Sleep Teaching: Why is this so hard??

Sleep Teaching: Why is this so hard??

Sleep Teaching or Sleep Training can be very frustrating.

I received the following note from a member a few weeks ago:

“This is not going well. Twice we were able to do the drowsy but awake but last night he wasn’t going on that crib for anything. Such a fight. Screaming and crying. Even transferring him was almost impossible.”

I hear this quite often. Typically, Night 4 or 5 is the absolute most difficult. You would think it would be getting much easier. The reality is that things “get worse before they get better”!!

When things are feeling impossible know that it is actually a good thing. This is an extinction burst! Once the burst happens you will slowly start to see change.

Unfortunately, your child’s sleep needs are ever changing which means you may be dealing with night wakings after you have had a few weeks of “bliss’. This can be very frustrating. It begins to feel like all you are doing is trying to figure out the next sleep related issue.

The following is a list of things that can have an effect on your child’s sleep:

1. Learning a new skill

2. Growth Spurt

3. Illness

4. Teeth

5. Separation anxiety

6. Not getting enough time awake during the day

My best piece of advice regarding this is to know that it is normal and that once you get comfortable with making minor changes as needed you will fly through all these changes. There will be some minor bumps but with time and consistency, your child’s sleep will get back on track.

As always please feel free to connect with me to discuss your child’s sleep concerns. You can send me a message through the website, write a post on a forum, or drop a note into the private Facebook group.

Daylight Savings: Coming to an End!

Daylight Savings: Coming to an End!

Daylight Savings is coming to an end on November 3, 2019 at 2:00 am. The clocks will fall back.

We will get to sleep in for an hour!!!

Back to reality…Before I had a child, I got to sleep in. Now it just messes with our lovely schedule 🙁

There are a few different ways you can handle the time change.

1. Do absolutely nothing leading up to the day

Put the time change on ignore until it happens. Then once it occurs you may have to adjust bedtime and nap time so your child does not get overtired. If your child typically naps at 12:30 he will be ready for a nap at 11:30.

Every 3 to 4 days you can push your child’s nap later by 15 minutes until you reach the desired nap time. You will have to do the same with bedtime.

2. Push sleep times later in 15-minute increments leading up to the change

7 to 10 days before the time change you can push your child’s sleep times ahead by 15 minutes. Every 3 days add an additional 15 minutes to the sleep times until you reach the desired 1 hour later sleep time. When the time change occurs you child’s sleep times will be back on his previous schedule.

3. Use it to your advantage

If your child is waking up around 8:00 am and going to bed past 8:00/8:30 pm they will automatically be switched to a 7:00 am wake up and a bedtime of 7/7:30 pm.

4. Change your clocks after you have had your coffee 

There is nothing worse than looking at the clock while it reads 6 am when you are used to it reading 7 am. Postpone changing the clocks as long as you need. I will be waiting until after I have had my morning coffee!

All the best with the time change! Here’s to hoping someday soon there will be no more time changes!!!

 

Join the discussion now about Daylight Savings ending!

Pacifier: The Real Deal

Pacifier: The Real Deal

A pacifier  (aka soother, dummy, sucky, etc) can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.

The sucking reflex is a very calming for many children. It is a very natural thing. Children come out of the womb with the ability to suck and they love it!! Many of you may even have pictures of your little one sucking while in the womb!

As children age, the soother can become an object that they depend on greatly. I believe this is often when pacifiers become an issue.

What is the big deal about a Pacifier?

The following is a list of the reasons that a soother can become an issue:

  • Children can begin to develop dental issues with prolonged pacifier usage after 2 to 3 years of age.
  • Children that keep the pacifier in their mouth all night may struggle with getting into the deeper stages of sleep.
  • You may find yourself going on a soother hunt several times a night in a dark room!
  • Your child needs your help to put the soother back in their mouth during each wake-up! We all wake every to 60 to 90 minutes.
When should you consider removing the Pacifier?

This is completely up to you; however, there are a few things that would cause me to encourage you to drop the pacifier. The following are my reasons for dropping the pacifier:

  • Your child is not able to go back to sleep with out you inserting the pacifier and they are in a different room than you. Your sleep is definitely affected.
  • Your child is not appearing well rested. This will be evident with their behaviour during the day.
  • Your child’s speech is impacted by the pacifier.
  • Dental issues are beginning to develop.
How can you remove a Pacifier?

There are a number of ways that you can remove a pacifier from your child. The older your child is the harder it can become; however, it is possible and may not be as hard as you think. Here are some common ways to remove the pacifier:

Cold Turkey: 

This may seem to be the harshest method but in reality, it is the easiest. Stop giving the pacifier. At first, your child will protest; however, you can add more comfort to your child during this transition which will help with removing the pacifier.

This is the best method for children under 1 year of age.

Gradual Removal: 

This is when you start reducing when the soother is offered during the day. For example, only offering the pacifier during rides in the vehicle and in bed. After a few weeks of only offering it during designated times, you then cut it out completely. The first few days without the pacifier are trying times but it does get better with time.

This is the method that we used with our son. When he was just over a year, we only offered the soother in the vehicle and while he was in the crib for a nap or bedtime. I would offer a snack in the vehicle when needed and offer comfort objects (ie his lovey) when he needed something other than my comfort to calm him. Then we set aside 4 days where my husband and I could take turns offering him support through the night if he needed it. The first night he requested it a few times at bedtime but we stated “it is all gone” and offered him a hug. at bedtime, it took a few extra minutes to put him to sleep but that was it. He woke once during the night and needed comfort to go back to sleep. Night 2 he asked at bedtime and we stated the same message “it is all gone”. He fell asleep and stayed asleep all night. That was it!

This is the best method for children between 1 to 2 years of age.

Soother Fairy:

This is when your child gathers up all of their soothers and places them in a spot where the soother fairy (aka you) will remove the pacifiers and replace them with an object that your child will enjoy or has been asking for. For younger children, it is a good idea to replace the pacifiers with an object that can be used as a comfort object. After the pacifiers are gone you may have to deal with an upset child during sleep times or periodically throughout the day. The best thing to do is make sure you dispose of the pacifiers so you do not give it back to your child.

This is a method applicable to children over the age of 2 but best for children close to age 3.

Stuff a Bear:

This is when you bring your child to a place that makes stuffed animals and brings along the pacifiers. Your child then stuffs the pacifiers in the bear or whatever stuffed animal your child chooses. Then voila you have Soother Bear! When your child requires support you can remind her to grab her bear and also provide hugs and extra comfort when needed. This can be a quick solution for some children. Some children do get frustrated that they know where the pacifier is but cannot get it.

This is another method that is good for children over the age of 2. This is my preferred method for children that are closer to 2.

Deflating the Pacifier:

There are a couple of ways to do this; however, before proceeding I would like to remind you to proceed with caution with this method. The soother can become a choking hazard as the material gets compromised when you deflate the soother. This is when you poke holes in the soother so your child will no longer be able to suck the soother like she did before. Some children do not care and keep chewing on the soother. Other children will just stop using the soother as they are no longer getting the benefits from the soother.

This method is good for children over 1.

Chopping the Pacifier:

This is when you cut off a little piece of the pacifier. I advise you to proceed cautiously as this can also be a choking hazard. You usually start with the tip and then every few days chop off a bit more until there is nothing left but the plastic handle. Some children will just stop using the pacifier altogether and some will hold onto the plastic handle and suck on the plastic. If this is the case for your child I would then use another method to get rid of the pacifier all together.

This method is good for children over 2.

 

As with all things related to children and parenting, there is no right or wrong answer to how you should proceed with removing your child’s pacifier. Hopefully, one of the methods in this article will help your child with removing their dependence on the pacifier.

If you have any other questions or need assistance with coming up with a plan to assist your child with becoming pacifier free, please feel free to post a question in the forum area.

Take care and have a lovely day!

 

 

Schedule versus Wake Time

Schedule versus Wake Time

I often get asked by families when is it appropriate to have a set schedule (also referred to “By the clock” or BTC). There are so many factors to consider. It is very hard to state “by age ___ you should have a set schedule”.

What are the factors to consider when deciding if a set schedule is for your family?

  1. How flexible are you?
  2. How much sleep does your child require?
  3. Your child’s temperament.
  4. Your temperament.
Is a set schedule what you really need?

Before I answer this question let’s discuss the difference between a set schedule (“by the clock”) and a routine. A schedule incorporates specific activities set at a reoccurring time. A routine is a set of activities that occur in the same order.

Once you have a routine in place you will figure out roughly when sleep times happen and you can plan accordingly. Some days you may have to reschedule events or plan to have a nap on the go. A nap on the go on occasion is not the end of the world. It may feel like the end of the world if you are very “Type A”.

Now to answer the question, “Is a set schedule what you really need?”. Usually, the answer to this question is “No”. You need to have a routine in place so you know what to expect during the day. Your child will thank you! When your child has a routine in place they figure out at an early age what happens next and they will start to prepare for it. When your child moves to 2 naps you will start to feel like your day is getting more predictable. When your child moves to one nap you will feel a bit like you have achieved a set schedule. It is important to be a bit flexible even at this age.

Is there ever a time that a set schedule works best?

The short answer is yes but I personally believe it is rare. I feel that wake times are more beneficial. A set schedule is best when your child is not responding well to wake times. It may feel like you are constantly misreading your child’s sleep cues. I would then try a set schedule.

Pros and Cons of a Set Schedule
Pro Con
 Predictable Not very flexible
Can easily plan activities around sleep times Child gets overtired or is not ready for sleep at set time
Pros and Cons of Using Wake Times
Pro Con
 Flexible Difficult to make plans
Child is well rested You can feel like your life revolves around your child’s sleep
Conclusion

My preference is to use wake times. As our son has aged, I still look at what time he woke up and how much time he can tolerate being awake. He will be 6 years old in September. Just because I prefer using wake time does not mean it is not best for you. I would recommend starting with wakes times and then switch to set times if it is not going well. I would wait until your child has dropped down to at least 2 naps if possible. Whatever you choose, do so wisely and stay consistent.

Please feel free to comment on this post if you have any questions.

What toys are right for my child?

What toys are right for my child?

toysRecently I had a great conversation with a member of Parenting Foundations. She asked, “what are some developmentally appropriate toys for my children?” Her children are just under one year. I really wanted to answer this question with a bit more information and up to date real life information. So I took to social media and the forum to ask people what were their child’s favorite toys at various stages.

Before I dive into the answers I received I want to have a brief discussion on the fact that children are always more intrigued by real life items. Children love to explore their environment and are drawn to the items they see in everyday life. For example, our son loved the pots and pans! When I was getting supper ready it would not be surprising to have a little body beside me reaching in the cupboard for a pot that he saw me pull out a few minutes before. To encourage his exploration and discovery we had a few cupboards that he was able to access and he could scoot over to explore them (yes this was well before he could walk, he walked at 10.5 months). Another favorite for our young man was playing in the sink. I would pull up a chair to the sink and stay with him while he “did the dishes”. Of course, they were mostly plastic until he turned 3. He started this around 11 months. The point of this is to look around your house and offer real life items before feeling the need to run out and buy toys.

 
Now let’s get into the nitty gritty of age appropriate toys…..

Wait a second. Have you ever brought home a new toy only for your child to play with the packaging or box it came in for what seems like forever! I often would give the box or packaging (as long as it was safe) before giving the new toy. Large boxes have been great entertainment.

 
Developmentally/Age Appropriate Toys for infants and Toddlers up to 2 years of age
 
Infants birth to 6 months
  • Rattles that are easily grasped
  • Tummy time mats
  • Play mats especially the ones that are like a piano
Infants 6 to 12 months
  • Sit and Stand toys ( toys they can push or sit and play with)
  • Stacking Cups
  • Music toys
12 months to 2 years
  • pretend play toys (kitchen set, broom set, vacuum, plastic lawn mower)
  • Toys that sing or talk (Scout from Leap Pad, Elmo action dolls, etc)
  • Shape sorters
  • Pop-up toys (Play Skool “busy Poppin Pals”)
  • Push along toys (Best ones are the ones where kiddos can’t push them too fast)
  • Ride on toys
  • Toys that can be pushed or rode on (our son’s favorite was the Zebra from V-tech)

 

The are a number of gadgets and toys available. Remember less is more and safety is essential. I will admit we have purchased many toys that that do not get the playtime that I was expecting. To avoid this I would recommend watching your children when they are around other children and their toys to see what seems to catch their action the most.

Let’s continue this topic in the forum for those that are members of Parenting Foundations. You can add specific toys that your child enjoyed.

Favorite Toys

Crap Naps

Crap Naps

One of the most common questions I get is…. (wait for it)…”how can I help my child nap longer?”. Sound familiar?? Short naps are very common and seem to cause a great deal of stress for parents.

The first thing I like to say as a response to this question is “Awesome your child had a nap!” For some babies, that is a huge challenge, celebrate it.

The next thing I like to focus on is how common short naps are. For the first 6 months of a child’s life, it can be very normal to have short naps. They will extend over time. Now, if they do not extend over time there are a number of things you can do; however, before we look at that let us look at why the short naps happen in the first place.

Short naps often happen because 30 to 45 minutes is really one sleep cycle for a baby. They complete one cycle of sleep and then they wake slightly (eyes will flicker and they make some noise).  Your little one may then appear ready to wake up and you rush in.

How can you help extend your little one’s nap?

 

1. Wait a couple of minutes

Do not rush right in. When babies are having a little period of awakening, they might even cry for a few minutes and struggle a bit to see if they can get themselves into another cycle of sleep, and so you should give them that opportunity. When you rush in you do not give your child the chance to go into another cycle of sleep. Now, I am not saying you have to wait a long time you can simply give 2 to 5 minutes and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised!if she doesn’t go back to sleep within 10 or 15 minutes, then she probably isn’t going to. She’s already had a catnap, and for some babies, especially chronic cat nappers, they’ve taught their bodies to do really well on little sleep.

If you wait for a few minutes and then he is still not going back to sleep then he probably isn’t going to. It is not a big deal! Get him up and be happy with the nap.

 

2. Pay attention to how long your child is awake 

You may be trying your child’s nap too early or too late. Either scenario will result in a short nap. This can start a whole new conversation about how long should my child be awake. Here is an article will help Wake Times.

 

3. Give it time!

This issue will often sort itself out over time. If your little one has good sleep habits then just give it time. Be patient and consistent then his naps will lengthen.

4. Remove Sleep Associations

A sleep association is when your child relies on a person, place, thing or action to fall asleep. Once you remove the sleep associations naps will improve.

 

If you would like additional help with your child’s nap I will be happy to help you out. Become a Parenting Foundations Member (PF Member for short) by clicking here. Membership will give you access to several articles that will help and it gives you additional access to Parenting Advisor/Sleep Consultant Brenda McSween.  Already a member? Join me in the Private Facebook Page and let us chat about how to extend the nap! Not a Facebook fan then send me a private message.