Has keeping your child in his bed become a struggle?

My advice featured on the Boston Mamas Blog:

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Does this sound familiar? If so, your child has “Jack-in-the-Box syndrome” — defined as a child who repeatedly comes out of bed at bedtime or during the middle of the night. Sounds serious right? But fear not, there is a cure! Today I’m going to share a little context, then give you 3 steps to get past this common sleep issue.

A Big Kid Bed is a Big Kid Responsibility

Your child’s ability to stay in bed is hinged to the reality of whether they’re actually ready to be in a big kid bed. Being in a big kid bed is a big kid responsibility and it’s important not to transition from crib to bed before they’re truly ready for this new independence. For most kids, this transition is around age 3 because they need to be at a developmental point where they can understand rules and follow them, and also handle having the security and safety of their crib removed. So, to avoid frustration all sides, wait until your child is ready for this new milestone before making the big move.

Step #1: Call a Family Meeting

Little kids are egocentric (this is developmentally appropriate!) and love to be the star of the show. This is part of why they come out of their bed in the first place – for your attention! Use this trait to your advantage. At a non-sleep time, call a family meeting where your child and his/her sleep is the agenda item. Explain why sleep is important and that when he does not stay in his bed, no one is the family is getting the sleep they need. Also explain that there will be some new “Sleep Rules” to help everyone, and that if he does not follow the rules, then you will walk him back to his bed each time he comes out without any talking.

Step #2: Set the Sleep Rules

Toddlers and preschoolers often fight against rules, but actually crave them as a sign of safety. Many parents share that their kids always follow the rules about naptime at school or daycare; this is because their teachers enforce the rules consistently. Create “Sleep Rules” together on a piece of poster board, detailing bedtime routine and overnight behavior. For example: “I will brush my teeth, read one book, have two sips of water, go to the potty, get into bed, and stay there until mom or dad (or My Tot Clock if you choose to use one) tells me it is OK to be awake and out of bed. If I get out of my bed before it is time to be awake, mom or dad will quietly walk me back to my bed with no talking.” Be realistic with your rules and only include rules that you will 100% enforce. Also be specific and quantify things so there is no question about your expectations. Let your child decorate the posterboard if they wish.

Step #3: Putting it All Into Play

Every night before bed, read the “Sleep Rules” together to remind your child of your expectations for both bedtime and overnight.  If/when he comes of his bed take him by the hand with absolutely no talking or eye contact (remember he is coming out of his bed for attention and if you give any at all negative or positive – it will give him a reason to come out again) and walk him back to bed. You can assist him into his bed and replace the covers if needed, but no snuggles, hugs, kisses, etc. Once he is in bed, leave the room right away. This trip should be all business. Do this each and every time he comes out of his bed. The first night, you may have to bring him back to his room 30 times but if you stay 100% consistent and do this without giving any attention at all during the returns, after just a few days your child will be a Jack-in-the-bed!

Amy Lage is a contributing writer at Boston Mamas, a certified pediatric sleep consultant, and founder of Well Rested Baby. If you have questions you’d like to have Amy address in a future column, e-mail editor@bostonmamas.com with your question!

 

Nope,  4 month leap forward!

At least once a week I receive an email from a panic stricken parent of a 4 month old stating something similar to this:

“My son turned 4 months old last week and his sleeps seems to have fallen apart.  He was sleeping for a stretch of 8-10 hours at night and now he is suddenly waking every 2 hours.  My friends have told me he is going through the 4-month sleep regression.  How do I get my good sleeper back?”

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What these parents are experiencing is a change that all babies go through around 4 months of age. While many refer to it as the “4 month sleep regression”, it is actually a sign that their child is growing and maturing and making an exciting leap forward.  A sleep regression is defined as a cognitive, physical and/or emotional development that disrupts a child’s normal sleep pattern.  A child younger than 4 months actually has not developed any sleep patterns – so it is not possible for a regression to have taken place!  Up until now the baby’s daily needs have been random:  he has slept when he wanted to sleep and eaten when he wanted to eat.  Now suddenly his body is developing biological rhythms that tell him when he should be sleeping.

We all have internal clocks called circadian rhythms that are genetically controlled. These biological clocks have evolved from daytime (light) and nighttime (dark) cues. These biological rhythms make us feel drowsy at certain times and sleeping in sync with them will produce the most restorative and best quality sleep possible. As we age these times shift.  Up until this point, the baby’s brain was too immature to sync with this internal clock.  For this reason, his body had an easy time sleeping anywhere and at anytime.  Now that his brain has started to mature, he is in need of a schedule that works with this rhythm – including a bedtime that fits in and allows him to sleep before he is overtired.

So what’s the correct schedule for a 4 month old?  I recommend a schedule where the first nap is starting between 8-9am, the second nap is starting between 11:30-12:30pm and the third nap starts about 90 minutes after he wakes up from nap two.  As naps are just starting to develop, you will need to watch your baby for his sleepy cues and then get him down within these windows.  Remember, at 4 months old the baby’s circadian rhythms are just starting to develop.  They will continue to evolve over the next few weeks; therefore you will see some inconsistency with napping.  Some days will be great and others will be all over the place.  You will need to be consistent with your approach and put your baby down for his naps in these biologically age appropriate windows – while not allowing him to become overtired.  Having him on a schedule where he is sleeping during his biological sleep waves will allow him to achieve his best quality sleep, however he will still need to learn some self soothing skills.  If you have not started already, this is a good time to allow him to learn to put himself to sleep.

Bedtime should roll right into this schedule and be about 90 minutes after your baby wakes up from his third nap. So if he napped from 3-4pm, bedtime would be at 5:30pm. It is a common misconception that putting your child to bed this early will cause them to wake early. This is not true. An early bedtime that occurs before a baby can become overtired, actually allows them to sleep longer and later into the morning. It is very common for babies this age to start sleeping 12-13 hours a night at this point if they go to bed early enough.

I understand that this change can be frustrating as it has caused your baby’s sleep to seemingly take a step back, but I can assure you that this is a necessary step to getting him on a consistent schedule and allowing him to learn to be a great independent sleeper.

This article originally appeared in Brewster Macaroni Kid.  Click here to view article.  Unknown


Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips!

IMG_1712HELP!!!  My 3 week old sleeps all day and is up all night.  My 6 week old baby screams every day from 6-8pm.  Our newborn will only sleep in our arms.  These are all pleas I hear via email (often sent in the wee hours of the morning) from new parents.  While I wish that I could help them teach their babies to sleep, the reality is that for the first 6-8 weeks of a (full term) baby’s life, there is nothing you can do to influence their schedule or teach them sleeping skills.  They will sleep when they want to and eat when they want to and for the schedule-driven, Type-A parent – that is killer.  Despite your personality type, those first several weeks are tough!  Of course, there are the blessed few who have dream babies who angelically sleep day and night from day one.  For the rest of us, thankfully there are ways to cope!  Here are some ideas:

 

A Cure for the Confusion?

The dreaded Day/Night confusion!  Babies are born without a biological clock.  Our bodies follow circadian rhythms that are controlled by external light and dark cues.  Without these rhythms present, a newborn’s sleep lacks any sort of pattern.  Unfortunately there isn’t a lot you can do to “fix” this issue.  Some babies respond well to “light therapy” – making sure they are exposed to sunlight upon waking and thru the day and then come evening, dimming all of the lights in the house until bedtime.  This can start to “prime” their biological clock.  It is also helpful to keep the room dim for any night feedings and to interact with your baby as little as possible so that you can communicate that it is in fact sleep-time and not playtime.  I adhere to the philosophy “never wake a sleeping baby”, but when they are awake during the day, try to keep them up for a minimum of 30 minutes (but not so long that they become overtired) to help set their clock.   I know when you are in the thick of day/night confusion it seems utterly horrible, but remind yourself that it is only for a short time and that all babies grow out of it by 6 weeks of age.

 

Schedule Schmedule

If your baby could talk, that is what he would tell you about that.  Try as you will, but it is near impossible to get a baby 8 weeks or younger on anything that resembles a consistent schedule.  One day there will be a two-hour morning nap then next day that nap will be 30 minutes.  Remember – no circadian rhythms equals no sleep schedule.  One thing that you can rely on is how long your baby can tolerate being awake.  If you watch your baby you will see that after only 45-60 minutes of being awake they will be ready for another snooze!  If you are dying for some sort of rule or reliable piece of info about newborn sleep – here it is:  your baby cannot handle being awake for longer than 45-60 minutes at a time for the first two months of their life.  So make sure to keep an eye on the clock and provide your little one with a nap when the time rolls around.  And be sure to factor in enough time to have them asleep by that mark and not just getting the process started.

 

That Dreaded Time of Day

Most of us have heard of the “Witching Hour”, that lovely time of day when your precious baby just doesn’t seem so precious.  Most parents assume it’s just something that they have to live with until their baby grows out of it.  Or that their baby is colicky.  Maybe, but remember that wakeful period we just discussed?  With 99% of the newborns I have worked with, once their caregivers were watching the clock and taking care that their baby was asleep before they became dreadfully overtired (wait for it), it DISAPEARED!  For many babies the witching hour is just that baby’s way of saying – “hey guys, I am really tired here”.  So give it a shot and see if it happens.  If your baby’s “Witching Hour” begins in the early evening around 6pm or later – opt for an early bedtime instead trying to squeeze in one last nap.  Yes, your baby may be ready for a feed just three hours later (at your bedtime – bonus!) but they will be happy and rested and not screaming in your ear.  Maybe you can even have a few minutes of downtime or enjoy dinner together!

 

I Want a Golden Goose Now, Daddy!

While none of us want to raise a spoiled child, this is one time you do not need to have that worry about that occurring.  You CANNOT spoil a baby under 8 weeks of age or do anything that will impact their ability to learn to self soothe at a later date!  This one is in a two-way tie for my most valuable piece of advice (along with the short wakeful period).  You need to do whatever it takes to get your baby and you the sleep you all need.  For some babies that means figuring out what soothes them.  For some it’s a pacifier, for some it’s white noise and still for others it’s a combo of things.  I highly recommend Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s as they do in fact work and may just save your sanity in those early days.  This notion of not being able to spoil your newborn also means that means allowing them to sleep wherever it’s easiest for both you and them.  Be it   in a swing, or in your arms, or in sling attached to you (I love the Baby K’tan or Moby Wrap) – again, whatever gets your family the most sleep!

 

The Tip Take-Away: 

Newborns are finicky little things.  Just remember these two things and you’ll be fine: do not allow them to be awake for longer than 60 minutes at a time and do whatever it takes to get them (and you) the sleep needed.  In less than 12 months all of this will seem like a distant memory.  You will be missing your “baby” and contemplating doing it all over again.

This article originally appeared on Hoboken Mommies – click here for article.

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Preschoolers: Naps or Rest Time?

 

I have some bad news: someday your child will no longer need a nap. I know – boo, hiss! Horror of horrors! Is this the end of what little free time you had?  How will your little angel remain an angel all the way to bedtime with no nap? The good news is (and yes there is some) they will still be in need of some alone, quiet time and with the lack of that nap, bedtime will need to be earlier (buying you some extra “you” time and insuring your child is still their lovable self when you tuck them in). So how do you know when you child is ready for a “rest time” in lieu of a nap? And how on earth are you going to get him to agree to play quietly in his room for an hour? Read on my friends…

nappingThe Stats 

First, lets look at some statistics thanks to our favorite sleep guy Dr. Marc Weissbluth:

  • At age 4 years, 57% of children are napping one nap/day about 5 naps/week.
  • At 36 months of age, 92% of children are napping one nap/day. 80% of children who nap are napping between 1.5-2.5 hours.
  • Dr. Weissbluth further explains that napping is less influenced by genetics than parenting practices.

So what does that mean? It means that those children who are napping may be kids who need more sleep, but they definitely have parents who have decided that napping is still important and have made it a part of the everyday routine.

The Studies

Next, recent research shows that naps provide preschoolers with powerful ammunition to be at their best both emotionally and intellectually.

  • For example, this study from the University of Colorado Boulder measured the sleep patterns of children aged two to three-and-a-half and found that for toddlers “missing even a single nap causes them to be less positive, more negative and have decreased cognitive engagement.” The study’s author, Assistant Professor Monique LeBourgeois, further explains “This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems.”
  • Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that naptime for preschoolers allows them to better process and remember the information they learn in school. One group of students napped after a memory game while the other group was kept awake following the game. The children who slept approximately 77 minutes were able to remember 75% of what they learned – a full 10% more than the children who did not nap.

Before you decide that your child no longer needs a mid-day snooze, make sure you have exhausted all attempts at them taking one.

Give it To Me Straight

If your two-year-old is going through naptime woes, it is NOT because he is ready to drop his nap.  He is either going through a behavioral or developmental period or his schedule has slipped too late. The best thing you can do is to make sure naptime is at the correct time and then stick with your usual routine and do not change anything. Do not allow him to break any rules or push the boundaries, as two year olds tend to do. In short, stick to your guns and the nap will come back.  If your child is 3 or older keep reading.

Experiencing Nap Time Resistance From Your 3 or 4 Year Old?

Before you decide that your child is part of the minority who no longer needs to nap, follow these steps:

  • Make sure naptime is starting by 1pm (the biological time when their body will have the easiest time falling asleep and can achieve the most restorative sleep) and leave your child for a full hour (or more) to give them a chance to fall asleep. If possible, even try moving the start of naptime to 12:30 to insure that they are not declining their nap because they are overtired and have caught a second wind. There may be some days your child naps, and some days that they do not. Remember – your job is set the routine and offer the nap at the correct time each day, but that is all you can do. The rest is up to them. Having naptime in place will ensure that they can get all of the sleep they need.
  • Speak with your child about the importance of sleep and all it does for our bodies. Explain how it makes us feel great and that when we get the sleep we need, we have the energy to do the things we enjoy like going to the park, dancing, or soccer. There are some great books out there geared towards preschoolers that talk on their level about the importance of sleep – definitely worthy of a read together.
  • If your child’s nap resistance seems to be more behavioral, it is likely because he is pushing for the autonomy that may preschoolers crave. Instead of calling it “nap-time”, call it “rest-time” and let them choose if they want to sleep or not. Say, “you can play quietly, read a book, or sleep, but you must stay in your room and rest”. Often times if you give them power by giving them an option – they choose to sleep! Conversely, if you say, “its naptime, you need to sleep” they won’t because you told them to.
  • I often hear, “my child still naps every day at daycare or school, but will not nap at home”. Can you guess why? At school there is a consistent routine and there are rules that must be followed. If you make sure your child is offered his nap every day at the same time, given a consistent pre-nap routine and he understands he is expected to stay in his bed for an hour, odds are he will also nap at home.


Rest Time It Is

You’ve done everything listed above to keep a nap and promote good sleep hygiene and your child still isn’t napping. Now what? If your child is 3.5-4 years old, don’t sweat it. While we would like them to nap so they can be at their best, as long as they have some down time and an early enough bedtime, they will be just fine.

  • Rest and Renew – Even if they do not need the sleep, they still need some down time to recharge – so insist on a daily rest time ritual. Rest time should be given at the same time that naptime occurred around the 1pm hour. Your child can play quietly in his room – read, do a puzzle, but he must remain in his room until rest time is over.
  • Worried that your child will not stay in his room and rest time will become more of a royal rumble? Rules! Rules! Rules! Make sure your child understands the rest time rules and your expectation that they be followed. In order for him to follow the rules, you must consistently enforce them so he sees you mean business. You can even make a “Rules” poster that details these expectations. Allow your child to color it and decorate it with stickers etc.  Prior to rest time each day, read the rules together. This will help him remember the deal.
  • Entice your child with a basket of items that are for “rest time only”. Fill it with special quiet time toys and books that your child may only use during rest time. Take them out at the start of rest time and put them away at the end. While we want them to be excited to rest purely so they can feel great, this will add a bit of panache to a time of day some preschoolers may find “boring”.
  • Early Bedtime – At this age they are still in need 11-13 hours of sleep a day. As we cannot expect them to sleep in (don’t we wish), they will need to get in the extra sleep with an early bedtime. If your child typically wakes at 6:30am and we want them to achieve 12 hours of sleep a day, they will need to be asleep by 6:30pm. Note – that’s asleep, and not just starting the routine, so plan accordingly. This will ensure that your child is getting all the sleep he needs even without a nap!

This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid National.  Click here to view article.

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Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips!

Circadian What? The Science Behind The Timing of Your Baby’s Naps

Some kids seem to be natural sleepers, easily taking lengthy naps each day, while others need a bit more assistance to get in the daytime sleep that they need. However, all children can take good, restorative naps if given the opportunity. The key to helping babies achieve their best nap is having them nap at the correct time of day. When sleep occurs is more important than the duration of the nap.

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The Sciencey Stuff
We all have biological clocks called circadian rhythms, which are controlled by the rotation of the earth on its axis. These clocks create an internal timing mechanism for sleep based on dark (night)/light (day) cues. Sleeping in sync with these rhythms provides the best quality and most restorative sleep your body can achieve. It is also easiest to fall asleep and stay asleep at these times. Therefore it is important to be aware of your child’s circadian rhythms and schedule their naps accordingly, as this is the best way to ensure they get the sleep they need. A one-hour nap at the correct biological time is actually more restful than a two-hour nap outside of this window. The timing of these “sleep waves” changes as we age, but they are a constant for all children of the same age, varying only slightly from person to person.

Want to Relate?
An easy way for adults to relate to the power of these rhythms is to think about something like jet lag. While traveling outside of your time zone, most of us have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, and even if you do manage to get your usual amount of sleep, you still wake not feeling as rested. That is what it is like for a baby who is not napping in sync with their circadian rhythms.

So When Do These “Magical Sleep Waves” Occur?

  • For babies four months and older who are taking two to three naps a day: the first nap should start between 8:30-9 a.m. The second nap should start between 12-1 p.m.
  • For toddlers who are taking one nap a day: this nap should start between 12:30-1 p.m.
  • Bedtime is also impacted by these rhythms. The best practice is to allow our children to fall asleep in sync with melatonin onset and in a rested state. This translates into a bedtime for babies and toddlers within the range of 5-8 p.m.

Remember that these are the times that you want your child to be asleep, so be sure to allot extra time for them to fall asleep. For example, if it takes your baby 15 minutes to fall asleep, you want to make sure that she is in her crib 15 minutes prior to the time you want her asleep.

Please note: Babies under four months do not yet have circadian rhythms, as they are just starting to develop at about that age. For these younger babies, be sure to watch the clock to keep their awake periods short, while also watching them for their sleepy signs. The key with these little ones is getting them to sleep before they become overtired.

This article appeared in Macaroni Stork – click here for original article

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Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips!

It’s a rainy day and both of my girls are fast asleep. It got me thinking back to the days when my oldest daughter was NOT a good napper.  This was before an amazing Child Sleep Consultant forever changed our lives.  I could set a timer with her naps – 30 minutes on the dot.  I would run around the house shoving food in my mouth while I multi-tasked the 50 items on my to do list.  Does this or other naptime woes sound familiar?  Then read on my friend: 5 Tips for Napping Success

 

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1. ‘When’ your child naps is much more important than you think!  The key to helping your baby achieve their best nap is having them nap at the correct time of day by following their biological clock. We all have internal clocks called circadian rhythms that make us feel drowsy at certain times of the day. It is easiest during these windows to fall asleep and they provide the most restorative sleep. As crazy as this sounds, a one-hour nap at the correct biological time is more restful than a two-hour nap that is not. The timing of these “sleep waves” changes as we age, but they are a constant for all children of the same age, varying only slightly from person to person. While it is sometimes daunting to follow a schedule, it will provide you the confidence to know exactly when your child will need to sleep and that he is getting the sleep that he needs. For more information on the appropriate timing of naps please see the our Sleep Reference Guide.

 

2. Different Naps Serve a Different Purpose
If your child is taking two naps a day, the morning and afternoon nap serve two different purposes. The morning nap is mentally restorative and the afternoon nap is physically restorative. Before you consider skipping one or the other, think about which part of your child’s development is worth jeopardizing!


3. It Takes An Hour
In order for a nap to be effective, it must be an hour or more in duration. A nap under an hour isn’t long enough to be beneficial to your child’s body, so try to keep catnaps to a minimum. Additionally, if your child wakes up before an hour has passed, consider leaving him in his crib until the hour has elapsed. This is a great way to teach self-soothing skills and lengthen a nap, and who knows – he may surprise you and fall back to sleep!


4. Your Baby Needs to Nap in His Crib
Life would be much easier if we could tote our kids anywhere and expect that they will get the sleep they need, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Babies and toddlers will achieve their very best sleep at home in their bassinet, crib, or bed. This is for two reasons: 1. Sleeping at home in their own, darkened, quiet room free of distractions ensures that your child will have an easy time falling asleep and staying asleep. 2. Babies and toddlers have better quality, more restorative sleep when they are sleeping in a stationary location – like their own bed. Vibrations or motion during sleep (think strollers and car seats) force the brain into a lighter sleep state and reduce the restorative power of the nap. It’s similar in comparison to the sleep that you get on an airplane: ok, but not really restful. An occasional nap on-the-go is fine, but most naps should be taken in your child’s bed.

 

5. Don’t Give up On Naps Too Quickly
Before you decide your child doesn’t need to nap anymore, consider this stat: According to Dr. Weissbluth, a nationally renowned pediatrician and child sleep expert, at age 4 years, 57% of children are napping one nap/day about 5 naps/week. At age 3, 92% of children are still napping! And 80% of children who nap are napping between 1.5-2.5 hours. Napping is less influenced by genetics than parenting practices.


Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 2 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook & Twitter more great sleep tips!

Is Your Child off to Sleep-Away Camp this Summer?  Here are 5 Sleep Tips to Ensure They’re Well-Rested And Ready For Fun!

IMG_2625For many of us, sleep-away camp was a summer ritual – a rite of passage when we became old enough to go off on our own and create memories and friendships. And now your child is going off too! For many new campers, this summer will be their first time sleeping away from home without Mom or Dad for more than a night or two. Cabins, bunk beds, campfires, boating, swimming, pottery, talent shows…that is a lot of newness and excitement for your camper. Add in some strange noises, whispering cabin mates and an unfamiliar bed and drifting off to sleep may be difficult – even for the best of sleepers. It is easy to see how your child may leave for summer camp rested and full of sunshine, but may return an overtired mess. In between shopping for bug spray, labeling clothes and reviewing your packing list – add these 5 tips to your “to-do list” to ensure that your child can get the sleep in they need to enjoy their camp adventure and create their own rustic nostalgia.

 

Pack Their Perfect Bunk in Their Camp Trunk

Your summer camp will send you a packing list to ensure that your child has everything they need. But while you’re packing, remember to recreate the comforts of home, or at least the necessities. This is especially important for the younger and first-time campers. If your child has a special stuffed friend or blanket that they can’t sleep without – make sure it goes to camp too. Pack your child’s pillow along with any blankets that are comforting to them. I know most of us think ‘sleeping bag’ when it comes to camp, but it doesn’t have to be a bag if your child doesn’t sleep comfortably in it.   Most camps are ok with you bringing your own sheets and blankets to re-create a more comfy bed – especially for campers that are staying for extended periods of time. Is your child noise sensitive? In general, camps do not allow expensive electronics like iPhones, and iPads, but check to see if an old iPod can come along with a set of headphones. If that is an option, down load a white noise app or sound track that your child can listen to as they drift off to sleep. If the iPod is a no-go, remember that old Sleep Sheep from their infant days? Dust it off and check the batteries. It only plays for 45 minutes, but it may be the perfect bunkmate to fend off any distracting bedtime noises around camp. Sheep “too baby-ish”? Is a small clip on fan allowed? If so, it can do double duty to keep him cool and block out any troublesome noises.

 

Prepare for Child For What is to Come

If your child is one who thrives on routine (as many do), make sure that you talk through what camp will be like – including bedtime. Check out your camp’s website to see if they post a typical daily schedule or reach out to your camp to find out what your child can expect. Walk your camper through all of the details you find. Explain that while their camp bedtime routine may not include a book or some of their home bedtime rituals, it will be consistent from night-to-night and their counselors will be there to help get them ready for bed each night.

 

Be a Weatherman (or Women)

Know the average highs and lows for the location of your child’s camp (many weather websites have charts detailing yearly averages). Sure it’s summer and it is bound to be warm, but if your child’s camp is in the mountains or by the ocean – overnight lows may be cooler than you think.   Also check the extended forecast a few days before camp to be prepared for any impending heat waves. Then pack your child’s pajamas accordingly. Be sure to include extra socks and long sleeve cotton tees for layering.

 

Do Your Homework and Pick a Camp that Works for your Family

All overnight camps are fun and full of activities galore. With so many great camps to choose from, you should also take into consideration the one that works best with your child’s current schedule. If your 6 year old has gotten the overnight camp bug and you are on board, check that potential camps have a schedule that isn’t too far from his norm. If he is regularly fast asleep by 7pm each night – an 8pm camp bedtime should be ok. However, a 9pm bedtime may be too much for him, especially with all of the physical activity that he will be doing. Also think about your child’s daily schedule, does your child usually have downtime each afternoon to unwind a bit? If so, many camps have a scheduled quiet time – so check for that too.

 

Back To Reality

No matter how prepared your child is, and how well rested they go into sleep-away camp; they will inevitably come home exhausted. If your child was only away for a week or two, get them right back on their usual schedule upon arriving home and they should adjust in just a few days. If they were a month-long or summer-long camper, adjusting may be a bit more difficult. Rather than do it cold turkey, move bedtime back to their norm in stages – by 30 minutes every few days. No matter how long your child is at camp, be sure to schedule your camp dates so that there is enough time to catch up and be well rested before starting the new school year.

This article appeared in the Boston Parent’s Paper North East Camp Guide.  Click here for the digital version. FeaturedInButton

 

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2015


Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 2 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and twitter for more great sleep tips!

 

Summertime, Make the Travel Easy

This coming weekend marks the unofficial start of summer! With the wind in our hair, and the sun shining on our (sun-screened) faces, who doesn’t love a little summertime adventure? It’s time to take some time to relax and have some fun. The seashore, the mountains, the woods, it really doesn’t matter as long as we are outside enjoying the season. For those of us with small children, however, the thought of a summer escape may be a bit more daunting. Before you pack up the car or book your flight make sure you check out my WRB Summer Travel Tips. These three simple rules will help to ensure that this summer, the living really is easy.
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1. Stick As Closely as Possible to Your Baby’s Schedule
• Help Make the transition easier: Even though your baby will be sleeping away from home, that shouldn’t mean that their schedule is left behind. Keeping their nap times and bedtimes consistent will help them to assimilate to their new environment more quickly and will make sure they stay a happy baby rather than an overtired cranky one.
• Travel during sleep times: In order to make sure naps aren’t missed, plan your travel times around nap times. If driving, allow your baby to take their nap on the go but at the usual time. A few minutes before naptime do a modified version of your regular soothing routine so your little one understands it time to go to sleep. If flying during naptime, most little ones sleep great on the plane (it must be that constant humming sound ;). Wearing your baby in an ergo like carrier is a great option as they are secure, yet comfortable. If taking a long flight or a red eye, call your airline in advance and request a sky cot (a small travel bed which is installed in front of your seat – most airlines provide these for free).
• Schedule naps into your daily plan: Once you have reached your destination, try to have naps occur in your hotel room if possible. This will help your baby become more familiar with their new sleeping environment as well as provide them with more restorative sleep. If hanging around the hotel is not in the plans, make sure you have your baby in their car seat, stroller, or carrier in plenty of time to catch their nap on the go. While sleeping in a stationary crib or bed is best, for a few days while on vacation it is ok to have your little on nap on the go.
• Need to miss a nap: If despite your best efforts a nap just isn’t possible on one of your vacation days, don’t sweat it. Instead opt for a super early bedtime to make up for that missed sleep. It will help to make sure your little one stays on track and doesn’t become overtired.
• Manage expectations: If you are visiting with friends or family make sure they are aware of your baby’s schedule. Grandma may roll her eyes when you tell her that bedtime is 6:30, but at least she will plan an early dinner so your little one is not fussing through dinner and keeping everyone from enjoying their meal.

2. Create A Sleep Environment That Resembles Home
• Home away from home: Bring along all your baby’s usual sleep time props – sleep sack, lovey, pacifier, white noise etc. This will help them feel as comfortable as possible while away from their crib.
• Make your phone do double duty: If your white noise isn’t portable, download a white noise app on your smart phone and select a sounds option that is similar to your one from home.
• A comfy crib is easier than you think: Call ahead and request a crib for your room. Most hotels do have quality full size cribs on hand – you just have to ask! Bring along your baby’s own mattress pad and sheet for piece of mind. If you prefer to bring your own travel crib and have not yet made the big purchase, I love the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib. Or if you already own a pack and play – invest in a mattress topper so your baby can sleep more comfortably on the go.
• Block out the sun: If your child is used to a very dark sleeping environment, come prepared. I always travel with a 4 pack ($26 for 4!) of Redi Shade Black-Out Blinds.  They pack easily at the bottom of a suitcase and can be cut to stick onto any window frame with their own self-adhesive. Or check out these fantastic travel blinds from the Gro Company. They come in a compact travel bag and stick to any window using suction cups. They are a bit more of an investment, but reusable, easy to pack, and a snap to put up and take down.

3. When You Get Home It’s Back to Business as Usual
• The best laid plans: No matter how well you plan ahead, life happens and things can go awry. The key to getting back on track as quickly as possible is easier than you think – just resume your old routine! A few days consistently back to the norm and you will have your great sleeper once again.
• Early bedtime saves all: A great tool to help expedite this process is an early bedtime. An overtired child has a much harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. If you opt for an early bedtime the first few nights home, it will be beneficial in helping your child catch up on any missed sleep and get back to their typical sleep habits.

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com) and has helped hundreds of families to get the sleep they need over the past 4 years. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 2 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook & Twitter for more great sleep tips!
rTjnooyTR-1One nap, two nap, red fish, blue fish?  Transitioning your toddler to one nap may seem as simple and benign as reading a Dr. Seuss Book.  Yes there will be more fun to be had once you are through this transition and can have more time for morning activities, but getting to that point is a bit more like “Fox in Sox”: as trying as a tongue twister.  As the book is prefaced – “Take it slowly.  This book is dangerous!”  The move from two naps to one is not for the faint of heart.  There will be lots of struggling to keep your bleary eyed tot awake till naptime and further struggles to reach bedtime.  It is just a very long time for a little one to be awake and while their bodies may no longer need two naps, they aren’t quite ready for only one.  So what’s a Mom (or Dad) to do?  First, make sure they are truly ready before putting them (and you!) through this sometimes-arduous journey.

 

Most toddlers make the leap to one nap sometime between 15-18 months of age, however according to Dr. Weissbluth, 23% of 18 month olds are still taking two naps a day – so don’t rush it!  If your 2 nap a day child’s naps have become a bit off kilter and you are thinking they may be ready, make one last attempt to salvage both naps before giving up.  As our babies get older, we become more lax about the starting time of the first nap and let it slide later and later.  Next thing we know, they are not in their crib until 9:30am and then they go on to play, or babble, or do calisthenics rather than taking a nap.  The logical conclusion would be that they no longer need that nap, right?  Well maybe, but it’s more likely that by 9:30 they have actually already become overtired and have caught a second wind.  Once they catch that second wind it is very difficult for them to fall asleep and take a restorative nap.  So before giving up, try moving the morning nap earlier to have them in their crib 8:30-8:45am so that they can be fast asleep by 9am. In turn, move the afternoon nap earlier making sure it starts between 12:30-1pm.  Give this a shot for a week and you may find that your child goes back to taking two naps a day like a champ and buy you another month or so of two naps!  If despite your best efforts, both naps just aren’t happening – here’s what to do:

 

Nap schedule:
Ultimately you want the nap to begin at 12:30pm.  Yes, 12:30pm.  I know you are thinking – “How the H-E-double-hockey-sticks am I going to make it to 12pm?” But you will.  Again, that is why we want to keep the two naps for as long as possible.  On day one you will start with the nap at as close to 11:30pm as you can muster.  You will hold at 11:30am for 3 days.  On the fourth day, you will move to 11:45am and remain there for 3 days.   On day 7, you will hit your first target of 12pm.  We will stay at 12pm for a few weeks and once your child has adjusted, you will push on to 12:30pm.  As your child reaches age 2, you will see the starting time of the nap move closer and closer to 1pm where it will stay until your child stops napping.

 

Bedtime:
Remember this is a HUGE transition for your child. In order to keep them from becoming woefully overtired, make sure you move bedtime very early to compensate.  This is one of those times when a 5-5:30pm bedtime is a very useful tool and most certainly in order. And no, this doesn’t mean your child will wake up earlier.

 

Coping Strategies:
As I’ve said, this is a really hard transition. It’s just a big jump for them and they get tired really easily. Here are some ideas to help:

  • Expect short naps the first week or two of the transition.  Don’t worry this is not forever, but it is common as your child adjusts – again EARLY BEDTIME is your best friend during this move.
  • Try to get out and about in the morning prior to nap and in the afternoon after nap for some sunshine and exercise, but DO NOT let them fall asleep in the car!
  • The first few days they will most likely start to crash at around 10am. Have a snack ready at this point to help keep them going.
  • Be consistent. Your child will be tired and cranky and you will be tempted to revert to a two nap schedule, but this will just make it harder on them. Once you decide to take the plunge into the one nap a day pool, there is no going back. It is just too hard for your child’s body to flip back and forth. You just need to rip the Band-Aid off and go for it.

The Tip Take-Away:
If your attempt at two naps has become as trying as a tongue twister, your child may be ready for the transition to one nap. Before making any rash decisions ;), make one last crack at two naps a day. If it doesn’t work, it is time to transition. This transition is a BEAR, so give the earlier nap a try first. Good luck!
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This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid – click here.




Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2015

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 2 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and twitter for more great sleep tips!

blog-bgBaby, toddler, preschooler, 3rd grader, highschooler, adult. No matter your age, sleep is one of our most important biological needs. As my favorite sleep guru Dr. Marc Weissbluth has said “Sleep is to the brain as food is to the body”. Our bodies regulate sleep in much the same way that they regulate eating, drinking, and breathing. This suggests that sleep serves a similar critical role in our health and well-being.  I want to share 3 easy steps to ensure your entire family is getting the sleep that they need so “health and happiness abound.”

1. Know How Much Sleep is Needed And Insist On it
The amount of sleep our bodies require changes as we age. Very young babies sleep a lot – 16-20 hours a day (which makes perfect sense as their main objective is growing their brain and body). Many parents are surprised that at 12-18 months, their kids still need about 14 hours of sleep per day. Toddlers and preschoolers require 12-13 hours of sleep per day and school age kids still need 10-12 hours. There is a whole lot of growing going on, and remember – sleep is required for brain growth and development. And if you can believe it, highschoolers still need 9 hours of sleep per night! Knowing how much sleep your child needs to be happy and healthy will allow you to insure they are getting that sleep. For children who are still napping, ensure that naps are happening in sync with their circadian rhythms and that bedtime is occurring before overtiredness can set in. Children who are no longer napping, will need to achieve all of their sleep at night. As we can not count on our kids to sleep-in in the morning (don’t we wish!!), we need to make sure bedtime is early enough to achieve their total needed hours of sleep at night. For example: if your child needs 11 hours of sleep at night and they wake at 6:30am – they need to be fast asleep by 7:30pm. That is asleep, not just getting into bed. This goes for parents as well. To be healthy, well functioning adults we need quality sleep too!

2. Make Sure Bedrooms are Conducive to Good Sleep
Most of us know the ABC’s of a proper sleep environment for our babies and toddlers – a dark room (black out blinds and no sources of light) free from distractions (mobiles, toys, music), with white noise and a temperature between 65-70 degrees. Once our kids get older, we often forget about creating a bedroom that promotes good sleep hygiene, but it is just as important. No matter our age, our bedrooms should be very similar to the environment that you created in your nursery. This means that TV’s, smart phones, computers, and tablets should be turned off and left in the livingroom!

3. Routines Really Are Important
Pre-sleep routines are a necessity whether you are 4 months or 40 years old. Routines help our bodies to unwind and train our body and brain that sleep is forthcoming. For young children, bedtimes should be a bit flexible based on the quality of naps each day (on a poor nap day bedtime should be earlier, and on a good nap day a bit later). For older children, teenagers and adults, bedtime should be at about the same time each day.


Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 2 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter for more great sleep tips!