WHY HIRE A SLEEP CONSULTANT?
Can you believe that we’re halfway through August? And that means back to school preparations are in full swing for parents and kids. So much to do: school supplies, clothes shopping, haircuts, rearranging schedules and so on.
But the best way to start your child off right, is by ensuring they are well rested before school starts. And I have 6 back to school sleep tips that will ensure that your preschooler to senior, is back on track, sleep wise at least.
I know... I’m a child sleep consultant and you may think that I’m going to brow beat you for the late bedtimes, inconsistent schedules, or any of the many “unadvisables” that may have happened over your summer vacation.
Heck no! I’m a mother myself and I know how fleeting these summer months are. You want to squeeze every minute of joy and togetherness you can from these glorious days. If it’s a choice between consistent bedtimes and staying up to watch the fireworks, I mean c’mon. That’s no choice at all. Even my own kiddo got to stay up on occasion to chase the fireflies and watch fireworks.
So, no matter what may have happened over the summer, those memories will last a lifetime. Now, the mission is to get your child back on track so that they can get back to sleep at a reasonable hour before they head back to school.
Now, let’s get to those sleep tips I promised!
The spring time change, AKA, the beginning of daylight saving time, is coming! Love it or hate it, we have schedules to keep and making sure your child doesn’t lose an hour of sleep is important. In the spring, we turn our clocks ahead one hour, which means that if you do nothing to prepare for it, you and your family may find it difficult to make your mind and body fall asleep 1 hour before it is used to. But it can also be a blessing for families with a child that likes to wake up before 7 a.m.
If you want a simple, but gentler approach to just making your child go to bed and nap 1 hour earlier, I recommend doing it in 2 steps. For example, if your toddler usually takes a nap around 12:30 p.m., adjust this to 12:00 p.m. for the three days before the time change.
With the holidays fast approaching, many parents who worked really hard getting their babies and toddlers sleeping well on a schedule are worried that they might regress a little (or a lot) over the holidays.
You are not crazy, this is a realistic fear.
Between the travel, excitement, constant attention and then travel all over again, the holidays are the single easiest way to throw all of your hard work out with the wrapping paper and turkey bones.
But I’m going to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way! With some strategic planning and an iron will, you can keep that carefully orchestrated routine running just the way you did at home.
There are two major obstacles to your little one’s sleep over the holidays. One is travel and the other is family and friends, so I want to tackle both of those topics individually.
First off, travel.
Love it or hate it, daylight saving time is ending. This time of year, we will “Fall Back” an hour. As a parent, we know that our children thrive off structure and predictability. That’s why going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning works so well with them. So, what is the best way to handle this extra hour, without the wheels on the bus flying off?
It all depends on the time frame you have to prepare and what works best for your family.
Most parent’s talk about how they want to raise their child before they’re even born. They talk about college, schools, swearing, allowances, heck, even dating. But how loud or quiet you should be when the baby is sleeping, never came up. For me, I assumed that babies should sleep in complete silence, my husband on the other hand, couldn’t wait to start up the vacuum when my daughter would fall asleep. When your baby isn’t sleeping well, this feels like a life or death question.
So, who is right?
Transitioning from the crib to a bed is a huge milestone for our children. I say it is right up there with the first time they sleep through the night, first steps and their first word. You will no longer be lowering them into the crib, but rather letting them climb into bed all by themselves. Leaving you the modest opportunity of tucking them in, if they let you. Cue the water works as the Pull-Ups jingle, “I’m a big kid now” plays over and over in your head.
If you are debating on whether to make the transition or not with your little one, it’s okay to wait. It is perfectly fine to keep them in the crib if they’re happy and not trying to dive out of the crib head first at every opportunity. When it’s the right time, it usually becomes pretty clear that your child is ready for a toddler bed. Some cues are that they have potty trained and need/want to use the bathroom at night on their own or are a master crib hurdler with the skills of a highly-trained acrobat.
Here are my top 4 tips for making the change:
As a mom, telling my daughter “Good Night” and sharing an eskimo kiss at bedtime just fills my heart with love. Then we blow kisses to each other as I close the door. Yes, she is still awake. By the time I grab her monitor, she is laying down and hugging her baby doll while rolling around her crib, searching for that perfect position. If you are the parent of a child that refuses to fall asleep without a bottle, rocking, driving, singing the Star Spangled banner on your head, etc., you may think this is an unrealistic concept.
As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, the # 1 bedtime complaint I get from parents of children, 4 months to 2 years, is that their little one will not fall asleep and/or stay asleep without their assistance.
Holding and feeding your baby to sleep is one of the many joys of being a new parent. So simple and blissful. However, a few month’s down the line, when your precious angel refuses to sleep without a bottle in their mouths, you suddenly realize you may have a problem. If this is your current situation and your little one is no longer a newborn, it is fixable.
How we act and react to our children’s need for sleep either helps or hinders the development of healthy sleep skills. Feeding your little one with a bottle is not the problem. It’s the association that is made with the journey into sleep that has became the problem.
It is important that we teach our children these skills, so they can do it themselves and begin to sleep more peacefully.
First things first, swaddling a newborn can be an excellent tool. It mimics the feeling of confinement that they experienced in the womb and can be very calming and comforting to a majority of babies. It also helps with the “Moro” reflex, the startle reflex where they throw their arms out uncontrollably. This tends to wake a sleeping baby and can last up to 6 months of age. But having their arms down and wrapped tightly tends to help with that.
However, it can become a sleep prop. Meaning, no matter what, your little one refuses to sleep without being swaddled. It becomes a love-hate relationship at a certain age where your baby thinks they need a swaddle, but also don’t like it that much anymore. Because babies become so experimental with their movements and they like to move, practice kicking and rolling around, they’re most likely going to break free of the swaddle, no matter how tightly you wrap it, and then demand that you re-swaddle them in a not so pleasant way.
Life is hard when you're not sleeping. As a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, I teach families how to live a well-rested life.