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How To Handle Sleep & Daylight Savings

It’s that time of year again. The day we all dread. Daylight Savings or “Fall Back.” One hour behind.  For the older kids it doesn’t really seem to affect much, but it can really throw the younger ones off. So while it’s still a few weeks away, you can start thinking and preparing so that the change isn’t so drastic on all of you.

You can take two different approaches:

1. Deal with it when it comes:

  • On Saturday night, put your child to bed at his regular bedtime.
  • On Sunday, when he wakes up with the new time you will need to immediately adjust his schedule according to the new time.
  • So while he did “wake up an hour early” stretching him to the new naptime might be a little hard. Try your best to distract him and get him to take his nap to as close to the new time as possible.
  • If you can’t adjust to the schedule on day one, try your best to slowly push it over in 15-minute increments, over the course of the next few days.

2. Prepare a few days before:

  • Slowly adjust your child’s bedtime and nap times an hour later by 15 minutes a day, the week before Daylight Savings. This way, your child will already be adjusted to the time change when it comes.
  • While you’re adjusting naps and bedtime, make sure that you also adjust mealtimes in 15-minute increments to help ease the transition.

However, once Daylight Savings hits:

  1.  Make sure to block sunlight & noise: If you don’t already have them in your child’s room, consider installing blackout curtains and using a white noise machine. Although the days are getting shorter, there may still be some sunlight coming in the morning, as well as some outside noise during bedtime.
  2. Dramatic Wake up and Toddler Clocks: Teaching your child about time might be a little hard when they are young. If you are constantly relying on the actual sun and moon to teach your child about sleep, it may get a little confusing with the time change. Dramatic wake up is a good method to help your child learn that the day has begun, even if they woke up early and didn’t go back to sleep. Behavioral Clocks are suggested for children over the age of 2 ½, as it helps them understand when its time to get up and start the day, and when it’s time for bed.
  3. Sunlight: Make sure that you expose your child to lots of natural light first thing in the morning to help rest his circadian rhythm to coincide with the new time. Try going for a morning walk, or even just opening the blinds. Make sure to keep the blinds open up to 45 minutes before nap and bedtime to help your child adjust to the new time.
  4. Stick to your schedule: Even though things may seem a little off whack, try your best to stick to your regular schedule according to the new time. The consistency of your daily routine is important for your child to adjust.

Keep in mind that it can take some children up to a week to adjust to this time change. Children who are very sensitive to change or have sensory issues may need a more gradual adjustment as well. Be patient but keep working on adjusting them to the new time. Good luck!

Sleep Tips For Your Summer Travel

It’s officially Summer and I’m sure you are planning your getaway. Although a vacation with kids is a whole other ball game, it is still manageable.  Your bags are now twice as heavy and your magazines are staying home, but spending some quality time with your family on the beach is unforgettable.

Many fear the travel, as it’s one of the main causes of sleep disturbances. But if your child was a great sleeper before, just like any regression, she will be a great sleeper after as well.

There are a few things you can do to try to avoid such a bad regression:  

1.     Keep to the schedule and routine as best as possible. We all know that staying inside the hotel room all day for your baby to nap her 3 naps isn’t going to happen. You want to explore and be outside of the room – well, isn’t that one of the main reasons why you’re on vacation? You still can! Just as you do the exploring keep in mind of your little one’s schedule. Perhaps stay indoors for her first long nap, and then go out onto the beach. If you are nearby your room, try to have her come back to her crib for the nap. And if you’re out and about be mindful of nap times and bring her lovey so she can at least take the nap on the go.

2.     Bring some familiar crib sheets and blankets. If you are going to a hotel or even a relative’s house, chances are they will have crib sheets and blankets. But sometimes bringing some of your own will help your child feel a little at home. The regular crib sheets will bring a little familiarity to her.

3.     Bring the essentials. Try to recreate her sleep space like she has at home, in the new setting. You can bring some plastic garbage bags to cover the windows to ensure that the room is dark enough. If your child normally sleeps with a white noise machine, you don’t have to bring the whole machine, you can download an app on your phone.  If your child has a favorite book, or a favorite pajama, bring those as well. And of course – don’t forget her loveys! Make sure to bring some extra in case you forget one on the plane or in the hotel room.

4.     Room & crib acclamations. If you arrive to your destination during the day, try to set up your child’s sleep space first and have her play in it for a while. Let her explore the room, the new crib, and play around so she becomes familiar with it.

As soon as you get back home, make sure to go back to the regular routine. You may need to do a mini-sleep train for a couple of days, but nothing like before. Your child should fall back into her regular sleep patterns relatively quickly.

 

 

Setting Up A Sleep Routine For Your Child

“In the great green room there was a telephone…” How many times have you read that line? I can recite that book with my eyes closed while standing upside down on one hand. I must have read that book a quadrillion times for my boys; over and over and over again…. Why does your little one want you to read the same book every night?  

Familiarity. Routine. Knowing what to expect. Children need routine--they need to know what to expect and when because it gives them a sense of security. Having their meals, play time, nap time, and bed time structured really helps the child understand time. This eases the transition from one activity to the next.

Same thing applies to their sleep. Your little one will need her day sleep (up until around the age of 4), and setting up her nap times according to her circadian rhythm will really help her understand what is coming. It will also help her body wind down and sleep better. While I do suggest a routine, make sure you allow some flexibility if needed. It’s the consistency that is reassuring for your child.   

When to begin?

I always suggest parents begin shaping these routines as early as day one. For newborns, make sure you are feeding your child on her regular hour schedule. If you need to wake your newborn during the day to feed, go ahead and do so. You don’t want her missing those nutritional feedings during the day, then looking for them at night instead. Also, newborns have a limited time that they can be awake, so make sure your baby sleeps every 1-1.5 hours, since her little body can’t be up longer than that.  

Once your baby is roughly 3-4 weeks old, start implementing a bedtime routine. While it is very unlikely that your little one will sleep through the night at this age, you still want to begin establishing a routine so she begins to understand those external sleep cues. She will begin familiarizing herself with this routine, which will be part of her bedtime process for the years to come.  

What to do?

I like the 4 B’s; Bath. Bottle/Breast. Book. Bed. Some like to add a massage after the bath; that’s OK. Use this as a guide and adjust it depending on age. For those newborn babies, by the time you’ve hit books your baby might already be sleeping. And for a 5 month old, she may just try to eat the book. But for an 8 month old, sitting and reading a short hard-covered book is fun! For your toddler who no longer drinks a bottle/breast, I would replace this with a Brushing of the teeth.   

Once you have set a routine that’s a good fit for you and your baby, begin the routine 30 minutes before bedtime, and 10 minutes before her naptime. Her naptime routine should be the same as her bedtime one, but a shorter version.