Tired Baby, Sleepless Baby, Sleep Advice

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

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

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

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

So When Do These “Magical Sleep Waves” Occur?

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

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

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

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





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!

New-Year’s-BabyWell Rested Sleep Tip: 4 Reasons to Resolve to Make Your Child’s Sleep a Priority in 2016

Eat better, exercise more, curse less – these are all great resolutions and ones that most of us have made in the past. But have you ever resolved to get more sleep? If not, that should be your goal for 2016. Sleep is a biological need that is as important as eating, but many of us do not make it a priority for our children and ourselves. Here are 4 concrete reasons why your New Years’ resolution should be improving your child’s sleep, which will in turn improve yours!

1. Babies and Toddlers Need Quality Sleep for Healthy Body and Brain Growth and Development
Gazing at your beautiful baby as he sleeps you wouldn’t guess that internally his body is anything but at rest. While your baby sleeps his reduced physical activity enables his brain to carry out vital jobs that cannot be as efficiently accomplished during wakefulness. Sleep gives his brain a chance to turn its attention to the important job of consolidating memory and learning. Making sure your child gets good, sound sleep ensures he or she will have a sound foundation for proper mind and body development. The American Academy of Pediatrics has linked babies’ insufficient sleep to everything from future obesity to behavior problems in kids. As Marc Weissbluth, MD, the author of “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child,” explains, children who don’t get enough consolidated REM sleep have shorter attention spans, so they don’t learn as well. These babies also release more of the stress hormone cortisol, setting them up for frequent night wakings and stunted naps. In short, sleep = brain power and nourishment for the body.

2. Children Who Get the Sleep they Need, Behave Better and are Generally More Enjoyable
This statement is true for children of all ages and is one that most of us have observed. A baby who has skipped a nap is usually quite fussy and unpleasant. And imagine the toddler who has not gotten in his needed sleep for the day – phew tantrums ensue, watch out! This is because when we don’t get the sleep we need, our body and brain are stressed and for a child it is easy to see how that can lead to poor behavior. While this relationship between lack of sleep and crankiness is generally accepted as true, there have recently been many studies on the topic that offer further proof. For example, this study from the University of Colorado Boulder measured the sleep patterns of toddlers aged two to three and found that for toddlers “missing even a single nap causes them to be less positive, more negative and have decreased cognitive engagement.” I think this quote from the study’s author Professor Monique LeBourgeois sums it all up: “Just like good nutrition, adequate sleep is a basic need that gives children the best chance of getting what is most important from the people and things they experience each day.” Another recent study published in the journal of Pediatrics (authored by Reut Gruber, director of the attention behavior and sleep lab at the Douglas Institute at McGill University, in Quebec) looked at children ages 7-11. One group of children went to bed earlier and got about 27 extra minutes of sleep a night while the other group stayed up later than their bedtime and lost about 54 minutes of sleep each night. “Students who were sleep-deprived not only seemed overly tired, but were more impulsive and irritable than their well-rested classmates. They were quick to cry, lose their tempers or get frustrated.” Yet another study, (this one from researchers in the United Kingdom) discusses the importance of regular bedtimes in ensuring our kids are emotionally at their best. “While all of us are crankier and less pleasant when we don’t get enough sleep, this has a particular importance for children, because experts believe that sleep is important for the development of parts of the brain that regulate behavior” explains Dr. Claire McCarthy. But the really exciting part of this study: this is reversible! Children who started having set bedtime routines caught up and behavioral issues improved.

3. Sleep = Brain Power
Did you know that the higher ones IQ is the more they sleep? Definitely an interesting fact, and one that points out the importance of sleep in intelligence and academic achievement. While the amount of sleep your child gets does not automatically predict their IQ, it is certainly important for them to preform at their best. Dr. Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University, conducted a study where at random a group of 4th-6th graders were instructed to sleep either more or less. The results were astonishing. “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development,” Sadeh explains. This is like a 6th grader performing at a 4th graders level after just three nights of poor sleep! Further, studies have shown that lack of sleep cannot allow a child to concentrate in class and therefore they often miss out on new material. If this happens day after day a child can certainly fall behind. Sleep has even been correlated to academic success for the littlest of students. 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. So it appears, sleep is critical to learning no matter your age.

4. YOU!
If the information above isn’t enough to convince you to make your child’s sleep a priority, then what about your well being! To be a healthy well functioning adult, you need to get plenty of consolidated sleep. Remember that plan to exercise more this year to improve your health? Well adults who are not getting enough sleep have a much harder time motivating themselves to stick with a regular exercise regimen. Recent studies have linked poor quality sleep in older adults to a faster decline in the size of the frontal, temporal and parietal areas of the brain – the areas of the brain that are used in decision making and learning. What’s scarier? Too little sleep can lead to and speed up dementia in adult men. Wow, a good night sleep is more important that one may think! If your child is sleeping well, then chances are you will be too!

The Tip Take-Away: Make sleep a top priority and you will likely have a happier, self-assured, less demanding, and more sociable child. In turn, you will likely get some more sleep yourself enabling you to be a healthier adult and a better parent. It’s a win, win for all!

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 5 year old Stella, their 3 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 too more great sleep tips!


Well Rested Sleep Tip: Give Your Child the Gift of Sleep


This holiday season, give your child (and your self!) the gift of sleep. Baby, toddler, preschooler, 3rd grader, highschooler, adult. No matter your age, sleep is one of our most important biological needs. As my favorite sleep guru Dr. Marc Weissbluth has said “Sleep is to the brain as food is to the body”. Our bodies regulate sleep in much the same way that they regulate eating, drinking, and breathing. This suggests that sleep serves a similar critical role in our health and well-being. There has been article after article proving that sleep is necessary for our proper biological function as it allows our brains to grow and repair. Think about how you feel when you have had a poor night sleep…you just can’t preform at your best. As Dr. Weissbluth explains further, children who don’t get enough consolidated REM sleep have shorter attention spans, so they don’t learn as well. These babies also release more of the stress hormone cortisol, setting them up for frequent night wakings and stunted naps.  Just as you strive to provide yourself and your family with nourishing healthful food, you should also make quality sleep a priority.



Know How Much Sleep is Needed And Insist On it

The amount of sleep our bodies require changes as we age. Very young babies sleep a lot – 16-20 hours a day (which makes perfect sense as their main objective is growing their brain and body). Many parents are surprised that at 12-18 months, their kids still need about 14 hours of sleep per day. Toddlers and preschoolers require 12-13 hours of sleep per day and school age kids still need 10-12 hours. There is a whole lot of growing going on, and remember – sleep is required for brain growth and development. And if you can believe it, highschoolers still need 9 hours of sleep per night! Knowing how much sleep your child needs to be happy and healthy will allow you to insure they are getting that sleep. As we can not count on our kids to sleep in to make up their needed sleep (don’t we wish!!), we need to make sure bedtime is early enough to achieve their number. This goes for parents as well. To be healthy, well functioning adults we need quality sleep too!


Make Sure Bedrooms are Conducive to Good Sleep

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


Routines Really Are Important      

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


The Tip Take-Away: Sleep is critical to our health and development. As parents, we need to be guardians of our children’s sleep. Yes as soon as your child is old enough to challenge you, they will likely have times when they will fight you on sleep and try to push boundaries. Don’t let your children get away with poor sleep. You wouldn’t let them eat junk food, so don’t allow junk sleep.

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 5 year old Stella, their 3 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 too more great sleep tips!



Keeping Your Little Llamas Rested During the Holidays
Heather Andersen, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

Unknown“Time to buy and search and shop. Mama carries. Llama drops.”

“Llama Llama holidays. Hustle bustle. Cooking craze. Measure sugar. Roll the dough. Ten more batches left to go…”

 “Too much music, too much fluff! Too much everything for Llama…Llama Llama HOLIDRAMA!”

Do any of these excerpts from the well-loved book, “Llama Llama Holiday Drama”, sound familiar to you? With the holiday season upon us, our lives seems to go into over-drive, with every spare minute of our time filled and scheduled with holiday parties, shopping, wrapping, baking, card writing, more shopping, more wrapping, more baking…it never seems to end. While all of this is certainly very exciting, and it’s a favorite time of year for many of us, it’s also very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the holiday season and let your children’s sleep become less of a priority. Before you know it, your child is waking up in the middle of the night and/or surprising you with super early wake-up calls.


Nap on the go while we drive to the mall? Well, I guess we have to; the shopping needs to get done.


Oops, bedtime was late again; but we had a few errands to run after school and then we needed to bake cookies…how many nights this week has bedtime been late? I’ve lost track…


While some of this is part in parcel for the holiday season, before we know it, we end up with children (and adults) that can hardly enjoy the holiday season because we are all exhausted. Here are some sleep tips to get all of us through this wonderful, yet weary season:


  • Keep Your Child’s Room Conducive to Sleep

At Well Rested Baby, we recommend that your child’s room should always be as dark as possible in order to promote healthy sleep. Normally, this is an easy fix, with the use of room darkening shades & blinds and the covering of all LED lights. However, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, there can often be some festive new additions to your children’s rooms. Candles in the windows? Maybe a small, but lit, tree in their room? Some new holiday night-lights? Twinkle lights from the outside of the house shining through the windows (or perhaps even added twinkle lights IN their rooms)? While all of this is certainly beautiful, it can be a real and serious distraction for your children while they are trying to fall and stay asleep at night as well as naptimes. It’s fine to have these decorations in their rooms, but perhaps make it part of your bedtime routine to turn all the lights off (let’s now say good-night to the tree and the Santa night light for example), before your child is placed into bed. And if your outdoor decorations are shining brightly into your child’s room and the curtains do not take care of it, then simply turn those lights off at bedtime. Your house may not be as festive for the evening passers-by, but your children will be sleeping better. If your child has a hard time falling asleep and goes to bed too late as a result, it is more likely that they will awake during the night and/or rise very early in the morning. In addition, it may help to dim the lights in the common areas of the house as well as your children’s rooms in the hour before bedtime as being exposed to bright lights right before bedtime may suppress melatonin production. We want to do our best to protect our children’s sleep during the holiday season, just as we do throughout the year.


  • Make Sure Your Child Has a Consistent Place to Sleep

It’s very easy during the holiday season to have your children take more and more of their naps on the go (strollers and cars) as we simply have so much to do and can’t lose those nap time hours. While this may work in helping us to get more items checked off our never-ending holiday to-do list, if we make this a regular occurrence it can greatly affect our children’s sleep. Sleeping while moving is less restorative than stationary sleep as the constant motion keeps all of us from reaching our deepest stages of sleep. Think about how much more rested you feel when you sleep in your own bed as opposed to sleeping on a plane, train, bus, or car! The same holds true for our children and these naps on the go are simply not as quality in nature as sleep in their cribs, bassinets, or co-sleepers. While it may be impossible to stay home for all naps during the holidays, do your best to keep as many naps as possible at home. Arrange for childcare if you have to be gone during nap time, or if that is not an option for you, perhaps do a swap with your friends and family where you take turns watching each other’s children during awake times so that each of you can get some kid-free shopping time (and the kids get a playdate!) while not sacrificing the location and quality of the nap. Or take care of baking, card writing, wrapping and other “at-home chores” while the child is napping and then take them out while they are awake to complete the other errands.


On the days where you can’t find a way around a nap on the go, then try to time the errands with the children’s natural nap times, so that they are at least falling asleep at the biologically best times for them to catch their natural sleep rhythms. For example, if your 2-year-old naps from 1-3pm each day and you have to take the child out during naptime, then try to leave slightly earlier than 1 so that he/she has a chance to fall asleep on time. A nap at the wrong time biologically can be the equivalent of no nap as the sleep will not be as restorative. Lastly, keep in mind that although your child may have slept during their regularly scheduled nap time, that since a nap on the go is not as restorative as a stationary nap (and it was likely not as long of a nap), putting your child to sleep early that night for bedtime will help to make up for the lighter, less-quality sleep they had while in motion during the day.



  • Keep the Bedtime Routine Consistent and Soothing

The holidays are an exciting time for all of us, and especially for children. School routines may be different than usual with added concerts, school parties and special field trips. They may have extended family staying over for a number of days at their house. Dinner times and locations may vary with busy and full weekend activity schedules. While we don’t want to miss out on the joy of the holiday season, we do want to remember that children crave routine and if their schedules and routines are varying too much throughout the day, their sleep can suffer. Definitely maximize their awake times and enjoy this season. But in addition to keeping naps in their original location and times (as much as possible) and keeping bedtime normal (or earlier if needed), we also want to ensure we continue to make time for the bedtime routine our children are accustomed to having each night. It can be difficult for children to fall asleep if they are moved too quickly from a holiday activity to their bedrooms without enough time to wind down and decompress. Ideally, try to make sure to not skip the bath if that is what is normally included in the bedtime routine and try not to rush through the reading of bedtime stories, while still placing the child into bed on-time.


However, if find that you are simply running way too late to make it through the entire bedtime routine and still have an on-time bedtime, then do a shorter version of the routine (maybe one less book, one less song, or just washing face and brushing teeth instead of bath) so that you can still have a soothing routine, albeit shorter, and still have the child in bed on-time. An on-time bedtime with a shorter, yet still soothing, routine is better than having a child go to bed late as an overtired child will struggle falling and staying asleep. The key is to not rush through the routine, whether you have the time for the full routine or are shortening it for a night, as we want the routine to remain soothing and relaxing for the child.


Children are very in touch with our feelings and emotions and if we are anxious during the entire bedtime routine because our minds are already 10 steps ahead thinking about the multitude of tasks we still need to complete before we can put ourselves to bed, they can pick up on this and go to bed in an anxious state themselves (which of course can have negative consequences). Use your children’s soothing and consistent bedtime routine as a chance for yourself to also relax and use this time to reconnect with your child after a very busy day. Your child will enter sleep much more peacefully and you will move on to the next round of chores in a much better mindset!


  • Keep Bedtime Flexible

This is one of Well Rested Baby’s most important tips at all times of year, but it can be especially helpful at this time of year. Many of us make the mistake of keeping bedtime a set time on the clock for our children and do not modify bedtime based on the amount and quality of daytime sleep. As I mentioned above, during this time of year, it’s very common for naps to no longer take place in their normal stationary and relaxing locations, but instead on the go. Missing naps altogether can also happen more and more during this busy time. Sometimes this is unavoidable and the best way to react is to move bedtime earlier to make-up for any loss of daytime sleep (or simply to make-up for daytime sleep that did happen but was less quality in nature). For example, if your 2-year-old normally takes a nap from 1-3, but because the nap was in the car one day and it was only 1 hour, then you would want to make bedtime at least an hour earlier that day (1.5 hours early would even be better to also account for the sleep in motion). The early and flexible bedtime is the best way to ensure that our children stay well rested during this hectic holiday season and are given the opportunity to make-up any of that lost daytime sleep.


Happy Holidays from Well Rested Baby!




Heather is a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She recently joined the Well Rested Baby team, working with the founder of Well Rested Baby, Amy Lage. For any questions, please visit the Well Rested Baby website at www.wellrestedbaby.com or email Heather at heather@wellrestedbaby.com. Be sure to also like our Facebook page!






Tis the season! For parties and cocktails and pies and pies and pies. Don’t let the celebrating get your pants in an uncomfortable, too tight bunch this year. Follow the guidelines below and you will be able to enjoy your sweet treat while still keeping your healthy glow!



  • Eat Before You Go– Load up on a healthy portion of protein, fats, and fiber before you head to that work holiday party. Try some leftover chicken thrown over some greens with avocado- quick and light. The protein and fat will help balance out the sugary cocktails and desserts. This applies to the little ones too, make sure they are well fed before they are well sweetened at Grandma’s house J
  • Hydrate– It is best to increase your water intake, especially on days and evenings when the wine is flowing. Try to have a glass of water in between each drink, to keep you hydrated and at your best the next day. Avoid those puffy eyes and dried out skin!
  • Bring a Healthy Dish– This is especially important if you or anyone in your crew has a food allergy or restriction, bring something you can eat! Check with the hostess first, but bringing a healthified version of a holiday classic is a great way to keep with traditions without needing to unbuckle your belt.
  • 3 Bite Rule- I borrowed this one from celeb nutritionist JJ Virgin, but it is great for those of us who struggle with moderation (read: must eat whole pie). Enjoy and savor 3 bites of a sweet indulgence and then let it go. This is helpful too for the super clean eater, don’t be the only one in the room without a plate, have a polite taste while socializing!
  • Go Green- Load up on leafy greens throughout this holiday season. The fiber will keep you full and aid in digestion. Add a handful of spinach to smoothies, kale to stir frys, and start your dinners with a small romaine salad. Greens make your skin GLOW and who doesn’t want that for the 6,000 family photos comin’ your way?


And of course, stay well rested and keep moving! Just 30 minutes of movement daily can dramatically balance blood sugar levels and getting 7-8 hours of sleep will keep cortisol low and your cravings (and waistline) in check.


Wishing you and your little ones a sweet and balanced holiday season!


FYI if you want to see Sweet Enough Baby in action, join us on Friday November 20th 2015, from 6-7pm for Sweet Enough Baby Making 101- FREE Preconception + Prenatal Nutrition Workshop at Buddhaful Souls Yoga Studio in Rowley, MA. More tips about finding balance during another time when it is easy to overindulge. Email sweetenoughbaby@gmail.com for info or to register!

In sweetness + health,



Does your toddler or preschooler stall bedtime with “just one more [glass of water, book, kiss, etc.]” requests? Once you have entered the land of “just one more” it can be hard to leave, as you tend to get in deeper and deeper each time you give in. The result is later bedtimes, overtired kids, and frustrated parents. Here are 6 tips for getting bedtime back on track.

1. Start your bedtime routine a bit earlier
While 2-4 year olds can be difficult to reason with, an overtired kid is likely beyond negotiation. Start the bedtime process early enough so your child can be asleep before overtiredness (and a bigger struggle) can set in. Many parents define their child’s bedtime as the time they get into bed, but bedtime actually is the time they fall asleep. So if you know your child needs to be asleep by 7pm, start your routine so that you can tuck them into bed by 6:45pm. The earlier you start, the less of a production bedtime will be.
2. Ensure that day time sleep is conducive to your child’s sleep needs
A daily nap serves an important role in your child’s nighttime sleep as it allows them to fall asleep in a rested state – the state that is necessary for a good night’s sleep. While toddlers and preschoolers need a daily nap, if your child is fighting bedtime, evaluate their daytime sleep. To be most restorative, naptime should begin at about 1pm every day, as this is the timing that corresponds with their circadian rhythm (internal body clock). As a child nears age 3, I sometimes see that it is necessary to cap their nap and wake them by 3-3:30pm to preserve an easy bedtime.
3. Explain why sleep is important
Kids this age love to ask “WHY?” Use that curiosity as an opportunity to explain why sleep is so important! For example, explain that sleep allows our body to stay healthy. Compare sleep to food (our body needs healthy food to run and it also needs healthy sleep to learn and grow). Explain that sleep gives us the energy to do fun things (park, soccer, swimming, dance, gymnastics, etc.). After a few improved days of bedtime routine, plan a fun outing and explain that you are doing it because everyone is well rested. If your child likes reading, read books about sleep. Some of my favorites include, Things I Love About BedtimeWhy I Love Bedtime, and When It’s Time for Bed, I Have a Plan.
4. Set rules and boundaries clearly
Rules make kids feel safe. Kids will challenge rules, but they count on us to tell them right from wrong, safe from unsafe, etc., and push rule boundaries to ensure that you are there to reassure and correct them. Set rules and boundaries around sleep. For example, create a poster that lays out bedtime routine expectations (e.g., bath, pajamas, 2 books, a sip of water, 1 song, 1 big hug, 2 kisses, sleep until morning). Have your child decorate the poster, and read the sign together each night to solidify the routine. Note that this is a rules, NOT rewards, chart. Kids shouldn’t be rewarded with prizes for following everyday rules; the reward will be feeling great the next morning!
5. Give them a say
A big part of “just one more” behavior stems from your toddler or preschooler wanting to exert their independence. Give them a say in the process to help them feel involved and empowered. Let them choose their jammies and which stuffed animals to sleep with. Allow them to make decisions when it comes to their own behavior. As odd as this sounds, giving them permission to exhibit behaviors that you actually don’t want (such as crying), will help these behaviors go away, simply because they have a choice in the matter. If you say, “It’s bedtime, please don’t cry,” they may cry only because you told him not to and it’s their job at this age to be contrary. Instead, say “It’s bedtime. You can choose to cry or not cry but either way it is time for you to go to sleep.” Sounds odd, I know, but it works!

6. Be consistent

This final step is key! You must consistently enforce whatever rules you create, so your kids know exactly what is expected. If you allow your kids to break the rules, even once, they will know now that if they push and push they may get their way. So BE CONSISTENT. Remember that they are in place for a reason – to make sure everyone is easily drifting off to sleep on time and getting the sleep they need!






This article was my first article as a contributing writer for Boston Mamas: 6 Ways to End Bedtime Battles With your Toddler or Preschooler!  Click here for link to original article.

Well Rested Baby is honored to be a contributor on Mother.lyScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.34.40 AM“Motherly is a new digital community helping modern mothers thrive.”


Here is our first post where we break down teaching your child the very important skill of self soothing, in three non-complicated steps.  Enjoy!

Self. Soothing. Skills. A three-word phrase that makes many a parent shudder. With all the conflicting info and philosophies out there about how to best help a child to sleep, I can see why. Cry it out, Ferber, Controlled Crying, Camping Out……phew. What is a parent to do?

Self-soothing at a basic level is the art (and science) of teaching your child how to put themselves to sleep. But it’s also a final stage in a process helping the whole family to get their ZZZzz’s.

No matter your child’s age, current sleeping situation, or your parenting philosophies and beliefs, you can and should teach your child this very important skill that will prepare them for a lifetime of good sleep. Here’s how:

STEP ONE: Start from the beginning

Most people think of sleep training simply as the task of teaching a child self-soothing skills, but that is not the case. There are five elements of healthy sleep, the fifth being the ability to self soothe. If the other four are not in place, a child will have a very hard time learning this skill. Therefore it is crucial to lay the foundation that will make this seemingly daunting task much easier on all. The first four steps are:

  • Provide a consistent sleep place to sleep
  • Create a consistent pre-sleep routine
  • Ensure that your child’s nap schedule is age appropriate and follow’s their body’s circadian rhythms
  • A bedtime that happens before your child can become overtired

With these four elements in place, your child will have a much easier time (and quicker!) time mastering the art of self-soothing. Click here for the details.

STEP TWO: Create a plan to learn self-soothing

Successful self soothing means that baby (or child) can both put himself down to sleep, and that he can calm himself if he rouses during the night. Teaching self-soothing is one of the most fraught topics in new motherhood, but I really believe in a straightforward approach that allows families to make the right decision for them.

Sit down with your partner and anyone else who may be highly involved in your child’s sleep to come up with a solid plan that everyone can follow. Our children learn what we expect from our consistent example, so the key is choosing a method to teach self-soothing that everyone is comfortable with and can follow at anytime—even in the wee hours of the morning or alone during a stressful long afternoon. If Grandma watches your little one for all naps and will never ever allow him to cry alone, then take that into account and choose a gentle method that she can consistently implement.

Don’t forget to take sleep props like the breast or a special blanket into account. For example, if your baby currently nurses to sleep you will need to move nursing to the very beginning of your pre-sleep routine so that your child can learn to fall asleep on his own without the breast. Or if your little one relies heavily on a pacifier, you can give it to him at the beginning of naps and the beginning of bedtime, but after that you can not replace it or you will be stuck replacing it all night long. Older kids can have sleep props too, for example will your toddler only go back to sleep if you give him a drink of water? Decide how to handle it and include it in the plan, too.

Where to start with sleep training/ self soothing? Ask yourself: Are you just ready to just get it done and are okay with some tears? Or do you know that your presence just makes your child more angry? Then check out the “Extinction” or “Ferber” methods, which some call the “cry it out method.” Not okay with your child learning this skill on his own? Then for your family, I suggest searching for gentle methods like “The Chair,” “Pick-up/Put Down” or “Camping Out” methods. Any of these tactics will work, the key is picking the one that you know you can carry out with absolute consistency as that is what your child needs in order to learn. Note: writing it all down tends to help keep everyone on track and accountable.

STEP THREE: Put your plan in motion

Once you have figured out what you will do for the fifth and last element of healthy sleep—self-soothing skills—add in the first four elements to your plan and then go for it. It is best to start your new plan at bedtime as that is the easiest time for a child to learn a new routine and then continue the next day with naptime. Our children feed off of our energy—negative or positive. As your child will be able to pick up on your mood and demeanor at sleep times, try to outwardly exude as much confidence as you can. If you are confident and upbeat about this new routine, your child is apt to be confident too!

Remember that consistency is the most important part as it is what will enable your child to be successful. Be patient and do not give up too easily. It takes most children two full weeks to learn a new sleep routine – which makes sense as they had months (or even years!) to learn the old way of doing things. With all five of these elements present your child will soon have great sleep hygiene in place. (Promise!)

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.

by guest blogger Katharine Murphy
What’s a sweet enough kid, you ask? A kiddo with calm but engaged energy, who is ready to learn and join activities, sleeps well and eats well, with a smile for days, and who doesn’t ask for a sugary snack every 90 seconds…isn’t that what we all want for our little ones? Here are five tips to help your Sweet Pea feel sweet enough all day long!

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  1. Choose real food – this means lots of veggies, fruit, high quality meat and seafood, nuts, seeds, healthy fats like avocado, and soaked whole grains for the older kiddos. Hold the chips, mini muffins, cheese crackers and other highly processed snacks that send blood sugar on a roller coaster headed straight for tantrum city! If you can’t pronounce or cook with an ingredient on a label, put it back on the shelf.


  1. Healthy “full” fats – healthy fats like avocado, nuts, nut butters, olives, olive and coconut oil keep our cherubs full and satisfied for a few hours so include them in every meal. This will help eliminate the constant grazing, which can mess with digestion.


  1. Eliminate sensitive foods– those little bodies can be quite sensitive especially during infancy and toddlerhood so pay attention to any behavior or digestive changes after having sugar, dairy, gluten, or dyes and additives. Clues might include constipation, bloating, belly aches, cranky mood, difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Limiting any offending foods may make for a happier belly, brain, and bambino in general.


  1. Hydrate– our little ones need lots of filtered water to avoid fatigue, irritability, and constipation. If you have a juice-drinker, adding a squeeze of lemon and a few drops of stevia is a great way to transition back to water, since juice is dehydrating and jumps you back on that blood sugar roller coaster.


  1. Set meals + snacks– to avoid picky eating, it is your job to provide healthy and filling meals and snacks (think protein, healthy fat, and veggies) at routine times throughout the day; Sweet Pea’s only job is to choose to eat and how much. Limiting grazing on sugary snacks and refined carbs (crackers, cookies) will improve her appetite at meal times. We try to stick to three meals and an afternoon, post-nap snack.

Try this Fall-inspired recipe for a sweet enough snack!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

½ cup coconut flour (healthy fat)

5 eggs (protein)

1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or we use this one (fiber)

¼ cup melted coconut oil (more healthy fat)

¼ cup honey (natural sweetener)

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp pure vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

½ cup allergy-free chocolate chips (optional)

4 Tbsp gelatin for gut-healing protein (optional)


Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips with a hand mixer. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into muffin cups and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. Spread with coconut oil or grass-fed butter to serve + enjoy!

Check out www.sweetenoughbaby.com for more recipes, tips, and nutritional counseling services to help women get pregnant, have a healthy and glowing pregnancy, and to support the special feeding needs of infants, toddlers, and the busy family- all with real food and continuous, gentle guidance!

In sweetness + health,





Katharine Murphy is a certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and owner of Sweet Enough Baby, offering nutritional counseling services to women and families in the North Shore and beyond.  She is passionate about supporting women through preparing for pregnancy, growing a healthy baby, and nourishing their sweet babies with real, yummy food.  Katharine is mama to an amazing, almost-two-year-old son and a growing baby bump, and lives with her supportive hubby in West Newbury. Check her out at www.sweetenoughbaby.com.

Recently I have had a slew of parents contact me about their 3 year olds.  The email is always about the same:  “Can you give me some advice about my 3-year-old son?  He has always been a great sleeper, going right so sleep on his own and staying in his bed until it was time to wake up.  This all ended last week when he suddenly refused to lay down unless my husband or I lay with him. When we get up to leave he will wake and scream for us. The other night we put him back to bed over 20 times and it was so exhausting that we ended up just letting him stay with us. It was horrible as he was so upset. He still naps so we talked about taking those away. What can we do?”


Unfortunately, this is a fairly common sleep issue in 3 year olds.  And while it manifests itself around sleeping times, it actually isn’t a sleep issue at all. It’s really due to a whole slew of cognitive and behavioral developments that stem from changes that typically occur around age 3:

1.)  They start to have a need for autonomy and want to be their own person, but this is confusing and a bit frightening as they still need the safety of Mom and Dad.

2.)  They are becoming much more social beings and are developing friendships outside of their parental relationships.

3.)  They start to develop actual fears as they begin to understand the concept of being afraid.

4.)  And most importantly, THEY KNOW THEY CAN CHALLENGE THEIR PARENTS! They count on you to tell them right from wrong, safe from unsafe etc. and like to test you to make sure that you are there to reassure them and correct them.

With all of this going on, what’s a parent to do?

  • Address His Fears 

Choose a quiet time (preferably not surrounding sleep times) to discuss what’s going on. Tell him that you understand that he wants you to be with him at bedtime as he falls asleep, but it is his job to go to sleep on his own and that he can do it. Make sure he understands that you believe in him and his abilities. Validate his feelings by telling him that you want to be with him too, and you would love to add in extra cuddle time before bed or in the morning when he wakes up.

  • Let Him Have Some Control

A big part of this behavior is stemming from him wanting to exert his independence.  So try to let him be able to make some decisions surrounding sleep.  On a tangible level, let him pick out something new to exercise his decision making needs – a new set of sheets, a new pair of PJ’s or a new stuffed animal.  Also, let him make decisions when it comes to his own behavior.  As odd as this sounds, giving him permission to exhibit behaviors that you actually don’t want – such as crying – will help these behaviors to go away because he will know he has a choice in the matter.  If you say, “its bedtime please don’t cry”, he may cry only because you told him not to.  Instead try something along the lines of this dialog – “It’s bedtime and time to go to sleep, you can choose to cry or not cry but either way it is time for you to go to sleep”.

  • Make Sure He Understands There are Rules

As I mentioned above, this is the most important part.  Rules actually make our children feel safe.  They challenge us to see how far they can push, but also to make sure you are going to be there to keep them in check.  So it is critical that he understands that there are rules and that you will enforce them.  Consistency is also key, as it will allow him to know exactly what is expected.  I find that a “Sleep Rules” chart is really helpful at this age.  Create a chart which details your expectations of him at bedtime – something like: I will take my bath, put my pj’s on, read a book, and then go to sleep and stay in my bed until morning. Allow him to color or decorate the chart with stickers etc. to make it his own.  Explain to him that sleep is very important for him and also for Mommy and Daddy and that as a big boy he needs to sleep on his own. His reward for following the sleep rules is that he will feel great!  Remind him that sleep makes him feel wonderful and it allows us to have the energy to do lots of fun things during the day.

In regards to naptime, as kids near three, parents tend to start to let their schedules slide a bit later and they slowly become super overtired. Over tiredness really fuels this behavior. Make sure that he is going down for his nap as close to 1pm as possible (which I am sure he still needs – and I would not drop at this point while resolving this issue) and make sure bedtime is very early until this is fixed – as close to within four hours of him waking from his last nap as possible.  If you think that your child is truly done napping, make sure you keep a rest time intact at the time nap time was occurring and bedtime will need to be moved much earlier to make up for this missed sleep.  Click here more for preschoolers and their nap and rest time needs.  

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.

FeaturedInButtonToday was the first day of school in my neck of the woods.

My daughter starts kindergarten this year and today she had orientation.  On our drive to school we passed many children waiting for the school bus.  MANY of these kids looked tired!  Did you know that their is a direct correlation between sleep and a child excelling academically and socially?  But how does one make sure their school aged child is getting the sleep they need?  Simply consistently follow my “Sleep Six” featured on the Boston Parent’s Paper website and rest assured that your child will be ready for all their school year throws at them! http://bostonparentspaper.com/article/back-to-school-is-your-child-getting-enough-zzs.html

School Bus 12-1