7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Tonight

7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Tonight

#Repost

During my practice as a sleep professional, I’ve gotten used to people asking me what the secret is to getting a baby to sleep through the night.

Of course, there is no ONE secret. Teaching a child healthy sleep habits is a combination of lots of different things.

But that doesn’t mean that there are not some shortcuts!  Today I’d like to share with you 7 different shortcuts you can start trying over the next few nights to get your child sleeping better.

Here we go:

Sleep Shortcut #1: Watch the waking hours

One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep is overtiredness. Many parents are surprised to learn just how soon their children get overtired. Here’s a quick guide to how long your child should be awake between naps during the day:

  • Newborn to 3 months: 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes of awake time
  • 3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
  • 6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
  • 9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time

If you make sure that your child is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you will find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime AND that they are more relaxed at bedtime, too.

Sleep Shortcut #2: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

We humans (babies and toddlers included) sleep better in the dark. Try making your child’s room as dark as possible. I recommend using blackout blinds, taping cardboard over the windows, or whatever it takes. In many cases, even the glow from a nightlight or a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep cycle.

BONUS TIP: Try to keep your child’s room as dark as possible during daytime naps, too. This can often make a BIG difference in how long your child will nap during the day.

Sleep Shortcut #3: Be Predictable (And A Little Boring)

Babies and toddlers love predictable routines. And a predictable bedtime routine, lasting no longer than 45 minutes, is a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming. Make sure that this routine is the same every single time. Remember, you want bedtime to be as predictable as possible for your child.

After your bedtime routine is complete, be boring. Lots of children will try to drag out bedtime by playing games, throwing toys out of the crib, standing up, etc. Don’t participate. If your child has thrown their blanket or favorite stuffed toy out of the crib, calmly return the item without saying a word.

Sleep Shortcut #4: Feed AFTER Naps, Not Before

The most common reason they infants and toddlers struggle to sleep has to do with a feeding-sleep association. They think that they need a bottle or nursing BEFORE they can fall asleep. By feeding right after nap-time instead of before you can help your child break this feeding-sleep association.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This strategy should only be used before naps, not before putting your child to bed for the night. A full tummy is needed to make sure your child does not wake up hungry during the night.

Sleep Shortcut #5: Same Place, Same Time

Remembering that our children love predictability, so it is a good idea to have your child sleep in the same place every day. For many parents, simply changing WHERE their child naps during the day causes a big improvement in the length and quality of nighttime sleep.

BONUS TIP: When you are putting your child to sleep for the night, it is a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep.

Sleep Shortcut #6: Try The 1, 2, 3 System

When your child wakes up during the night or during a nap and starts crying or fussing, try to wait a specific length of time before going in to check on them. The first day you try this, I recommend waiting exactly one minute before going in to check on your child. On the second day, wait two minutes. Three minutes on the third day, and so on. Why?

Why? Everyone, babies and toddlers included, will wake up briefly at the end of each 45-minute sleep cycle. Most adults wake so briefly that we do not even remember it in the morning. But children who have not learned to fall asleep independently need a little longer.

This 1, 2, 3 System gives your child the opportunity to get themselves back to sleep without your help.

Sleep Shortcut #7: Take Five

Before you put your child to bed, for naps or at nighttime, make sure the five-minute period before they are put to bed is very calm and relaxing.

The Next Step?

As I said, these are shortcuts and quick tricks that may help some parents get their children sleeping through the night.  I do hope that you will be one of the lucky parents who are able to solve their children’s sleep problems using one of these tricks. If not I am also here for you if you need a little more guidance. Feel free to book a 15-minute free call to discuss your child’s sleep issues and how I can help.

How to Talk to a Toddler…

How to Talk to a Toddler…

 

Toddlers are wonderful little humans that are learning their way in the world.

I get a number of messages from parents asking how to handle their toddler (and/or preschooler’s) behaviour. Toddlers can be very difficult to parent; however, it is important to remember that they may be acting out because they are going through a difficult moment. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the number of “moments” your child is having. I have found that once you learn to communicate in an effective way that toddlers understand, life gets much smoother.

 

The following are some tips that have proven to be very helpful…

 

1. Reduce the number of times your toddler says “NO”.

When toddlers are given the chance to say “NO” they will use it! To avoid “no” responses try to avoid questions with a yes/no answer. For example: Instead of asking “would you like to go to the bathroom?” try stating “it is time to go to the bathroom”.

2. Offer choices that give the desired outcome.

When you let your toddler know that it is time to do something they may resist. Then you add some choices that give you the desired outcome. For example: When you let your child know it is time to go to the bathroom you could add “would you like to hop or run there”. Here are some other choices that were very commonly used in our house during the toddler stage:

  • you can walk forward or backward
  • you can hop like a bunny or leap like a frog
  • you can use a quiet voice or a loud voice
  • you can walk or I can carry you
  • you can be happy or sad
3. Toddlers are very concrete thinkers.

This means that toddlers think in the literal sense. You can use this to your advantage. When your child is running away and you ask your toddler to “Stop” and they do not. Try stating “Freeze your feet” or “stop your feet”. Then instead of “Come Here” try “please bring your feet to my feet”. Some other great examples of literal statements are as follows:

  • feet on the floor
  • bums on the chair
  • gentle hands
  • kind and friendly words
4. They have not yet developed the ability to categorize items.

Children will start to be able to categorize items between 5 to 6 years of age.

Toddlers can get confused or frustrated when you use a category of an item. For example: when I asked our son to go get his shoes.  He got to the spot where his shoes were and there are only flip flops there. He was very upset. “Mommy no shoes!”

I have spoken to many families that get very frustrated by this. When I point out it is because toddlers are very concrete it causes less stress in the home. Things to remember with this is that we can easily tell the difference between various sweaters but to Toddlers, a hoody is not a sweater. A fleece is a fleece and not a sweater. This all goes back to the fact that Toddlers think in the literal sense.

5. Last but most important, keep it short and to the point!

As an adult, we can drone on about a topic. This is a sure way to lose a child. Do not get me wrong, children love hearing about things they are interested in. Where you lose them is when you go on and on about how they should be doing something.

State what you would like them to do, then give them an opportunity to do it. If they are still not following through then this leads to the topic of dealing with a child’s behaviour.

 

If you would like more support on how to talk so your toddler can listen, you and click on the work with me tab above and choose the option that suits you.

 

As Always, Be the Parent You Want to Be!!

 

 

Lessons I Learned from Dad

Lessons I Learned from Dad

This post was originally titled “The best gifts I received…” and was written weeks after I lost my dad in December 2018. I feel that this needs a title change to be repurposed to celebrate Father’s Day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved writing it. I still remember the tears streaming down my face as I wrote it and it is having the same effect today.

Take the time to celebrate the Fathers that were or are in your life.

Original post as follows…..

This time of year can be very difficult when you have lost a loved one. Recently, my father passed away. Going into the holiday season I am choosing to look at the gifts he gave me. It is my sincere desire to pass these gifts on to our children as well.

My father was a very kind-hearted, caring, and funny man. As we were preparing to lay him to rest, I had the opportunity to reflect on all the “gifts” I received from him.

 

1. “Do Your Best”

In school, I struggled academically at times. My dad would ask “did you do your best?”. If I answered “yes” or if he saw me try hard he would focus on that.

I was never ashamed to bring home my report card. He would praise me for my hard work, effort, and honesty. The fact I got a 52 was an amazing accomplishment for me in grade 10 English. My friends may or may not have used erasable ink to change the marks on their report cards. They would hand me the pen and I would decline. I knew that my dad would be proud!

I did my best. He did not compare me to anyone else. He knew what was an accomplishment for me and he praised me for that.

 

2. “No matter what”

Ever since I was a little girl, my dad would let me know that no matter what was going on he would be there for me. I knew that no matter what was going on in my life my dad would be there to listen or cheer me up.

Mistakes were made. I had some hard times but my dad’s love was always there. He received a number of calls early in the morning or late at night.

I certainly hope our little man feels that I will be there for him no matter what!!

 

3. Serve others

Our dad taught us the importance of serving others when we were very young. He taught us by leading a life where he served others.

My dad was a military veteran that proudly served his country for 28 years. When he was not working you would often find him volunteering in the community somewhere or helping out a friend or family member.

A good example of my dad helping others was when he climbed a ladder to help with building a roof on my cousin’s house. He did not leave the ladder but he did what he could from there. What some people did not know was that my father was deeply afraid of heights but he climbed that ladder and helped out where he could. Another example is when my dad chased a recruit into the ocean to prevent him from hurting himself even though my dad was afraid of the water.

During the visitation at the funeral home, many people shared stories of the things my dad did to help others. My dad loved to serve others and has taught all of his children the importance of helping others and doing onto to others what you would like done onto you.

 

4. “Make the best of it”

There are times when it can be really hard to find the positives in some situations but this is one of the best gifts my dad taught me and my siblings. No matter how crappy things got my dad would find the positive in that situation.

My brother summed this point up well when he wrote the following about a lesson our dad taught him…

“..there will always be times of stress and frustration but you must always keep a positive attitude, a good sense of humor and everything else will take care of itself”

I have many memories of my dad talking me through the tough times. He would say “keep your chin up”! No matter what happened I knew that I would be able to persevere through it as I kept my chin up and powered through it.

 

So as we approach this holiday season please take the time to reflect on the gifts you have already received and the gifts you would like to pass on to your child(ren). Yes, I have every reason to be sad and upset; however, I am choosing to reflect on the gifts I have received!

Take care and as always, Be the Parent you want to be!!

Happy Father’s Day!!!!

Today is Kid Glove Day!

Today is Kid Glove Day!

I am declaring that today, March 15th is International “Kid Gloves Day”.

 

You may have heard the saying “handle them with kid gloves”. When we are handling someone or something with Kid Gloves, we are being gentle, kind, and caring. This is a good motto for every day; some days this is key.

I think you know what I mean, there are some days that you just have to extra supportive and caring. We have many kid-glove days and moments in our home. It is not uncommon for me to say “today is a kid-glove kind of day”.

I can often tell by the look on our son’s face if kid-gloves are needed. Honestly, it can be heartbreaking when you see your little person’s face come out of the door from school and you can tell that it was a heavy/hard day. That is when you show up with a smile, open arms, and kid-gloves. I am never sure if this means we are staying longer to play after school or if we are beating the traffic home to have a snuggle and chat on the couch with our favourite snack in hand (usually dark chocolate).

 

Today, I believe the world could use a Kid Gloves Day. 

 

It has been a year since the whole world shifted into a pandemic mode. Hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and many food staples were being scooped up and hard to buy. They were flying off the shelves! People began to cover their faces and refrain from close contact.

We have seen a number of people dying, becoming ill, or being afraid of becoming ill. It has been hard, heavy, and frightening at times.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

We are beginning to see the numbers of infected people dropping drastically. People are not dying as often as they were before. Vaccinations are happening.

Our social interactions are still limited. Hand sanitizer is still used. Masks are pretty normal at this time (I really miss seeing all the facial expressions).

So today is treat each other with Kid Gloves Day!!

Smile even if your lips are covered as your eyes will smile too! Air Hugs and Air High Fives for the win!! Treat everyone with an extra little kindness and then feel that pressure lift off your shoulders!

Routines and Schedules

Routines and Schedules

It is times like this that I want to go back to my past self and give myself a high five!! The routines we put in place when our son was 3 years old or younger are still in place with some minor changes through the years and they are still working well!! Bliss I tell you!

A routine is a series of things we do before or after an event. A schedule is based on set times certain events occur.

Schedules and Routines both have their place.

I find that set schedules do not work as well with infants but having a variety of routines in place does work really well.

We have a screen time schedule here which works like a charm! Our son watches a show about 8 am, 11 am (when he is home), and 4 pm. We do have to be a bit flexible but we put in this place we would focus hugely on watching his programs. Once the set times were in place the constant asking for a show came to a complete stop. My response is “yes you can at __ time” After staying consistent with this for a while he really took to it.

I often have parents ask why their child is so well-behaved at daycare or school and not as much at home. The first thing is that children will unload their feelings at home where they feel safe. The second thing is that there is a great deal of structure with routines and schedules so the children know what to expect.

I often recommend that parents maintain similar schedules and routines at home.

You may find that you continue certain routines from your childhood. It is really cool how routines and schedules can really help children feel safe, secure, and be willing to do the steps without even realizing it.

I have to admit that our morning routine is my favorite.

Morning routine:

  1. Come in and give mom a hug
  2. Bathroom
  3. Snuggles with Mom and/or Dad
  4. Get Dressed
  5. Start watching You-Tube (Pause when breakfast is ready)
  6. Eat Breakfast
  7. Call Grandma
  8. Brush Teeth
  9. Put on socks
  10. Finishing watching You-Tube while getting the outdoor gear on
  11. Out the Door

It typically is very smooth and we have been doing a routine similar to this since he was 3!

There are a few things that you can do to help your child get familiar with a routine.

  1. Be consistent
  2. Use visuals (written list for older children and list using pictures for younger children)
  3. Use verbal reminders
  4. Use a timer to remind your child when they have to move to the next step

You can use routines throughout your day! Have fun fitting in the routines and do not forget to make them a little fun for your child as well!!

If you would like some help figuring out how routines and schedules can help your family, please feel free to book a free 15 minute consult to ask how I can help. You can book the free call by clicking on the following link https://calendly.com/brenda-mcsween/15min.

Below is the video I did and based this blog post on. Feel free to listen…​