How to Teach Babies and Toddlers to Fall Asleep With Fewer Tears?

baby sleep tipsI was recently asked how to teach baby to sleep on his own without using the “cry out” method:

No parent likes to hear his or her child cry. From the time they are born, we do everything we can to prevent them from crying. We nurse, we bounce, we rock, we swaddle, we burp — anything we can muster to prevent our precious little ones from crying. Then comes the day…duhm, duhm, duhm…when you realize you can no longer bounce, or nurse, or rock etc. your baby to sleep. It dawns on you that your child (and you!) is not getting the sleep that he needs because he lacks the ability to put himself to sleep. But when the time comes to teach him to become a healthy independent sleeper, it is often hard to fathom the idea of allowing him to cry. Thankfully there are several methods available to teach a child to self soothe, as we as sleep consultants strive to come up with plans to match every parenting philosophy. In fact, there are more ways than I can list in a question & answer forum. And while there are many ways to teach a child to sleep — some gentle and some aggressive — there simply is no way to have zero tears. I am not trying to change your mind and push you to utilize a “Cry it out” method. I understand not wanting your baby to cry, but I think that it is important to be clear about what you can expect from the beginning.

Let’s discuss that for a minute: This concept of a “no tears” solution. When most parents come to me, all  that their child has known thus far is being helped all the way to a sleeping state. When you decide that it is now their job to do this for themselves, they are of course going to protest. And babies communicate by crying. No matter how gentle you are in teaching them this new expectation (that they are now responsible to fall asleep on their own) they are going to protest with a few tears. It is important to understand that going in — THERE WILL BE A FEW TEARS no matter what. They are not “I need you tears,” or “I am hurt tears”, or “I am hungry tears,” they are “I would like your company as I fall asleep tears.” I respect all parenting philosophies and certainly understand not wanting to allow your baby to “cry it out” alone in his room. There are ways other than the CIO method that allow you to be with your baby and soothe them as they learns this new skill, but they will inevitably shed some tears in your presence.

Ok, so now that we are clear on your expectations let’s get back to your question — what other ways can you teach a baby?

The Younger Baby

For babies under 4 months of age, it is possible to teach them how to self soothe simply by putting them down awake whenever it is time to sleep. You go through your soothing routine and then put them in their crib, sleepy but awake. If they fuss it is ok, give them a minute to see if they can settle themself. If their fussing escalates to tears, pick them up and comfort them and then put them down again awake. Repeat. For this to work it is critical that they go into their crib awake so that they can learn to fall asleep on their own. They may fuss for a minute or two each time, but if you consistently allow them to try to do it for themselves — they will actually learn fairly quickly!

The Older Baby or Toddler

Teaching children older than 4 months is a bit more complicated as they have already learned a set of rules surrounding going to sleep and you will have to teach them a different set of expectations so that they will now fall asleep on their own. As I mentioned, there are a plethora of ways to effectively teach your child this skill. Check out a few books on the topic and utilize one that matches your ideals, or hire a child sleep consultant who will create a custom plan for you that is in line with your beliefs. No matter how you choose to go about teaching your baby, the most important part is being consistent. Babies and toddlers learn from our example, so if you switch back and forth trying things many different ways they will not understand what you expect. You will need to commit to following your plan to the T for a solid two weeks. This means you cannot give it a go for three days and declare that it is not working. Remember your child had many months to learn the current way of doing things so you need to give them some time to learn the new routine. And again, consistency is everything!

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. 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.

 

header

With “Back to School” looming just weeks away, it is time for many families to get back to a healthy sleep regimen.  Confused where to start with this sometimes daunting task?

If bedcantpjbeartime or nighttime sleep has become a challenge with your pre-school or school aged child, this website from the Nation Sleep Foundation (www.sleepforkids.org) may help.  I often find that teaching children WHY they need sleep, helps to make sleep times less of a struggle.  Learning the importance of sleep empowers them to take care of themselves, while just saying “you need your sleep – go to bed” causes a battle of wills.  So carve out an hour of your day and sit down with your child and discuss what sleep does for our bodies and why it is so important.  During your discussion, visit www.sleepforkids.org.  Go through the different interactive pages which explain sleep topics in a language which children can relate to and understand.  For example –  check out “Why We Sleep,” “How Sleep Works,” and “Can’t Sleep?” to shape your discussion.  There is even a cute character “PJ” Bear, and puzzles and games.  Start now and your child will be rested and on track by the first day of school!

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. 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.

 

 

No matter your child’s age, there are 5 key elements that if applied consistently lead to healthy sleep!  Here is our tough-love, no nonsense, guide to getting  your child’s sleep on track and keeping it there:

I became a pediatric sleep consultant after having a terrible time getting my first child to sleep. After researching for tips and advice and coming across conflicting information, I was still at a loss for what to do. After 9 months, I finally hired a sleep consultant and within two days my “terrible sleeper” was suddenly an incredible sleeper.  It turns out that all along she (like all babies) had this ability, we just had not taught her. So what’s the secret? I introduce the WRB Cheat Sheet, 5 Simple Rules to get your baby’s sleep on track.1920581_690861651010346_4021368205776222295_n

Rule #1 — Your Baby Needs to Sleep in His Crib. Period.
Unfortunately, as I learned babies are not fashion accessories that we should just expect to fit into our social calendar. The sooner you can come to terms with this the better. Life would be much easier if we could tote our kids anywhere, at anytime 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 in their bassinet, crib, or bed, and it should be your goal for them to do the majority of their sleeping in this consistent location. Yes, very little babies have the amazing ability to sleep through anything, but once they reach about 2 months old they start to become social beings and have a much harder time blocking out what’s going on around them. Sleeping at home in their own darkened room will make sure there are no distractions. Also, 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. A nap on-the-go here and there is fine, but most naps should be taken in your child’s bed. This does make you a bit of a slave to your house but ask anyone who has kids — that first year flies by. Before you know it you will be out and about and personally, I would rather stay in and have a well-rested child than be out with a cranky, overtired baby.

Rule #2 — Your Baby Needs to Nap at the Correct Times
Naptime should follow your baby’s biological clock. We all have internal clocks called circadian rhythms that make us feel drowsy at certain times. It is easiest at these times to fall asleep and get our most restorative sleep. These times change as your child grows older. If you can base your child’s nap schedule so that they sleep in sync with these rhythms they will be able to achieve their best sleep. 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.

Rule #3 — Insist on An Early Bedtime
Bedtime should be early enough to ensure that your child goes to bed before they become overtired. A child who is overtired has a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. This is because when we get overtired we release the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. This is a primitive fight or flight response, which is intended to keep us going. While this was probably helpful to cavemen, it is not when it kicks in for your baby and he gets a “second wind”. When this response occurs on a regular basis these hormones actually build up in your baby’s system and then cause him to wake-up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Although it sounds counterintuitive, an early bedtime WILL NOT cause your child to wake earlier in the morning. In fact, early bedtimes help children to sleep later as they are better able to self soothe and consolidate sleep without the presence of these hormones. In short, an early bedtime allows babies to achieve longer stretches of better quality sleep. As an added bonus, it provides more time for you to unwind and have “you” time in the evening. What parent doesn’t need that?

Rule #4 — A Consistent Routine:
This one is so simple to achieve, yet so important! Babies and toddlers crave routine in their daily schedules as it helps them know what to expect. They follow patterns and your cues, so if you create a consistent soothing routine before sleep times then they will know to expect sleep to come next. Your soothing routine does not need to be anything complicated — maybe a book and a nice soothing song — but it needs to be consistent and should always end with your child going into bed sleepy, but awake.

Rule #5 — Teach Your Child to Fall Asleep
If your child relies on you to be with them until they are fast asleep, how will they know how to put themselves back to sleep when a sleep cycle ends during nap time or when they wake at night? Self-soothing is a skill that every child must learn to be an independent sleeper. Once your child is on the correct schedule and is falling asleep before he becomes overtired, self-soothing will come much more easily. There are lots of methods for teaching your child to self-soothe. Some methods involve more tears but work very quickly and some have little or no tears but take a bit longer. They all accomplish the same end goal — teaching your child to fall asleep on their own. This is one of the best skills you can teach a child as it enables them to become well rested, independent and better able to handle the opportunities and challenges each day presents.

This article also appeared on the Zipadee Zip Blog – http://www.sleepingbaby.com/blogs/news/18517181-5-simple-rules-to-get-your-babys-sleep-on-track

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. 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.

In honor of World Breast Feeding Week, I thought I would discuss two topics near and dear to me: Sleep and Breast Feeding

wbw2015-logo-m2With my occupation, it is a no brainer that I love all things sleep. However, it may surprise you that breast feeding is also way up there in my priority list. Why these two passions? Making sure that my family is getting the sleep that we each need, ensures that we are all happy, patient (that one is for me ;)) and ready to face the challenges of each day. Breast feeding has personally given me more joy than I can express while creating an amazing bond with my daughters and giving them best nutrition possible. But can the two (sleep & breast feeding) co-exist or is does one need to suffer for the other to flourish? This is a common misconception and it is 100% not true. Sleep and adequate nutrition are two of our most important biological needs. Any pediatrician will tell you that a healthy baby will not allow himself to go hungry. As a certified child sleep consultant, it is my belief that many babies are in fact in need of a night feeding through 9 months of age. With this knowledge, I often schedule night feedings into many of my client’s schedules to ensure that the baby is getting in all of the feedings he needs. And guess what? Once a baby is going to sleep before becoming overtired and knows how to put himself to sleep without assistance, he often (drumroll) sleeps right through the night and through that scheduled feed. Why? Because once a baby has mastered the art of sleep, he will choose whichever need is biologically most important – eating or sleeping.  So fear not, your breast feeding relationship and your child’s nutritional needs do not need to be sacrificed by teaching healthy sleep skills.  In fact, many mom’s report to me that their nursing relationship improves when their child is well rested!

But don’t just take my word for it:
Check out this great article by Lorna C. Aliperti, APRN, IBCLC.: Can Sleep Training and Lactation Consultants Coexist?

The Take-Away:

Breastfeeding should not be sacrificed in efforts to sleep train your baby nor does it need to be. Simply provide your baby with healthy sleep hygiene and a strong foundation for sleep and when he is ready to sleep through the night without night feedings, he will do so all on his own.

Has keeping your child in his bed become a struggle?

My advice featured on the Boston Mamas Blog:

BostonMamas-masthead-logo

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 on 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?”

1897840_567740883322424_203621786_n

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.

2013WellRestedBaby_Header2

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.

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!

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.

top image

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

icon-stork

 

 

 

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

 

SG1_9163abc - Version 2 (1)

 

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!