Routines and Schedules

Routines and Schedules

It is times like this that I want to go back to my past self and give myself a high five!! The routines we put in place when our son was 3 years old or younger are still in place with some minor changes through the years and they are still working well!! Bliss I tell you!

A routine is a series of things we do before or after an event. A schedule is based on set times certain events occur.

Schedules and Routines both have their place.

I find that set schedules do not work as well with infants but having a variety of routines in place does work really well.

We have a screen time schedule here which works like a charm! Our son watches a show about 8 am, 11 am (when he is home), and 4 pm. We do have to be a bit flexible but we put in this place we would focus hugely on watching his programs. Once the set times were in place the constant asking for a show came to a complete stop. My response is “yes you can at __ time” After staying consistent with this for a while he really took to it.

I often have parents ask why their child is so well-behaved at daycare or school and not as much at home. The first thing is that children will unload their feelings at home where they feel safe. The second thing is that there is a great deal of structure with routines and schedules so the children know what to expect.

I often recommend that parents maintain similar schedules and routines at home.

You may find that you continue certain routines from your childhood. It is really cool how routines and schedules can really help children feel safe, secure, and be willing to do the steps without even realizing it.

I have to admit that our morning routine is my favorite.

Morning routine:

  1. Come in and give mom a hug
  2. Bathroom
  3. Snuggles with Mom and/or Dad
  4. Get Dressed
  5. Start watching You-Tube (Pause when breakfast is ready)
  6. Eat Breakfast
  7. Call Grandma
  8. Brush Teeth
  9. Put on socks
  10. Finishing watching You-Tube while getting the outdoor gear on
  11. Out the Door

It typically is very smooth and we have been doing a routine similar to this since he was 3!

There are a few things that you can do to help your child get familiar with a routine.

  1. Be consistent
  2. Use visuals (written list for older children and list using pictures for younger children)
  3. Use verbal reminders
  4. Use a timer to remind your child when they have to move to the next step

You can use routines throughout your day! Have fun fitting in the routines and do not forget to make them a little fun for your child as well!!

If you would like some help figuring out how routines and schedules can help your family, please feel free to book a free 15 minute consult to ask how I can help. You can book the free call by clicking on the following link https://calendly.com/brenda-mcsween/15min.

Below is the video I did and based this blog post on. Feel free to listen…​

Put a Stop to Night Time Parties

Put a Stop to Night Time Parties

 

What is a night time party? This is when your child is waking up throughout the night or waking and staying awake for a long period of time at night.

There are many reasons for these parties that parents can be forced to partake in. If your child is waking several times a night or staying awake for long, know that you are not alone but you can reduce these parties in several ways.

An important note to make is that all humans will wake several times a night. We all wake slightly at the end of our sleep cycles. Typically, we simply go into the next cycle of sleep with very little time in between cycles. Night wakings are only an issue if your child is waking up and requiring assistance for more than 4 days in a row.

Before we can talk about ways to reduce night wakings we need to discuss the reasons these wakings often happen.

 

Reasons for Night Wakings:

1. Overtired: When children are overtired they will wake several times a night or stay awake for long periods of time. (Click here for a list of the recommended hours of sleep needed)

2. Not Awake Enough During the Day: If our children are not staying awake enough during the day they often do not feel the need to sleep through the night.

3. Developmental Milestones: Each time a child learns a child is learning a new skill or reaching a developmental milestone it can often affect their sleep. Some of the most common developmental milestones that affect are as follows: rolling over, crawling, sitting up, crawling, separation anxiety, increased vocabulary, and vivid imaginations.

4. Not Enough Calories in the Daytime: If a child is not getting enough calories during the day they may be genuinely hungry at night.

5. Teething: Pain from teething can impact a child’s ability to stay asleep at night.

6. Illness: When are littles are not feeling well they may wake several times a night. It is important to help our littles when they are not feeling well.

7. Sleep Association: A sleep association is a person, place, thing, or action that helps a child go to sleep.  There are several very common sleep associations. The most common sleep associations are as follows: feed (breast or bottle) to sleep, rocking, bouncing on a yoga ball, and/or a pacifier;  If your child has a sleep association but they stay asleep all night, there is no problem. It becomes a problem when you are having to go in to assist your child in inserting the pacifier, giving a feed, rocking, bouncing, or just being there.

8. Wake to Feed Association: This is when our little ones expect a feed as soon as they wake.

Now that you know the common reasons for Night Wakings you can make changes that will result in more sleep.

Things to do about Night Wakings:

1. Watch the hours your child is awake through the day. If your child is not awake enough or is awake too much they will have interrupted nights. Often adding or reducing your child’s awake window by 15 minutes will reduce the night wakings.

2. Reduce the length of total daytime sleep. This may mean that you have to drop a nap or reduce the one nap.

2. Increase the calories your child receives through feeds (breast or bottle) and/or food depending on their age.

3. You can fade out or quickly remove your child’s association with going to sleep.

4. Change your child’s diaper or have a quick little “chat” before you feed when they wake up. This can be 30 seconds to 1 minute long. This will reduce the wake to feed association that can creep in.

 

Below is a video I did in the Supportive Sleep Learning and Parenting Group all about “Middle of the Night Parties”. Enjoy! If you would like some additional support to work out why your child is having middle of the night wakings. Feel free to book a free 15-minute call with me to discuss things further

Nap Recommendations: How Many and How Long?

Nap Recommendations: How Many and How Long?

 

I commonly get asked how many naps a child should be taking in a day. In this post, I will give a summary of the recommendations. Please note that some children may take more or fewer naps than the same aged peer.

The number of naps that your child takes during the day will depend on the following:

  1. How long your child can tolerate being awake from sleep to sleep (wake times).
  2. How long your child is napping.
  3. How much sleep your child is getting overnight.

 

Recommendations for the Number of Naps:

(These recommendations are based on a child’s age)

Birth to 4 months:  4 to 5 naps a day

4 to 6 months: 3 to 4 naps a day

6 to 8 months: 2 to 3 naps a day

8 months to 18 months: 1 to 2 naps a day

18 months to 36 months (3 years of age): 1 nap

 

Recommendations for the Optimal Length of Nap:

Birth and 8 months of age: 45 to 90 minutes per nap****

8 months to 18 months: 60 minutes to 90 minutes per nap

18 months to 3 years:  90 minutes to 2.5 hours*****

 

****It is not uncommon for a child to nap for 30 to 45 minutes. This just means they will need more naps during the day. I firmly believe a nap is a nap and in time things will get better. See more about this in the post called Crap Naps.

*****If a child takes a nap longer than 2.5 hours but it does not affect night sleep then all is good.

 

The video below summarizes the information above and gives a few more details. This was a video I did for the free Facebook Group Supportive Sleep Learning and Parenting that I am the main moderator of.

Feel free to reach out if you require additional support. You book a free 15-minute call with me to discuss your situation and I will let you know how I can help.

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!