in the morning and do a brief soothing session to help them go back down quickly and easily.

5) Later Bedtime

I’ll admit it, this isn’t my favourite option, but it *is* an option. 😉 If your child is an independent sleeper, already on a great routine, doesn’t have a sleep debt, then moving bedtime later once in awhile can likely won’t create chaos. It allows everyone to enjoy the summer nights without having to sacrifice family time or anyone’s participation.

If your child has a sensitive sleep temperament though, expect a few night wakings for up to three nights after. To help counter this, do a slightly earlier bedtime the next night or two.

Sleep and summer can go hand-in-hand. While it may not always be perfect, it doesn’t have to be a disaster, either. With a little planning and following the tips above, you can help to ensure that everyone has fun, but stays well-rested too.

Need help getting your child on a better sleep routine? Join and like the Baby Sleep 101 Facebook page and download your free sleep guide here. 

 

29 06, 2016

5 Tips to Help Kids Sleep Well While Travelling

June 29th, 2016|Categories: Travel Tips|Tags: , , |

5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Well On Summer Vacation

Summer’s almost here! Have you made any travel plans—maybe a trip to the beach or the lake? If you’ve been thinking of traveling this summer, you’ve probably also started to wonder how you’re supposed to accommodate your child’s sleep schedule along the way.

It can be challenging! But with a little planning that begins even before you leave for your trip, you can make life much easier for your little one—and for your whole family.

Here are 5 tips to keep your child’s sleep routines as seamless as possible, even during summer vacation.

#1. Arrange Nap time Around The Car Rides

Any child’s ideal sleep environment will be flat and motionless—in other words, the opposite of naps in the car.

But while sleeping on the road is not as restorative, it’s preferable to missing out on a nap completely. If your child falls asleep in the car easily, feel free to take advantage of it and drive while they sleep.

For many children though, it takes a while to unwind enough to go to sleep in the car. Try leaving at least 20-30 minutes before their nap would normally begin. Some children become too stimulated to fall asleep in the car at all. If that describes your child, try your best to arrive at your destination by nap time. If this isn’t possible, the next best option is to simply plan for an earlier bedtime that evening.

#2. Help Your Child Get Accustomed To New Sleeping Arrangements

Will your child be sleeping, for example, in their Pack ‘n Play during your summer trip? You might find it helpful to give your child the opportunity to practice by sleeping in the Pack ‘n Play at home, beginning a couple of days before you leave.

Once you’ve arrived at your summer vacation spot, try to recreate your child’s home sleep environment as best you can. Does your child normally use something to create white noise? Is he used to sleeping with a certain toy? Bring those items along! You might even want to bring the same sheets and room darkening shades to create a comfortable home-away-from-home for your child.

By bringing along items your child associates with a good night’s sleep, you’ll help his or her brain release natural sleep hormones into the bloodstream. You also won’t have to work as hard at helping your child fall asleep.

You’ll also want to have a soothing and calming wind-down routine in place before you travel—preferably one that’s easy to recreate when you’re on vacation.

Regardless of where you are, these familiar routines will help your child relax and drift off peacefully.

#3. Maintain Your Child’s Regular Schedule (As Much As Possible).

It’s no secret that kids thrive on routine. It’s comforting, and can help them handle the sensory overload that often comes along with traveling to a new environment.

As much as possible, start the day at the same time, keep meals and naps the same each day, and don’t let your little one stay up too late.

#4. Be sensitive to your child becoming overtired.

When your child is overtired, you’ll find they’re often even more resistant to sleeping somewhere new, going along with new routines, and interacting with new people. If you do your best to ensure your child is caught up on sleep before heading out on the road, you can avoid a lot of frustration. The best way to do this? Keep a regular nap schedule and an age-appropriate bedtime for at least 1-2 weeks before you leave for your trip.

Even though it might be convenient for your travel schedule, don’t force your child to skip naps. It’s very hard on a child’s body, and you’ll likely see the negative effects that night as they wake up more often. The stress can also show up during the daytime hours with temper tantrums and crankiness. It’s definitely not what you had in mind while trying to enjoy your summer vacation.

#5. Keep your child’s temperament in mind

Typically, babies and toddlers have sensitive temperaments. They can sense all the excitement (and sometimes stress) that a summer vacation can bring. It’s common to become easily overwhelmed with too many activities, so build in some “down time,” whether you’re visiting a relative’s house or spending time at the lake or beach. This extra bit of planning can lead to longer, deeper, and more restorative sleep.

Did you know most children have a sleep temperament? It also plays a part in how they’ll adjust to a new sleep routine.

Over the years I’ve found two categories of sleep temperaments in children: sensitive and flexible.

  • The Sensitive Sleepers: Babies and children who are highly affected by even small changes in their routines. They’ll require recovery time to get back on track. As much as possible, their routines need to stay rigid.
  • The Flexible Sleepers: These little ones are able to adjust and adapt to a disrupted sleep environment more easily. A shorter nap or a later bedtime doesn’t throw their system off, and they won’t need a lot of recovery time.

Don’t be afraid to give it a try!

It absolutely takes planning and plenty of patience to head out on a summer vacation with an infant or toddler. But you can do this! 

It’s never too early to start making family memories with your little one. Enjoy your summer!

Need more sleep tips? Download the Baby Sleep 101 Free Sleep Guide.

Have a question about your child’s sleep? Join the Baby Sleep 101 on Facebook for weekly live Q & A sessions.

 

This article originally appeared in Canadian Family.

21 12, 2015

Holiday Sleep Tips for Babies and Toddlers

December 21st, 2015|Categories: Travel Tips|

Silent night, holy night,

All is calm, all is bright

Although this is a line from one of my favourite Christmas carols, it can also double as the wish of worried parents through the holiday season.

If you have a baby or toddler who has a great sleep routine, (or even a mediocre one) 😉 ; multiple family suppers, seasonal travel plans and visiting in-laws can quickly throw your child’s schedule off course, leading to a not so silent night.

It can be a challenge to help your child sleep in a different locations, but even if you’re at home, family visits may run late, making it difficult to get your baby to sleep on time. Stress levels can run high during the holidays at the best of times, and struggling to get your child to sleep while trying to entertain company doesn’t help.

So here are a few holiday sleep tips to assist with managing your baby or child’s routine, while helping to keep your stress level low.

Holiday Sleep Tips #1: Be Consistent

Now, I know that the holidays are the prime time for disruptions to a family’s daily life. There can be travel and extra outings that are exciting for everyone. However, children thrive on routine and it can help counter the overstimulation and sensory overload this time of year tends to bring.

Maintain your child’s regular schedule as best as possible. This means start the day at the same time each morning, keep meal and nap times the same from day to day, and make sure bedtime doesn’t wander too late.

Holiday Sleep Tips #2: Take Sleep on the Road

If you will be travelling during Christmas and staying the night either in a hotel or with family, help your child fall asleep easily with memories of home. This means recreating  your child’s regular sleep environment in the new location.

By bringing along anything you use to help your little one drift off at home such as white noise, lovey, same sheets, room darkening shades, you help your child’s brain to release natural sleep hormones into the bloodstream. This saves you from having to work extra hard at soothing and helping your child to fall asleep.

Extra tip; have a soothing and calming wind down routine before a sleep period already in place before you travel. This way, regardless of where you are, this familiar routine will help your child relax and drift off with little fuss.

Holiday Sleep Tips #3: Respect Your Child’s Sleep Needs

Imagine the reaction a parent would get if they said “I’m not going to feed my toddler today so we can get to grandma’s house on time”. Likely the parent would gets some “looks”, at the very least. It’s obvious to us-children need to eat.

What is not so obvious though, is a child’s need to sleep, especially during the day. It can seem as if naps aren’t important, like they are just an extra bonus.

But I would encourage you to view sleep needs through the same lens as you view food. Sleep is essential for our bodies, some say even more than food!

So respect your child’s need to sleep; don’t force them to skip their nap. It will be very hard on their body and you will likely see the repercussions that night or the next with more wakings. It can even transfer into the daytime with temper tantrums and crankiness. Definitely NOT what we want to happen while trying to visit with family and friends.

Holidays have you stressing about your child’s sleep?

Get your FREE copy of “Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night

Also, keep in mind that a bedtime that is more than 30 minutes later than a young child is used to, will create a sleep debt, especially if it happens consecutively.

So, in order for your child to sleep well, and therefore for *you* to get a good night’s rest, consider how much sleep your child needs and work around their nap and bedtimes.

If you’re not sure how much sleep your baby or toddler should be getting, click here for sleep needs in a 24 hour period, and here for nap needs in a 24 hour period.

Holiday Sleep Tips #4: Temperament Counts

It can be hard to resist the urge to soak up all festivities of the season, but trust me when I say that your child absolutely loves just being with you. Remember that when making arrangements throughout the holidays. Too many activities crammed into a day can be hard on a little one and can effect their sleep.

If your baby or toddler is like many young children, they have sensitive temperaments. They will pick up on all the excitement (and stress) this time of year can bring. They can get easily overwhelmed and overtired with too many activities, causing night wakings and short naps. Plan for some “down time” whether you’re visiting at relatives house, travelling or just staying home. It will lead to longer, deeper and more restorative sleep.

Holiday Sleep Tips #5: Early Bedtime Cures All

If your child has had a busy week and is becoming increasingly overtired, then putting them to bed early for a few nights is a simple way to help them get back on track.

The first half of a child’s sleep is filled with many cycles of deep sleep. Later, as the night wears on into the wee hours of morning, the quality of sleep changes into lighter sleep. (Click here to see an illustration of this.)

However, it’s the deep sleep cycles that are the most restorative to the body and brain and can help your little one feel refreshed in the morning. So by putting an overtired child to bed early, you help them have more cycles of the deep sleep, thus helping to pull them out of the sleep debt.

Once the holidays are over, the travelling is done and you are home, expect your child to need about a week to get their routine back on track.

If after this time your baby is still having sleep issues, join me on my weekly Facebook Q and A sessions or book a consultation for more in-depth and personalized help.

 

 

 

 

7 08, 2014

Travelling with Kids: 6 Tips For Keeping Your Children Well-Rested on the Road

August 7th, 2014|Categories: Travel Tips|

 

Are you heading out on the open road this summer with kids? Are you filled with dread at the possibility of listening to your overtired child crying and complaining the whole time?
Relax! That doesn’t have to be the case!

Read Baby Sleep 101’s 6 tips for managing your children’s sleep while travelling on Modern Mama here.

5 06, 2013

5 Sleep Tips for Summer Travel With Children

June 5th, 2013|Categories: Travel Tips, Uncategorized|

Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy…

This may be true if you’re on holidays, lying in the sun with your feet in the pool, but it may not be quite as accurate if you’re planning to travel with young kids. 😉

Many a vacation has been marred by babies crying, toddlers missing naps and preschoolers having tantrums, leading to a grumpy mom and dad. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Yes, there will always be some unwelcomed surprises on family vacations, but if you implement some of the following guidelines, you will increase your chances of a having a well rested (and happy!) tot along for the ride.

1. Plan Ahead

If you’re going to be staying in a hotel on your vacation, call them ahead of time to see if you can book a room located in a quiet section of the building. Generally, rooms close to the pool, restaurant, stairs or elevator have more foot traffic and are nosier. This can be quite frustrating when you’re trying to get your child to go to sleep.

2. Have a Well Rested Child Before You Leave

It’s important to have your child on a good routine before you even set out on your travels. This means an established nap routine, a consistent and familiar wind down and an age appropriate bedtime. If your child is well rested and caught up on their sleep before you go, then they will be more likely to fall asleep quicker in a new environment, able to deal with any missed sleep better and be just a happier travel companion overall. Win-win!

3. Practice Makes Perfect

If your child will be sleeping in a Pack and Play while you’re on the road, then it’s wise to do some trial runs with it at home. Sometimes children have a hard time settling down in a new bed, so it’s best to let them get used to it, in the comfort and security of their room. You can try one nap a day to see how they respond and troubleshoot accordingly.

4. Recreate The Sleep Environment

Take everything you can to help replicate your child’s regular sleep environment in the hotel. This may include white noise, dark sheets to imitate their blackout blinds, loveys or special blankets. They say that our sense of smell is the most powerful sense, so you may even want to take the same sheets from their bed without washing them. The familiar scents can help to relax your child when they are trying to fall asleep in a new location.

5. Stick to A Regular Routine

I know, I know, who wants same old, same old when you’re on vacation, right? But I tell you the truth-everyone will be happier if you can stick to a child’s regular routine while you’re traveling. Of course, this can’t always be done, but when it can, I would highly suggest it. By maintaining regular nap and bedtimes (when you can),  you will help prevent them from getting overtired.

Although naps in the car are not recommended as part of a healthy sleep routine, when on the road, it sometimes can’t be helped. It’s better for your child to take a nap in the car, than to miss the nap entirely.

Some kids nap well in the car, and if yours does, then plan on doing long stretches on the road during their regular nap time. Remember to leave a little earlier to compensate for falling asleep time. Some parents also have success with hitting the road at a child’s bedtime and letting them sleep for a few hours while mom and dad drive to the next location. Have your children in their PJs already so that once you arrive at the hotel, you can quickly transfer them to their bed.

If you have a tot that doesn’t like to sleep in the car, then try to be at your destination in time for their next nap. If it can’t be helped, one nap will be missed, but you have the option of picking which one it will be, choose to skip the afternoon nap. The morning nap is the most restorative and sets the mood for the rest of the day.  Either way, if a nap is skipped, then put them to bed early that night to help ward off overtiredness.

Once you are back from your trip, get right back into your old routine. Expect that your child’s sleep will be a little disturbed for about a week, but with time, consistency and early bedtimes, things will be back to normal quickly.