Tired Baby, Sleepless Baby, Sleep Advice

If you’ve recently had a baby you know how demanding, exhausting and all-consuming taking care of an infant is. If you’re a parent of twins these feelings are likely greater than double. One plus one doesn’t always equal two! As a mom of twins, I know firsthand how utterly challenging taking care of two babies is. While my memory has become slightly clouded over time by the pure love and joy that our daughters bring my husband and me, one aspect of the first few months that I do remember vividly is the sleep deprivation. It was absolutely the hardest adjustment we had to make. We were so sleep deprived that I questioned whether my husband should even be making his fifteen-minute commute to work, as I truly feared that he would fall asleep at the wheel. We knew we needed help! Thanks to our fabulous sleep consultant, Well Rested Baby founder Amy Lage, we gradually learned how to get our family’s sleep on track. I quickly realized how much the education and sleep training process was benefiting our situation at that time, but I had little idea how much it would also affect the years to come. Fast forward two plus years and we have two rock-star sleepers.

The challenges of getting two babies or toddlers to sleep are different from and unquestionably more challenging than trying to ensure that one baby gets all the sleep he or she needs. If you have twins, these sleep tips may just be the key to getting your doubles’ sleep into a healthy pattern. As a mom of twins and now a professional sleep consultant, I’d like to share these tidbits that are backed by my own authentic and hard-won experiences.

Biological age: To begin, it’s important to know your children’s biological age. Most multiples are born before 40 weeks gestation which means that biologically they are younger than their actual age. So, if your twins were born at 37 weeks then we need to adjust their age by three weeks. At six weeks, your twins would be three weeks old biologically. When we talk about sleep and sleep milestones everything is based on biological age so this is important to note!

To share or not to share? Where should your twins sleep? Should they share a crib? A room? After all they have shared your womb for many, many months! Crib sharing is not safe. One baby can roll onto the other leading to suffocation or entrapment. However, room sharing is completely fine. If you do plan to keep them together then allow them to sleep in the same room regardless of the crying that you fear might wake the other. They will learn to sleep through each other’s noises. Use a sound machine and invest in a good video monitor so that you know who is awake and who is asleep. If you plan to separate them down the road, then do so as soon as they are old enough to officially sleep train.

Twins and newborn sleep: Never wake a sleeping baby? Not true if you have two! If you’d like to wash one of those bottles sitting in that looming pile, shower or brush your teeth, maybe do some of that mounting laundry, make a quick phone call, catch up on some reading or work, etc. in the next four months this one is critical! Twins need to be on the same sleep schedule. Bottom line. Genetics do seem to play a factor in sleep and since identical twins are nearly identical genetically getting them on the same schedule will be a bit easier than getting fraternal twins on the same schedule. But, whether your wee ones are identical or fraternal we want them on the same sleep schedule. At this age, there is no true “schedule.” Newborns need to sleep approximately every 60 minutes, sometimes sooner. We always want to start with the more sensitive sleeper, and sooner rather than later, to avoid entering an overtired state. If one baby wakes up, we wake the other so that they can eat at the same time and then fall to sleep at the same time again. If feeding them simultaneously is too challenging and you’d prefer to stagger feedings, then allow one baby to sleep fifteen minutes longer than the one who wakes first. The same rings true for nighttime feedings. If one wakes up at night and it is time for a feeding, then wake the other as well; until they are four months biologically.

4 months and on: Once your twins reach the age of four months biologically they will be ready for a true schedule. We will no longer go by the amount of time they have been awake but will instead go by the clock. Beginning at the age of four months, babies need to nap at times that are in sync with their newly developed biological clocks (circadian rhythms). Again, we want to keep your little ones on the same schedule. Whether fraternal or identical their circadian rhythms will be relatively the same and they will need naps that begin at the same time as well. To keep them on the same schedule keep them within fifteen minutes of one another. If baby A wakes first we would not let baby B sleep more than an additional fifteen minutes. If one of your little ones cannot easily adapt to change in routine or schedule, or easily becomes overtired, we always want to cater to his or her needs. If your sensitive sleeper is ready for bedtime, then that means it is bedtime for both. It is better to keep them both well rested than to allow your sensitive sleeper to become overtired.

Twins and toddler sleep: As your pair nears the age of two, sleep is no longer just about sleep but also becomes behavioral. When I found myself recently saying “remember, no meowing at bedtime” I knew it was time for us to have a family meeting to chat about our sleep! The challenges change as your twins grow. They become little buddies which is endearing and infuriating all at one. They will absolutely egg each other on and treat sleep periods like slumber parties if clear rules and expectations are not in place. If your pair is treating naptime like playtime, then separate them for naps if possible. If bedtime has also become playtime, then it might be time to have a family meeting and establish some sleep rules. Either way, make it clear that sleep times are for just that, sleeping! Believe me, they are NOT too young to understand as long as you are firm and consistent with your message.

Of course, while a few pointers are helpful it’s not always easy to stay the course on your own, or to know when to tweak or change your approach. Whether you are still in the newborn stage or you are dealing with toddlers we are here to help with your sleep challenges!

Lauren Stauffer is a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, a mom of twins herself and owner 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 lauren@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook for more great sleep tips!
Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2017

 

As a pediatric sleep consultant, I love my job.  I get to help families gain back precious-sleep!  However, I find that when people hear the words “sleep consultant” or “sleep training” they associate these words with the act of simply leaving your child to cry it out on his own.  This is a very common misconception which leads to relating sleep training with selfishness or poor parenting.  I frequently hear mothers encouraging one another that the sleepless nights will pass; just hang on and accept it as a normal part of parenting.  Or, they reassure each other that their babies are crying out at night because they need them either to eat or for comfort.  There is a clear message in these words that there is no “time off” as a parent and that one should be available night and day for her child.  While I agree that there are no days off as a parent I wish people understood that it is not shameful, lazy, or neglectful to desire consolidated nighttime sleep for everyone in the family.  Sleep training means teaching our children the self-soothing skills they need to get themselves to sleep and back to sleep – a skill they will need for the rest of their lives.

One sleep training myth that parents fear to be true is that leaving a baby to cry will damage their child’s psyche.  There is no evidence that proves that letting a baby cry will damage his psyche. While as a sleep consultant I do not advocate “cry it out” as the one and only method for successfully sleep training a child to sleep through the night, if parents do opt to use this as their method for sleep training they are not damaging their child.  In fact, according to American Academy of Pediatrics statement on early life stress and the types of stress a child can withstand they include “the death of a family member, a serious illness or injury, a contentious divorce, a natural disaster, or an act of terrorism”.  Sleep training seems quite mild compared the examples provided.  The stress children experience when they cry during the few nights they are learning to get to sleep on their own is short lived and tolerable assuming it occurs in a stable home with supportive relationships.

Another common misconception that creates the idea that sleep training is unacceptable is that a baby’s need to eat trumps a baby’s need to sleep at night.  However, past the age of three or four months hunger is usually not the cause of sleep problems.  Sleep is a biological need that is as important as eating.  Past the age of four months zero to two night feedings are acceptable but, if a baby is waking beyond that then one of their biological needs is not being met.  Just as babies need healthy nutrition to grow and thrive they also need sleep for healthy body and brain growth and development.  When we don’t get enough sleep, the effects are detrimental.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has linked insufficient sleep to future obesity and behavior problems.  A lack of sleep leads to impaired memory, lack of alertness, a shorter attention span and poor concentration.  The side- effects of poor sleep lead to babies and toddlers that do not learn as quickly as those that get the sleep that their bodies require.  The effects can be long term as well, leading to poor school performance and behavior problems well beyond the terrible twos.  Sleep is not a luxury, it is a biological need.

These misconceptions about sleep training negatively affect parents and child when they prevent families from taking the steps necessary to get the sleep their whole family needs.  A lack of sleep can cause family stress and marital stress, depression, reckless driving, and poor work performance.  It affects the entire family!  As sleep consultants, we take a family centered approach to the process of improving children’s sleep. We listen to parent concerns and discuss with families the best plan to get their child’s sleep back on track or off to a good start.  We truly believe that every child can be a good sleeper — it takes time, patience, and some effort but it does not mean ignoring your child’s needs and leaving them to cry all night. Well Rested Baby educates and supports families through the process.  As sleep consultants, we teach families how to help their child learn the process of self-soothing which is often the key to a good night’s sleep.

 

Lauren Stauffer is a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and owner 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 lauren@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook for more great sleep tips!

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2017

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.

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2017


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 6 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 6.5 year old Stella, their 4 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!

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Quite often I receive new client forms in which a parent informs me that they have previously tried sleep training and it didn’t “work” for their child. Clearly they are open to trying again or they wouldn’t have reached out to me, but let’s discuss why their past attempt failed? Was it:

A) Because they were not consistent
B) Because their child was not on a schedule conducive to their age
C) Because their child is chronically overtired
D) Because they just have a terrible sleeper

Hint, the correct answer is not D. Of course that is never the case as all children can be great sleepers if given the right tools. Option A, B, C or a combo of the three are always to blame when sleep training goes awry.

Consistency – In the world of sleep consulting you will hear this word a lot. This is because being consistent is the key to your child understanding your expectations. If one day you respond to his night waking by leaving him to go back to sleep on his own and the next you rock him to sleep, how will he know which you expect? So consistency, consistency, consistency!

Schedule – Why is a schedule so important? For a few reasons: First, it is important to have your child on a sleep schedule that is in sync with their inner biological clock or circadian rhythm, because this ensures that they will have the easiest time falling asleep and staying asleep. Sleeping at these correct times will also allow your child to get the best quality and most restorative sleep possible. Second, because having a schedule and a consistent routine allows your child to understand what to expect. Children truly thrive on routine and this is no different when it comes to their sleep. Lastly, sleeping on the correct schedule for your little one’s age will allow them to remain well rested and not to become dreadfully overtired.  This includes a bedtime that can occur before overtiredness sets in.

Overtiredness – Rather than re-invent the wheel, I will let my friend and colleague Joleen Dilk Salyn of Baby Sleep 101 explain this one. Please read her thorough and eloquent explanation on just how much havoc overtiredness can reek on your child’s sleep. “Overtiredness – the Root of All Sleep Training Evil”.

If this all sounds all too familiar to you and teaching your child self soothing skills has failed in the past, take care to ensure these 3 things are in place and give it another go. With them included in your plan, I am willing to bet this time it will go much better.

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2017


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.

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 in the 12:30-1pm window.  Yes, 12:30pm.  I know you are thinking – “How the H-E-double-hockey-sticks am I going to make it to 12:30pm?” 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 12pm as you can muster.  You will hold at 12pm for 3 days.  On the fourth day, you will move to 12:15pm and remain there for 3 days.   On day 7, you will hit your first target of 12:30pm.  We will stay at 12:30pm for a month or so and once your child has adjusted and nears age two – you will push on to 1pm.
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, 2017

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 44year old Stella, their 4 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!

imageLooking back, the first few months of motherhood are a blur. I remember telling my husband it felt like the hardest job imaginable. We had no training, no time for breaks, and absolutely no sleep—all after major surgery. Sounds fun, right? For us, the turning point was the moment we learned about healthy sleep…this was also the catalyst for becoming a sleep consultant myself. There is so much more to sleep training than just getting a baby to sleep through the night. Sleeplessness has endless effects—on babies and new parents.

I felt extremely overwhelmed in my new role as a mom of twins. Trying to be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, etc. on disrupted sleep led to feelings of anxiety and even made it difficult to bond with my new daughters. This isn’t surprising or uncommon, as a study in Sleep Medicine shows one night of life-like repeated night-wakings negatively affects mood and sustained attention. If ONE night can impact our mood, think of how affected we are by weeks, months, or sometimes years of disturbed sleep!

Another study, cited on PBS Science, shows how long sleep deprivation can last:

“Months into a new parenting adventure, even after an infant is beginning to sleep more regularly, data shows moms are often still sleep-deprived…The mothers registered medically-significant levels of sleepiness, even after 18 weeks.”

If that doesn’t drive home the importance of sleep, another study published in Families, Systems & Health shows that cognitive function and marital satisfaction can both be negatively impacted by the lack of sleep associated with the transition to parenthood.

What is this telling us? That sleep should be a priority for everyone, not just our children. That one good night of sleep unfortunately cannot make up for months of disturbed sleep. That those ugly emotions associated with new parenthood are sometimes simple – we’re exhausted! As moms (and dads) we don’t need a weekend getaway to catch up on sleep – we need to incorporate healthy sleep habits into our everyday lives to be our best selves!

So, what can we do?

Prioritize sleep – Make healthy sleep habits part of your everyday healthy habits like brushing your teeth or eating a balanced meal. Sleep training is not a two-week fix-all, but rather the adoption of a new way of life, where sleep is right up there with exercise and nutrition. The pay off? According to studies referenced in an article by Happier.com, people who get the sleep they need rate their lives as happier!

Walk the path less taken – Don’t be sidelined by those who may not understand your desire to stay on a sleep schedule or your insistence on early bed times. A 2015 study conducted by Dr. Quach and colleagues from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and University of New England showed that mothers of children who went to bed early had better mental health than those with children who had late bed times.  In the end, you know what works best for you and your family and what you need to prioritize to be happy and healthy.

Understand (your own) signs of sleeplessness and know when to make changes – Do you lose focus? Become more agitated? Stay in tune with your body and recognize your own personal feelings and consequences related to sleep deprivation. If you notice them happening, talk to your pediatrician or a sleep consultant to get more tips for healthy sleep.

Know when it’s more than sleep deprivation – If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression, make an appointment to discuss treatment options with your doctor.

Remember, healthy sleep isn’t just important for your baby or toddler – it’s important for YOU!

Colleen is a Family Sleep Institute Pediatric Sleep Consultant trained with Well Rested Baby where she helps families navigate the confusing world of baby sleep. Colleen also works in healthcare, and lives in Wakefield, Massachusetts with her husband and their twin daughters. Please feel free to reach out to her at colleen@wellrestedbaby.com

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Day light savings time starts this coming Sunday, March 12th.  I look forward to this day each year as it means spring is not far behind.  The buds will soon be appearing on the arms of the tree branches and flower bulbs will soon be poking their way out of the cold soil.  I know, I know….with all of this we turn our clocks forward and miss out on an hour of precious sleep.  Fear not, while we do actually lose an hour of sleep that first night – this change is nothing to lose sleep over.  It tends to be less problematic for most little ones than the end of Daylight Savings in the fall (and may even help parents of early risers finally establish a later wake time).  Here are some tips to get through the time change with minimal sleep loss:

 

Tick Tock, Tick Tock – Here’s How to Reset Your Child’s Clock

  • If your child is generally adaptable to schedule changes or is taking only one nap or no naps a day, your best bet is to switch everything (wake-time, nap, bedtime, meals, etc.) to the new clock “cold turkey.”  Note that you may have to rouse your child at his/her normal wake-time for a few days because of the loss of one hour of sleep.  Exposing your child to light in the morning and continuing with all of your normal activities will help reinforce the new wake time.
  • If your child is napping multiple times during the day (or you are concerned that moving to the new time “cold turkey” will be too stressful for both of you), you can gradually back up their sleep routine (because despite the clock being an hour later – to your body its an hour earlier!) by spreading out the hour change over a few days. This slower change is easier for many, as going to sleep a full hour earlier than their norm may present a struggle. Using this approach you move their nap backwards for their body clock by 30 minutes by making the time on the real clock 30 minutes later. For example – if you child napped at 9am pre-time change, you would move naptime to 9:30am on the new time clock as to their body clock this is just 8:30am.   For a snapshot of your day – if your pre-time schedule was Nap 1: 9am, Nap 2: 12pm, Nap 3: 3pm, bedtime 7pm, on Sunday it will change to Nap 1: 9:30, Nap 2: 12:30, Nap 3: 3:30pm and bedtime 7:30pm. After a day or two you can add the remaining 30 minutes to bring your child all the way to their old schedule on the new clock time, making their sleep time an hour earlier on in total for their body clock. This will help many children ease into the time change more smoothly.
  • Whichever way you choose to handle adjusting your child’s schedule, it is very important to stay consistent in your regular daily routine and move all cues along with the shift to their sleep schedule. For example, if you always have breakfast before Nap 1, lunch before Nap 2, snack before Nap 3, and dinner, bath and a book before Bedtime – make sure this is still your routine.  These regular parts of your child’s day actually act as “cues” telling their brain that sleep is coming next.  Keeping them consistent will help their bodies adjust even more quickly.

 

Assist Your Child by Controlling Their Environment

  • As we are shifting our internal clocks to wake an hour earlier in the morning, exposing your child to natural light in the morning hours is key. Throw open all blinds upon waking and make sure to get out for some fresh air and natural light in the first half of the day.  Still too cold to play outside, spending time in a sun drenched room will work too.
  • In the evening, we need to adjust our bodies to be ready for bed an hour. Keep your house dim in the hour or so leading up to bedtime – closing the blinds, shutting off any unnecessary lights and keeping the activity level in your home as calm as possible will ease your child into a sleepy frame of mind even if there is still daylight outside.
  • As the days grow longer and it stays brighter out well into the evening, it is crucial to ensure that your child’s room is as dark as possible so that it is conducive to sleep.  One suggestion is to invest in room darkening or “blackout” curtains, which are readily available at many stores and online, and do a great job of keeping light out of little ones’ rooms. My favorite are from Redi Shade, they are quick, easy, economical and block out light better than most pricey shades.

 

No matter how you choose to handle DST, your well-rested child will easily adjust in a just a few days.  Enjoy the extra hour of sunlight and have a happy spring!

 

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 6 year old Stella, their 4 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!

As a pediatric sleep consultant, I hear a lot of the same (good!) questions about sleep. A lot of things we think to be true about baby sleep are actually not the case. What I love about this job is that I can help spread information that was so crucial to our understanding of healthy sleep habits – information backed by science! Here are some of the most common sleep misconceptions:

Keeping a baby awake later will help them to become tired and fall sleep
Makes sense, right? But, in reality, the key to an early bed time is to make it happen before a child becomes overtired. There is a certain amount of time babies can be awake before bedtime without becoming overtired – staying within that window is important because, once exceeded, a hormone called cortisol is released which essentially acts as a second wind, making it extremely difficult for a child to fall asleep and stay asleep. If your child is having a hard time falling asleep or is experiencing night wakings, you may want to try an earlier bed time.

Early bed times lead to early wake-times
But an early bed time means they’ll wake up earlier, right? Actually, no! In the same vein as the last myth, the hormone cortisol is often responsible for early wake ups. Cortisol builds up in babies’ systems overtime if they are consistently overtired…and this is often what leads to early wakings. If you have an early riser (before 6AM), try an earlier bedtime and you may just see that your child sleeps in a bit later (and you can, too!).

My baby is a cat napper, but any nap is better than no nap
Unfortunately, naps need to be at least an hour for it to be restorative for a baby. A lot of children cat nap because they aren’t sleeping at times of day that align with their biological rhythms – when it is easiest for a child to not only fall asleep and stay asleep, but also get the best, most restorative rest. To extend a nap to an hour or more, try consistently leaving your child in their crib for a full hour to give them the opportunity to fall back asleep. Eventually, they’ll learn to extend that nap and break the cat napping cycle once and for all!

A nap is a nap is a nap!
Nap times aren’t all created equal. As I mentioned above, naps that align with babies’ biological rhythms (called circadian rhythms) happen when sleep comes easiest for your little one. A child’s body is physiologically primed for sleep during these times, making it the perfect time of day to fall asleep and stay asleep. Not only does sleep come more easily at these times of day, but sleep during circadian rhythms serves an incredible purpose: the morning nap is cognitively restorative and the afternoon nap is physically restorative. When sleep happens outside of these windows of time, there is little benefit for the child. If your child is napping but still seems tired, you may need to adjust the schedule to allow them to sleep during these amazingly restorative times of day.

A consistent bed time is best
The truth is, bedtime is best when it is dependent on the quality of sleep that day. Remember when I said there is a certain amount of time your child can be awake without becoming overtired? Say, for example, this was 4 hours based on your child’s age. If your child takes an amazing nap and sleeps until 3:30PM, that means they can go to bed at 7:30PM without the risk of their body releasing cortisol and experiencing night wakings/early wake-ups. If, however, they have a poor nap day and only sleep until 2PM, bed time should be at 6PM. A flexible bed time trumps a structured bed time, and always allows you the option of a super-early bed time to combat overtiredness, illness, or transitions.

This new (insert name of sleep product here) is the answer to our sleep problems!
There will never be a lack of babies or tired parents, so, of course, there is a constant influx of new sleep products on the market. Before rushing out to the store (or, let’s be real, Amazon Priming) for the newest product on the market, make sure to do your research. A lot of products could create a safety hazard – and, even if completely safe, they could create a sleep association (meaning your child is learning to sleep only with this new product). If your goal is to teach your child to be an independent sleeper, save the money and work on getting healthy sleep foundations in place, and/or if you’re uncertain about a particular product, ask a Pediatric Sleep Consultant or your pediatrician.

Sleep training means letting your baby cry it out
Sleep training means understanding your child’s biological sleep needs and teaching them to be an independent sleeper. There are all types of ways to do this – and sleep consultants work with families to figure out which method feels right for them. But, at the end of the day, teaching a child to self-soothe is only one piece of the sleep puzzle. If all the puzzle pieces are in place good sleep will happen!

Colleen is a Family Sleep Institute Pediatric Sleep Consultant trained with Well Rested Baby where she helps families navigate the confusing world of baby sleep. Colleen also works in healthcare, and lives in Wakefield, Massachusetts with her husband and their twin daughters. Please feel free to reach out to her at colleen@wellrestedbaby.com

5 Tips to Prepare Your Kids for the Daylight Saving Time Change

Although you lose daylight hours, “falling back” can be so comforting. You gain an hour of sleep and it’s the start to the time of year where you get to hunker down and snuggle up; unless of course you are a parent of little ones. In that case “falling back” can mean you’ll be waking up at an ungodly hour. But does daylight savings time really have to be an event parents fear? The simple answer is no. While “falling back” is more difficult for babies and toddlers to adjust to than “springing forward” there are several steps that parents can take before the clocks change. Here are some tips from WRB Certified Child Sleep Consultant Lauren Stauffer to make it a smooth transition:

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  1. Stick to routines: Young children crave routines in their daily lives as it helps them to know what to expect. Keep all elements of their routine in place so that events that have come to serve as cues that sleep will follow remain consistent.
  1. Get well rested NOW: Go into daylight savings time well rested. Young children who are overtired have a much harder time adapting to any changes in their schedule. Since they are already tired one slight change can push them into a completely overtired state, which can lead to night wakings, poor naps and bedtime battles. Since we know changing the clocks could result in a little bit of lost sleep we want to make sure they do not already have sleep debt as we approach the time change.
  1. Seek out the sun: Exposure to sunlight can make the transition easier. Our biological clocks respond to light and darkness and cue our bodies that it is time to be awake or asleep. Use the bright sunlight as a form of light therapy and make sure your little one gets plenty of light exposure in early evening. In the morning utilize blackout shades to insure that their room is not too bright.
  1. Adjust schedules ahead of time: Young babies who are still taking several naps a day will do better with a gradual shift that occurs over several days as it allows their bodies to adjust. Shift all elements of their schedule (meals, bath time, story time etc.) as they are all cues to their bodies that sleep will follow. In this case “fall back” we will move their schedule forward slowly as we encourage their bodies to wake an hour later. Starting about one week before the time change move their whole schedule forward by 15 minutes every day or two. For example, if nap 1 occurs at 9am, 9am will become 9:15, then 9:30 etc. Nap two would also be moved from 1:00pm to 1:15, then 1:30 etc. until we have moved the schedule by one full hour. If you we adjust their schedules in increments ahead of time, after the clocks have changed their bodies will already be adjusted to the new time. Most toddlers and kids who are only taking one nap a day, or who are no longer napping at all, will do best just going cold turkey on the day change the clocks.
  1. Give them some time and space: If for a few mornings after the time change your little one does in fact wake up earlier do not rush right in. If we begin to rush in at 5:30, knowing it feels like 6:30 to their little bodies, it will in fact reset their biological clock and teach them that it is time to be awake. Instead give them some time and space to fall back to sleep and go in at your usual time.

Light (or darkness) at the end of the tunnel!

After daylight savings time it is cooler, darker and more conducive to sleep. If you help your little one adjust comfortably they should be able to get right back on track just in time for the best sleeping weather of the year!

To schedule an interview with Lauren Stauffer, Family Sleep Institute Certified Child Sleep Consultant, please contact her directly at lauren@wellrestedbaby.com.

Lauren Stauffer is a Family Sleep Institute certified Child Sleep Consultant with 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.

Whether you are looking for a quick answer to a nagging question about your child’s sleep or you are in need of a complete overhaul of your child’s sleep plan, Well Rested Baby can help you achieve the good night’s sleep that is every parent’s dream! Well Rested Baby does not advocate any one particular sleep training method. Instead, we take a family centered approach to the process of improving your child’s sleep, listening to your concerns as parents and discussing with you the best plan to get your child’s sleep back on track or off to a good start. We truly believe that every child can be a good sleeper — it takes time, patience and some effort but Well Rested Baby is here to educate you and support you through the process.

Visit online at http://www.wellrestedbaby.com.

Summer is coming to a close, boo! It is my favorite season: sunshine, warm weather, flowers, the beach….I could go on and on and it saddens me that it is almost over. But Fall just may be reason for your little one to celebrate! Labor Day not only signifies the unofficial end to summer, but also a return to a more scheduled and reliable life style. As babies, toddlers, and young kids thrive in this type of environment, Fall just may be your child’s new favorite season. Here are 5 reasons that Fall presents a great opportunity to refocus on your child’s sleep:

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1. A More Structured Day

For me summer presents more of a fly by the seat of your pants mentality. Beach, why not? Park, of course! Picnic lunch, what could be more lovely? Yet despite my efforts at sticking to a strict schedule, I am inevitably a few minutes late for nap or bedtime. Here’s how it often goes – “No matter what, we are leaving location X by 12pm, so the baby can be in her crib by 12:30”. Yet 12pm arrives and there is just one more run through the water or slide down the slide and somehow 12:30pm becomes 1pm and I am cursing myself for another nap that started a bit too late. Even for a young child who is not yet in school, Fall often presents a more structured and consistent day and, again, young children benefit greatly from being on a schedule. This is because it helps them understand what comes next. If every day your child eats lunch at 12pm and then goes down for their nap at 12:30, lunch serves as a cue that naptime is approaching. But if one day its lunch, then play, then car ride, then nap and the next day its nap, then lunch, then errands – nap time is likely more difficult because their little body doesn’t know what to expect next. So take Fall as an opportunity to get your little one on the schedule they have been longing for.

2. Less Temptation For Naps on the Go
Do you try to eek out every last bit of fun at a location or feel bad cutting big brother or sister off from their good time? If so, your baby may be taking a large percentage of naps on the go. Some babies are able to take ok naps on the go while others are too distracted to get in any quality shut eye. Even if your baby is able to fall asleep anywhere the quality of sleep they are getting is actually sub par. Sleep on the go is not as restorative as sleep in a stationary bed. This is because sleep in motion (that you get in a stroller or car) does not allow the body to enter a deep, restorative sleep. Dr. Marc Weissbluth likens motion-induced sleep to the type of sleep an adult might get while flying in an airplane. So with less going on, take this opportunity to commit to allowing your child to nap in their crib as often as possible.

3. Cooler Weather
We all sleep better in cooler air. The ideal temp for your bedroom is between 65-70 degrees. I shoot for 68. Thankfully air conditioning allows you to keep bedrooms at a good sleeping temperature during warmer months, but nothing is quite as good as the real thing! Think about that first night that you get to sleep with your windows open snuggled beneath a quilt. Somehow you just sleep a little better! For these nights make sure you dress your little one in the appropriate layers. And remember no blankets in your baby’s crib! A wearable blanket will ensure your little one stays warm without kicking off his blankets and while staying safe.

4. Earlier Sunsets
While babies and toddlers do not mind the sun being high in the sky at bedtime, many parents have a really hard time putting their baby to bed when it is still bright and sunny outside. I recommend black out curtains to ensure your child will easily fall asleep at the their ideal bedtime despite the sun shining. Even with a pitch-black room, I know those moms and dads who just can not do it. I think it’s a psychological thing. So now that fall is approaching and the sun will be going down sooner – take this opportunity to make sure you little one is getting a bedtime early enough for his age. How do you know if your bedtime is early enough? Your child should be fast asleep before he has the opportunity to become overtired.

5. Later Starts
Shorter days are not only beneficial to bedtime, but also wake-up times. Not only is it getting darker earlier in the evening it also stays dark a bit later into the morning. This is welcome news for parents as many kids do in fact wake with the sun. If you have done everything to ensure that your child’s early bird tendencies are not from poor sleep hygiene (a nap schedule which is out of sync with their circadian rhythms, a bedtime which is too late, not enough consolidated sleep, a room without black out curtains) then they may just be one of those children with the soul of a rooster. As the sun starts “sleeping in”, you may find that your child does too!

The Tip Take-Away:
Recently there have been a slew of studies showing that children who get more sleep are able to do better in school. Even if your child is not yet school aged, allow the start of the new season, to mean the start of getting back to a healthy sleep routine.

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2016


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.