Dream Little One Family Sleep Consulting

Danielle works with families to get children sleeping. If your child is sleeping better so are you!

Pacifier…Take it or Leave it?

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Is the pacifier helping your baby sleep?

Or causing multiple wake-ups for the whole family?

If your answer is “Yes, it is helping”….then don’t change a thing. 🙂 But if your answer is “UGH….I have to get up to put that darn pacifier back into my baby’s mouth 6 times a night!”….Well, I’d say it’s time to ditch it.  (**For sleep anyway**)

This might be a hard process…but if you have hold strong it will be well worth it in the end.  If and when you feel it’s time to teach your baby to sleep without their pacifier…make that change and never look back.

Here are a couple of tips to think about before you get started…

1) Start at night.  Your baby HAS to fall asleep at night.  Whenever making any changes, I always have clients start at night.  I have never had a baby cry all night long.  Decide how you are going to handle the crying (sit with her, timed checks or CIO)…then proceed and don’t look back.  It might be a long night or 3….but if you cave, the transition will be even harder the next time.

2) There is no real “weaning” technique.  The paci is either “in” or “out”.  You can use it during the day for car rides, shopping trips, etc….but pull it out of his/her mouth when put into bed.  Cold turkey is better….and faster.

3) Hide those pacis!  Put the pacifiers somewhere that they are not easy to reach.  This will lower the chance you will cave.  If you want to get rid of the habit all-together you can throw them out.  OR if you still want to have them available for cranky awake times….then I would put them in the garage or car for those first few nights.  Definitely not in arms reach…as you might get desperate that first night thinking this won’t work.  It will work if given the opportunity.

4) Stay calm.  You may start feeling anxiety the night you are going to pull the pacifier.  Just keep your sleep goals in mind and take a deep breath.  Your baby may sense something is wrong if you are feeling anxious.  Just know that it will help him/her become a better sleeper.  All totally worth it!!!!!!!

Cheers to paci FREE sleep!!!!

Keep Calm…and Move Bedtime Earlier!

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Always move bedtime EARLIER during nap transitions!!!

Your baby’s schedule is constantly changing during the first 1-2 years.  When you think you have a good 3 naps routine going….your little one will throw you a curve ball and start fighting that 3rd nap.  AHHH!!!  Nooo!!!  Now what????

Keep Calm

and

MOVE BEDTIME EARLIER!!

Whether you are going from 3 naps to 2….or dropping naps completely….your little one will be short on sleep while working through the process. It is a lot to ask their little bodies to stay awake for such a long stretch…yet they don’t need to sleep at that time anymore. Transitions take time…but on the days with the “new” schedule, please move bedtime earlier (as early as 5:30p). YES, the sun will still be out this time of year….but bedtime is the ONLY time during the day to make up for that lost sleep!!  When the new schedule becomes more consistent and your baby is just a little bit older you can slowly move bedtime back to it’s original time.  Just remember that every day might be a little bit different…and that’s okay!!! 🙂

5 Sleep Tips to Help Your Family “Spring Forward”

 

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Ease your children through the Day Light Saving Time transition.

Here we go again…changing our clocks and messing up our sleep schedules.  On March 13, 2016 we will all need to “spring” our clocks forward by 1 hour.  The bad news is we lose an hour….the good news is this “spring forward” time change is much easier on our babies and children.  Here are a few tips that you can do to ease the transition.

5 Sleep Tips for the Day Light Saving Time Transition

  1. Start the transition early.  If you have a child that is sensitive to change, you can start about a week before the time change.  Slowly start shifting bedtime and meal times 15min earlier every 2 days. (This is harder to do with children who attend school.)  So if dinner is typically at 6:00pm and bedtime is at 7:30pm you would move them to 5:45pm and 7:15pm on day 1.  Eventually it will end up with dinner at 5:00 pm and bedtime at 6:30pm (which will be the new time of 6:00pm and 7:30pm)….and VIOLA!! the transition is made.
  1. Set your clocks and go.  If starting a week early does not work with your family…go ahead and change your clocks Saturday night and then run your day as you would using the new time.  Wake up your baby at their appropriate wake-up time, then follow all meal times and naps times according to the new time.
  1. Use Blackout shades.  This time change is very helpful for our early risers.  The mornings stay pretty dark….but don’t put away those blackout shades just yet.  Please stick to an appropriate bedtime for your little one even if it is still light out.  You can use a bit of trickery for all age children by putting up blackout shades (or taping up black garbage bags) to block out the late evening sun.  Keeping that appropriate bedtime and avoiding an overtired child is well worth it.
  1. Make use of sunlight.  Sunlight exposure throughout the day helps to set the body’s sleep rhythms by causing an ebb and flow of the body’s natural hormones.  This plus social cues (such as meal time and bedtime routines) sets your child up for sleep success.  Use sunlight to your advantage.  Let them play outside and make use of that late in the day sunlight.  Then once it reaches about an hour before “bedtime” you can close the blinds and slowly ease them into the evening routine.
  1. Be Patient!  When the transition is made slowly you can gently ease your child (or children) into the time change.  If the transition needs to be more abrupt you run the risk of creating an overtired child, which can be very unpleasant.  Regardless of how you make the change you need to remain patient.  As with any schedule change it can take a week or 2 for everything to “spring” into place.

Enjoy the warmer weather and and longer days!!! I always welcome Spring and Summer with open arms. 🙂

Do What Works For YOUR Family!

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True Story!!!

I have worked with a wonderful family twice over the last 2 months (14 mo baby girl). The first go around….they choose a gentle method of slowly moving themselves out of the room. It worked and baby started falling asleep on her own (but it took a couple weeks of mom and dad being VERY consistent with a fair amount of crying). It’s what worked for them at that time in the process.  Fast forward a month and a half…They were still having some “night waking” problems so they called me again. After a VERY careful assessment of their goals and what was going on, WE decided together to try Cry It Out. This was mom’s update….

Night 1….

“Night 1, not as bad as we thought! She first woke up at 1:00, stood up right away, and cried for 40 min.  But it wasn’t the screeching, help me I’m dying cry, thank goodness!  After 40 min, she laid herself down and I watched her eyes slowly drift off.  Never searched for a paci, or seemed like she needed one. 🙂 Wake up number 2 was at 5:00, stood up, cried for only 5 min. and went back to sleep!!  I was shocked.

Phhhewww! So glad night 1 is over with.  Hopefully we have the same results or even better ones tonight!! :-)”

Night 2….3 and 4!!

“Reporting great news on “baby”!

Night 2, she woke up at 11, sat up, cried for about 2 minutes and went back to sleep. Woke up at 3, sat up, cried for about 10 seconds and fell back asleep. Never once did she stand! I had to wake her up at 6:15 . 🙂
Night 3, slept through the night, not a peep! Last night, slept through the night, not a peep!

We are so thrilled with this progress and boy do we feel rested. 

Just thought I would give you an update. Thanks again for all of your help on round 2! We really appreciate it.”

So…..even though this family didn’t want or do any sort of CIO the first go-round…they needed something different as time went on.  After 2 nights everyone in this family is getting the sleep they need.

DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR FAMILY!!!!!

Crying…The Great Debate

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A Different Way To Look At Nighttime Crying

The topic of sleep and the amount of crying is something that is talked about at baby check-ups, playdates, or anywhere a mother and baby can be found.  There are articles that explain why crying is not harmful. There are also articles about how you should NEVER letting your baby cry.

Way too confusing if you ask me. 

So let’s start off by deciding what crying is.  Crying seems to be the way your baby communicates that they are uncomfortable or unhappy with a situation. It is normal and I would be alarmed if a baby did not cry at all.  Some babies cry very little, but unfortunately some babies cry A LOT!!  Are those that cry a lot going to be damaged for life?…not that I have seen.  In fact, I personally know a baby that was colic for 3 solid months.  That child is now the happiest toddler I have ever seen.  Damaged? Nope!

Parents handle crying during the day with much more patience than they do at night.  Some babies cry all day (ie. colic) and there is not much talk about that.  Are daytime crying and nighttime crying different?  Not that I know of.  Although it’s the nighttime crying that gets the bad wrap.  “What?  You let your baby cry to go to sleep?”

Just hear me out for 1 minute!  I’d like you to look at this topic in a different way.  As parents, it is our job to provide our children with their basic biological needs.  Nutrition, sleep….and let’s throw in safety.

Let’s look at those 3 things: Nutrition, Sleep, and Safety.  ALL very important….ALL necessary for survival, proper growth and proper development.  Yet MOST babies cry for some reason or another when parents are trying to provide all 3 of these biological needs.

For example, many babies do not like their carseats.  They cry.  Sometimes they cry every time they are put in the car.  BUT….do you get them out and let them crawl around the car?  No.  You keep them in their seat until you arrive at your destination.  Safely.

How about proper nutrition?  Some toddlers are VERY picky eaters…and you know what??…  they would LOVE to eat cookies and Cheetos for dinner.  And they may actually CRY for cookies and Cheetos for dinner.  But are you going to give your child cookies and Cheetos for dinner.  NOPE!!  You are hopefully going to offer them healthier options night after night until the crying stops and they learn what a proper dinner looks like.  WAIT…you let your child cry for 30 minutes at the dinner table??  YEP!!  And are they damaged for life??  NOPE.  Actually, you are teaching your child how to eat a healthy meal to sustain proper growth and development.

Do you get where I am going with this??  

Night crying, while doing a little sleep training (at 4 months or older), will not damage your child.  As parents, we have the responsibility to provide our children with their biological needs.  A few nights of crying while learning a new skill will be far less crying when compared to night after night, month after month of crying in order to be rocked, bounced or nursed back to sleep (which can take hours).

There are a few different methods that you can use depending on your parenting style.  So no, your child does not have to be completely left alone if that is not how you want to proceed.  And yes…your child may sleep better if they are co-sleeping with you.  But is that at the expense of your sleep?  If what you are doing is working then absolutely keep doing it.  If it is not and you are in need of a “sleep makeover” please do not fear a little crying.

It’s ultimately up to you.  I absolutely respect each and every parenting style out there. My goal here was to give parents a different perspective on the crying that has such negativity surrounding it.  Love those kiddos…nurture those kiddos…and teach those kiddos about staying safe, healthy eating, AND healthy sleeping.

A well rested family is a happy and healthy family.

www.dreamlittleone.com

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Back To School Tips

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Get Back On Track For Back-To-School!!!

If your family is anything like mine…you have spent your summer with friends and family, camping, BBQs, boating, trips here and there….ALL leading to LATE bedtimes and possible sleeping in for those older children.  We always finish dinner and without a doubt my kiddos are back out side playing….well, because the sun is still up.

In 2 weeks from tomorrow their (I mean OUR) world will need to be completely different.  Gone were the 9-10pm bedtimes AND 8-9am wake-ups.  Here is my plan starting about 5-7 days before the first day of school…..

STEP 1: Figure out how to blackout their windows as it will still be light out at bedtime.

STEP 2: RE-establish our bedtime routine. (This will also include no more screen time, sugary treats or trampoline jumping after dinner…none of these help in the “falling asleep” process).  Really spend time helping your older kids wind down at night.  Bathing, books, lay in bed chatting all really help us. 🙂

STEP 3: Shift the daily schedule.  I will need everything shifted about 1-1.5 hours.  Ugh, right!!!  Do not start by shifting the bedtime as you cannot force an early bedtime if they have slept in until 9am.  I will start by waking them 15-30 minutes earlier every couple of days.  Then shift bedtime to follow.

For Example: I need wake up to be 7am and bedtime to be 8pm.

5 Days Prior: Wake-Up 8am…Bedtime 9pm

4 Days Prior: Wake-Up 8am…Bedtime 9pm

3 Days Prior: Wake-Up 7:30am…Bedtime 8:30pm

2 Days Prior: Wake-Up 7:30am…Bedtime 8:30pm

1 Day Prior: Wake-Up 7am…Bedtime 8pm

First Day of School: WAKE-UP @ 7am and off they GO!!!

Obviously this will need to be modified for your schedule and your child’s sleep needs.  Hopefully, making some changes slowly over the course of a week will really help your family ease back into a schedule that helps your child get the amount of sleep needed to be successful in school.

Every child is different…but on average children should be getting the following amounts of sleep:

Preschool/Kindergarteners: 11-13 hours of sleep (Including a nap if they still take one)

1st-5th graders: 10-12 hours a night (more for the younger grades, less for the older students)

Good luck with your transition…and I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL 2015/2016 school year!!!!

The Magic of an Early Bedtime

Baby looking at clock on floor --- Image by © CÈdric/Photononstop/Corbis

Are your children experiencing….

Bedtime Battles?  Multiple Night Wakings?  Early Rising?  Nap Troubles?  Daytime Crankiness?

Believe it or not, these can all be helped with an earlier bedtime.  Keeping a schedule for your children is absolutely important.  But there is a general misconception that bedtime should be at the exact same time every night for our younger babies and toddlers.  You know…to keep “on schedule.”  There is also a myth that “if you keep your child awake a bit longer they will sleep better.”  Do NOT do this….it will backfire!!

When any of these circumstances arise a child can get into a never ending spiral of not getting enough sleep.  This sleep debt will keep getting bigger and sleep will keep getting harder and harder to achieve.  When a child gets overtired their body produces the “stay wake” or stress hormone called cortisol.  This hormone makes falling asleep and staying asleep very difficult.  Yes, you can offer naps in hopes to help but then a lot of families have such busy schedules that bedtime gets pushed later than it should be.  The child then wakes at night or wakes early in the morning…continuing the overtired cycle.

In order to chip away at this accumulated sleep debt you really should consider offering an earlier bedtime.  This is the ONLY time of day that you can promote more hours of sleep.  You can hope that a child sleeps in after missing a nap the day before.  You can also wish for a super long nap to make up for having a rough night.  Hope and wish all you want…..that cortisol boost will make those things almost impossible.  You cannot force a baby to sleep in or take a longer nap.  But what you can promote is more hours of night sleep…. HOW???  By offering them an earlier bedtime!!!  A child sleeping from 8pm until 6 am is only getting 10 hours of night sleep.  But if you gradually move bedtime earlier your child can be getting closer to 11-12 hours of sleep.  The cortisol in their little body will slowly decrease making falling asleep and staying asleep a little easier.

Now….I bet you are saying…”If my child goes to bed earlier, won’t he/she wake up earlier?”  The answer is no….not usually.  This is not logical….it’s biological.  Children have a natural time (within a range) that their bodies will wake every morning.  Have you ever tried keeping a baby or toddler up late to get them to give you an extra hour or 2 on a Saturday morning?  How did that work?  For most of us, we tried this without success.  Children tend to wake up at the same time every morning (give or take 15-30 minutes).  Of course there are exceptions for those families with “sleeping” babies.  But in general, offering your child an extra hour of sleep with an early bedtime can only help.

Bedtime should be determined by the quality of that day’s naps….meaning bedtime should be flexible and based off of when the last nap ended.  Bedtime should be offered as follows:

**These are approximate times as every baby can tolerate a slightly different awake time.

4-6 months: 1.5-2 hours after 3rd nap

6-8 months: 2 hours after 3rd nap

9-15 months: 3 hours after 2 nap

15-24 months: 3.5-4 hours after nap

24-36 months: 4-5 hours after nap

Here is a perfect example from a former client who says, “I love the “tool” of the early bedtime. I am all about it!”

Their child was 15 months at the time.  Fought bedtime like no other and woke up multiple times at night calling for mom and dad.  They had a set bedtime of 7pm.  Not too bad, right?  Well, this set bedtime was not giving their little guy any chance to catch up on miss sleep (as naps were not going well either).  He was so overtired by 7pm that his body would fight sleep for almost an hour actually making bedtime 8pm (sometimes 9 or 10pm).  We moved bedtime to be 4 hours after his nap….yes, some nights bedtime was 6pm.  And you know what….on night 2 he fell asleep within a couple of minutes and slept until 6:30am.  12.5 hours!!!!!!!!!

If you are a little leery of moving bedtime by a whole hour right off the start you can gradually move it by 15 minute every couple of nights.  You may not see results right away but offering that extra sleep is your first step to success.  Heck you might even get your evening back if your little ones are in bed at an earlier time.  It’s a win-win!!!

Please let me know if I can help walk you though the process or offer you any other support with your child’s sleep challenges.

Sleep well and think “early bedtime.”

Side Note:  If your child’s bedtime is not considered “early” BUT they are sleeping through the night, taking great naps, and falling asleep without any trouble…don’t change a thing!!!

The Importance of Lovies In Sleep Training

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Blanket? Stuffed Animal? Bumble Bee Pillow?? 

Many of us still have that beloved blankie or stuffed animal from our childhood stored in a box in the attic….AND there is no way we are going to get rid of it!  It helped you when you were hurt or when you were sad (or even in trouble).  But best of all, your lovey probably helped you SLEEP.  It was something that you could take with you anywhere.  Grandma’s house. Daycare. Camping.  Even your first sleep over.  A child’s lovey is like an extension of their physical self and very important when promoting independent sleep.  Studies have shown that an attachment object can eliminate a child’s anxiety in a variety of situations (Winnicott 1953, Jones 2002).

As a sleep consultant, one of the first questions I ask a client is, “Does your child have a lovey?”  I ask this because a lovey can be extremely helpful in transitioning a little one from requiring the bottle or breast to fall asleep.  This attachment object can be the new source of soothing and will help your child sleep better and longer.  Sleep training can begin as early as 4 months of age but can be just as successful with older children as well.  Sleeping through the night is priceless when it comes to proper growth and development of any age child.

There are many different types of lovies available depending on the age of your child.  Following the Safe Sleep Practices of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child under the age of 1 should not have anything in the crib with them while they sleep.  This can definitely cause a problem when wanting to introduce a lovey to a younger child.  Bitta Kidda has a wearable blankie that can give parents the peace of mind that their child is safe while in bed.  There are 2 little blankies attached to pajamas that cannot be pulled up over the child’s face.  This is a safe option if you are trying to promote independent sleep in a younger child.  For older children I recommend anything small and soft (harder objects have the potential to wake your child if they roll onto it).  Lovies can include a favorite blanket or stuffed animal…or even mommy’s t-shirt.

Some children don’t take to the lovey right away and may need a little help.  You can do a couple of things to promote attachment to the object.  1) Wear/Sleep with the object yourself.  Getting your scent on the blankie before you get started may help. 2) Bring the lovey everywhere you go.  It is especially important to make sure the object accompanies your child for all naps and bedtimes.  3) Place the lovey between the both of you when nursing, giving a bottle, rocking, or any other times you are snuggling for comfort. 4) Be open to letting your child change the lovey of choice.  Sometimes what you choose is not what they will end up wanting as they get older.

Remembering how you felt about your lovey may help you realize the importance that one will have in your child’s life.

With the right timing, technique and lovey….your child will be off to a great start for independent sleep.

Contact Dream Little One with ANY sleep training questions.

**Winnicott, D. (1953). Transitional objects and transitional phenomena, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34:89-97

Jones, Lauriann M., “Attachment Object Effects on Children’s Anxiety During School-Related Transitions” (2002). UNF Theses and Dissertations. Paper 230.

http://digitalcommons.unf.edu/etd/230

Holiday Travel

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Traveling During the Holidays?

Traveling for the holidays can definitely be difficult on little ones (especially with a time difference). There can be long car rides, lengthy plane flights, family gatherings, and lots of fun.  All of which affect your child’s sleep.  I definitely support making the most of your holiday traditions but I would be mindful of you child’s sleep needs.  Your holiday fun will not be “merry” if you are dealing with daily meltdowns.

  • When travel or shopping has caused your child to miss a nap, make up for that time by offering an early bedtime.  This will hopefully help avoid a restless night of multiple night wakings and early rising.
  • When a holiday party has created a late bedtime for your family make sure you make naps a priority the next day.  Staying up late rarely means sleeping in for a little one.  They tend to wake up around the same time everyday leaving them very tired and cranky if they have not had a full nights rest.
  • If you are traveling to a different time zone everyone in your family will need to adjust.  Going east is more difficult than going west.  If you are traveling east your child may not be tired when it is bedtime on your first night.  Just get them to bed when you can but do not let them sleep in.  Wake them at an appropriate morning wake up time in the city you are in. Then go about the day as you would with the new time (offering naps according to your schedule). They may be a little cranky that first day so don’t skip their naps.  Our natural circadian rhythms are greatly influenced by sunlight and social cues (such as mealtimes) so stick to the clock times as you would at home. When you return home (traveling west) keep your child up as close to bedtime as you can. If they wake too early you can try to get them back to sleep.  If that doesn’t work, get them up and go about the day according to the current clock time. It may take a day or 2 on either end of your trip for it to all fall into place.

Be patient with your child and keep sleep a priority amongst all the fun.

Happy Holidays everyone and safe travels!!!

What is a Sleep Consultant?

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Sleep consulting has been around for as long as moms and grandmothers have been giving advice (wanted or not).  The sleep consulting business is a growing field that most tired moms and dads don’t even know about.  Using a sleep consultant will help you organize all the advice that you have received from every family member, friend, coworker, or even the grocery store clerk (yes, that happened to me).  Everyone wants to share what worked for them…but what some of them don’t remember is that every baby has unique sleep needs.  With a full assessment I can help you determine the best plan for you and your child.  Are we the “sleep police” that tell you to let your baby cry it out all day and night? NO!!!  Is “Cry It Out” one of the methods…yes, but I certainly will not suggest it to someone that is not comfortable with it.  A sleep consultant can help attachment parents, parents that want a quick fix, and everyone else that falls in the middle.

A sleep consultant’s title should also include “Sleep Educator” and “Parent Coach.”  There are so many layers to teaching parents about sleep that I spend a good portion of my consults educating parents about the science behind sleep, the natural timing of sleep, and the different methods to achieve their individual goals.  I have had a few people turn me away saying, “We do not support sleep training.”  What I don’t understand is why someone would deny their child the ability to learn healthy sleep habits at a young age. Being educated about your child’s sleep needs is something that can benefit your child for a lifetime and create years of restful nights for the whole family.

Sleep is a biological need, just as nutrition is.  Encouraging multiple night wakings or skipping naps is like giving your child a donut for dinner.  It works, but over time will greatly affect their growth and development.  Teaching your child healthy sleep habits at a young age will set them up for a lifetime of restorative, healthy sleep.  And if your children are sleeping…SO ARE YOU!!!

Not everyone needs a sleep consultant, but there are a lot of tired parents out there that could use the support.  Using a sleep consultant can be “life changing!”  Who couldn’t use more sleep??  If what you are doing is working and everyone in the family is happy with your current sleep situation then you do not need me. But if you are in a situation that you can’t seem to get out of or you are at your “wits end” a sleep consultant can help your family get on track for some great sleep…and I am here to help make that happen!!!

A well rested child is a happy child!

Danielle Rowe

408-622-9269

www.dreamlittleone.com