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Planning Your Next Family Trip

It’s already starting to feel like summer around here in Miami. School’s almost out, and the days are getting longer and warmer. Most of you are already planning ahead for that summer trip (not vacation, as we know when we travel with our kids). Of course, traveling with younger kids is always harder, but doesn’t always have to be if you can prepare yourself accordingly. Here are my top 5 suggestions in helping make your travel plans smoother.

1.     Departure Travel Time: If you have a child that still naps, you want to try to book your flight (or departure time) around nap times. Having your child nap during the flight or car ride will not only make the travel time easier for you, but will help your child adjust to arriving to a new place without being overtired. Many parents are concerned with how to nap their baby. On the plane, anything goes! You can hold, rock, feed, or even put your little one in a carrier and walk the isle back and forth if you have to. This will not create bad habits, as it’s only a one-time scenario while traveling. Try to avoid flying in the later afternoon, which will bring them to a later bedtime in a new place. They will need time to adjust to their new sleep setting first (see below #2, and you don’t want to get there too late.  

2.     Sleep Space: When deciding on where you will stay, try to figure out where your baby will sleep. She does not need her own room, but if you can set up a pack-n-play in the corner or hallway of the room (away from the bed), it will help. If your child normally sleeps in a crib at home, find out if your hotel provides one, and if not make sure to bring your own pack-n-play. There are also companies that rent out baby gear. Once you get to your new sleep space, make sure to set hers up with her crib sheets, toys and blankies. Have her play in and around the area so she can familiarize herself with it before bedtime.

3.     Child’s Sleep Essentials: Because you will be an unfamiliar place you want to make sure to bring as much of her sleep essentials as possible. A few good items would be: crib sheets, blankies, pacifiers, her regular bedtime books, and even a few of her favorite toys. Think of what your bedtime routine looks like at home and try to bring all the essentials that are part of it. You want to make sure she feels comfortable in her sleep space.

4.     Adjust To New Time: When traveling to a different time zone, your little one will need to adjust her circadian rhythm to the new time. It is suggested to adjust to the new time immediately upon arrival. Make sure to feed and sleep her with the new time as soon as you arrive! If you arrive during the day, expose her to sunlight to help adjust her rhythm. Jetlag can last a good 3-5 days, so hang in there if those first few nights back home are rough.

5.     Remain Consistent Yet Flexible: Our kids thrive on routine and predictability. They like to know what’s coming up ahead without the surprise and the unknown. This is why it’s recommended to keep to a schedule and routine daily when at home. However, it’s very hard to keep to the exact schedule when traveling, so don’t worry! Try to at least keep to the same feeding and sleeping times as best as you can. If you’re out and about and it’s time for a nap, try to sleep your child in the stroller, car, or in any means possible. Just because you aren’t home doesn’t mean she doesn’t need a nap. Adjust bedtime earlier if it’s been a day where she hasn’t napped well. If you’ve spent too many days out where all naps were short, try to stay back one day so she can nap in her sleep space and catch up on sleep. And most importantly, continue putting your child down awake at bedtime and nap time and respond consistently. If she’s between the ages of 9 months - 2 years old, she may be a little scared of her new sleep setting, and not understand what’s going on. You can provide extra support, but make sure you don’t go back to old bad habits. You can sit by her crib to provide comfort, but allow her to put herself to sleep.

What you need to know about Sleep Training

This is the most common question you will get as the parent of a newborn baby: Does your child sleep through the night? It's not about her favorite toy or whether she likes to take a bath. The first thing on people's minds is whether she sleeps.

We all know that sleep is important for our health. But it’s also important for our being. We can’t be our best selves when we lack sleep. Our relationships with our spouses, with friends, and even with our own kids are compromised when we don’t sleep enough.

The problem is that our babies aren’t born sleeping through the night for 12 hours straight. As newborns, they just can’t sleep for long stretches. And that means our sleep will be broken up too.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to last very long. Once your baby is of “sleep training age” you can work on getting her sleeping better. But how? What does that mean? When? With all these questions we turn to books, internet (be careful with what you read!), friends, pediatricians and then before we know it our heads are spinning because we’ve had so many different opinions thrown at us.  

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Your child might not be ready.  Every child is different, and we can’t expect them all to develop exactly the same way; so too with sleep. Still, there are some guidelines for when you can expect to start sleep training. Anything younger than 4 months is a definite no, and anything after 6 months is a go! Between 4 and 6 months, some parents will find positive results in sleep training their child, but not all. 

2. You don’t have to stop breastfeeding to do sleep training. Many nursing moms feel that they will have to give up nursing in order to get their child sleeping longer and better. This is not true. Speaking as a mom of 3 who nursed all while still doing sleep training, it is possible! You can definitely nurse as long as you want, while doing sleep training. What we work on is removing the nursing to sleep association.

3. Is my only option to do the “Cry It Out” method? No. You do not have to do this method. What you do need to know is that your child will cry for at least part of the learning process. But you do not need to leave her crying by herself the whole night with no response from you. Instead, you can be in the room to comfort your child, while removing all sleep crutches and helping her learn how to put herself to sleep. 

4. So, what does sleep training involve?  When you sleep train your child, you are having her learn how to put herself to sleep at the onset of sleep, so she can do it again--by herself--in the middle of the night. The key is putting her down awake in her crib, and responding consistently throughout the process. If she’s already asleep when she is put down in her crib, she will not have the opportunity to learn how to put herself to sleep. And if you start responding inconsistently (leaving her to cry one time, then later picking her up, and then feeding her, etc.) this will only confuse her more and will result in inconsistent sleep behavior on her part as well.

5. What if my child still needs to feed at night?  You can still improve her sleep! It is commonly recommended to remove all night feeds starting at the age of 6 months; however, there are parents that aren’t ready to do that, and sometimes a pediatrician might recommend keeping them. That’s OK! You can still have your child sleep longer stretches, and feed when needed.

So what’s my next step?

  1. Rule out any medical concerns, and get your pediatrician’s approval.
  2. Make sure your child is over the age of 19 weeks (adjusted age).
  3. Contact me to set up your consultation and we can begin the process!

Here’s to more sleeping babies (and parents!)

 

 

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. 

2019 Luli Sleep Consulting / Miami, Florida

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