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. 

 

1 09, 2016

Help Your Child Adjust to Daycare

September 1st, 2016|Categories: Daycare and Sleep, Uncategorized|

Help Your Child Adjust to Daycare (Daycare Series, Part 3)

Whether you’re going back to work after 6 weeks or a few years, knowing how to help your child adjust to daycare can be a challenge.

This transition can be a stressful time for any family, and in my Daycare Series I’ve already outlined how to choose a day care which respects your child and sleep, and best practices when it comes to helping your baby adjust to napping at a daycare.

This 3rd installment of the Daycare Series I’ll share my tips on how to help your child adjust to daycare with its new and unfamiliar routines:

Be Up-Front with Your Daycare Provider

Before you begin taking your child to a new daycare it’s critical that you communicate openly and honestly with the day care providers about your little one’s sleep, feeding, and eating requirements so that you can ensure that you are on the same schedule.

Keeping this pattern consistent will help your child feel more secure because they are following a familiar, established routine, and it also helps the daycare workers make sure that your child is happy and comfortable.

Bring a Comfort Item for Your Baby

Check to see if the daycare will allow your baby to bring a comfort or “lovey” item with them, such as a special stuffed toy or blanket, which can stay at the daycare for all naps. For young infants, there should not be any items in the crib, but for the older ones, your daycare may allow a small, soft lovey. It shouldn’t have any parts that can come off such as buttons, nor should it be stuffed to prevent a choking hazard.

If you can, have Mom or Baby sleep with the item for a few days before bringing it to daycare for the first time, so that the item has familiar scents attached to it.

Do a Gradual Introduction

If your schedule allows, ease your child into daycare alternating days when they are at daycare, and when they stay at home. One alternative that I recommend (if possible) is to do the morning nap at home, and then bring the baby to daycare for their second nap, or vice versa.

If your child has already gone through the 2-1 nap transition, then you may want to again bring him or her for only half a day for the first week and then alternating full days in week two.

Adjust Accordingly

The first several weeks at daycare are usually a bumpy time for families, and it’s common for a child to resist napping, or to skip napping altogether at the start.

In order to help your child adjust to daycare the quickest, I suggest that parents reschedule bedtime for earlier in the evening to accommodate any sleep loss which may be happening the day. Sometimes it may feel like you are barely able to spend any time with your little one because they are needing to go to bed earlier, however, if this helps everyone to continue to sleep well at night, then it’s worth the initial sacrifice.

Usually by the end of the first month, our little ones are doing much better with the new routine and are able to return to their regular bedtime. (Keep in mind that for children under 5, bedtime is often between 6-7:30pm)

Continue to Communicate Consistently

Some day cares provide daily logs, or summaries, of each child’s behaviour and routines throughout the day. If your daycare doesn’t provide one for you, make sure to communicate about their naps every day, and ask questions like:

  • Did your child nap?
  • How long did they nap for?
  • How long did it take for them to fall asleep?
  • What was their mood like pre and post-nap?
  • Did the provider have to do anything to help them fall asleep?

These answers will help you understand how your child is sleeping, and assist you in determining if you need to adjust bedtimes accordingly.

Remember; the best thing that you can do to ensure a smooth transition for your baby, and to help keep them as well-rested, happy, and healthy as possible, is to communicate with your daycare.

Would you like more tips on how to help your child adjust to daycare?Join me during one of my Q and A sessions on the Baby Sleep 101 Facebook page and ask a question.

 

 

 

17 08, 2015

How to Prepare Your Child for Napping at Daycare (Daycare Series, Part 2)

August 17th, 2015|Categories: Daycare and Sleep|

Napping at Daycare

You’ve researched, interviewed and visited every daycare in the city (or at least it feels that way). You’ve made a pro/con list and followed my suggestions about choosing a daycare. You’ve reviewed the contenders from top to bottom and narrowed it down to one.

Voila! You’ve found the perfect daycare for your little one.

There’s only one small problem; their sleep routine is different. In fact, their whole nap schedule is different and it’s stressing you out.

You may be thinking; “What’s going to happen when I return to work? How will my child ever nap there?”

Please don’t worry that you will be picking up a complete mess of a child who hasn’t napped all day.

It’s going to be ok, I’m here to help.

As nervous as this transition may make you feel, there are several steps you can take right now to help your child. So let’s get your little one ready for the first few weeks at daycare.

Whether you have two months or two weeks, here are some tips to prepare your child for napping at daycare.

Visit the Centre

It’s likely that you have already gone to the facility or home daycare when you were researching, but once you have made your decision, go and visit the daycare to watch their nap routine.

Who do they place down first?

Where? How loud/quiet is it ?

What about the lighting? Does it get turned down or off?

Are there staff members that switch shifts at this time?

If it’s a home daycare, are video or audio monitors used?

Do multiple children share one sleep space?

The more you know ahead of time, the better you can prepare your child.

Communicate

If possible, especially if it’s a large provider, arrange ahead of time to speak with the director and/or the main caregiver that will be interacting with your child each day. During this meeting, it’s a great idea to communicate with the provider about what makes your child unique.

How do they like to fall asleep?

Do they like to have their back rubbed, or like to be held close?

How long are they used to the wind down routine taking?

If your child prefers to hear a rendition of Baa, Baa Black Sheep, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (or even something like this ! #nojudgement), your provider will appreciate to knowing that.

Get Caught Up on Sleep

No one is at their best when they’re overtired, so one of the greatest advantages your child can have, is to be well-rested prior to daycare starting. Yes, perhaps it means that you skip the family dinner that is going to run late and cause your child to be tired the week leading up to daycare, but it’s worth it. Trust me on this one, you do not want to be panicking  before you’re returning to work, desperately trying get sleep in order.

Need help getting your child’s sleep routine on track before daycare?

For babies under 12 months, grab your free copy of Baby Sleep Basics

For Children 1-4 years, download the free Sleep Solutions for Toddlers and Preschoolers; Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents.

Wean Co-Sleeping For Naps

If your child is used to co-sleeping with you during the day for her naps, then work at transitioning her to a crib while you’re still at home and have time to do it. I have tips on transitioning from bed to crib here. Learning to fall asleep in her own space with your help will ultimately be less stressful on her, rather than having a daycare worker do it.

Adjust Routine

Another great way to help prepare your child for napping at daycare, is to adjust their routine (if necessary) to that of the daycare’s.

For example; If your child currently sleeps at 8:00 am and 12:00pm, but your daycare will be doing naps at 9:00am and 1:00pm, then each day move your child’s routine ahead in increments. How fast or slow you go will be up to you and how much time you have. The earlier you start, the easier it will be on everyone.

If you moved in 15 minute increments, then on day one, naps would be at 8:15am and 12:15 pm, day two naps at 8:30am and 12:30pm, and so on.  Starting this process with more than two weeks before daycare begins, also gives you the luxury of adding in days of holding at the new time, before moving forward again.

Independent Sleep Skills

Factoring in your parenting philosophy, the daycare provider’s policies and your child’s personality; teaching your child to fall asleep independently prior to daycare will help prepare them for napping at daycare smoothly. I have seen a wide range of what day cares will and will not do when it comes to sleep training, so know their policies ahead of time and accommodate that into your timeline.

Finding quality childcare can be a stressful event, but by following the above tips, preparing your child for napping at daycare, won’t be. Once your child starts she will be content and you can return to work stress free. (Tips on this coming in the third and final post in this series; Help Your Child Adjust to Daycare.

If your  child still isn’t sleeping at daycare, book a consultation today so they can get the healthy sleep their bodies need and you can come home from work to a happy and well-rested child.

 

10 08, 2015

Choosing a Daycare that Respects your Child and Sleep

August 10th, 2015|Categories: Daycare and Sleep, Transition Tips|

Choosing a Daycare that Respects Sleep (Daycare Series, Part 1)

Choosing a daycare can be a stressful endeavor for any parent that works outside of the home. Not only are emotions running high, but an array of factors can play into the decision in where to place your trust.

In this three part series, we will look at the most common issues for parents preparing to work outside the home and how to manage their child’s sleep routine. Choosing a daycare, preparing your child for the transition, and how to manage your child’s sleep once she’s in daycare, will all be explored.

Let’s begin with items to consider when choosing a daycare.

Choosing a Daycare Tip #1

Location, Location, Location

When deciding on a facility or home daycare, you need to weigh the pros and cons of its location. Do you want a place that is close to home or close to work? Is it easily accessible for both parents to do drop-offs and pick-ups, or does the location hinder one parent from helping to  share the job?

If your child is sick, you may want to consider if it’s more important for you to be able to pick her up quickly or get her home faster. The same would go for you as a parent, if you’re feeling under the weather.

Is it close enough that your child can sleep until their normal time in the morning? What about if they need an earlier bedtime-can you manage it with the distance?

There are no right answers here, but if you consider your schedule, your child’s morning wake up and bedtimes, it can help you narrow the options.

 Choosing A Daycare Tip #2

Nap Routines

This subject is a big one for many of my clients.

Through my experience as a sleep consultant, I have worked with daycare facilities, licensed and unlicensed home daycares. I’ve given presentations at facilities for the parents, and have been hired to teach daycare workers for further professional development. So, I have seen a wide array of how naptime is dealt with.

For a large percentage of parents in Canada with one year of maternity leave, many children are entering daycare at around 12 months.

At this age, the vast majority of those children biologically still require two naps a day.

While thankfully the childcare industry is becoming more knowledgeable about healthy sleep habits and the dangers of restricting daysleep, many daycares still automatically put a 12 month old on a one nap a day routine, even if they are needing two.

Some children can handle this, while for many others, it causes a myriad of sleep difficulties after a few weeks as a sleep debt builds.

Want to get your baby on a great sleep routine before entering daycare? Download the FREE sleep resource guide.

 

I have had countless families contact me after returning to work, desperate because their child has suddenly started having troubles settling at bedtime, waking at night, or waking up extra early in the morning.

Therefore asking questions of your childcare provider’s policy about nap time is essential for harmony in your family once you return to work.

Some factors to consider are;

  • Are all children put onto a one nap a day routine, regardless of age?
  • If two naps are provided, until what age?
  • Where do children nap for the morning nap if it’s provided? (Open area, in a stroller on a walk, or in a nap room?)

 

Choosing a Daycare Tip #3

Policies

As every centre or home daycare will be unique, so to will be their policies regarding sleep. When comparing options, ask about the following;

  • Does the childcare giver follow safe sleep practices for babies?
  • Does the caregiver allow the older baby, toddler or preschooler to sleep with a favourite lovey or blanket?
  • How long does the daycare allow a child to fall asleep? Ie if the child isn’t sleeping in 10 minutes, does the caregiver intervene or end the nap?
  • What happens if the child takes a short nap?
  • What do they do if a child is crying before or after a nap?

Choosing a Daycare Tip #4

Sleep Environment

My final tip for you when choosing a daycare, is to examine the actual room that your child will be napping in. Science tells us that in order to foster deep, restorative sleep, good sleep hygiene is important.  As you investigate child care facilities see if they …

  • Darken the nap room significantly. (Note: for safety reasons, many facilities will not darken the room completely, but they should dim the lights and/or close the blinds if possible)
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature
  • Play white noise (preferred), music or nothing at all

Deciding who to trust for childcare is just one of many decisions you will have to make for your child. By following the above guidelines, you can begin to focus on providers who value your child’s need for sleep as much as you do. Once you have a provider, you can start to prepare your child for napping at daycare, which is the second article in this series.

Did you find a provider, but now your child sleep has gone off track? Visit our consultation page and let’s get your family sleeping again!

14 11, 2013

Adjusting to Motherhood: Tips to Ease the Transition

November 14th, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest blog post by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante

Lately I have been blessed with opportunities to connect with mothers adjusting to life with a new baby. They have shared their experiences and struggles with me and what strikes me the most is just how much mothers take upon their shoulders, often without complaint, sometimes with a very small support network. Mothers; what cannot be stressed enough is to practice daily self-care and to acknowledge that time for yourself is much deserved!

One recurring theme that comes up among mother’s stories is how hard it is to function after a night with very little sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause poor decision-making, increase the likelihood of depression and affect the quality of relationships.

A few things for new parents to keep in mind are to:

1. Discuss how the childcare and household duties will be managed before the baby is born. Will parents take turns getting up at night? If the mother is the one to handle night feedings, will the father handle all the laundry? Remember, what works for one family may not work for another.

2. Say no to added responsibility. You may feel obligated to join the board of your older child’s school, but doing so with a newborn at home will be too overwhelming.

3. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Ignore the household chores, emails and phone calls.

4. Say yes to help. If family and friends offer to drop off meals, tidy up the living room, or watch the baby while you take a nap, take them up on it.

5. Know that sleep loss can lead to mood changes. Some mothers are susceptible to symptoms of the baby blues and postpartum depression.
Some signs of postnatal depression are:
• inability to laugh and find enjoyment in things
• blaming oneself unnecessarily when things go wrong
• feeling anxious or worried for no good reason
• feeling scared or panicky for no good reason
• difficulty sleeping because of unhappiness
• feeling sad or miserable and excessive crying
• thoughts of harming oneself
• fear of being alone with baby
• difficulty making decisions

Be open with others you trust about how you are coping. Keeping connected with others can alleviate feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anger, and being overwhelmed

Remember that lack of sleep will not last forever. Most children eventually sleep through the night which means that parents will be able to have a restful night’s sleep again.

Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is the founder of Nexus Counselling and a licensed counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. She provides counselling services at the Nest Family Centre on Stafford St. and is a proud member of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council. Cheryl has experience helping clients with issues such as grief, depression, relationship difficulties, parenting, aging and illness. She can be reached at (204) 297-6744 or info@nexuscounselling.com .