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.

 

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.

Baby Central, Kid Central, Sleep Central, Toddler Central

Do Night Lights Seriously Help Children Sleep Better?

As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, this question makes its appearance every other day. I have real riveting conversations some would say. But, in my realm, it can make or break sleep and it’s a valid concern that I am always happy to weigh in on. I’m a parent myself, and I always admire the incessant attempts that parents take to figure out each sliver of parenting. By the time we have it all figured out, things have changed once again and our children are grown.

Night Light Final Cover

Night lights – who would’ve ever thought there needs to be much to say on the subject? Oh, but there is! Can some night lights actually hinder a child’s sleep? Most definitely; in fact, most of the fun, exciting products on the market do just that. You see, there are certain lights that stimulate us and others that make us drowsy. That means the way we view these lights play a role in our hormone production. Yesssss, it is that serious! When we, as adults, stare at our phones at night our bodies often become confused. Is it time to sleep? Is it time to party? What’s happening? And once we do fall asleep, it can often disrupt sleep. Why? Because our internal systems are desperately trying to recover and regulate, but the stimulating light battles our internal clock. It’s not life or death, but it does throw a wrench into our sleep patterns.

Now, put yourself in your baby’s shoes (err, socks). If you are trying to convey to your baby that it is time to sleep, and then you introduce a light, that can be truly confusing for your little one. Your child has little communication skills and is hanging on to every action, emotion, and environmental cue provided. Introducing light, when we are suggesting they sleep is doing baby no favors. On the other hand, you as a parent may want to see what you’re doing at 3am! Therefore, the nightlight is for YOU, not for the baby. You must safely navigate and that is a good practice. With that being said, you must choose your night light carefully.

Refrain from LED or white/blue light bulbs (this is also the light that our Smart TVs and tablets emit). You want to stick to the traditional nightlight that we all grew up with – an orangish bulb that does the trick. On a brightness scale of 1 (the Sun) to 10 (total darkness), you will want the room at least at an 8.5. Remember, night lights cast shadows on the wall, and the last thing you want is to intrigue and stimulate your baby traffic flows by or a tree blows in the wind. Give your baby every opportunity to fall back to sleep on her own, hence my point.

Does a toddler need a night light? They may want one and request a light; this is very typical and I encourage your support here. However, the same rules apply; nothing too stimulating, and nothing too bright. This means that the star projector should be reserved for daytime play, and grab a bore of a nightlight for wind-down time and bedtime.

The Magic Light Smart Bulb is a dream for the 2.5-years & up crowd. It syncs with your phone to automatically change to any color you’d like, at any time you please! Set it to a dim red for night sleep, and coordinate the Magic Light to change to green (“green means go”) at an appropriate time for your toddler or child to start their day. This light is super motivating and helps children understand the concept of time (time to sleep versus time to play). Check out the Magic Light Smart Bulb here (via my afflilate link: http://amzn.to/2t4D7yN).

For more about the Magic Light and how to use it, check out this 8-minute video!

 

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.