14 10, 2020

Sleep Debt & Sleep Training; What The Doctor Didn’t Tell You

October 14th, 2020|Categories: Baby Sleep, Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep|

Getting enough sleep. Sleeping through the night. Avoiding a sleep debt.

As much as we try to not focus on it, having consolidated night sleep is for both parent and child, feels like winning some sort of prize.

But it can be hard to come by.

And getting sound advice, even from medical professionals, can sometimes be misguided.

For instance, when parents visit their child’s pediatrician and are asked about how sleep is going, and they say “not great”, my clients tell me often the response will be;  “you just have to let them cry”.

Without context, a proper sleep schedule in place, or without sleep hygiene habits being practiced, this is a recipe for disaster.

Want to get your baby or toddler on a better sleeping routine?

Download your free copy of

Baby Sleep Guides or Toddler and Preschooler Sleep Guides

Sleep Training Doesn’t Always Work

The problem lies in the fact that helping a child to sleep through the night is not limited to just one factor. And by extension, it’s not caused by one single issue.

This is why the idea of sleep training can and often does fail when parents try it.

It’s not that they picked the wrong method, it’s that they didn’t understand why the child was waking to begin with.

And that’s no ones’ fault. As parents, we aren’t taught much about our kiddo’s sleep!

In fact, even pediatricians have limited hours of training in regards to pediatric sleep. And my guess is, the focus is not about schedules and sleep windows. 😉

Having three kids myself, (currently, my youngest is 11 months old) and helping hundreds of families achieve better sleep, I’ve seen this time and time again.

Let’s clear up any misunderstanding so our families can become well-rested and healthy.

So what IS a sleep debt?

Sleep debt, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, over tiredness.

They are all basically the same thing.

A sleep debt is the difference between how much sleep a child should be getting and how much they are actually receiving.

A (sleep needs) minus B (actual sleep quantity) = Sleep Debt

The sleep debt can be acute/recently acquired, or long term, chronic-lasting weeks or years.

If we think of sleep health similar to having money in the bank, then when our children (or ourselves) miss out on the required amount of sleep that their body needs, it’s like taking money out of the bank.

They now have a sleep deficit, or a sleep debt.

Side Effects of Sleep Debts

One of the MOST important factors, but yet the least known fact, is that sleep debts cause MORE sleep problems.

Mistakenly, I’ve heard my clients be advise (even from their pediatricians) to keep a child awake LONGER, in order to help them sleep better at night.

If you want your kiddo to sleep better, then please don’t follow this advice.

In general, to quote the famous pediatric sleep researcher, Dr. Mark Weissbluth; “sleep begets sleep”.

That is, the more a child sleeps, the better they will sleep.

Yes, there are limits to this, but when we are dealing with overtired babies, toddlers and preschoolers (which, if you’re reading this blog, you probably are), then we really want to work at filling up their sleep bank.

To summarize, here is what can occur with sleep debts

  • Frequent night wakings (not related to hunger)
  • Increased crying (during day, before and after sleep periods)
  • Short naps
  • Waking after 20-30 minutes of sleep
  • Resistance/protesting to going to sleep
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Early morning wake ups
  • Bedtime battles (toddlers and preschoolers)
  • Crankiness
  • Clingy
  • Unable to play independently
  • Refusal to eat
  • Easily falling asleep in highchair, car seat-anywhere other than in crib or bed
  • Risk of impaired health, immune function and memory

Fixing a Sleep Debt

In order to feel well and to maintain a strong immune system and overall health, this must be payed back.

Generally the thought is that you can never fully repay the sleep debt. Once that sleep is lost, it’s gone forever. But, it is possible to reverse the effects.

We start by getting our children to bed at the perfect time. Not too early and not too late.

How do we accomplish this? By following their *initial* sleep cues.

The trick here is to know what to look for.

If I asked you what does your child do to indicate when they’re ready for a nap or bedtime, you may say yawning, eye rubbing, or getting fussy.

But for the vast majority of children, these are their secondary tired cues. They are signals that indicate that your child is already approaching a state of overtiredness.

Instead,  what we should look for is much subtler, much less obvious.

Initial Tired Cues; “I’m Getting Sleepy”

For babies, watch for the following signs…

  • Zoning out
  • Turning away from caregiver
  • Loosing interest in toys
  • Quieting down
  • Eyes looking glassy
  • Looking relaxed and calm

For toddlers, watch for the following signs…

  • Wanting to cuddle
  • Sucking fingers/thumb/pacifier
  • Lying down or wanting to have a “rest” during playtime
  • Finding favourite blanket or stuffed animal
  • Getting quiet
  • Starting to whine/get fussy

When you see these indicators, you need to immediately respond and start their wind down process for sleep. This will give you the best chance of having minimal fussing and long, deep sleep.

Secondary Sleep Cues; “I’m Getting Overtired”

If you miss the initial sleep window, you will likely start to see overtired cues.

Since a sleep debt is building, you will likely have to work harder at helping your child settle down. That’s ok! Do what you need to do to help them.

For babies, watch for the following signs of overtiredness…

  • Yawning
  • Red under or around the eyes
  • Skin around eyebrows turning pink/red
  • Fussing
  • Crying
  • Jerky or erratic limb movements
  • Arching when being held
  • Fighting/resisting going to sleep

For toddlers, you will notice these cues when they are becoming overtired…

  • Defiant
  • Grumpy
  • Meltdowns
  • Temper Tantrums
  • Increased silliness or clumsiness
  • A burst of energy
  • Hyper
  • Demands for attention

Moving Forward And Avoiding The Sleep Debt

To avoid the same problem at the next sleep period, make a note of how long they were awake for prior to seeing the overtired cues.

Start documenting or sleep logging with little notes for yourself on their temperament and mood before sleep.

This will help you to start seeing patterns and anticipating in advance when they will be ready for nap or bedtime.

How Do I Know When My Child No Longer Has A Sleep Debt?

Once you have been able to identify your child’s initial sleep cues and are able to get them onto an age-appropriate schedule, the next question is when are they all caught up?

We often look to the child’s mood, temperament and patterns in sleep, as indicators of sleep health.

A few questions to ask;

  • Is my child waking less at night?
  • Is my child waking up in the morning happy and refreshed?
  • Is the morning wake up time after 6:00 am?
  • Are naps roughly two sleep cycles long? (One cycle is roughly 45 mins, age-dependent)
  • Is the nap consolidated, with no significant wake ups in between cycle transition?
  • Is my baby (over 4 months) sleeping a long stretch in the evening before their first feed?
  • Is my toddler or preschooler sleeping through the night?

If you answer “yes” to most of these questions, then it’s likely that your child is getting back on track.

It does take awhile to undo the effects of sleep deprivation, so please be patient with them and stick to your routine.

If you need more help or guidance, I can help you! I offer mini-consults (30 or 60 minute one-time calls), or full packages.

Remember your child WANTS to sleep as much as you want them to. They will feel better when their sleep debt is erased and everyone is getting the sleep they need.

 

28 01, 2019

Crib To Bed Transition

January 28th, 2019|Categories: Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep, Transition Tips|

Here it comes; the crib to bed transition. Are you ready?

There comes a time in every child’s life when they outgrow their crib, both physically and developmentally. As much as we may want them to stay little forever, this can be an exciting milestone in your child’s life.

The crib to bed transition is when a child is ready to make the move out of their crib and into a more traditional ‘bed’ style sleeping surface. Whether they are cognitivally ready or developmentally, it has to happen sooner or later.

Tip One: Timing is Everything

As with everything in child sleep development, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for tackling this transition. And while, many parents will move their toddler between the ages of two and four, I recommend waiting as long as possible. Personally, I find that when this transition happens after three years of age, it goes very smoothly.

Older and Wiser

The reason I recommend waiting until your toddler is three years old before making this transition is three-fold.

First at this age, your child’s impulse control is more developed.

They have learned, and are still learning, to control their impulses. At a younger age, they will act without thinking, which will not make for a smooth transition. At three years old, they might have the desire to get out of bed, but they are learning to rationalize and control these impulses.

Second, at three years old, most children have a pretty firm understanding of rules.
Threenagers have a much better understanding of boundaries and consequences should rules be broken, than their two year old counterparts.

Setting firm limits that your child can understand and adhere to, will help make the crib to big kid bed transition smoother for the both of you.

Lastly, kids can feel overwhelmed when their familiar crib is gone.

A crib can provide a  familiar sense of security, even to those kids who are physically outgrowing it.  When we remove them from it, it can feel a bit unusual and somewhat disrupting to a young child.

Waiting until they are three years old can help avoid this as they are more developed and emotionally equipped to deal with the transition into a new sleep setting.

How to make the crib to bed transition

As with any transition, there are steps to follow to help the situation go smoothly. Once you have decided your child is ready to transition to a big kid bed, here are more tips to consider.

Tip Two: Talk to them

In the lead up to this transition, you can talk to your child about it and explain what is going to happen. Keep it fun and upbeat so that they are excited about the move.

This will help them prepare mentally and emotionally for the switch, rather than having their crib disappear all of a sudden. When talking to them, it’s kind of like you’re trying to ‘sell’ them on the idea of a big kid bed.

Whatever you feel your child will respond best to, use it. You may want to say that it means they’re more grown up, they’ll have more room in the bed as opposed to a crib and/or it will be more comfortable for them.

Tip Three: Activities to Prepare

Another fun activity to help sell them on the idea of moving beds is to select some new accessories together.

You can go shopping for new bedding and sheets, and maybe some new cuddly toys for the bed too.

Countdown calendars can be good fun and a great way to prepare your child, but if you choose to use a countdown calendar, don’t let it go on for more than a few days.

Tip Four: Taking Ownership

Allow them to take ownership, within reason, of this transition. You could let them choose where in the room they would like their big kid bed to be placed, which stuffies to have on their bed, or which sheets and pillows they want.

Try and let this transition happen in a way that feels fun and exciting and like they have control over the transition.

Tip Five: Set Your Child Up for Success With Expectations

Are you familiar with the story; If You Give A Mouse a Cookie? It can serve as a cautionary tale of what happens if you give a toddler a bed without rules. 😉

Bedtimes can easily spin out of control as toddlers are notorious for trying to test limits (and your patience).

Want to keep bedtimes on track before make the crib to bed transition? Get tips on bedtimes, night wakings and more by downloading your copy of : Sleep Solutions for Toddlers + Preschoolers: Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents

To cut down on the requests for multiple glasses of water, stories and hugs, I highly recommend setting up a simple list of expectations.

Not only does this help your little one again take ownership of their sleep routine, but it creates a very specific outline for them to follow.

When creating the the rules or expectations, make it into a fun activity with your child get their input into it.

Make sure that you give clear instructions on what is expected, but don’t over complicate the rules. They need to be simple and unambiguous.

Tip Six: Good Day Sunshine!

While it’s important to set rules and expectations around bed time and going to sleep, don’t overlook the morning and waking up.

Does your child know what to do when they wake up in the morning?

What time is acceptable to start the day?

Should they come out of their room by themselves?

Should they call for you?

When creating rules around morning wake up, remember to keep them realistic! If they tend to wake up around 6:00am, asking them to wait until 7:00am is too long for most young children.  You can always work towards that as a goal, but in the beginning, to help them feel successful, keep the interval much shorter.

Tip Seven: Consistency is Your Friend

It’s very important that you stick to the rules strictly in the first two weeks of the transition from crib to bed. This is the time where your toddler will test you and the boundaries that have been set.  

If you give in or give up, you set the tone for them to continue that behaviour in the future. They can only be as consistent as you are. 

Tip Eight: Follow Through With Logical Consequences

When (not, *if*) they break the rules follow through and employ logical consequences. However keep in mind, this is very different from a punishment.

Punishments breed shame and resent and never help the child to learn.

Consequences are respectful ways for the child to realize the direct impact their choice has.

When deciding on consequences, in order for them to be relevant, respectful and a teaching opportunity, they should be directly related to the mistake the child made.

For example, if they came out of their room at night, the logical consequence may be that they don’t go to the park the next day because they didn’t get a good sleep and are too tired.

While it’s important to ensure there are consequences for their actions, don’t shame, blame or manipulate. Avoid getting into power struggles with them, just have respectful consequences and they will catch on very, very quickly. 

Conquer the Crib to Bed Transition

No transition is easy for you or your child.

Believe me.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

However, at three years old, your toddler is more developed and able to cope with and understand transitions. Unlike a the two-to-three nap transition which happens at a much younger age, you can have more rational conversations with your three year old to help them understand what is happening and why.

The crib to big kid bed transition can be an exciting one for your child, as long as you present it that way. If you’re stressed about it, your child will pick up on that and be worried too.

Remember that while this has every possibility to be an exciting time, it’s still a new way of doing things, so rules and boundaries need to be set.
Set clear expectations, and follow through with helping your child learn through logical consequences.

Kids are quick learners and before you know it, your toddler will easily be going to sleep in their new bed each and every night.

Need more help getting your toddler’s sleep on track? Grab your free copy of Sleep Solutions for Toddler + Preschoolers; Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents.  

Tired of reading?

Ready for action?

Schedule your consultation today, so you can start sleeping better tomorrow.

27 01, 2019

Crib To Bed Transition

January 27th, 2019|Categories: Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep, Transition Tips|

Here it comes; the crib to bed transition. Are you ready?

There comes a time in every child’s life when they outgrow their crib, both physically and developmentally. As much as we may want them to stay little forever, this can be an exciting milestone in your child’s life.

The crib to bed transition is when a child is ready to make the move out of their crib and into a more traditional ‘bed’ style sleeping surface. Whether they are cognitivally ready or developmentally, it has to happen sooner or later.

Tip One: Timing is Everything

As with everything in child sleep development, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for tackling this transition. And while, many parents will move their toddler between the ages of two and four, I recommend waiting as long as possible. Personally, I find that when this transition happens after three years of age, it goes very smoothly.

Older and Wiser

The reason I recommend waiting until your toddler is three years old before making this transition is three-fold.

First at this age, your child’s impulse control is more developed.

They have learned, and are still learning, to control their impulses. At a younger age, they will act without thinking, which will not make for a smooth transition. At three years old, they might have the desire to get out of bed, but they are learning to rationalize and control these impulses.

Second, at three years old, most children have a pretty firm understanding of rules.
Threenagers have a much better understanding of boundaries and consequences should rules be broken, than their two year old counterparts.

Setting firm limits that your child can understand and adhere to, will help make the crib to big kid bed transition smoother for the both of you.

Lastly, kids can feel overwhelmed when their familiar crib is gone.

A crib can provide a  familiar sense of security, even to those kids who are physically outgrowing it.  When we remove them from it, it can feel a bit unusual and somewhat disrupting to a young child.

Waiting until they are three years old can help avoid this as they are more developed and emotionally equipped to deal with the transition into a new sleep setting.

How to make the crib to bed transition

As with any transition, there are steps to follow to help the situation go smoothly. Once you have decided your child is ready to transition to a big kid bed, here are more tips to consider.

Tip Two: Talk to them

In the lead up to this transition, you can talk to your child about it and explain what is going to happen. Keep it fun and upbeat so that they are excited about the move.

This will help them prepare mentally and emotionally for the switch, rather than having their crib disappear all of a sudden. When talking to them, it’s kind of like you’re trying to ‘sell’ them on the idea of a big kid bed.

Whatever you feel your child will respond best to, use it. You may want to say that it means they’re more grown up, they’ll have more room in the bed as opposed to a crib and/or it will be more comfortable for them.

Tip Three: Activities to Prepare

Another fun activity to help sell them on the idea of moving beds is to select some new accessories together.

You can go shopping for new bedding and sheets, and maybe some new cuddly toys for the bed too.

Countdown calendars can be good fun and a great way to prepare your child, but if you choose to use a countdown calendar, don’t let it go on for more than a few days.

Tip Four: Taking Ownership

Allow them to take ownership, within reason, of this transition. You could let them choose where in the room they would like their big kid bed to be placed, which stuffies to have on their bed, or which sheets and pillows they want.

Try and let this transition happen in a way that feels fun and exciting and like they have control over the transition.

Tip Five: Set Your Child Up for Success With Expectations

Are you familiar with the story; If You Give A Mouse a Cookie? It can serve as a cautionary tale of what happens if you give a toddler a bed without rules. 😉

Bedtimes can easily spin out of control as toddlers are notorious for trying to test limits (and your patience).

Want to keep bedtimes on track before make the crib to bed transition? Get tips on bedtimes, night wakings and more by downloading your copy of : Sleep Solutions for Toddlers + Preschoolers: Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents

To cut down on the requests for multiple glasses of water, stories and hugs, I highly recommend setting up a simple list of expectations.

Not only does this help your little one again take ownership of their sleep routine, but it creates a very specific outline for them to follow.

When creating the the rules or expectations, make it into a fun activity with your child get their input into it.

Make sure that you give clear instructions on what is expected, but don’t over complicate the rules. They need to be simple and unambiguous.

Tip Six: Good Day Sunshine!

While it’s important to set rules and expectations around bed time and going to sleep, don’t overlook the morning and waking up.

Does your child know what to do when they wake up in the morning?

What time is acceptable to start the day?

Should they come out of their room by themselves?

Should they call for you?

When creating rules around morning wake up, remember to keep them realistic! If they tend to wake up around 6:00am, asking them to wait until 7:00am is too long for most young children.  You can always work towards that as a goal, but in the beginning, to help them feel successful, keep the interval much shorter.

Tip Seven: Consistency is Your Friend

It’s very important that you stick to the rules strictly in the first two weeks of the transition from crib to bed. This is the time where your toddler will test you and the boundaries that have been set.  

If you give in or give up, you set the tone for them to continue that behaviour in the future. They can only be as consistent as you are. 

Tip Eight: Follow Through With Logical Consequences

When (not, *if*) they break the rules follow through and employ logical consequences. However keep in mind, this is very different from a punishment.

Punishments breed shame and resent and never help the child to learn.

Consequences are respectful ways for the child to realize the direct impact their choice has.

When deciding on consequences, in order for them to be relevant, respectful and a teaching opportunity, they should be directly related to the mistake the child made.

For example, if they came out of their room at night, the logical consequence may be that they don’t go to the park the next day because they didn’t get a good sleep and are too tired.

While it’s important to ensure there are consequences for their actions, don’t shame, blame or manipulate. Avoid getting into power struggles with them, just have respectful consequences and they will catch on very, very quickly. 

Conquer the Crib to Bed Transition

No transition is easy for you or your child.

Believe me.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

However, at three years old, your toddler is more developed and able to cope with and understand transitions. Unlike a the two-to-three nap transition which happens at a much younger age, you can have more rational conversations with your three year old to help them understand what is happening and why.

The crib to big kid bed transition can be an exciting one for your child, as long as you present it that way. If you’re stressed about it, your child will pick up on that and be worried too.

Remember that while this has every possibility to be an exciting time, it’s still a new way of doing things, so rules and boundaries need to be set.
Set clear expectations, and follow through with helping your child learn through logical consequences.

Kids are quick learners and before you know it, your toddler will easily be going to sleep in their new bed each and every night.

Need more help getting your toddler’s sleep on track? Grab your free copy of Sleep Solutions for Toddler + Preschoolers; Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents. 

1 10, 2018

Night Terrors & Nightmares; How To Help Your Child Sleep

October 1st, 2018|Categories: Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep|

Night Wakings, Night Terrors, & Nightmares-how to help your child manage all three

Halloween is coming! And with this season comes with an assortment of monsters, goblins and ghosts – oh my!

For some, this festive season is all in good spirits. For others, such as our little ones, it can be all too new and terrifying. The imaginations of children can be affected by the scary sights that are flying around at this time of year. Their brains are working on overtime trying to process it all and this can cause bad dreams.

How should you handle situations where your toddlers and preschoolers are scared and waking up at night? Is it really nightmares, or something else entirely?

First, it’s important to note that there are three common types of night wakings:

  • Overtired night wakings
  • Night terrors
  • Nightmares

Let’s look at each in a bit more detail.

Overtired Night Wakings

Did you know that no one really sleeps right the way through the night? Especially not children! We all go through periods of rest and brief wakefulness.  As you can see in the following image, our children’s sleep cycle lasts approximately forty five minutes. Once a cycle is complete, they will partially wake up before entering another cycle.

4 month old sleeep

You usually enter and exit these cycles seamlessly. However, children can become overtired due to an increase in stimulating hormones in the body. This will increase the chances of waking during the night when children are trying to transition through the different stages of their sleep cycles.

The Solution To Night Wakings

The solution to night waking is simple (in theory 😉 ). Make sure your child is well rested and getting the right amount of sleep based on their needs.

It goes without saying, but if they’re over tired they need a few days with earlier bedtimes. This will help them to catch up on the deep sleep cycles that occur early on in the night.

In addition, have a soothing wind down routine, dark sleep environment to encourage their body and brain to settle for the night.  Finally, work towards weaning their dependency of sleep props if it is disrupting their ability to transition through sleep cycles at night.

Night Terrors

Night terrors are not a pleasant experience for the child and parents. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, during a night terror your child may have their eyes open and appear to be awake. They might yell, scream and thrash uncontrollably. Your attempts to soothe them will go unacknowledged until all of a sudden they ‘snap out of it’ and come to. This will leave both you and your child confused.

Technically speaking, night terrors, less commonly known as a Confusional Event, occur when part of the child’s brain remains asleep although their eyes are open. When they overcome the night terror they won’t remember what has happened. This might seem similar to a nightmare, but it isn’t. No dreaming occurs during the sleep cycle when night terrors take place. Night terrors tend to happen during NREM sleep  and in the first four hours of sleep.

The Solution To Night Terrors

Like regular night wakings, night terrors can be associated with a child being over tired. Make sure they are getting the right amount of sleep and be sure to allow them earlier bedtimes if they’re lacking sleep.

Night terrors can also happen if the child is too warm. Watch that their bedroom temperature stays between 17-21 C (62-69 F). Dress them in warmer pajamas and have a cooler room temperature. This is better for the body than wearing cooler clothes and having a warm room temperature.

Nightmares

Nightmares and night terrors often get confused with one another. But nightmares differ from night terrors for a few reasons.

  • Nightmares happen during REM sleep whereas night terrors occur during the NREM sleep phase
  • Because of this, nightmares tend to happen later during the night
  • The child will usually remember their nightmare or at least know that it’s the reason why they woke. Children won’t remember their night terrors and may even fall back asleep after one unless woken by a parent

The Solution To Nightmares

Children waking due to nightmares is a common worry I see among my clients. The good news is that nightmares don’t actually happen as often as you might think. I see more night wakings happening in children that are caused by sleep debts and over-tiredness. This is more of a concern than nightmares.

That’s not to say that nightmares don’t happen.  Incidences of nightmares usually peak between the ages of 3-6 years of age and can be brought on by a number of things. More often than not, it’s simply brought on by growing up and being aware that negative or scary things exist.

If a child is dealing with anxiety or stress brought on by changes in their lives such as starting school or a new sibling coming into the family, this can also trigger nightmares. Or, the child may simply have an overactive imagination.

Validate Their Feelings, Not the Fear Itself

When your child has a nightmare, reassure them that the dream wasn’t real and validate their feelings. At the same time, be careful to not validate the actual fear itself. 

Sometimes, in their efforts to reassure a child, parents will start to do a “monster check” or spray a supposedly magic potion to keep them away. But doing this implies that there are actually monsters to check for, or bad things that require a magical potion.

Instead offer gentle reassurance, love and support after a bad dream. Give them the tools to work at building their confidence up. For example; if they are very upset you could try to help them by rewriting the dream and giving it a funny or silly ending.

This not only conveys the message that the dream wasn’t real, but empowers your child to manage their feelings upon waking.

Watch What Your Child Watches

Children have wild imaginations-it can be what makes them so fun to be around.  But many young children are very sensitive and even some cartoons and movies that are targeted for younger audiences can be too scary.

I once made the mistake of letting my daughter watch The Lion King. She was already in school, so I thought it would be fine. However, the hyenas scene bothered her for a few weeks.

We had many conversations about how it wasn’t real, along with ideas of what she could focus on at bedtime instead, such as her favourite parts of her day, what we would do on the weekend, etc.

After that, I always took into account her sensitive nature before viewing other movies.

Limit Electronics Before Bed

It may also be a good idea in some circumstances to monitor and limit the amount of TV your child is watching before they go to bed.

It is recommended to shut TV or similar electronics off 60-90 minutes before bedtime to encourage melatonin release and help your child wind down. This can also help your little one to not incorporate anything too confusing or scary into their dreams at night.

8 takeaways to help you and your toddler sleep easy

  • Make sure they’re getting the right amount of sleep for their needs
  • Give them earlier bedtimes to help them catch up on their sleep cycles
  • Make sure their room is a good temperature
  • Validate their feelings, but don’t encourage the fear
  • Reassure and comfort them
  • Help them to learn coping mechanisms
  • Limit TV exposure before bedtime

When our little ones wake at night, it’s important that we understand the reason, so that we can help them get back to sleep quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s an over-tired night waking, night terror or nightmare, there are several tips and tools you can use to help everyone get the rest they need.

Want more sleep tips for your toddler or preschooler? Grab your free copy of Sleep Solutions for Toddler + Preschoolers; Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents

28 08, 2018

Back-To-School Sleep Routines; How to Recover From Summer

August 28th, 2018|Categories: Preschooler Sleep|Tags: |

Have you ever heard of the “summer slide”? It’s the term given to the idea that students lose some of their academic skills over the summer.

But when it comes to sleep, children experience a different kind of summer slide. One that involves later nights, a more fluid routine and less sleep overall.

As we enter the new school year, it’s important that our children are refreshed, rested and ready to tackle the year ahead. Here are some tips to get your little scholar’s sleep back on track.

Wind Down Routine

The first step is to create a relaxing pre-sleep routine that is easily repeatable. This wind down routine helps your child’s body gear down, cue their brain to release the sleep hormones, and set the stage for sleep.

Depending on the age of your child, their wind down routine may include;

  • a warm bath,
  • bed time stretches or yoga,
  • reading books,
  • writing in a journal
  • cuddles with a parent

Whatever you and your child choose, you want to repeat a variation of it each night. This creates a cue for the brain and helps the body to relax quickly and settle down for a good night’s sleep.

The Right Time for Bedtime

Children under the age of 6 can require up 12 hours of sleep each night. However, if they are going to bed too late and waking up early for school, they will miss out on precious hours each night. This can leave kids overtired, and unable to fulfil their full learning potential. To conquer this, make sure your child is getting the right amount of sleep each night in the days and weeks leading up to the beginning of school.

To do this, you need to look at when they will need to be awake each morning and count backwards from there.

For instance, if your child must be awake by 7:00am in order to get to preschool or the bus stop in time, count backwards the amount of hours they need to get a full rest. That is when bedtime needs to be placed.

So if they on average sleep 11 hours at night, with a 7:00am wake up time, they need to be asleep by 8:00pm.

If bedtime has been later or, morning wake up will need to be earlier than it is now, you can start adjusting their routine ahead of time. This gives their internal body clock time to adjust gradually.

Add Sleep to the Shopping List

If you’re like me and excited to purchase the back-to-school supplies, be sure to add sleep supplies to that list. We want our young students to get the most restful sleep possible and that means being comfortable and cozy.

New pajamas, sheets, pillows, are always a special treat. But don’t forget to shop for their sleep environment too. Black out blinds to help with early bedtimes and morning wake ups are important, as well as white noise machines to mask the noises from the older siblings, family pets or street traffic.

If you’re creating a new wind down routine as mentioned previously, this is also the time to find a special journal to write in, or new books that can become old favourites.

Be Mindful of After School Activities

Now this tip isn’t necessarily for the time before school starts, but after. Starting school, for anyone, especially those in preschool, kindergarten or full-time days, is a huge adjustment. Not only emotionally, but physically. Children often need more sleep in the first few months as their body adjusts to these big changes.

Therefore when registering them for after school activities, be mindful of this. Consider when these start and end as well as the driving time involved.

If they mean your little one will be getting to bed later on a week night, you may want to consider doing a weekend activity instead or, doing it in the spring once they have adjusted.

As much as we want our children to be well-rounded and have a multitude of experiences, they won’t enjoy them if they’re exhausted. More importantly, not getting enough sleep will also hinder their focus, attention and behaviour at school.

We all enjoyed the lazy-hazy days of summer, but now it’s time to get back into a regular routine. Don’t worry if the summer slide hit your household. By following the tips above, your children be ready for the school year ahead-bright-eyed and well-rested.