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.

Mom Central

The Momma Chronicles: The Toddler and The Zoo

This season pass has paid for itself over, and over again. It allows us to leisurely stroll through the zoo so my little guy can spend extra time doing important things like this: sitting on a very hot tiger sculpture. He wants off, he wants on, he wants off, he wants it cooler… he wants to yell, and climb, and challenge the other children to a duel when they come near.

His smile says, “Come and play”, but his eyes say, “I dare you”. Whether we are at the zoo, the library, or our own back yard, the teachable moments are plentiful with my punky. With the zoo, I find myself particularly challenged as a patient mother. He is nearing 3 years, and as much fun as that is, he tempts me to leash him on the regular. I went so far as to purchase one, but won’t succumb to the leash. Owning it gives me great comfort and makes me swear to never judge another parent for any choice they make. Because, one of these days it might just make an appearance, wrist to wrist. He is at the age where stroller confinement equals torturous screams; ones that even produce sympathetic “awws”, and pity faces from strangers. How could I be so mean, they wonder? Why won’t I let him out instead of shushing him to death? Why is she barreling to the car as the zoo has only been open for 20 minutes? They’ve missed his quest to be one with the animals, at any cost. They fail to see my ridiculous attempts to reason while he strikes me in the face. They can’t see me trying to positively parent with all my strength and bite my tongue so hard it bleeds.

But, at the end of the day, I have to know it’s alright. As I sigh a deep breath I can’t help but thank how grateful I am that we can return later this week to the zoo, and try this all again. Because in the end, we are blessed to try at all, even when it ‘s tough to see in the moment.

 

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