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).

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 8.45.49 PM.png

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…

View original post 1,270 more words

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.

IMG_3725.PNG

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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-29 at 4.22.04 PM

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.