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Toddler Getting Out of Bed?

toddler-night-waking1-e1336586909359Do you have a toddler who likes to come visit you in the middle of the night and either climb into bed with you and wake you and your hubby up, or ask for something to eat, drink or simply ask you something as silly as “why does Santa wear black boots”?

Toddlers are funny and smart!  It can be so irresistible to go along with their requests or questions and engage them but the truth of the matter is, they should be catching their zzzz’s not asking the meaning of life and/or disrupting the rest of the family.  There is also something very special about scooping them up and having them cuddle in next to you- after all, there isn’t a stronger love or greater feeling than snuggles with your little angel!

A full night and uninterrupted sleep is vital for optimal sleep health and a feeling of being 100% well rested.  Toddlers need this!

So, what do you do when your toddler shows up in your room?  Well, there are a couple options.  My first recommendation is to simply walk them back to their room with minimal interaction and tell them “it is still sleepy time”.  Keep it short, sweet and do not entertain any of their requests (asking for cereal, for milk, or to get all their toys to join tem in the bed….).  I would only give them a sip of water if you genuinely feel they are thirsty.  Toddlers love to push the boundaries and to see what kind of attention they can get. If it is positive or negative attention they still eat it up!

Another option is to work a little bribery magic. (I know, I know…but it sure does work!).  Here is what I suggest:

Purchase them a GRO clock and make a big deal of it during the day.  Show them that at night the stars and moon are out and when it is time to get up they will see a nice big sun!  Let them know that they are not to get out of bed until they see the sun!

Also introduce a rewards chart (over the age of 3 is when they typically really understand the concept and I also advise keeping your little one in a crib until 3 anyway).

Pin it up on their wall and buy them col stickers and tell them they will get a sticker or a Smartie  (I know, I know…sweets but it won’t last forever!) when they stay in their bed and wait for the sun each night. After 4 stickers they will get a “X” (- maybe a new car or toy they have wanted, a trip out for an ince-cream cone or a special breakfast of waffles or something they ADORE.

How long the process of change will take depends on how strong your child’s need is to be with you during the night – she may feel that you are a much better prize than any toy you could offer – and isn’t it glorious to be loved so much?  Stick to your guns and be CONSISTENT and you will have a happily sleeping toddler in their bed for the whole night.

Good luck and sleep well!

White Noise And When It Is Recommended

347393Many people ask me about white noise or sounds machines to help with their baby’s sleep.  White noise is a great way to block out house noises that MAY be keeping your child awake.  If you live on a busy street with lots of street noise or you have a dog who likes to bark like mad at every squirrel it sees or every noise it hears, or if you have very creaky floors and an early riser in the house, or a very loud older child who likes to stomp, run and yell throughout the day, then I will recommend something to block out those sounds.  A fan or a simple white noise machine will do the trick to help your baby sleep through things that could wake him from a peaceful slumber.

I recommend setting it to RAIN or WHITE NOISE.  Waterfalls, birds chirping or ocean waves all fluctuate and can be stimulating and not at beneficial.  Having a machine that isn’t on a timer is also a good idea.  Put it on and leave it the night.  Many companies make cute little sound machines that are on a 20 or 40 minute timer and they usually end right when your little one is transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next and if they rouse, notice the sound is gone, then they want it back to go to sleep. I don’t recommend them.  If it is one that is not on a timer, and is consistent, it becomes the norm and as they become a stronger, deeper sleeper, the noise machine can be taken out of the room.  It doesn’t become a “prop” for sleep.

I also highly recommend them for travel.  When you are staying in a hotel room for instance, a noise machine allows you not to panic if a noisy guest is in the hall, a door slams, or if room service knocks on the door to bring you and your hubby dinner. You can enjoy your stay in the room without having to whisper and tip toe around.

It is also fabulous when you bring your child to parties and holiday events. It is peace of mind that your child is sleeping soundly and you can enjoy visiting and getting caught up and not stressing about your little ones sleep.

My favourite brands are Conair and Obus.  They are light, good quality, and easy to pop in your travel bag.  I also found they are a seasonal item and come out during Christmas.  So you are in luck- with Christmas around the corner, you will be able to find them in your local stores.

Nutrition & Children’s Sleep Go Hand-In-Hand

Getting enough sleep is important for a young child for so many reasons, from restoring energy to building brain connections — not to mention giving Mom and Dad a well needed break.

But science is showing that sleep also fuels physical growth.

The science of growing.
Growth is a complex process that requires several hormones to stimulate various biological events in the blood, organs, muscles, and bones.

A protein hormone secreted by the pituitary gland called growth hormone (or “human growth hormone”) is a key player in these events. Several factors affect its production, including nutrition, stress, and exercise. In young children, though, the most important factor is sleep.

Growth hormone is released throughout the day. But for kids, the most intense period of release is shortly after the beginning of deep sleep.

How much sleep do young school children need?

Children in Kindergarten need about 10 to 12 1/2 hours of sleep per night (with naps declining and eventually disappearing around age 5), and older elementary age kids need 9 1/2 to 11 1/2 hours a night. Sleep needs are somewhat individual, with some kids requiring slightly less or more than their peers.
Without adequate sleep, growth problems — mainly slowed or stunted growth — can result.

Kids who don’t get enough sleep show other changes in the levels of hormones circulating in their body, too. Hormones that regulate hunger and appetite can be affected, causing a child to overeat and have a preference for high-calorie carbs. What’s more, a shortage of sleep can affect the way the body metabolizes these foods, triggering insulin resistance, which is linked to type 2 diabetes. 

A lack of sleep at night can also affect motor skills and concentration during the day, leading to more accidents and behavioral problems, and poor performance at school.

Proper nutrition in childhood can reinforce lifelong eating habits that contribute to your children’s overall well being and help them to grow up to their full potential and a healthy life.

A Solid Night’s Sleep Begins HOURS Before Bedtime:

imagesBe aware and honour your child’s sleep by following the steps below:

 Wean caffeine. Kids don’t drink coffee, but there’s plenty of caffeine in soda and chocolate candy. If your child is sensitive, cut out caffeine sources after lunch. But really, your little ones should be avoiding these anyway- they should be treats for special occasions and not part of our everyday.

Stick to a regular bedtime and wake time. Most older kids adapt easily if a bedtime is missed once a week, but more often, and you’re asking for trouble.  With babies and toddlers, a set bedtime will be a blissful bonus when it comes to counting on dreamy nights.

Limit cell phones. Research has shown that adults who were exposed to radiofrequency waves (similar to the ones emitted by cell phones) for 3 hours before bedtime had a shortened deepest-sleep stage — the time when the body repairs damaged cells. Be sure your child stops texting and talking early in the evening.

Skip scary movies. They’re not only arousing, they can lead to nightmares or night terrors. Unsettling nighttime dreams also result from a child’s real fears, so open a dialogue during the day about anything troubling him.

Bedtime routines are KEY. End every day the same way: A bath, a snuggle, and a book will come to signal sleepy time.

Moving Your Baby From Your Bed To Their Own Crib

baby_in_cribMany families that hire me have a little one sleeping in bed with them.  The child typically still wakes a couple times a night to nurse and fall back asleep and the parents would like them to start sleeping in their crib in their own room.

This is a very common problem and can be fixed in a short period of time.

How should this transition happen?

Sleep is a skill.  It takes practice.  When little ones are used to falling asleep one way i.e. in our bed with you snuggling and nursing, there is an external strategy that has developed which needs to get some tweaking in order for your little one to learn the blissful journey into independent sleep.

Once a child knows how to fall asleep on their own, it is likely that those night wakes will disappear OR the child will be able to wake and drift right back on their own without your assistance.

I do not advocate crying it out and practice a gentler and more personal approach.  The truth is, there will be protesting thru tears as little ones have no other way to express themselves or communicate.  Change is hard for all of us- especially infants and toddlers.  When you are using proper and positive methods, the crying will be very short term.  If you want to avoid crying altogether, you can establish healthy sleep habits right from day 1.  This way your newborn will have strong sleep skills on his side to get him to the nice long sleep and naps on his own without having to break any associations for sleep.

Key Steps For Getting From Bed to Crib:

Step 1: Choose an early bedtime. I suggest a bedtime of 7 and 7:30 pm. If you wait until after 8 pm, you could be dealing with an overtired child that is having a very hard time falling asleep and staying asleep as well as staying asleep past 6 am.

Step 2: Put your child to sleep in the same place every night.  Being in a crib in their own room will help a child feel safe and secure.

Step 3: Create a predictable bedtime routine. Consistency and predictability are really important to a toddler and babies. When a child knows what to expect at bedtime, it makes it much easier for them to make the transition from waking to sleeping. It is important your child has your loving guidance and support as you teach them the new way and skills of transitioning to sleep on their own and in their own crib or bed.

An example of my fav bedtime routine is as follows:

  • Bath
  • PJs, Massage
  • Sleep Sac
  • Nurse (KEEP AWAKE)*optional
  • 1-2 Stories
  • 1 Song, KISSES AND HUGS!
  • Lights out!

Step 4: Put your infant or toddler to bed AWAKE (not even drowsy!)! This is the hardest step but the most crucial in independent sleep success! Crying is a normal part of the process however, it again, is very short term if you are consistent.   Once the child starts to use their own internal strategies for sleep things just get better and better with consistency and practice.

Step 5: A small snuggly plush animal or a security blanket can be great tools to help with learning sleep skills.  It can make a child feel very comfortable and help with the new skill he or she is learning.

Step 6: If your child wakes up during the night, wait a few minutes before going in to see if your child self settles.  Many times a child will fall back asleep without you having to intervene.  If after waiting and your child doesn’t not fall back asleep, make sure you go in and offer some comfort.

Sleep is simply an incredible healthy life skill to have. Studies have shown that poor sleep in children is linked to behavioral issues, depression, learning disabilities, diabetes and obesity.

Congrats on taking steps to improving your child’s sleep!  Good luck and sleep well!