Awake? How is that possible?

Awake? How is that possible?

When you are teaching your child the art of sleeping the best way to be successful is for your child to be placed in the place or sleep (bassinet or crib) awake. People often look at me sideways and say.. “is it that easy?”

Well, it may seem “easy” but the reality is little ones often cry when placed in the crib. It does not have to be difficult. It can take time and there are many things that you can do; however, the first thing you need to remember is that it is not your job to get your child to sleep. It is your job to provide your child with the opportunity to sleep.

 

Say What?

I often hear from people that they cannot get their child to fall asleep and it becomes an exercise in frustration to get their child to sleep.

A great deal of time, little ones are falling asleep in someone’s arms and then being transferred to the crib. Put yourself in that little human’s place..

You fell asleep all comfy and cozy in someone’s arms and then you wake up in this crib! You have no idea how you got there. Not sure about you but I would be mad!

Okay, So Now What?

The first step is to make sure you are offering your child the chance to go to sleep when your child is physically ready. Your child should be in the state between not tired yet and overtired. This is where focusing on how much time your child can handle being awake comes in handy (Wake time).

Now that you have an idea of when your child should be ready for sleep, you then place your little one in the crib awake (or at least drowsy). If your little one has fallen asleep in your arms, gently stir your child as they go in the crib so they are aware that they are in the crib. This is when the tears can happen.

If your child is crying you can respond by giving your child a chance to settle on their own, you go be present, or you can try picking up and putting down until your little one falls asleep. I usually recommend that you use the 5 steps until your little one falls asleep. Here is a link to an article ( members only..not a member become one today) that helps with the 5 steps..

https://parentingfoundations.net/night-waking-how-do-i-respond/

It seems to take a long time..

It is important that you look at the clock when you are doing this as it does feel like it takes forever but in reality, it may not be that long. If it is taking more than 15 minutes for more than 4 days for your little one to fall asleep then I would look at the time your little one is awake between periods of sleep.

As your child gets used to going to sleep on their own you will be able to lay your child down and walk out of the room. This dream will soon be your reality!!

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

 

Once a child is over 4.5 months of age they will begin the process of producing melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that allows are little ones to go to sleep and stay asleep for long periods of time. When we use a key phrase to identify that it is time to sleep, it can help with our little ones settling down and preparing for sleep which can cause the melatonin to start to produce.

I have had the opportunity to hear many different key phrases that people use for sleep. The following are some of the most common:

  • “Night Night”
  • “Sleepy Time”
  • “Good Night”
  • “Do do”
  • “Time for Sleep”

This key phrase comes in really handy in the middle of the night or early morning when your child requires a reminder that it is still time for sleep. When you use your key  phrase it is often enough to help your little one attempt to go back to sleep. It basically does 2 things. It reminds them that it is still time for sleep and it allows them to hear your voice which can be very calming.

A key phrase may seem like a very simple tool; however, sometimes it is the small things that make a huge impact!!

The Power of 15 minutes

The Power of 15 minutes

I often find it incredible how a simple 15 minute time interval can make such a difference. 

When we are teaching our young children how to sleep I find that people will move mountains, buy all the gadgets available, read all the books and not be aware of the power of a time block that will improve sleep immensely.

It can be really frustrating as a parent when a little one seems to be getting in the groove of sleeping and then bam, sleep has exited the building. Adding 15 minutes of being awake before each sleep can be an absolute game changer! 

If your child has been sleeping okay and then things fall off the rails, simply add 15 minutes of awake time before you offer a nap or bedtime. Falling off the rails usually means waking up several times a night, waking for a long period of time, waking at the crack of dawn, or fighting going to sleep. Often when you add the 15 minutes of awake time your child gets back on track quite quickly.

 You may find that you are adding 15 minutes of awake time every couple of weeks. That is quite normal!

Another way to use the 15 minute block of time is to only spend 15 minutes trying to get your child back to sleep after a short nap. I often hear families that will keep trying to get their child back to sleep every 30 minutes or so after a short nap. This turns into an exercise of frustration for the child and parent.  After 15 minutes of trying to get your child back to sleep, stop and wait for the next period of time when your child is ready for sleep according to her desired wake time.

Do not underestimate the power of the 15 minute block!

 

Sleep Props? What do you mean?

Sleep Props? What do you mean?

Sleep Prop?  Lots of parents, including myself, have had no idea that their child is dependent on a prop to go to sleep or stay asleep.

A sleep prop is an object, action or person that a child requires in order to go to sleep. Your child is dependent on a sleep prop if you find yourself getting up many times to replace a soother, rock a child, go for a car ride, or feed your child.

Here is a list of some common sleep props:

  • soother
  • rocking to sleep
  • car ride
  • stroller
  • feed (bottle or breast feed)
  • person (mom, dad, or other care provider)
  • swaddle
  • swing
  • swaying

Now should you dump all props immediately? It depends on the age of the child.

The first three months can be difficult for a baby to sleep, so you do what you can. There will be a few times that you will use a sleep prop, don’t beat yourself up for it.  Your baby needs rest, end of story.The first few months you do what you can to teach your child to sleep.

In my opinion, the key is to eventually reduce or eliminate your child’s need for a prop.  Once your child learns to put themselves to sleep without a sleep prop it is an amazing moment. You and all other family members will actually get a half decent sleep – it really does happen.

Now that our youngest is two years old, the first few months are a blur; however, I remember being very sleep deprived and frustrated with his lack of napping.  I felt for him and I could tell he was exhausted (crying, easily frustrated, rubbing his eyes, etc).

I took a look at his sleep and environment. We were rocking him while giving him a bottle before he fell asleep.  Every time he woke up he required a feed in the rocking chair to go back to sleep.  The kicker with our boy was that after every feed he had to be held upright for 20 to 30 minutes to prevent him from throwing up his feed. (Acid reflux is not fun.)  It was near impossible to keep him awake.  He then became dependent on a person to hold him.  Yikes!

With time and patience, he was able to sleep on his own. He did have to be taught to sleep without a prop and we had to remain calm.  The first few nights our little man slept on his own, I woke up wondering if everything was okay.  It was beautiful to hear him sleeping so peacefully.

Your child can be an amazing sleeper as well.  We can work together to discover your child’s sleep prop (it’s amazing what a prop can be) and teach him or her how to sleep without it.

Happy sleeping, everyone!

 

The Colour of Noise

The Colour of Noise

We often hear of the effect white noise can have on you or your child’s sleep. Who knew there are other colours of noise?? Not me. My guest blog post today is from the amazing Jerylin Gan, Ph.D. about the colours of noise.


Have trouble sleeping?  A toddler who wakes whenever you accidentally step on that creaky floorboard?  Just hate the sound of those damn chipper little birds at 5 am?  Then someone’s probably recommended playing white noise in the background.  Maybe in the form of a fan, a mp3 of a waterfall, or one of those sleep sheep stuffed animals that play a heartbeat as well.  

From my experience, white noise is wonderful.  Both my kiddos and husband will wake at the drop of a hat.  But you know what I’ve found works better for me?  Pink noise.  That’s right.  There’s more than one colour of noise!

There’s white, pink, brown, gray, and violet noise (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colors_of_noise).  The difference between the colours is how loud certain frequencies are.  Low frequencies sound low to human ears; high frequencies are higher pitched.  “Noise” is when you play a lot of frequencies at the same time.  White noise is when all frequencies are played at the same volume.  Pink noise is when lower frequencies are played slightly louder than the higher frequencies.  Brown noise is when lower frequencies are played a lot louder than higher frequencies.  

And though it’s hard for most people to tell the difference between the different colours of noise, they’ve been shown to have different effects on people. What might be soothing for one (e.g. the sound of a vacuum to my friend’s baby) might sound awful to another individual (e.g. the sound of a vacuum to me).  So experiment!  Try to see if you like white, pink or brown noise.  See which noise might help you sleep better.  See which noise will help you concentrate on a task!  

Jerylin Gan, Ph.D.

You may wonder who is Jerylin Gan, Ph.D.? Well, let me fill you in. Jerylin is currently an amazing stay at home mom with a passion to ensure her children are getting the much-needed rest they require. Jerylin has a BA in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UC Berkeley, PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior from the University of Washington, Seattle and she did further training at Cornell Medical School. She is my go-to person when looking at the science behind a number of studies we see popping up on social media.

Originally posted June 21, 2016 

Updated and re-posted Nov 23, 1018

Dream Feed: To Recommend or Not?

Dream Feed: To Recommend or Not?

As with all things related to babies, there are many opinions about a dream feed. This post is based on my experience; however, I realize it may not be the same experience for you.

Lets first start with the basics…

 

What exactly is a dream feed?

A dream feed is when your baby is asleep and you pick the baby up while they are sleeping and feed the baby. You can do this both by bottle and breast.

How can a baby eat while sleeping?

The best way to explain this is that it just happens! When the nipple is placed in babies mouth they will suck.

When should I offer a dream feed?

If you choose to do dream feed, I would recommend that you do it about an hour before your child’s typical wake up for a feed or as close that as possible. Hopefully, this is close to when you would typically go to bed. If not, I would do it just before going to bed.

What is the goal of a dream feed?

The goal of a dream feed is to extend your child’s ability to stay asleep for a longer period of time. Children that are waking due to hunger at an earlier time can benefit from a dream feed.

What is your opinion of a dream feed?

I find that dream feeds are an absolute crap shoot! They can work for some babies and be a fail for others.

Personally, I recommend that dream feeds are used with caution. I find babies that are offered the dream feed for a long time, come to depend on that feed and have a difficult time extending their ability to stay asleep without the feed.

For us, our little man would wake up during the feed so it did not work.

I have had many clients that were doing a dream feed. Most of the time their child started waking up slightly before the feed was offered.

The clients that did have success with the feed used it for a short period of time to help their little ones extend their sleep and then I encouraged more calories during the day to reduce the need for a night feed.

Should you try offering a dream feed?

If your little one is not able to sleep for more than 3 to 4 hours after 4 months of age you could try a dream feed to see if it will help. If your child is sleeping for 5 to 6 hours I would not recommend a dream feed.

I do find that it is best if you wait until your child naturally wakes up. When you wait until your child naturally wakes up you are going by your child’s needs versus what you believe your child needs. Do not underestimate these wonderful little humans!