The 3 Things for Increased Brain Power!

Each day, I receive Google Alerts about all the new and exciting things that are happening in the sleep research field. This study really stuck out to me not only as a sleep specialist, but also as a child brain developmentalist.

A recent study was done by Lancet Child and Adolescent Health tracking the cognitive function in children in areas of language, memory, and execution of tasks. Researchers compared the scores of these children based on how much sleep they got, how much screen time they had, and how much physical activity they had during the day.

Children who met all the criteria - 60 minutes of physical activity, adequate sleep (up to 11 hours), and limited screen time (less than 2 hours) scored 4% higher on all these tests compared to the other children. Those children who at least had a good night’s sleep or limited screen time scored 5% higher than those who did not. The sad thing is that only 5% of these kids met all 3 of these, and only 18% of the kids were getting adequate physical activity.

So, the key take away:

  • Sleep well

  • Get exercise

  • Limit screens

I have written over the years about the benefits of physical activity and reducing screen time for a good night’s sleep. When a child gets adequate sleep, it allows the brain to process and organize all the information that is received during the day. Sleep is a key time for memory consolidation, brain restoration, and general tidying.

When you’re physically active, you’re creating the need for sleep - if you aren’t burning off enough energy, your body clock and other rhythms will be out of sync with each other. There has also been important research done about how important physical activity is for the brain, too. Those who exercise regularly have larger brains (the hippocampus and areas of the cortex, specifically), improved memory capabilities, and the brain is less stressed and able to generate new cells and blood vessels. (Dr. John J. Ratey, in my opinion, is the leading expert on this. Check out his TEDTalk, and/or his book Spark about the subject).

And, these recommendations are not just for kids.

We adults need to keep our brains in tip-top shape, too.

When we ignore these needs, it can lead to many health problems - weight gain, heart problems, depression, and possibly neurodegenerative disorders.

So, make it a goal for the whole family! Get outside, get moving, put your smart devices down, and prioritize sleep.

Your brain and body will thank you!

From Crib to Bed - Making the Transition

Making the transition from crib to bed can be an exciting journey, but perhaps one that has a lot of "unknowns."  Today, I want to give you my top recommendations so that the transition to the new bed is a smooth and successful one for everyone!

1) Identify if your child is ready to transition: there is no exact age when a child should be put into a regular bed.  Typically, I recommend parents wait until their child is around 3 years old.  That may sound old, but it's for good reason.  At this age, kids have a better understanding of the rules and boundaries and hopefully your child's sleep skills are good. 

Ask yourself these questions before making the transition:

- Is my child well rested?

- Is my child sleeping through the night?

- Is my child independent going to sleep (not reliant on you in any way)?

- Is my child old enough (at least 3 years old)?

- Does my child have a solid routine leading up to bedtime?

If you answered yes to all the above questions, then you're good to go!  If not, then there might be some things to work on first before making the transition.  If your child relies on you in any way to get to sleep (feeding, rocking, cradling, patting, etc.), and they have a hard time getting back to sleep without it, wait to transition.  I've seen far too many times parents make the switch to the bed too quickly thinking it would solve the bedtime woes.  In reality, it just makes things worse.  Your kid can leave their bed and room much more easily now!  My recommendation would be to get your little one sleeping more independently and sleeping well before making the switch.

2) Prepare your child for the switch: In all my years of working with kids, I can tell you one thing: they do not do well with surprises!  It's important that before making this move from the crib, they should know that they're going to be getting a new bed, when it's going to happen (put a date on the calendar!), and let them know the day the switch happens.  Toddlers and kids do great when they know exactly what to expect - they look to you for this security!  Make sure to do this in a positive way, but don't go overboard either - you don't want to put a lot of pressure on your child's shoulders, either.

I also recommend making your child a part of the new bed experience - let them chose the sheets, new pillow, and maybe even the new bed.  This allows them to associate those things as truly theirs - they have ownership of it and know what those things are!

3) Make sure your child's room is set up for a great night's rest: this step is key - don't change too much!  Put your child's bed exactly where the crib was, and keep everything else the way it is.  You might want to double check that the room is nice and dark and cool, too.  This makes going to sleep a bit easier.

4) Handle bedtime the exact same way every night:  So, you've gone through the questions, got the new bed, prepared your child, and they have their first night in the new bed.  Great work!  Now, there are 3 possibilities from this point forward:

- Your child stayed in bed, loved their bed, and it was business as usual.  Woo hoo!

- First couple weeks or so went great, and then not so great.  Your little one is now getting out of bed a lot, making visits to mommy and daddy, playing with toys, etc.

- Your child did the activities in the second point right away from Night 1.

If your child has been "toeing the line" since making the switch, it's your job to make sure that the boundary is set, and you are consistent in implementing this.  And, your child will certainly push that boundary (ask for water, come visit, etc.), but it's your job to stay super, super consistent.  As soon as there is wiggle room, the boundary is broken.

If your child is doing anything but lying in bed quietly, it's important to give them a warning when they're doing something they shouldn't.  If they break the rule, then this needs to be followed up with a consequence.  Not sure what that might be?  Generally, I find that closing the door "all the way" or taking away the bedtime cuddle toy briefly is enough of a consequence that your child will make the good decision and stay in bed.  It's also not too harsh that your little one will have a complete fit.  And it's simple - anytime they don't follow the rules, they receive a consequence.

If you're working on this and your child is successful, then it's REALLY IMPORTANT to acknowledge when they've done great!  That first morning they don't come visit you, stay in their room, etc. make sure to give them a special reward the next day.  If your child sees that you're happy with what they've done, they'll keep doing it ;)

Need help getting your toddler sleeping great and on their own? Or, have you made the transition to the "big kid" bed and need guidance? Contact me to get your questions answered!

 

 

3 Things Sleep Training Doesn't Do

When parents come home from the hospital with their new baby, all of the preparing they have done gets put in place immediately.  Without any practice runs.  And, no matter what parents have read or bought I think there's an overwhelming feeling of "I have no idea what I'm doing!"  Now, you have to keep a whole human being not only alive, but thriving!

The problem with books and blogs is that it talks about babies...in general.  Or ONE parent's experience with ONE baby...

Your baby - although they are mostly just eating, sleeping, crying, pooping, or a combination of these things - is their own person.  They've got a personality and temperament that you are going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out.  Mostly, through trial and error.

In the first few months, a new parent is going to talk about eating, pooping, crying, and sleeping a lot!  As a sleep consultant, I answer a lot of questions about the last two things.  In my experience with sleep training babies of many different ages, I can say a few things about both:

 

1) Sleep training DOES NOT cause damage to a baby

When pursuing a sleep training plan, parents' first question (usually) is "How much will my baby cry?" No on likes to hear their baby cry, but it's going to happen when you're making changes to your baby's sleep.  The amount of crying depends on how overtired your little one is, and their personality.  

This issue was not always so heated.  Thanks to studies cited in The Baby Book, Dr. William Sears's Attachment Parenting theory claimed that sleep training was not only ineffective, but could cause neurological harm to a baby due to large amount of crying.  However, the studies he cited were ones that pertained to babies suffering from colic - continuous crying for more than 3 hours a day, and babies who were neglected by caretakers and crying out for help.  Later on, researchers at Yale University claimed that their studies that were used in the book were misrepresented.  They said their studies were "not referring to routine, brief stressful experiences."

Fortunately, later research studies by Dr. Anna Price of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, and the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that the babies in the studies had NOT suffered any of the long-lasting side effects Dr. Sears wrote about.  In fact, the AAP study concluded "Both graduated extinction and bedtime fading provide significant sleep benefits above control, yet convey no adverse stress responses or long-term effects on parent-child attachment or child emotions and behavior."  So, to dispel the myth: sleep training will not cause any neurological/psychological damage.

 

2. Sleep Training DOES NOT happen without a bit of crying

I am convinced that there is no way sleep training can happen without a little crying.  Even in the most gentle methods, YOU ARE teaching your baby a new way of sleeping, and chances are the one way they can communicate their frustration is through crying.  And that is okay!  Parents actually have to let baby say what they want to - we can't stifle them because it makes us uncomfortable.  I find that funny - we can't let baby cry, but as soon as that child has words of speech we want them to express themselves clearly and be open with us.  So, in conclusion: baby is crying to tell you their frustration, but you have to hear them out.  May take a while, but if you stick with what you want to change in your baby's sleep it is only temporary.  The end result of a great night's sleep for everyone is worth it.

 

3. Sleep training DOES NOT break the "attachment bond" between baby and parents

I have now taught well over 60 families sleep training programs for their little ones.  And, I can tell you I have had some babies who cried a lot, some babies who cried a little bit.  What I can say is that not a single family found that their bond with their child suffered.  At the end of the process, their little one was the same bright and happy kid they started off with.  But, just much better rested!  If this is something that you're concerned about when sleep training your baby, make sure to spend even more time cuddling, snuggling, playing, during the day time.  Baby never minds getting a little extra attention from mom and/or dad :)

Sleep training is not always the easiest process, and that's why having a consultant to tell you what to do, and support you during the most challenging nights can be so important.  But, if you are ready to take the steps to get your baby sleeping more independently, I hope that you can read this knowing that it can be an incredibly rewarding and empowering experience.

IF YOU ARE READY TO START GETTING YOUR LITTLE ONE SLEEPING BETTER AND ON THEIR OWN THROUGH THE NIGHT, CONTACT ME OR SCHEDULE A FREE, 15 MINUTE PHONE CONSULTATION TO LEARN HOW I CAN HELP!

Resources:

1. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/4/643

2. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/05/21/peds.2015-1486

How I've Made the Best of My Time

I'll admit: it's been a crazy few months for me. 

Not only have I been keeping my own sleep business running, but since January I have done a boatload of work trips, managed (and still managing) a large project for Doman International, while being a staff coach for many, many families.  I also started business coaching, joined a hurling team, and am still the primary cook/cleaner at the Doman Apartment.

It can get, and did get hectic.

April came to a fever pitch and I felt worn out and completely unmotivated.  I felt completely overwhelmed and didn't have time for the things that I needed to get done or the things that I really wanted to do.

After a very helpful sleep consultant conference (woo!) and a few days off (really off!), I came home with a fresh outlook and have started implementing some changes that I felt could be helpful to you out there.

1) I set a non-negotiable "shut down everything" time: Before April, I found myself answering emails, doing promotional things for my business, Facebook stalking, etc. etc. at 10:30pm at night and then sitting down and trying to plan my next day and feeling really stressed that the dishes hadn't gotten done, and more.  So, I implemented a strict no emails/work after 8pm, all electronics off at 9:30pm time.  For this to work, this was something that my husband had to do as well.  And, it's been great!  Our only exceptions to this rule are: 1) if there's an important Philadelphia sporting match, or 2) it's Sunday Night Football.  This was something that we could both agree on.  But, even during this time - no emails, no phones, no work.  That's our time to enjoy.

2) 9:30pm - I have a nighttime routine: At this time, when all the electronics are shut off, I sit down and create my schedule for the next day.  I look at my priorities, see what needs to happen, and get it on paper.  I tidy up real quick, make sure the dishes are done, and then start my bedtime routine.  I instantly put out my clothes for the next morning, and then I'm in bed by 10pm.  I follow the same routine every single night, as best as possible.

3) 6:30am - I start my morning routine: this was surprisingly difficult to maintain at first, I'll admit.  And the reason for this is because my morning routine is made for me to be most productive.  However, this meant no checking emails, keep my phone off, no checking Facebook.  I made a clear rule for myself - these things are for later in the day.  My mornings now are my time to work out, work on business outreach, and special projects, and for writing (like I'm doing right now, haha!).  P.S. - do the math here and see how much sleep I'm getting.  Another important thing for relieving stress. 

4) I delegate! My time is precious and cannot be wasted: I think it's safe to say that most women have the feeling that they can do everything and they have to do everything.  I'll admit - I'm a bit of a perfectionist and like things done a certain way.  But, I really had to ask myself if I wanted to keep spending my time doing ALL 3 meals, doing ALL the laundry, doing ALL the dishes, and other household chores.  Wasn't that time that I could be focusing on more important things? So, I started to delegate.  And, helping around the house as been something that my dear and darling husband has been asking to do for a while.  But, I didn't let him.  I convinced myself I could do everything.  But I couldn't.  And I got stressed and resentful.  So, I delegated household chores and meals.  And it's made a big difference.  That's another 2+ hours of my day to do much more productive things.  As a couple, we're happier because we're more of a team than ever.  And, I've taken the same approach with my other work as well.  I ask myself - is this something that I have to handle? Or, is it something that can be delegated to the right person?  Just to stop and think about this has been a life saver.

5) I set certain days for certain projects, and I don't get it all done in one sitting: One thing that made me feel really stressed was looking at a project and thinking that I had to get it all done in one go.  And, that would make me avoid the things that I had to do.  The end goal was so far off.  But, one big change that I made was choosing days of the week where priority would be more on sleep, or other work.  On those day, I pick parts of projects to do and take comfort in the fact that I am getting these little chunks done.  And you know what? Since starting this, I revamped the way I write emails to clients, updated my website, automated workflows for my co-workers, and got things rolling on a new sleep program that I've been wanting to do for a while.  You don't HAVE to do the whole she-bang in one go.  Taking little steps and achieving small goals towards the end result is motivating and takes a huge burden off your back.

This all boils down to this one statement: Having clear boundaries kept me out of resentment

I realized in myself that I started to wear my stress and lack of time as a badge of honor and was starting to used it as an excuse to not get done the things that had been on my list for so long.  When I finally looked at myself and got clear about my boundaries, I realized I had a lot more time than I thought.  For the longest time I worked every single day, without rest.  And, that's because I had convinced myself that I couldn't take a day off.  But, when I finally got clear about my time boundaries I realized that I could afford it, and that the time I was "spending" on work wasn't really as productive as I thought it was. 

And this has been really helpful.  Sometimes, you have to step away from what you're doing so that you can approach it again with new eyes.  

It's not a quantity thing, but QUALITY - the things that you are doing, are you doing them with the best quality you can?  And, are you making sure that YOUR time is of the best quality too?

I hope that these tips and my own personal findings can be helpful to you, and I hope that these lifestyle changes that I have implemented can help you to find balance.

7 Tips to Help Your Little One with Separation Anxiety

For parents, it's easy to have an overwhelming sense of guilt very quickly about anything. 

And, in the world where information is at your fingertips in a matter of seconds it's also very easy to start second guessing your instincts and feeling inadequate.  This is exactly how parents feel about their baby's sleep before sleep training.  I see this a lot in my line of work.

A large contributor to that is separation anxiety - that time in a child's life where they are inconsolable unless mom is there.  And, that's when parents start to second guess themselves - "My kid is screaming the house down because I'm not right there with him - what am I doing wrong?  Why is the neighbor's kid so content if her mom's going out shopping?  What am I doing wrong?!"

First of all, comparing yourself to other parents, or comparing your kid to other kids is a waste of time and energy.  It's the wrong kind of mindset and can start to become limiting.  You are totally rocking it right now!  Who cares about what Sarah wrote in that parents group about how her kid loves vegetables?  Especially with social media, things may not always seem as perfect as they look.

Secondly - separation anxiety is COMPLETELY normal.  

This feeling of anxiety when mommy is not there is actually a sign that your baby's understanding is maturing.  They are starting to grasp the idea that things continue to exist and be, even if they are not right there in front of you.  And as your baby starts to understand that, there are going to be times they're asking themselves "Okay, so mom's leaving now...she's out of the room...it's been a few minutes...Hey wait a second - the old girl might not be coming back!"

Cue: panic, tears, hysterics.

It's a time of learning.  If they lose it each and every time you leave the room, just keep in mind that: 1) Your baby's understanding a lot more, 2) This is totally normal, 3) The reason they're getting so upset is because your baby feels secure and attached to you.  Great work!  On the flip side, I think most parents would be even more concerned if their child seemed like they couldn't care less if parents were leaving.  Wouldn't you agree?

But, practically - this stinks.

Every time you leave your little one at daycare, with nana, with the sitter, etc. it becomes a really big ordeal and this can cause a lot of stress for parents.  So, what do you do?

1. Face it head on

Giving your baby the chance to learn this lesson about being apart and coming together again is very important, so don't avoid it.  Do you want your baby to be completely attached to your hip, every second of the day, every day until their 6 years old? Of course not.  Teach them that being upset is okay sometimes, and always reassure them that you are going to come back when you do.  

2. Assign an area where your baby is on their own, safely

Choose an area of the house where your little one can play and explore their environment safely, without needing you to be there.  If parents are constantly hovering and watching like a hawk, baby may have picked up that it's not safe for them to be by themselves.  So, start by picking one area where baby can be on their own a bit more.  Baby will start to associate that place with "me time".

3. Baby steps

When you're first leaving your baby with someone else besides you or your partner, start by making a brief outing (up to 1 hour).  Going out for several hours at a time is too steep a gradient initially.  That can happen a little further down the line.

Also, start by leaving them with someone that they know and spent some time with.  This will be much easier if they're hanging out with grand mom, an aunt or uncle, or family friend that they have seen before and know.

4. Make the transition gentle

Once the person whose watching your child arrives, hang out for a little while so that your baby feels comfortable around the "new person".  If mommy looks happy and is comfortable with this person, baby's going to feel a lot better about it.

5. Do not do the "Irish goodbye"

I admit - at big parties I am partial to the old "Irish goodbye" - quickly sneak away without bidding farewell.  Why it's Irish - I don't know.

For adults, this is okay.  But, don't attempt to distract your child and quickly sneak away.  That's no fair.  Take this opportunity to teach your child that you are leaving, but you are going to come back.  Be clear with this message.  This is much more reassuring than mommy performing a disappearing act.

6. Follow the same routine each time you leave

Having a predictable routine allows your child to know what is coming next.  There's no surprises.  So, before you leave the house give your child a set number of hugs/kisses, have a phrase that you say each time, and be clear with when you're coming back home. 

7. Speak to your child at a level they will understand

Chances are, your little one is not yet at a level where they understand clock time.  You can't say to your child - "I'll be back at 8:30", or "See you in an hour and a half".  Give your child a time that they understand.  Tell your child you'll be back at nap time, or when it's time for dinner, or you'll be back to put them to bed.  Your little one has a much better understanding of when that is during the day.

So, these are some very simple ways that you can start easing your child's anxiety when you are leaving for a time.  If you follow these, it DOES NOT mean that your child won't get upset.  But, if you follow these guidelines consistently it will definitely start to ease their stress until they've fully grasped the concept that you are coming back.  Be consistent, sympathetic, and calm and these tips will take you a long way.

Preparing Your Home for Parenthood: Tips for Disabled People

I love featuring other writers here and this blog post comes from Anne at disabledparents.org.  Being a parent with a disability, she has lots of great resources on getting ready for parenthood.

Every expectant parent must make sure their child will come into a home that’s safe and happy, a nurturing space where feeding, bathing, diapering, and nursing can be done in comfort and with convenience. For disabled parents, being fully prepared for parenthood is absolutely essential because there’s more to prepare for than with parents who don’t have disabilities. Sometimes significant home modifications are needed. Sometimes disabled parents have to use innovation and get a little creative to be effective parents. Fortunately, by following a few guidelines, you can be as well prepared as any parent can hope to be.

Upgrades

Perhaps your biggest challenge will be to make sure you have adequate accessibility when and where you need it. That starts with your home’s exterior. If you or your spouse uses a wheelchair or other mobility assistance device, getting in and out of your home with ease may require the installation of an access ramp. For the sake of maximum accessibility, it’s advisable to keep your bedroom and the nursery on the first floor, but if you need to move between floors, it may be necessary to install a chair lift. The average cost to have a lift installed ranges from $3,000 to $5,000. 

Safety precautions are also important, and providing a safe environment may require a number of safety enhancements. Grab rails need to be installed in the bathroom along the toilet and in the bathtub or shower. No-slip safety pads should be placed in the bathtub and in front of the sink in case you need to use it to pull yourself upright. If you or your partner are vision impaired, apply textured tape or tape with Braille to avoid making mistakes with your child’s food preparation. Flooring should be easy to move across, with carpeting that’s not too thick, and any floor rugs must be secured to the floor to prevent slippage. Remember, if you experience difficulty paying for any upgrades or enhancements, there are sources of federal, state and community funding available to you.

 

Equipment

As disabled parents, you’ll probably need to find, or have made, some specialized equipment that improves your accessibility. Many parents jury rig their wheelchairs so they can attach a baby stroller, often with velcro straps. Frequent diaper changes make easy crib access one of the most important equipment needs. A side-access crib allows you to reach directly in and change a diaper quickly without having to reach up and over into the crib. Disabled mothers also need to nurse their child with minimal effort. A breastfeeding sling allows you to cradle a baby in a padded shoulder strap and use both arms while nursing, a highly valued feature among quadriplegics.

Bathing can be an especially tricky maneuver for disabled parents, especially if you’re trying to use the kitchen sink to bathe a newborn, which many parents do. Instead, try using a Fisher Price toy tub placed on a waist-high table with a hose extension from your sink to make this important task easier. Interacting with your child is simplified with the boppy baby chair, lightweight carrier that can be placed right in your lap. There’s also a two-sided nursing pillow that allows you to  position your child comfortably at breast level as he lives on a soft, yet stable surface.

Getting a child in and out of a vehicle can also be very challenging for disabled parents, which is what makes the swivel base baby car seat so handy. The seat can be swiveled from the forward to side-facing position, minimizing the possibility of a drop as you manipulate the straps and buckles.

Learning to care for a baby is always a stressful experience. You have to discover what works and what doesn’t, often through trial and error. Using the right equipment can do a lot to take the stress out of it for you. That’s why it’s so important to get an early start finding equipment and making modifications for parenthood.

Image courtesy of  Pexels.com.

Why Sleep Regressions Aren't a Bad Thing

Nothing strikes fear in the heart of parents more than a sleep regression.

No, I'm kidding, but it's no fun to deal with for sure.  Baby wakes up more, spends longer stretches awake (read: up to several hours), and often it keeps parents up more than they really want to be.  They often happen around the same ages - 4 months, 9 months, 12 months - or, they can happen because of teething, growth spurts, etc.

Now, as tough as they can be to deal with, it's a very good sign that your baby's brain is making very important changes!  

I always have found it very interesting that the typical "sleep regression" ages also seem to coincide with certain milestone gains.  4th month regression? Your baby is starting to see details, rolling and creeping.  9th month regression? Your baby is babbling their heads off and crawling all over the place!  12 month regression? This is when babies are starting to take their first steps and say their first words.  Pretty incredible, right?  And of course their sleep is going to be thrown off - their brain is making sure that all these new skills are permanent.  It won't rest until these new milestones are perfected!

There are also pretty significant changes when it comes to sleep needs as well.  The biggest one is at 4 months - this is a time that the brain is maturing and more steps are added to your baby's sleep cycle.  Up until this point, babies only have 2 stages of sleep - stage 3 (deep sleep) and REM (rapid eye movement, not so deep) sleep, and spend equal amounts of time in both.  By 4 months, 3 new stages of sleep develop and a baby's brain needs time to adjust to these changes. 

The problem is that for most babies, they have been used to going to sleep while feeding, getting rocked, etc.  When different stages of sleep are added to the mix, it becomes significantly harder to get them to settle for the night.  Let's take a fairly typical scenario - Mom is settling baby and rocking them before laying them in the crib.  Baby starts to nod off and mom decides to carefully put baby in the crib.  Baby is aware that the situation is changing and naturally, they don't want mom to leave! So as mom lowers baby down, they start to cry and wake up.  They don't want that rocking to end!  Effectively, the reset button has been pushed and mom has to start the whole process over again.  Best case scenario, baby stays asleep, but don't be surprised if baby wakes again after an hour - They went down with mom, and now they're all by themselves.  That can be a pretty startling thing to a baby!  When baby's sleep starts off significantly lighter than it did before, it becomes a lot harder to get them to settle

So, regardless of when a "regression" happens, what can you do about it to make the adjustment as easy as possible?

1) Make the room pitch dark.  This alone can make a huge difference in extending sleep because there's no outside influence waking your baby up.  Not sure if your baby's room is dark enough?  If you can still see your hand extended in front of you even after putting up black out blinds and such, it's still not dark enough.  Try taping dark paper or using window covers to keep it pitch black.

2) Keep feeds closer to the time your baby has woken up from sleep, not before they go down.  This allows baby to get the full benefit of the feed, and avoids a feeding to sleep association.  

3) Establish a really consistent bedtime routine.  By following the same activities leading up to sleep, your baby can start to predict that it's coming and it makes it a lot easier for them to settle.  Some activities include a bath, reading a story, singing a song, and more.

4) Avoid putting your baby to sleep overtired.  Know how long your baby can tolerate being awake and put them to sleep ahead of getting irritated and cranky.  Here's a quick guide: 

what's my baby's wake window.png

These recommendations can help a baby of any age with getting through any sleep "regression."  But, anything that parents can do to encourage their babies to go to sleep independently will help to avoid big disruptions down the line.

So, embrace the regression!  Know that your baby is making big changes in their development and take a sigh of relief.  It will take a little time to work through, but things will settle soon enough.

If you're still struggling to get your baby sleeping on their own, or you're still feeling the throes of a "sleep regression", don't hesitate to reach out or schedule a free, 15 minute call with me to learn how I can help!

Springing Forward - Your Survival Guide

Tis the season for longer evenings and warmer days, but this can be a tough transition initially for some kids.  That one hour can make a big difference! So, here are some quick tips to help you get your little on the new schedule as easily as possible:

1) First and foremost, keep Sunday morning free and don't even think about changing your clocks Saturday night.  Wait until morning, and while having your morning coffee go ahead and move your clocks forward an hour.  This starts things off on the right foot for parents.

2) Using your little one's average bedtime, start to transition it forward.  For example, if your child's bedtime is normally 7:00pm move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach the normal time. So on Sunday night, put your little one down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on. In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm.  If you feel your child's bed time is not so consistent or predictable, then I recommend going straight to bedtime at 7:00pm as if changing time zones.  Again, give your child a few days to adjust to this new time.

3) For naps during the day, the first few days you will put your baby down 1/2 hour later than now.  Once their bedtime is back to their usual time, then put naps back at the regular clock time.

Remember, consistency is key! And, to make sure things go real well, double check that your little one's room is nice and dark, quiet, and not too warm.  The proper sleep environment can make a world of difference in eliminating early mornings and short naps.

If you have questions leading up to Sunday's clock change, don't hesitate to reach out!  Feel free to email me, or schedule a free 15 minute call to ask me more!

Clean Sleep needs Clean Bedding

Did you know that 1/3 of your pillow's weight could contain dust mites and their droppings.  And that in just within 6 weeks, a pillow can be colonized by these little critters?

Gross.

Frequently changing your pillow and comforters (especially those made of down), and mattress is the best thing you can do not only for sleep, but your health overall.  Nearly 10% of the population have dust mite allergies, and a simple bedding change can make a huge difference.  When my husband was waking frequently in the morning with a terrible cough, changing our pillows made an almost instant difference.  Having clean bedding can also reduce likelihood of acne breakouts and other respiratory illnesses. 

Your pillow has a life span of anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.  I recommend doing a deep wash of your family's pillows and comforters every 3 months to extend your beddings' life.  When you first buy your new bedding, write the month and year of purchase on the tags so you remember when to change them out next.  And remember, mites feed on more humid and hot weather.  So, during these months you might need to do this more.  Trust me - your lungs and body will thank you :)

With your mattress, it's just as susceptible to dust mite, dead skin cell, etc. build up.  You can extend the time you use your mattress by purchasing hypoallergenic covers to go between your mattress and sheets.  But, look at replacing your mattress every 5-8 years not only for your back and support for optimal cleanliness as well.  Remember, you do spend about 1/3 of your life on it.  So, treat yourself!

Sources:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/04/12/mites-flame-retardant-chemicals-in-pillows.aspx

https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/often-change-mattress/

Facing the Challenges of Being a Single Dad

This week's blog post comes from Daniel at dadsolo.com.  Daniel is a single father and has created dadsolo.com to give resources, experience, tips and more for single dads and parents.  Please be sure to check out his site! 

When you think of a single parent, you typically think of a young single woman working two jobs while struggling to raise two or three children. But single fathers in the world experience challenges as well. Today, single fatherhood is becoming increasingly common. Whether through divorce, the death of a spouse or having children without being married, many men are becoming single parents. They just don’t get as much attention as single moms. If you’re a single dad, here are some tips to help you overcome any challenges that life throws your way:

Find a Support Network

Single parents often feel alone. After all, they’re solely responsible for a mind-boggling array of tasks. As the only parent in the home, single parents must do all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and a host of other chores. But that’s not all. Single parents take care of the kids when they’re sick, help with homework, shuttle the kids to soccer practice, and attend parent-teacher conferences.

When you’re a single dad, you may feel isolated even more than a single mom. You may be the only dad at the PTA meeting or sitting in the lobby of the ballet school. When you take your kids to the park, you may share a bench with mothers watching their own children play.

For this reason, single dads should reach out to other single fathers in the community. Connecting with other fathers going it alone can help you feel less isolated. Dads in your area may be able to provide you with advice or encouragement when you doubt your abilities to parent your children without a partner.

Just because you’re a single parent doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept help with typical responsibilities. Family members and close friends can help with babysitting, chauffeuring kids to afterschool activities, and staying with children when they are too sick to go to school.

 

Realize You’re Not Perfect

Everyone makes mistakes--including single fathers. Realizing that you’re not perfect will help you have a sense of humor when things don’t go exactly as planned. If you aren’t a gourmet cook, that’s okay. As long as you’re cooking healthy meals, it doesn’t matter if they consist of simple ingredients. And if you’re not great at doing your five-year-old daughter’s hair, keep practicing. Watch online video hair tutorials. Ask a close friend or family member to give you tips on styling your little one’s hair. Kids don’t expect you to be the perfect parent. They just need to be aware of your love for them.

 

Get the Kids to Help

Teach your children how to help out around the house so that you aren’t so overwhelmed by the chores of daily life. This shows your children the importance of working together and demonstrating responsibility. And when they learn to pitch in with the housework, they develop empathy for you and appreciate all of the work you do for the family.

 

Taking Care of Yourself

As the primary caregiver, you’re always in danger of forgetting to take care of yourself. Daily anxieties of work and taking care of your children can take a toll on your mental health. But as mental health specialists point out, “It’s important to learn small ways to face that stress head-on and reduce it no matter where you are, because having effective coping mechanisms handy will allow you to get through even the most challenging times. You can use your new skills to immediately start feeling better, and to prevent the emergence of chronic mental health problems.”

Being a single father can bring you various challenges. As the only parent in the home, you are responsible for it all. It’s a delicate balance of career and childcare that isn’t easy to achieve. If you are a single father, it’s important to reach out to others for assistance. Connecting with other single dads in the community as well as receiving support from family and friends will help you juggle a myriad of responsibilities while still maintaining a positive outlook.

Photo via Pixabay