Baby Central, Kid Central, Sleep Central, Toddler Central, Uncategorized

Don’t Let Your Child’s Sleep Fall Apart – DST “Falling Back” Sleep Tips

Finally, your kids have adjusted from the grand switcharoo the Spring, but now Daylight Savings Time is coming to an end.  While some babies, toddlers, and children are minimally impacted by the time change, others are thrown for quite a loop! Especially those children (and even adults) that are more sensitive to any sleep changes and/or whom are particular to set routines will probably notice. By notice, I mean that they won’t be sleeping as well as they typically do. This upheaval is temporary, and I’m going to give you some practical advice to restore sleep normalcy in your house (did you ever have that to begin with?).

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First thing’s first, if your child is used to going to sleep at 7:30pm every night, but 7:30 is approaching the new 6:30pm, let’s devise a plan. A week or so before the Fall time change, start placing your child to sleep 10-15 minutes later every other night. Nice and slow, so they won’t be so sensitive to this change, nor think they are being bamboozled! In turn, you will ideally shift your child’s entire schedule. That means, a little later bedtime, and hopefully a tad later of a morning wakeup, nap schedule and so forth. So, in theory, the evening before Daylight Savings Time ends (Saturday night), you will be placing your little one to sleep approximately 8:15pm or 8:30pm. Remember, you have gotten to this point over a week’s time by slowly making changes. Sunday night, when you go to place your child back to their routine 7:30pm bedtime, as it will be yesterday’s 8:30pm. Voila.

Sounds easy enough, right? Nice and steady is the key to winning the race. Eh, or helping your child sleep better without a major disruption from the end of DST. If you are reading this post-time change, consider yourself the majority! Not all hope is lost; inch near your child’s ideal schedule slowly, and prep your child for sleep with extra wind-down time each night.

The schedule adjustment alone may NOT be enough for it all to go off without a hitch, so here are some pointers to smooth the process both before the time change and after!

For Your Baby

  1. Begin to adjust the schedule slightly at night, as detailed above.
  2. Instill extra wind down time to prepare baby for bedtime. This means dimmer lights, softer music, and nothing too wild – set the scene that sleep is coming!
  3. The darker the room the better for all sleep periods. This is contingent to where you live at; if you live in Central, Ohio like myself, it will be dark enough both at morning wake time and bedtime, and this is virtually a non-issue.
  4. Have a somewhat flexible schedule over the next week. Naps may be a bit off, and night sleep may certainly change. Mornings may be rocky in the beginning – so please know that this is simply how it goes. If this is your first dance with DST and baby sleep, you will curse it forever and ever. It will pass, but have realistic expectations of your baby and help her with the points above.

 

For Your Toddler or Child

  1. Begin to adjust the schedule slightly at night, as detailed above.
  2. Wind down time is key – no tablets, television, or stimulating and/or rambunctious play at least 1.5 hours before bed. Remember, you are reading this info because you are most likely having a sleep disruption in your house. Set the stage that it is time to calm our bodies, because bedtime will be approaching soon. Don’t make it a threat – make it fun. Entertain with your child’s favorite one on one activities leading up to bed – ahem, that don’t involve technology.
  3. Have a conversation about DST with your child depending on your little one’s receptive language skills. Additionally, be adaptable overall with your child’s schedule during the next week,but be consistent with your timeline at night.
  4. The darker the room the better. If your child prefers a nightlight, I have a super helpful tip for the best one to curb DST nuances and also to help your child understand time through colors. The Smart Light is a bulb that you can use in your child’s lamp (please place out of reach, such as on a higher shelf). It connects to your Smart Phone and you can set it up manually to a dim red for night sleep (red promotes sleep). Pair the light with the phrase, “red means stay in bed, and go back to sleep”). At an appropriate time, set the light to change automatically to green! “Green means go – time to play and start your day”. Did you read the part where I said appropriate time? That doesn’t mean 10am; have it be within 15 minutes on the earlier side of when your child typically wakes for the day. The light shouldn’t be so bright to wake your child – you can adjust the settings. Your kid will love it and you can thank me later: Magic Light Smart Bulb.

Remember that your little one has sleep requirements based upon her age – an example is that most young children need about 11 hours of night sleep. Do a little math based upon her usual wake time and see where that lands you. I bet it hovers around 7:30pm give or take a bit. My biggest tip is to remain optimistic – the time change often affects us adults, too! But you will persevere – until Spring, when we get to do this all over again. And, if you need my help, let’s connect and find the package that is the best fit for you!

Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.

 

Baby Central, Kid Central, Toddler Central

DIY Toddler Bookshelf – Your Child Will Fall in Love with This Reading Nook

I am the first to admit, I am not a DIY type of Momma. Don’t get me wrong, I try. I am known for going overboard on the purchase of materials, only for it to end up disastrous. Oh, and the surplus of products I bought? Those end up being donated. Every. Single. Time.

But, my husband on the other hand – he is quite creative and handy. When he gets an idea in his head, there is no turning back. The difference is that he can create a near masterpiece out of nothing! He made my son his own magnetic chalkboard when the one he envisioned in his head was not found in the stores. The same can be said with his amazing toddler bookshelf he made a few years back.

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This was Pinterest inspired, that much I remember. When he told me he wanted to make my baby a bookshelf out of rain gutters, I am near certain I shot him a glare. Even the photos online looked a bit harsh and industrial – super cool, but would not flow with the rest of our decor. Nonetheless, he had a vision, and by golly, it was going to work. With the help of my father, who was happy to insert himself into a project for the “grandbaby”, off to Lowes they went. For plastic rain gutters.

He brought home an off-white, 10 feet long beam, and I was feeling a tad concerned. He was not! After sawing the gutter into thirds, he then capped the ends. These caps were sold right next to the plastic gutters at the department store. I personally wanted to share that, because I know nothing about the exterior of our house, or that maintenance (these are my confessions).

After finding the studs in the wall, the rest is history. They hold a lot of books, and this is a recent picture, but we have been rocking these for over 3 years now. It is interesting to see how my pictures over the years have evolved from baby board books to those of particular interest. We rounded out the space with an oversized chair and a monkey pillow for the youngest so they would feel inclined to hang out and read more! Do you have a reading nook in your house?

Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.

 

Baby Central

The 4 Month Sleep Regression – How Does it Happen?

Picture it with me: your baby is a mere 12 weeks and you are just amazed at well she is suddenly sleeping. You think to yourself, “Thank goodness, we are in the clear. I think I can deal with just one night feed a night. I feel so blessed and lucky”! Then, before you know it: BAM! Your baby is now waking 5-6 times a night with no warning that anything could be amiss! You have tried everything and cannot understand where your baby’s sleep took a wrong turn. Things were going so great.

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Ah, the 4-month sleep regression paints this same picture throughout many households. Just about the time you’ve acclimated to less sleep with a new baby, your little one throws quite the curveball and decides she can go the entire night without much sleep at all! While it may seem that way, it’s likely the result of your little one’s system attempting to make some major changes. Spun in a positive light: your baby is growing, and doing so appropriately. Before, baby’s sleep was just that – baby sleep. Now, your 4-month-old is more alert, with newfound hormones at play, plus is experiencing sleep cycling for the very first time. This means that your baby is waking approximately every 35-50 minutes, transitioning from deep sleep to light sleep, and back again all through the night.

Perhaps you have already noticed this if you find yourself reading this with heavy eyes. It’s true, at this stage most babies need a little more help to fall asleep initially and get back to snoozing than ever before. This can feel completely discouraging as a parent due to your tedious efforts in this department. After all, I’m sure you have been implementing much of the advice you’ve gathered from seasoned parents and have scoured one website after another searching for clues. Please know, the changes within your baby are a natural occurrence and this is all par for the course; this is not necessarily the result of anything you have or haven’t done. Sure, some babies make it out of the 4-month zone with sleep unscathed, but more often than not, this is a typical experience.

So, where do you go from here? First off, try to remain consistent with what’s worked in the past. Just because it didn’t work last night, doesn’t mean it won’t tomorrow. Additionally, attempt to place your baby down drowsy, yet not quite asleep. This is an excellent skill that is never too late to learn and aids your baby during the middle of the night wake-ups. If you try this and your child is having a particularly tough time, try it again another night. Comfort your baby how you see fit and know this regression shall pass in a few weeks.

A baby waking at night is common. But a baby waking all through the night may just need a little help from you to get back on track. If your baby continues to have challenges with sleep and is well into her fifth month, you may find yourself feeling stuck (not to mention exhausted). I recommend at this point to touch base with your baby’s provider to rule out anything medically that could be lurking (don’t panic – this could be anything from minor allergies to an ear infection). Once you have you cleared that checkpoint, 5-6 months is a wonderful age to begin working with a Certified Sleep Consultant to work on some lasting sleep foundations for your baby. And that mean’s more sleep for you too.

Kid Central, Toddler Central

4 Tips to Help Your Toddler Love Books & Reading

Most parents imagine themselves reading stories to their children, even when they are still in utero! Parenting and reading seem to go hand in hand. So, why is it, that your toddler is more into throwing the books across the room rather than snuggling up for a story? Some kids are magnets to books, but others need a bit more prompting to develop a fondness. You can make major moves in this department just by altering the way you present books to your child.

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It is natural to feel you want the best for your little one. But just because your 18-month old isn’t into books, doesn’t mean his future isn’t bright! It’s sometimes tough for books to compete with figurine play, fun time with you, and lively outings and events – all which are great alternatives! And, if your toddler is constantly trying to get a peek at technology, that is also pretty typical. The lights, colors, and animation of screen time make it nearly impossible for children to resist. Don’t worry; it’s not too late to encourage a love for reading. Check out these 4 practical tips that can make a dramatic difference!

Start with Interactive Books

While this may be your worst nightmare, this is a wonderful start for promoting the warm and fuzzies for books in general. Try to consider what motivates your child. Is that certain popular characters (I’m looking at you, Paw Patrol)? Or perhaps zoo or jungle animals? What about colors, numbers, shapes, or letters? Regardless of my suggestions, find what is specific to your toddler’s interests. If they aren’t showing too much affection towards anything just yet, then the pressure is off! Grab a book that has buttons, sounds, or textures. Something rather than a plain ‘ole storybook. Don’t be discouraged that this is all your little one prefers for now. This is a great segue to the real deal!

Choose Simple Books for Story Time

Now that your little one is tolerating a fun (& possibly noisy) interactive book, let’s kick things up a notch! I know it is tempting to read your tot your favorite childhood story that your parents read you, but for the time being, follow your toddler’s likes and interests. Again, only you know what your child loves best – and don’t be afraid if it doesn’t fit the conventional mold. There are no hard rules here!  Upon choosing a Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 9.14.25 PMbook, keep in mind the shorter the better to build up tolerance and keep your child motivated. If you are simply just talking about the book and the pictures, that is a wonderful start. Don’t worry so much about the words in the beginning! They will come in due time. Once you do start to actually read the pages, it also may be helpful to shorten lengthy text to just one line.

Remain Optimistic & Be Tons of FUN

If you find that your tot is simply not engaged despite your efforts – aim to be more FUN! You heard me! Don’t be opposed to breaking out your silliest voices, funniest faces, and occasional light tickles. Also, if your child is just not having it, table the reading and try again later. It is more important during this interaction that you end on a high note. Getting upset in front of your child will not help shape their love for reading. It can actually backfire (so many rules, right?).

Choose the Right Reading Time

A lot of children are wiped out and overtired upon approaching bedtime. You may see this in the form of high energy or aggitation. While books are typically great for bedtime routines, this may not be the best time to introduce them to an unwilling participant! Instead, consider this introduction during your child’s best times. Is your child a morning person? Then, that is your go-time. Another handy trick is to keep a book in the car. Whether your little one is forward facing or not, your voice and fun animation will be hard to resist when there is literally nothing else to do! Seize the moment. It seems silly at first, but you can bust out your book after you pull into a store parking lot or your driveway, and simply read a few pages before going inside. This familiarity will also help when you read the same book in the house. Children often respond well to repetition, and with your silly, fun antics, this is a slam dunk!

These tips are helpful for those children seemingly resistant to books. In a matter of time, your child may go from no interest to you having to limit your child’s selection!

Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.

Baby Central, Toddler Central

Top 5 Travel Tips – Minimize the Sleep Impact for Your Baby or Toddler

Ahh – baby’s first vacation. These special trips are truly exciting as they’re loaded with “first times”. If planning ahead, there are a few handy things you can do to help your child adjust to their temporary stay! Believe it or not – returning back from travel is the number one reason that drives parents my way (recovering from illness and sleep regressions are tied for a close second).

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Once back home, sleep often falls apart, as baby (or toddler/child) are happy to be home, but not so happy to sleep alone! Little ones become quickly accustomed to the overnight cuddles, room sharing, and carefree schedule experienced on vacation. Who would want to give that up? I know I wouldn’t – it’s even tough for us adults to go back to the daily grind when our own vacay comes to a halt!

Whether you have an upcoming trip scheduled, or you’re seeking a plan for your sound return, check out these 5 sleep tips (great for all young children)!

1) Try to Duplicate the Room SETUP at Home

This seems simple at first glance, but things are rarely what they seem when it comes to sleep! First, let’s simplify: If you room share at home, try to room share on vacation. And, if you and your little one have separate bedrooms at home, try to have that same divide while away. Many times, we don’t have the extra funds or the capability to pull this off, but this is so often the driving force of major sleep disruption upon returning back home. Besides being away from home, it is a big teaser and a large adjustment to dangle this preference and then rip it away once vacation is complete. Children don’t think as logically as we do, and therefore won’t understand your intentions of only rooming together for a few nights. For this tip, keep in mind that 1 or 2 nights, isn’t as big of a deal as a 3+ night stay in terms of disrupting sleep patterns back home.

2) Mimic CONDITIONS from Child’s Sleep Space

Besides the room setup, it’s an excellent idea to bring along some familiarity to your getaway. Some examples include your child’s lovey or blanket (it applicable/old enough), and a sound machine. If they usually sleep with a white noise machine it can help add some consistency with their sleep, as well as drown out any foreign sounds the new place may hold! If you aren’t flying, throw in a dark blanket and some push pins that way you are prepared to tackle any window that needs a rapid treatment. The darker the better for naps and night sleep in a new setting. Too much light, in a new, exciting environment can lead to tons of stimulation during what should be, sleep sessions. Are you worried your tot may feel scared in this unfamiliar place? Then keep reading!

3) Try to Keep Your Little One’s Consistent SCHEDULE

Have FUN, yes! But, don’t have high expectations of your child to sleep well if naps are being skipped, shortened, or at irregular times. I think it is natural for your vacation schedule to deviate a bit from the norm – after all, that is what vacation is all about! But, if you aiming to curb sleep disruption, I would try to adhere to as much of your child’s schedule as you can. Maybe a nap won’t happen at the exact same time, in the crib or pack ‘n play…but it should still happen. Other things you can do to help promote sleep include instilling some wind-down time and implementing the same bedtime routine.

4) Let Your Child PLAY in Their Temporary Sleep Space

During the daytime hours, do your best to find a few minutes here and there for your little one to really play in their temporary bedroom. This will help your child feel comfortable and familiar with this unknown place. Sure, I know you want to get out there and sight-see! Therefore, find your opportune times and moments to help your child feel safe and secure in this space. Go for major laughs. Create a positive association quickly by pulling out everything from your bag of fun tricks! Ideas include: singing silly songs, interactive stories, or light tickles!

5) Get Right Back ON TRACK Once Returning Home

Whoops. So, things didn’t go as planned? You perhaps had no intention of room sharing, co-sleeping, or throwing your toddler’s schedule to the wind, but it happened. No worries – that is what parenting it all about! Lots of whoops, sighs, and picking up the pieces for next time (oh yeah, plus tons of joy, laughter, and high moments woven in between). Dust your shoulders off, because this tip is just for you. Whether your travels are a dream or a bust, upon returning home, get right back to your standard schedule. I am talking about NIGHT ONE.

What often occurs is that our response night one falls short; parents are plain tired and are trying to decide if they’re still in vacation-mode or not. I’ll help you here – you’re NOT. You’re home and you can help your baby or child understand that “this is how, when, and where we sleep at home”, by displaying the utmost consistency. Try to adhere to your ‘ole faithful schedule and implement all standard routines the first night back. If you don’t get back on the saddle, your child’s sleep can majorly regress on a new level. It may be a rough night for you to hush and pat your child when upset, but you can minimize that to just one night with some effort. Otherwise, one night can snowball into the next. And the next.

If you love to read, but also enjoy the occasion video blog, check out some more information on baby travel tips at Baby Sleep Central.

Baby Central, Parent Central, Toddler Central

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Amy, Infant & Child Sleep Consultant

 

A day in the life of a [busy] Sleep Consultant. 🙂

Write Up by Finding Delight’s talented Beth Berger.

Finding delight.

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I present you with Amy’s story. Her clients are the teeniest of tiniest and she helps parents regain the sanity that comes with a good night of sleep. She has a strong background in maternal and child wellness and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Clinical Therapy. Let’s check out her hustle!

“An Infant & Child Sleep Consultant, what in the heck is that?” Well, for starters, that’s me, Amy Douglas of Baby Sleep Central. I get that question a lot when I excitedly announce my career of choice. In a nutshell, I help sleep deprived parents of…

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Baby Separation Anxiety – Tips for Managing Your Child’s Fears

Separation anxiety is one of those things that comes out of left field for many parents. One day your baby is oblivious to your comings and goings, and the next day – your little one is frantic, panicked, and not having any of this goodbye business! It typically makes its first known appearance when a baby is between 8 – 9 months, and can circle back for years to come if not an early focus. It’s important to note, that if your baby experiences separation anxiety, it is considered a perfectly normal part of development. But, rest assured, there are still a few simple things you can do to help soften the blow for each and every errand.

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Give Your Baby a Proper Goodbye

Yes, really! When parents notice their little one becomes anxious upon them leaving, they typically opt for the ole’ sneak-away technique. You know the one… it involves quietly bolting towards the door the moment their tot isn’t looking! While that may be a nice strategy at first glance, it can create an ongoing larger issue: placing your baby on high-alert at all times! This means, whenever you want to simply use the restroom or prepare a meal, all bets are off, as you can no longer be trusted to stick around or return!

Instead, as painful as it may seem, say your “goodbye” directly to your child. We cannot expect a baby to reason as soundly as an adult, but let’s provide the same respect in this regard. Tell your baby when you are leaving and that you will return; but ah – it doesn’t stop there. Keep reading!

Don’t Linger – Get to Steppin’

Now that you have said your suggested “goodbye”, you may notice it isn’t going as well as you’d hoped. Tears and protests are to be expected since you are your baby’s special person. I hate to keep laying the bad news on thick, but sticking around with an attempt to comfort your child will only prolong the episode. If you plan to comfort, then plan to stay. Otherwise, swiftly move out the door and get to going already! Whoever is in charge while you are away should provide tactic measures to distract with a purpose! Ensure your trusty sidekick has your baby’s favorite toys, songs, and activities ready to go upon your departure.

Remain Calm, Pleasant, & Reassuring

Lastly, but certainly not in last place, is this: it is important to curb your own attitude. I bet you are thinking, “Hey lady, back off! You don’t even know me”. This is true, and since I don’t personally know you, here is a friendly and effective tip that everyone can implement. During the process of you temporarily leaving your baby, remember to remain calm, pleasant, and reassuring. If your baby is crying, try to hold your own tears until you make it out the door.

Why? Because you will want your little one to see that you are in control and there is indeed nothing to be worried about here. Babies are not as logical thinkers as adults, and since you already know this, let’s start to consider this point when troubleshooting and planning ahead. Young children rely heavily on environmental cues, actions, and emotions (ahem, your emotions). Show your child there is nothing wrong by conveying this message with your own feelings, tone, and mannerisms. Trust me, there is a bigger benefit for you displaying this calmness to aid with the next time(s) you will have to leave your baby.

As I mentioned, separation anxiety is nothing abnormal, and it is a rather nice sign that your child prefers to be near you! This is all par for the course as far as parenting goes! However, keep in mind that the sooner you begin to expose your little one to new faces, environments, and situations, the easier it will be for your child to transition to a daycare or school setting (or another event) once the opportunity arises! Remember, there are no hard rules here; use this advice if you find it beneficial to manage your little one’s separation anxiety. I practice what I preach as well – and all 3 tips mentioned are a slam dunk when used together.

 

Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.

 

Kid Central, Toddler Central

Autism Sleep Help – A New Approach to Help Children Sleep Better

Autism Spectrum Disorder has been known to disrupt sleep in nearly 75% of children. I would personally wager that number is higher, as I haven’t met too many families that claim their child has it easy in the sleep department. The problem with this, is these are children, whom we have expectations of during the day. We want them to learn and grow, and to modify their behavior just like any other kiddo. Fat chance of much of this happening, at least to your liking, if your child is constantly running on empty. And, if you could for just a moment, try to consider that this little one probably wants to sleep, but simply cannot. When I work with these families, I am always sympathetic, but also optimistic. I know almost with certainty we can make some strides and they should expect some improvements, but I also know the journey is often long.

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Many children on the spectrum have a challenging time winding down for the evening and are plagued by frequent night wake-ups. But, guess what? This is also going on in many non-ASD households near and far. The difference is that children with Autism most likely have more factors keeping them up or prohibiting them from falling back asleep. Once a child stirs from a sleep cycle (every 90+ minutes), they have two options. Either stretch, yawn, and roll over to return to sleep. Or, fully wake. It goes one of two ways, all night long. What tends to happen, is a child starts by stirring, then becomes more and more awake or stimulated, reaching the point of really disrupting sleep further. Once a child is excited, curious, and alert, it is then nearly impossible for them to simply shut down and return to slumber. I find that many children with ASD wake at first without a parent’s knowledge, but before long, they are humming, yelling, or even running about the room. Cue further stimulation. Once children reach this point, their internal systems become a bit confused. Hormones aren’t quite sure how to respond: is it time to sleep, or is it time to go for a run? By the time a parent intervenes, it is often too late, to no fault of their own. Don’t worry, I have something practical that can help.

I have a secret weapon for children with ASD, and at first glance, it may seem so basic: a night light. Thankfully, the sleep market is constantly evolving and continues to merge with technology. I don’t typically like the marriage of those two fields, but in this case, they’ve hit a home run. I suggest to families to try an innovative night light to help improve sound sleep. There are several options that fit the bill, and I will discuss a few here so you can check them out for yourself. One is this owl; a recent Indiegogo favorite. This little guy helps your child distinguish whether it is time to wake or time to sleep through color coding. The owl is set to one color for night sleep and then changes to the second color at an appropriate time to wake. Why is this important, and how can it help? This isn’t the end all, be all to your child’s sleep issues, but it helps set him up for success with at least understanding how he should be responding to a wake-up. Instead of wondering with excitement whether it is time to start his day, the color of the owl will signify that it is time to return back to sleep.

Additionally, another product I love is the Magic Light Smart Bulb. This is a similar concept to the owl mentioned above. It syncs to your Smart Phone (how cool is that?) and you determine the colors and also the time to make the switch! You can use the bulb for other routines in your child’s day, such as nap time, school work, or other consistent routines. I recommend a dim red for periods of sleep, as it won’t be too intrusive and this color is one of the few colors that actually promote sleep! If you haven’t figured it out by now, both of these lights provide teachable moments for you as a parent. Your child will likely still wake the same as usual for the first few nights. It is going to be up to you, to show your child what this light means. I would calmly approach your child as soon as you notice the wake-up, and explain that the color of the light does not mean it’s time for play, or talk, and instead he should try to return to sleep until the light turns green (I always love setting the color to green for the morning wake-ups, to indicate go-time)!  Be sure, when your child does have his first (and all) successes to reward him with high praise for his achievement. You may have to start small and adjust your goal over time. For instance, if you child typically wakes for the day at 4:30 am, I would not set the light to change at 6:30 am, even though that is a perfectly acceptable long-term goal. If you notice your child is an early riser (like clockwork), I would set your color to change slightly above their usual wake time (in this example, I would start with 4:45 am, for a consistent 4:30 am riser). Every few days, you can bump your time up by 10 minutes or so.

If your child is unable to handle all of this receptive language that comes with these examples, that is perfectly fine! Pair it with a color-coded chart next to their bed. It could indicate the two colors, with an equals sign, and a picture of what that color means (pic of child sleeping versus pic of child playing). Perhaps you may want to include a reward chart or token system based upon your child’s success! Like everything else, this will take a bit of work. I know that many children have various other issues working against sleep goals, but this is a nice way to help distinguish the behavior piece from the rest. Kids will be kids after all, and I have the same conversations with all the families I work with: ASD, ADHD, SPD, or none of the above! For more details on helping your child get the sleep they deserve (and you), visit Baby Sleep Central.

 

Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.

Kid Central, Sleep Central, Toddler Central

Foods to Help Your Toddler Sleep Better

Toddlers and children often have a tough time falling asleep and staying asleep. (Geez lady, tell me something I don’t know). This could be for a variety of reasons such as being too stimulated, not feeling well, perhaps apprehensive about their sleep environment, and/or not wanting to be alone. Who here has a FOMO child? But, another good solid reason a child may not readily go to sleep is due to hunger.

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Now, trust me. I know what you might be thinking: I try to feed him all day long. But, he refuses my healthy food offerings each and every time. I totally get where you are coming from if this is your sentiment. I am on your side! But, we can’t totally have it both ways. We cannot tough love them holding preferred foods at bay, and then also expect a great sleeper. Don’t worry, I have some ideas to help, that won’t totally compromise your parenting style!

I prefer children have full bellies prior to sleep periods, for two main reasons. 1) I want all children to obtain the sleep requirements needed for their age. Not reaching these benchmarks (see this Wake Time Allowance Chart), can create an ongoing cycle of less than ideal daytime behavior, leaving even less time for learning and creativity. 2) I want you as a parent, to know your child is at least not hungry. This allows you to troubleshoot more effectively at night if you are trying to work towards a sleep goal.

For this reason, I wanted to provide you a few night time snack choices. Even if your little one is eating well with three square meals, a snack the last 30 minutes or so before bedtime is a great idea. Make sure this is a food that your child is accustomed to eating and there are no reactions or food sensitivities to your choice at hand.

Here are some of my favorite bedtime snacks for children over the age of 2:

Banana & Greek Yogurt

You can combine the two or keep them spaced apart on the plate. Or, go crazy and mix and mash them together. By the way, bananas are excellent for helping a child settle down for sleep. They contain magnesium and potassium, both which are known to help relax muscles, the natural way! Greek yogurt can also be substituted for milk. The tryptophan and calcium in these dairy products help the body produce melatonin – which is essential for sleep.

Whole Wheat Bread with Peanut Butter

It’s always a great idea to balance carbs and proteins, and what better way to do this than an old fashioned snack. Kids typically adore bread, so perhaps you won’t get a lot of push back here. If your child is allergic to peanuts, or you suspect an allergy, this is not the snack for you. Also, if you kiddo is not into peanut butter, try the thinnest layer possible until the taste is acquired. Bread and straight butter may be your go-to for a while.

Celery, Raisins, and Peanut Butter

Otherwise known as ants on a log. It’s visually inviting to a child, and at least healthier than some sugary, refined crackers. Just a few raisins is all it takes – appealing, but still limiting unnecessary nighttime sweetness.

Oatmeal

Listen, you probably aren’t into the idea of whipping up a snack of oatmeal. This is often messy depending on the child’s age and isn’t as easy to prepare as the other proposed snacks. But, perhaps you’ll consider breakfast for dinner occasionally with this healthy sleep inducer! High carbs are known to do this, and with oats specifically, it goes back to the melatonin.

Do your children currently snack before bedtime? What is working for you? In our house, the banana is routinely our sleep superfood.

 

Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.

Kid Central, Parent Central

Prepping Your Child for a Doctor’s Appointment

First thing is first – who actually enjoys going to the doctor? I am guessing not many are thrilled about this outing. Most people would rather be nearly anywhere else. Yet, when it comes to our children, we often have grandiose expectations that they should carry themselves in a certain way while venturing to this fantastic, fun setting.

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Sure, we want them to listen. And sit still, and quiet down, and look the doctor in the eye, and… the list goes on. We always want and expect what we know our children are capable of, but we also need to pause and hit the breaks and consider elements from their tiny points of view. It wasn’t long ago that we were in their shoes; little bodies ourselves. We’ve heard it all before from our own parents that we never acted “that way”. But, can we all agree it is a bit of a different world, and one driven by technology, sensory overload, and new rules and ideas as time moves along?

With that being said, kids will be kids. That’s true for both then and now. Kids often have their own agenda, and depending on the age of the child, that is exactly how it’s supposed to be. Children do not want to go to the doctor. And, they certainly don’t want to be poked and prodded in a paper gown. Plus, they may not even feel well going into the appointment. All of this is a given.

But what about you, parent? How are you feeling? Are you nervous, anxious, or stressed due to your child’s typical behavior? Most likely, because you are only human after all. The good news is, there are a few simple things you can do to help prepare your child for their impending visit. And, when I say simple, I mean it! I’m a parent too, and the last thing you need to do is to jump through hoops at this point. Let’s take look at some ways to ease your journey to the doc.

Explain the Concept of a Doctor

Talk highly of the adventure you will take to the doctor’s office! If you don’t acknowledge it, or rather speak ho-hum about the event, your child cannot expect to enjoy this trip. If your little one is not familiar with the doctor, or it has been some time since the last visit, try to find a photo of your doctor online so your child can become familiar, or simply talk about the role of a doctor, and how thankful we are for our doctor’s help.

When in Doubt, Make it Fun

Your child would much rather be playing with toys, outside, reading, probably even doing chores than stranded at an appointment! Think from your child’s point of view and consider how you could make this somewhat enjoyable for you both. A great way to do this is a scavenger hunt. You can make a short list (bonus for generic pictures printed from the web) of common items at the doc’s office, such as a nurse, a children’s book, a stethoscope, a scale, and whatever else you’d like to include. If a scavenger hunt sounds too complex, pack a special toy that your child rarely has access to.

Run Down the Obvious Steps of a Routine Visit

You, as a parent probably have an idea of what to expect, but does your child? Consider yourself walking blindly into a meeting or an event. That idea may make you feel threatened or uneasy since we (as adults) almost always know what we are walking into. If your child has great receptive language skills, inform him of what to expect. Examples include the waiting room, triage room, and actual appointment room. Also include the action items such as changing to a gown, playing while waiting, greeting the doctor, checking the body, and so forth.

Consider a Token System for Difficult Behavior

If you are expecting the worst, but hoping for the best, consider a token system for the doctor’s visit. Depending on your child, this may be a reward of an ice cream date after the appointment, or a special toy/book.  It is important to pick a reinforcing item or special outing that your child can have immediately after the appointment. You should aim to always build trust with your child(ren) and therefore it is important to follow thru after the visit is complete. I am a big proponent of rewarding with praise and small tokens/tickets during the visit to keep the great momentum going. This means, if you catch your child sitting still or behaving to your liking, this is an opportune time to verbally praise your child and remind him of the reward coming soon (or even give a ticket or token piece). The idea would be if your child gets or keeps 3 or so tokens/tickets, they will earn their reward. Only you know your child’s likes, their capabilities, and what motivates him, so consider this element wisely.

It’s a great idea to test the token system before the doctor’s appointment with a smaller objective (picking up room/toys or completing a task). That way, you can assure your child is familiar with the process and how the outcome/reward system looks.

Hopefully, these ideas help lessen the stress for your child’s next doctor’s appointment. The biggest tip of all is for you parent, to take a nice deep breath. Don’t forget to roll with the punches – you know by now that children love to throw curveballs at any given chance! No worries, you are going to blink and your child is going to be a pro at doctor’s visits before you know it.

 

Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.