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!

 

Back to Routine: Is It a Good Thing or Not?

Back to Routine: Is It a Good Thing or Not?

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” Thanks to a certain office supply store, this song repeats in my head every year at back to school time. I love the song but I am not so sure it is true. If you talk to my 13-year-old stepson he will tell you that school is okay but he enjoys his unscheduled summer.

This time of year is filled with back to school shopping, going back to school, early morning wake ups, lunch prep, homework, and the never ending extra-curricular activities. Insert a big sigh…

That was my glass is half empty approach! People that know me well know that I am a glass is half full kinda girl.

The things I like about this time of year are as follows:  I know when I need to do school pick up;  when I get to cheer on my boys at basketball; when we do toddler friendly dance and gymnastics; when I have time to spare; and when I need to get ready to pull out my hair.

Children crave and require predictability and routine.  Visual schedules and calendars with lists of activities are helpful.  Do not forget to schedule some down time and time to explore with their imaginations.  I have observed that children that know what is going to happen next are less anxious.  A very good example of routine and schedules would be bedtime!

A bedtime routine should be no more than 45 minutes in duration.  A typical bedtime is as follows:

  1. Snack
  2. Bath
  3. Brush teeth
  4. Read Books (no more than 3)
  5. In bed
  6. Lights out

I believe that predictable routines and schedules make life as a parent so much easier!!  Visual schedules (lists of words and pictures) are great for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children.  When you include your child in making the schedules they seem to follow them with more zest. Children love pictures!  Schedules with pictures and words serve a double purpose (just do not tell your kids!).  These schedules can help keep children on task and they teach word recognition!  Have fun making your visuals!

Schedules and routines rock!

Take care and happy sleeping,

Brenda

What is a Sleep Consultant? What Can a Sleep Consultant do for Me?

What is a Sleep Consultant? What Can a Sleep Consultant do for Me?

Simply put, a Sleep Consultant helps parents increase their child’s ability to sleep.

Here’s a more detailed answer: A Sleep Consultant will help you teach your child how to go to sleep and stay asleep for longer periods of time. There are many opinions (positive and negative) about the need to teach young children, especially infants, how to sleep.  Some people believe that children will learn to sleep on their own when they are ready to.

I believe that sleeping is an art that can be taught in a calm gentle manner.  Your child may cry, but they do not have to “Cry It Out”.  Once a child’s sleep improves, they are better able to cope with daily life. There will be more smiling, laughing and an overall happy demeanor for both the adult(s) and the child.

Children that are not getting enough sleep can be very energetic (“bouncing off the walls”), easily irritated, clingy or super moody.  If the previous sentence describes your child, a Sleep Consultant can help.  I became a Sleep Consultant to help families just like yours.

As a Sleep Consultant I will:

  • Ask questions about current routines, behaviours, successes and points of difficulty
  • Find out your preferred parenting style
  • Give you information about sleep/sleep cycles
  • Develop a step by step sleep plan for your child
  • Guide you through the sleep plan
  • Provide you with follow up after you have started the sleep plan
  • Make any adjustments or changes as needed in the two weeks following implementation of the plan
  • Support and encourage you through the whole process

Personally, I believe there is nothing more beautiful than a sleeping child.

SEveryone is entitled to their own beliefs regarding using a Sleep Consultant.  If you want your child’s sleep to improve run to the phone or send a quick e-mail to sign up for a free fifteen-minute conversation with me.

Happy sleeping, everyone!

Brenda McSween
[email protected]