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 9 years later!! Bliss, I tell you!

Schedule Versus Routine

A routine is a series of things we do before or after an event.

A schedule is based on set times when 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 well.

We used to have a screen time schedule here which worked like a charm! Our son watched a show at about 8 am, 11 am (when he is home), and 4 pm. We did have to be a bit flexible but we put in this place because he would focus hugely on watching his programs. “Can I watch a show” (over and over).

Once the set times were in place, the constant asking for a show came to a complete stop. My response was “yes you can at __ time”.  After staying consistent with this for a while he really took to it.

As he has grown we have been able to be way more flexible. He knows his time limits and he works with them.

What are the benefits of routines and schedules??

When children know what to expect, they feel more secure and are more willing to follow through with tasks.

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 favourite.

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. Brush Teeth
  8. Put on socks
  9. Finishing watching You-Tube while getting the outdoor gear on
  10. 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 15-minute free call

Below is the video I did about routines and schedules. Feel free to listen…

Pacifier: The Real Deal

Pacifier: The Real Deal

A pacifier  (aka soother, dummy, sucky, etc) can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.

The sucking reflex is a very calming for many children. It is a very natural thing. Children come out of the womb with the ability to suck and they love it!! Many of you may even have pictures of your little one sucking while in the womb!

As children age, the soother can become an object that they depend on greatly. I believe this is often when pacifiers become an issue.

 
What is the big deal about a Pacifier?

The following is a list of the reasons that a soother can become an issue:

  • Children can begin to develop dental issues with prolonged pacifier usage after 2 to 3 years of age.
  • Children that keep the pacifier in their mouth all night may struggle with getting into the deeper stages of sleep.
  • You may find yourself going on a soother hunt several times a night in a dark room!
  • Your child needs your help to put the soother back in their mouth during each wake-up! We all wake every to 60 to 90 minutes.
 
When should you consider removing the Pacifier?

This is completely up to you; however, there are a few things that would cause me to encourage you to drop the pacifier. The following are my reasons for dropping the pacifier:

  • Your child is not able to go back to sleep with out you inserting the pacifier and they are in a different room than you. Your sleep is definitely affected.
  • Your child is not appearing well rested. This will be evident with their behaviour during the day.
  • Your child’s speech is impacted by the pacifier.
  • Dental issues are beginning to develop.
 
How can you remove a Pacifier?

There are a number of ways that you can remove a pacifier from your child. The older your child is the harder it can become; however, it is possible and may not be as hard as you think. Here are some common ways to remove the pacifier:

Cold Turkey: 

This may seem to be the harshest method but in reality, it is the easiest. Stop giving the pacifier. At first, your child will protest; however, you can add more comfort to your child during this transition which will help with removing the pacifier.

This is the best method for children under 1 year of age.

Gradual Removal: 

This is when you start reducing when the soother is offered during the day. For example, only offering the pacifier during rides in the vehicle and in bed. After a few weeks of only offering it during designated times, you then cut it out completely. The first few days without the pacifier are trying times but it does get better with time.

This is the method that we used with our son. When he was just over a year, we only offered the soother in the vehicle and while he was in the crib for a nap or bedtime. I would offer a snack in the vehicle when needed and offer comfort objects (ie his lovey) when he needed something other than my comfort to calm him. Then we set aside 4 days where my husband and I could take turns offering him support through the night if he needed it. The first night he requested it a few times at bedtime but we stated “it is all gone” and offered him a hug. at bedtime, it took a few extra minutes to put him to sleep but that was it. He woke once during the night and needed comfort to go back to sleep. Night 2 he asked at bedtime and we stated the same message “it is all gone”. He fell asleep and stayed asleep all night. That was it!

This is the best method for children between 1 to 2 years of age.

Soother Fairy:

This is when your child gathers up all of their soothers and places them in a spot where the soother fairy (aka you) will remove the pacifiers and replace them with an object that your child will enjoy or has been asking for. For younger children, it is a good idea to replace the pacifiers with an object that can be used as a comfort object. After the pacifiers are gone you may have to deal with an upset child during sleep times or periodically throughout the day. The best thing to do is make sure you dispose of the pacifiers so you do not give it back to your child.

This is a method applicable to children over the age of 2 but best for children close to age 3.

Stuff a Bear:

This is when you bring your child to a place that makes stuffed animals and brings along the pacifiers. Your child then stuffs the pacifiers in the bear or whatever stuffed animal your child chooses. Then voila you have Soother Bear! When your child requires support you can remind her to grab her bear and also provide hugs and extra comfort when needed. This can be a quick solution for some children. Some children do get frustrated that they know where the pacifier is but cannot get it.

This is another method that is good for children over the age of 2. This is my preferred method for children that are closer to 2.

Deflating the Pacifier:

There are a couple of ways to do this; however, before proceeding I would like to remind you to proceed with caution with this method. The soother can become a choking hazard as the material gets compromised when you deflate the soother. This is when you poke holes in the soother so your child will no longer be able to suck the soother like she did before. Some children do not care and keep chewing on the soother. Other children will just stop using the soother as they are no longer getting the benefits from the soother.

This method is good for children over 1.

Chopping the Pacifier:

This is when you cut off a little piece of the pacifier. I advise you to proceed cautiously as this can also be a choking hazard. You usually start with the tip and then every few days chop off a bit more until there is nothing left but the plastic handle. Some children will just stop using the pacifier altogether and some will hold onto the plastic handle and suck on the plastic. If this is the case for your child I would then use another method to get rid of the pacifier all together.

This method is good for children over 2.

 

As with all things related to children and parenting, there is no right or wrong answer to how you should proceed with removing your child’s pacifier. Hopefully, one of the methods in this article will help your child with removing their dependence on the pacifier.

If you have any other questions or need assistance with coming up with a plan to assist your child with becoming pacifier free, please feel free to post a question in the forum area.

Take care and have a lovely day!

 

 

Sleep: The Power of 15 minutes

Sleep: The Power of 15 minutes

I often find it incredible how a simple 15 minute time interval can make such a difference.

When we are teaching our young children how to sleep I find that people will move mountains, buy all the gadgets available, read all the books and not be aware of the power of a time block that will improve sleep immensely.

It can be really frustrating as a parent when a little one seems to be getting in the groove of sleeping and then bam, sleep has exited the building. Adding 15 minutes of being awake before each sleep can be an absolute game changer!

Yes, you read that correctly! Add 15 minutes of playtime, interaction time, or awake time before you offer sleep.

If your child has been sleeping okay and then things fall off the rails, simply add 15 minutes of awake time before you offer a nap or bedtime.

Falling off the rails usually means waking up several times a night, waking for a long period of time, waking at the crack of dawn, or fighting to go to sleep. Often when you add the 15 minutes of awake time your child gets back on track quite quickly.

You may find that you are adding 15 minutes of awake time every couple of weeks. That is quite normal!

Another way to use the 15-minute block of time is to only spend 15 minutes trying to get your child back to sleep after a short nap.

I often hear families that will keep trying to get their child back to sleep every 30 minutes or so after a short nap. This turns into an exercise of frustration for the child and parent.  After 15 minutes of trying to get your child back to sleep, stop and wait for the next period of time when your child is ready for sleep according to her desired wake time.

Do not underestimate the power of the 15-minute block, especially with your child’s sleep!

 

Happy Parenting and Sleeping,

Brenda

 

White Noise or Not?

White Noise or Not?

There seems to be this constant issue where something is good for a bit; then, bang now it is bad.  I have also seen when bad things are now good (do not introduce certain foods until 1, now do it as soon as you introduce solids).  Let the confusion about what to do with a baby happen again: Should you use or not use a white noise machine or device?

If something is too loud it can affect a child’s hearing.  Now do I think you should run into your child’s room and remove the white noise device you are using, NO!  I do think you should make sure it is not on a loud setting and it is placed away from your child’s crib, bassinet, or bed.

What is the purpose of white noise anyways?  In my opinion, the purpose of white noise is to reduce the effect everyday noises have on a child’s ability to remain asleep.  The steady quiet hum in the background appears to reduce the number of times my child is startled awake.  I have put a fan on in my little man’s room since he was just over 6 months.  This has reduced the amount of tip-toeing the other people in the house have had to partake in.

Here are some of the tips/points to consider if you choose to use white noise:

  1. It should be on a low setting.
  2. The device should not be right beside your child.
  3. Constant is better than intermittent.  Some children will wake up if the white noise shuts off.
  4. If your child really likes the background noise you may find yourself having to pack a white noise machine or similar device when you travel.

Ultimately, the final decision is up to you as a parent.  If you are concerned, do not hesitate to remove the device or talk to your child’s doctor.  I hope this post has reduced your questions or sense of uncertainty around using white noise as a tool in your home.

Happy sleeping, everyone!!

 

 

 

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

 

When we use a key phrase to identify that it is time to sleep, it can help with our little ones settling down and preparing for sleep. This settling down period can cause their bodies to start to produce melatonin.

Once a child is over 4.5 months of age they will begin the process of producing melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that allows our little ones to go to sleep and stay asleep for long periods of time.

I have had the opportunity to hear many different key phrases that people use for sleep. The following are some of the most common:

  • “Night Night”
  • “Sleepy Time”
  • “Good Night”
  • “Do do”
  • “Time for Sleep”

This key phrase comes in really handy in the middle of the night or early morning when your child requires a reminder that it is still time for sleep. When you use your key phrase it is often enough to help your little one attempt to go back to sleep. It basically does 2 things. It reminds them that it is still time for sleep and it allows them to hear your voice which can be very calming.

A key phrase may seem like a very simple tool; however, sometimes it is the small things that make a huge impact!!

 

As Always, Be the Parent You Want to Be!

PS. If you would like more help with help to improve your child’s sleep click here to book a free 15-minute consultation with me (Brenda McSween) or click on the Work with me Tab above to book a service.

The More They Play, The Better They Sleep

The More They Play, The Better They Sleep

Play promotes sleep in young children and is an important part of a child’s daily routine.

Play starts at a young age.  The play looks so different depending on the age of your child.  The more they play the better they sleep!  Bring on the play!!

With a newborn, you will hear a great routine is EAT PLAY SLEEP.  This routine will help to prevent your child from developing an eat to sleep dependency. How do you play with a newborn??  You change their diaper, sing, look out the window, play with a rattle, look at pictures or just hold them and talk.  Since newborns sleep a great deal (15 to 18 hours) there is a limited time that there are awake to play.

As infants age, they will require more and more stimulation.  As your child grows, they will start to take an interest in different objects.  You might go out and buy the most elaborate toy; but, it is the box that it comes in that is the best for infants and toddlers (just watch closely – chewing hazard!).  Then they start to get mobile and find their own objects to like and dislike.  A few loud toys got thrown across the room in our house and it was not by me!

2012-10-01 11.40.54I quickly discovered the more fresh air I put into our day, the more sleep my little man was getting.  When possible, we went out. This started when he was quite young.  In the beginning, it was a stroller ride.  Then it evolved into playing at the park, going for a walk around the block, playing in the backyard, going to the zoo, and so on.   It does not have to be an elaborately planned activity.

For my sanity, I enjoyed meeting up with other people so I have some grown up conversation.  Meeting up with others gave my little man a chance to have a change in his scenery (a change from looking at me) and play with other children.  He fed off their energy!!  It is great.  He would go home and nap like a trooper!!!

We enrolled in some community activities as well. Parent and Child programs for the win!!  We were in gymnastics, a pre-preschool program for 2.5 hours 1 day a week, and dance class.  Considering my son is just 2.5 this is a great deal of activity.  I strongly encourage not to program children too much.  Still, leave time for spontaneous activity.

There are so many options available for children that it can be overwhelming!  There are gym programs, art programs, music programs, sports, library programs, 2012-09-15 19.04.57and dance programs.  A great deal of the programs run for 6 to 12 weeks at a time.  There are some programs that are consistent Monday to Friday from early morning until the late afternoon like child care settings and day homes. Even in these confusing Covid-19 times, you can find small programs that are following proper safety precautions or an online component that even the youngest of children enjoy.

I loved to find drop-in programs that did not require pre-registration and free activities.  These programs were excellent on the days that my brain was fried and I just need instant entertainment for my son.  Great examples of these activities are: drop-in storytime at your local library, coffee shop, and zoo; drop-in playgroups at your local gym, community center, bookstore, and churches; and our favorite was the walk around the mall (some malls have a great drop-in play area).

All the activities I previously discussed are great options; however, some days you just cannot leave the home, especially during isolation or quarantine.  On the days that we could not get out, I notice an increase in his temper tantrums and his naps seem to be shorter.  To prevent tantrums in the house I brought out activities that are not done daily.  A favorite of mine is building forts (aka throwing a blanket over something and hiding in there!!).  My little man enjoys playing music, so out come the pots, pans, and plastic containers.  I call this our instant band.

Now, not all children are like mine.  Not all children love to be out and about.  If your child is a person that likes to stay close to home; honor that when you can.  You can have so much fun playing at home.  If your child likes to stay home and naps well then do that.

Child-directed play is a great way to enhance your child’s independence.  This is when you let your child take the lead in the activity.  You let them choose what the activity is going to be.  You also let them be in control.  If they want to change the activity and do it in a different way I challenge you to let them.  For example, my 2.5-year-old will ask to play cards (yes we started him early)!  To him, playing cards is putting the cards on the table and he grabs some and gives you some.  Then he starts placing them down on the table. I have no idea what I am doing but I just follow his lead.  He is one proud little boy when someone will play cards his way!

Please enjoy the time you can play with your little ones.

Now excuse me while I go through some pictures of him while he was younger while he is playing online with his friends!