22 07, 2014

Want Your Child to Sleep Better? The Timing Is Everything!

July 22nd, 2014|Categories: Baby Sleep, Preschooler Sleep, Sleeping Through the Night, Toddler Sleep|

When it comes to children and sleep, tired parents want to know how to help their child sleep better. The problem is, where to begin?

There is so much information out there, that it’s hard to sort out fact from opinion.

Add in Facebook forums, friends and family’s “advice” and we end up not doing anything because of the information overload and overwhelm.

Many parents have heard the term “sleep training” and wonder if that is what is needed. It may be, but there is something much more important that needs to be addressed first, otherwise sleep training efforts will fail.

Do you want your child to sleep better?

The majority of sleep issues in children that I encounter as a certified pediatric sleep consultant fall into two categories; dependency on sleep associations and insufficient sleep amounts.

While sleep training can help change sleep associations, a more important issue; having a healthy sleep routine, (which doesn’t require any formal sleep training at all), is often overlooked when parents are struggling to solve their child’s sleep problems.

If a child’s routine isn’t on track, that is, they aren’t waking up, napping and going to bed at the right biological times for their age, they can become overtired, or sleep deprived, extremely quickly.

It can be hard to believe that that term ‘sleep deprivation’ may pertains to your child. I know it can seem so extreme, but young children require such large amounts of sleep, that even missing one or two hours can have significant repercussions.

Is your child overtired? Here are some common signs:

  • Your child wakes up crying during the night, in the morning and/or after a nap
  • Your child cries, arches their back, squirms or throws a tantrum before a sleep period or while you’re trying to do your wind down routine
  • Your child frequently starts the day earlier than 6:00am
  • Once your child is sleeping, it is fitful and short; waking every few hours in the night or after 25-30 minutes for a nap
  • Your child will frequently fall asleep during a car ride, even if it’s short and/or they just had a nap
  • Your toddler or preschooler becomes cranky, irritable, emotional, defiant, or hyper in the late afternoon

How to Get Back on Track

To help get a child’s sleep on track, I frequently recommend that parents ensure that nap and bedtimes match biological rhythms or sleep windows after 4 months of age. The reason for this is scientifically based.

Our bodies are regulated by naturally occurring circadian rhythms or body clocks, which are controlled by a master clock called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus or SCN for short. The SCN is responsible for our sleep/wake cycles, feeding patterns, body temperature regulation and other cycle fluctuations. The SCN is located in the brain, close to where the left and right optic nerves cross paths.

Why Do We Need to Consider Light Intake?

So why is it important to know about how light impacts our kids’ sleep?Because children’s sleep/wake cycles (and yours too) are regulated by the amount of light that is received by the SCN.

As the child’s brain perceives different intensities of light throughout the day, it will regulate when the child is best suited for a nap or bedtime.
If a child naps at a time when the SCN isn’t preparing the body to sleep, or if they are kept up too long when their body is actually biologically ready to sleep, they are going against their natural sleep drive.

The longer they stay up past their sleep window, stimulating hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released into bloodstream in an attempt to fight the fatigue.

Want more tips to help your child sleep better? Get your FREE copy of Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night.

It seems counter-intuitive, but overtired children do not fall asleep easily nor sleep solidly once asleep.

The more overtired they become and the harder it is for them to eventually settle to sleep. This is why many of my clients first come to me with the complaint that their child is resistant to sleep, is “wired” or hyper and doesn’t look tired, even though the parents know this can’t be the case.

This is why the timing of sleep is a crucial factor when establishing a healthy sleep routine in children.

If this key component isn’t addressed, then sleep problems will often persist.

When parents master this critical element of their child’s routine with a solid and consistent nap routine and well-timed bedtime, sleep issues will have a much higher chance of being resolved quickly.

Joleen Dilk Salyn is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founder of Baby Sleep 101. She helps tired parents get their children sleeping through the night by working with the science of sleep and healthy sleep best practices. She is the Western Canadian Representative of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants and in addition to her certification as a sleep consultant, also holds a Bachelor of Education, and Post Baccalaureate in Education. Joleen is also a mother to two wonderful children.


15 05, 2014

Will Starting Solids Help Your Baby Sleep Better?

May 15th, 2014|Categories: Baby Sleep, Guest Post, Sleeping Through the Night|Tags: , , |

Baby and Child Feeding  Advice

The following is a guest post written by child-feeding expert, Kristen Yarker. A little background on how she came to write this article for me…

My second child is a much more cautious eater  than my first was. Whereas my daughter would try everything right away, my son takes a very long time to try new foods. Mealtimes were becoming increasingly frustrating for both of us and I was feeling a bit lost on how I should approach things with him. Like many of you looking for sleep advice, I was conflicted by all I was reading and the contradicting advice I was getting. What I was looking for was evidence-based and expert advice on what approach I should be taking with him.

Enter Kristen.

I came across Kristen’s website and looked around, signed up for the newsletter and then left it at that. Then my son had a few more meals spent crying and turning his head away from every food I offered. That was the final straw and I went back to her website and purchased her e-book, Provide, Trust, Love (And Then Introduce New Food).  Her book was fantastic and exactly what I was looking for. It completely identified my son to a “T”  and gave me a detailed plan on how to approach my situation.

Because I was so impressed with the advice and the methodology (hint: it’s a lot like what I do with my clients when we change sleep habits!), I asked her if she would like to comment on some questions that I frequently get from clients on feeding. Here is her first post.

 Kristen Yarker, Child-Feeding Expert

I’m a child-feeding expert. Since 2008  I’ve helped Moms and Dads in BC be confident that they’re providing good nutrition for their children today, and instilling a life-long LOVE of healthy eating. Now I’m providing online seminars and an e-book so that parents everywhere can have the success that I’ve helped local families achieve. www.kristenyarker.com

Here’s the answer to the first of a number of questions that I’ll be answering.

   “My baby is large/small for their age and the pediatrician told me to start solids early because they aren’t sleeping well at night. Is this a good idea?”

I understand why Moms and Dads (desperate for some sleep) grasp on to the myth that feeding a baby solid foods will make them sleep through the night. However, it is a myth. Feeding your baby solid foods won’t make your baby sleep through the night.

 Sleep and Eating Milestones

It’s true that some babies start sleeping for longer stretches through the night at about the same time that they start solid foods. But it’s not that the solid foods have caused the sleeping. It’s that for many babies, the developmental stage when we start to feed them solid foods coincides with the developmental stage when they start sleeping for longer periods of time. Sorry exhausted Moms and Dads, it’s not the solid foods causing longer sleep.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Furthermore, big babies don’t need to be fed solid foods early. There’s no evidence to support starting solids early for babies who are at the top end of the growth curve. Breast milk and formula are very rich. And, your baby is likely an expert at breastfeeding or formula feeding by this age. Therefore, continuing exclusively breastfeeding or formula feeding until about 6 months is recommended (the same as average-size babies).

Also, small babies don’t need to be fed solid foods early. There’s no evidence to support starting solids early for babies who are on the small end of the growth curve. As I mentioned above, breast milk and formula are very rich and your baby is an expert at breastfeeding or formula feeding by this age. So continue to exclusively breastfeed or formula feed your baby until about 6 months (the same as average-size babies).

Wait Until 6 Months

In summary, starting solids early won’t provide big babies or small babies with extra nutrition. Nor will it make your baby sleep through the night.  Introduce solid foods when your baby is about 6 months old.

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD

Child-Feeding Expert

Helping Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky)





Did you feel your child was waking at night because they needed solids? Did you start solids before 6 months? How did it go? Share your comments below. And if you liked this article and found it helpful, please share it with others.