18 10, 2013

The End of Daylight Savings:Transition Tips

October 18th, 2013|Categories: Transition Tips, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Every year around this time, parents of young children begin to worry. The first Sunday in November brings about the end of Daylight Savings Time when we turn the clocks back one hour. For most people this is an enjoyable time and one to look forward to, as the prospect of having an ‘extra’ hour to sleep is a welcomed thought.
However, if you have a child who is waking early, the approaching return to Standard Time can strike fear in the hearts of even the calmest parent. Suddenly a child, who is waking at the somewhat still manageable hour of 5am, will now be starting the day at the unholy hour of 4am. Other than taking advantage of the new waking and becoming a baker-what’s a parent to do?

Determining A Cause For The Early Wakings
The first step is to figure out why your child is waking up early. So how early is too early? It’s biologically appropriate for most children to wake naturally between 5:30am (don’t worry, this is actually quite rare) and 7:00am. Anything earlier than that usually indicates that there is an issue causing the waking.

  • Over-tiredness-The number one reason why children wake before 6:00am is that they are overtired at bedtime. If this is the case in your child, then you need to look at their overall routine and ensure that they’re getting the right amount of naps in the day and that bedtime is early. If you get them on a good routine ahead of the time change, then it will make the transition much easier to deal with.
  • Hunger-If you have a baby under 9 months, it may be possible that they are hungry and need a feed. If you feed them and they don’t go back to sleep, then see reason one.
  • Discomfort-If your child is sick or experiencing physical discomfort such as teething, wet diaper, too hot or cold, then this can also trigger a wake up at this time.
  • Outside noise-In the early morning hours, we all are in the lightest stages of sleep and can be disturbed by outside noise more easily than during the earlier part of the evening. Anything that you can hear-garbage trucks, birds, street traffic may also be triggering a wake up.

My Child Isn’t Overtired, Hungry, Uncomfortable and We Have A Sound-Proofed House.
We Have Good Thing Going And I Want It To Stay That Way!

If this is you, then first, congratulations! You can pick from the following three options to ease the transition.

1. Do nothing!
Yay! This is obviously the easiest option. You just let nature and biology take over by following the new time right away. Our internal clocks or circadian rhythms are dictated by the amount and timing that our brains perceive light and your little one will adjust in a few days. This is why adults eventually adjust to Daylight Savings and time zone changes as well.
If you have a child who is very sensitive to getting overtired, then they may need an earlier bedtime for several nights after to help compensate for the time difference. For instance if your child was going to bed at 7 previous, their body will be ready for bed at 6pm. On the Sunday you may need to have them in bed at 6:00pm, but you can move that ahead by 15 minutes every night after that.

2. Do Something! Shift Forward to Fall Back
Option One
This works well for children who are able to go with the flow, but a word of warning that it may make things worse for others. Start 4 days before the time change occurs and move your child’s entire routine ahead 15 minutes every day. Not just sleep periods but meals, wake up and playtime as well. Our bodies respond to cues (remember Pavlov’s Dog?) so everything must move 15 minutes ahead each day in order to help the body shift. This also means that you need to leave your child in their bed after they wake up from naps and in the morning because it’s unlikely that they will automatically sleep in longer immediately.

Shift Forward to Fall Back
Option Two
This route takes a bit more time, but can help those children who get overtired easily. For this option you would begin about a full week before the time change and allow for some days of no shifting at all. This gives the child’s body a chance to catch up before being moved forward again. The downside is that you can’t control the wake up and they will likely continue to wake at the same time for a while. To increase the chances of success, it’s important that you leave your child in their bed longer, even if they continue to wake at the regular time. But if you want to try it, here’s an example;

Let’s say your 18 month old currently has this routine:

Wake up 6 am, Nap -12:30pm-2:30pm, Bed 7:00pm

Day 1-move 15 minutes ahead,
Wake up at 6am, nap 12:45pm-2:45pm (if they wake earlier, leave them until this time), Bed 7:15pm
Day 2-Repeat Day 1
Day 3-Move another 15 minutes ahead
Wake up 6 am (most likely still 6am, but leave until 6:30am), nap 1:00pm and leave in bed until 3:00pm, Bed 7:30pm
Day 4-Repeat Day 3
Day 5-Move Ahead
Wake Up-6:15am (but again leave them until 6:45am) Nap at 1:15pm-3:15pm, Bed 7:45pm
Day 6- Repeat Day 5
Day 7-Move Ahead
Wake up 6:30am (but leave until 7:00am), Nap 1:30pm-3:30pm, Bed 8:00pm
Day 8 Time Change and you’re now following the new time

If you’re trying this option, just like in option one, it’s important to move the whole day forward-including meal times and activity times.

3. Somewhere in Between
This option is a middle of the road approach between not doing anything at all and trying to shift each day incrementally.
For this choice, you would follow the clock time but once the time change occurs you would be flexible with their whole routine for the following week. So in essence, instead of moving the routine forward before the change, you are doing it after the change, but watching your child for cues. For the first few days you may only be able to move the nap forward but bedtime needs to stays early because your child is showing tired cues. Or it may be the other way around. Either way, you would move only as much as your child can handle. Once again, it will take about a week for them to adjust.

These are a few options you have to help with the time change. If you find that after a week, your child’s routine hasn’t settled, then Baby Sleep 101 is always here to help you with a customized sleep plan to tackle those persistent sleep problems.

2 09, 2012

Baby Sleep 101

September 2nd, 2012|Categories: Baby Sleep, Sleep Help, Toddler Sleep, Where to Begin|Tags: , , , , , , |

Baby Sleep 101-Where to Start When You’re Overwhelmed

So seeing as this website and blog is all about children and their sleep, I figured it’s best to start at the beginning when talking about sleep. 😉 This is “Baby Sleep 101”; giving you the foundations of healthy sleep for your child.

If your child isn’t sleeping, it means YOU aren’t sleeping. You’re tired. They’re tired. So how do you go about solving your child’s sleep issues?

“Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
When you sing you begin with do-re-mi ”

-Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music

The Fundamentals

You first need to know the basics of healthy sleep habits.  It doesn’t matter how old your child is-they need sleep. But they do have different requirements in terms of how much and when. If you want more detailed information per month, check out our sleep tips by age breakdown on our resource page.

The fundamentals of healthy sleep can be narrowed down to 6 key elements.

  • Age appropriate wake times
  • Consistent wind down routine
  • Consistent nap schedule
  • Consistent sleeping location
  • Self soothing skills
  • Age appropriate bedtime

If you’re having sleep troubles with your baby, it is very likely that one or more of these key elements are missing.   You may think that everything is in place, but chances are, something isn’t. It really helps to keep track of your child’s routine because we can forget small details from day-to-day, especially when we’re living on limited sleep. So, start by taking notes of your baby’s routine for 3 days and then look back to see where problems are arising.

Look at the Info to Decide What Needs to Change

Age Appropriate Wake Times

Is your baby sometimes up for 3 hours in the morning and other times only for 1.5 hours? Is your 2 year old napping at 12pm on weekends, and 2pm on the week days?Then you need to fix their wake times and nap routine. If you’re not sure how or where, then err on the side of caution and keep wake times on the shorter side.

In general, babies who are on 2 or 3 nap routines need a shorter morning wake period, often around 2 hours and then a slightly longer wake period later on.

Toddlers and preschoolers doing one nap a day, may have their nap mid day, or even a longer morning period and a shorter afternoon wake period.

Consistent Wind Down Routines

One of the basics of  baby sleep 101 is to have a wind down routine for your child. Look at how you prepare your child for naps and bedtime-is there a consistent wind down routine that signals them that it’s time to sleep? If not, then they may be too overstimulated to settle down and fall asleep. Keep the wind down routine calm, simple and soothing.

Nap Routines

If you are frequently on the go and your baby is taking many naps in the car, then you need to adjust that as best as you can. Of course there are going to be naps here and there in the car seat or stroller, but overall we need to make sure that the majority of naps and bedtime are in the same, consistent location.

The most restorative kind of  sleep is non moving and lying down on a flat surface. Non moving means non moving so remember to switch off those vibrating bassinets too. 🙂

Children crave routine and their bodies respond wonderfully to it. Not only does it benefit them to have most naps motionless, doing them about the same time each day also helps.

Falling Asleep Unassisted

Another important component to healthy sleep is the ability to fall asleep independently. (Please note, I’m not talking about newborns here-falling asleep unassisted is a learnt skill and I don’t advocate formal sleep training until at least 4 months of age, so please keep your expectations realistic.) If your baby only naps for 45 minutes and then wakes but is tired and wanting more sleep, it could be time for them to start learning self soothing skills.  The same idea applies to the 3 year old that keeps coming into your room during the middle of the night or needs you to stay with them until they are completely asleep.

There are many different ways to accomplish this, from gradual to more direct. I cover all the options in the  Sleep Training Series.

It’s All About the Bedtime

How about bedtime? If bedtime fluctuates anywhere from 7 to 10 pm, then your baby is likely going to bed too late (most do best with a bedtime between 6-8pm) and becoming over tired which leads to resisting bedtime, increased night wakings and early risings (5:30am or earlier).

Keep your child’s bedtime age appropriate and understand that crankiness/fussing/getting hyper/crying can all be signs that they are tired and need more sleep, regardless of the age.

Not sure when to put your little one to sleep?

Use this as a rough guideline;

0-3 Months 1-2 hours after last nap

3-6 Months 2-2.5 hours after last nap

6-9 Months 2.5-3.5 hours after last nap

9-12 Months 3.5-4 hours after last nap

Moving bedtime up earlier for a few days can help to reverse the symptoms of cumulative sleep loss. Moving bedtime up for a few months will keep them from falling into a sleep debt again.

Consistency Matters-Consistently!

Consistency is also extremely important. I can’t stress this enough! You may  have all of the key elements in place, but only on the weekends. This isn’t consistent. Consistency means day in and day out. It may be boring, but it sure is restful. 😉

Babies don’t need a lot of variety-they actually crave consistency and it’s up to us as parents and caregivers to provide it for them when talking about sleep. Consistency in routine and sleep times lead to healthy sleep. We wouldn’t deprive our children of quality food because we know that good nutrition is a building block for healthy growth and development. So we need to also be just as mindful to the kind of sleep we provide.

Fix What’s Broke

Once you know where the problems are stemming from, it’s time to make a plan and take action. This can be where the really hard work starts (but I know you can do it!).

It’s one thing to be tired and up with your child frequently through the night, but it’s quite another to make a plan and stick to it night after night and not go back to what you were doing before.

Let’s say you were rocking your child every few hours at night. Yes, you were up, but chances are, both of you were at least falling back asleep relatively quickly. But if you are now trying to sleep train and not rock, then your child will probably be up for much longer stretches of time as they learn a new way of falling asleep.

And they likely won’t be happy about it.

Neither will you or anyone in your house.

This can make it verrrrrrrrry tempting to just give in and end everyone’s misery. But, you need to think about life long term. How long are you prepared to keep getting up and rocking? We know that bad sleep habits don’t go away by themselves.

How long do you want to suffer with the consequences of sleep deprivation? How long do you want your child to? Only you can answer this, but it is an important factor to consider. We know that sleep loss effects us immediately, but we also know that changing sleep habits take commitment and follow though. It has to be the right time for you to take action.

If you can commit to at least 2 CONSISTENT (imagine blinking lights around this word for extra emphasis 😉 ) weeks of change, you will see results. Two weeks isn’t that long if you compare it to months or years of poor sleep.

When we’re tired it can be hard to see our issues objectively, sort out the priorities and take action. Sometimes you just need someone else to give you the tools so you can concentrate on the work. 🙂

If you’ve tried the above tips and haven’t seen success or are feeling overwhelmed with sleep issues, please consider a sleep consultation . Baby Sleep 101 offers a variety of affordable packages that provide varying levels of support. There is also the Facebook page and the weekly Q and A sessions where I can answer questions live, and you can also find many great resources on the Pinterest Page and follow me on Twitter.

Here’s to you and your child’s sleep!