Daylight savings and sleep – what’s the deal?

So, it’s that time of year again – yay! Soon enough we’ll have to change our clocks, and this is where some things can become a bit of a struggle with a little one’s sleep. So, what to do?

Here’s some ideas for you to think about:

– Spring FORWARD, Fall (or Autumn in Australia!) BACK; in other words, make sure you’re putting your clocks forward in Spring and back in Autumn

– in Spring, you lose an hour, which can be easier to make up for than the other way around in Autumn, when you gain an extra hour

– think about what the new times for your child’s sleep will be once the clocks change; you can begin to make a slow change before the clocks turn or you can change afterward

– changes can be made in smaller increments of 5-10 minutes (with a baby of 6 months and under this will most certainly need to be the case), longer increments of 15-30 minutes (with a baby who is 6 months or older) or “cold turkey” as the clock shows (with an older toddler or child)

As we all know, we cannot force sleep. So, when the clock turns that magic number (old time) in the morning, most little people will be awake, unless you’ve transitioned beforehand.

As the clocks change, the sun’s times will change, too. This means that the amount of light coming into your child’s bedroom could potentially disrupt their ability to go to sleep or wake them earlier than expected in the morning. To help remedy this, you may decide to add a block-out blind or curtain.

The good news in all of this is that most little ones, whether they are teeny tiny or bigger, will adapt to the time changes within about a week if you take steps towards helping them do that.

Spring has sprung! Enjoy this beautiful weather and the longer-lit warm days.

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sleep crutches

sleep crutches – feeding, rocking, patting, singing and hand-holding to sleep

I meet so many families who think the first thing I will tell them is that they’ve made a big mistake getting their baby or child off to sleep by doing something intensive. Well, no. In fact, the first thing I say is this:

“parent-intensive sleep methods in the early days of a child’s life help build a positive foundation of emotional wellness on which to make slow and transitional changes with sleep if and when the family is ready to make those changes”

Being a parent is all about doing what feels right for you and your child. Helping your child off to sleep may be something that comes completely natural to you, and that’s great!

There may come a time that the method you’ve chosen when your child was younger no longer seems right. The way we parent evolves and changes, and this is certainly true of the way we choose to help our children get good sleep. There is a way of transitioning from what you are currently doing to where you want your “to-sleep-scenarios” being. Think of changing the method slowly, be patient and you’ll probably be surprised that you CAN actually help your child makes those changes with a bit of determination.

Yes, I am a sleep consultant, BUT I’m also a mum of young kiddies, a midwife and doula — I don’t have “rose-coloured glasses” about how sleep should, could or would be. I realise that sleep looks different in every single home. So, do what you think is right for you and your child and when that changes, start thinking about ways to make it look different. And if the time never comes when you feel a change is needed, then great! Keep on doing what you’re doing. And don’t forget to enjoy. 🙂

Happy transitioning!

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early wake ups – are you up before the sun?

Early wake-ups… are they happening in your home?

Let’s face it, it’s not nice being up before the sun. Especially when it’s out of your control.

So, what do we mean by early wake-ups?

We would categorise an early wake-up as a child waking before 6am and being “ready for the day”. If it happens every now and then, not to worry (as long as it’s close to 6am!) BUT if it’s happening regularly in your home there is usually a reason why.

Here’s a quick list for you:

– make sure your child is not going down too early for their first nap; awake time will be taken in reverse if a child keeps getting put to bed at the same time every day even though they need more wake time (e.g. say your 6 month old goes down for her nap at 830am from a 630am wakeup, and as she gets older that time doesn’t change.. by 9 months she’s needing 2.5 hours of wake-time first thing in the morning so if you are continuing to put her to bed at 830am her morning wake-up will likely become 6am)
– make sure your child’s first nap is not too long; when a child drops to two naps they will likely be a similar length, but as she gets older and increases her ability to stay awake the job of the morning nap is to give her “a bit of sleep” to get her through to the afternoon sleep so she can have a big chunk of sleep then and go to bed at night time between 630-730pm and not over-tired (e.g. for a 9mth old might be something like: 630am wake-up, 9-10am nap, 1-3pm nap, 7pm bedtime)
– make sure your child is not going to bed too early at night time; think about the normal “night-time sleep” for your child’s age so that you’re not expecting too much sleep from them, and remember that there is a range of what’s normal for each age (e.g. at 9 mths, babies usually sleep for 11-11.5 hours so if you are putting your little one down to bed at 630pm and she’s waking at 530am then this would be within the expected range)
– make sure your child in not going to bed too late; an over-tired person of any age will not sleep as well and is much more likely to wake through the night and before it’s a suitable time to be awake in the morning. I suggest a bedtime of between 630-730pm; think about what time your child wakes from the last nap and try not to stretch out “too long” before bedtime for the night.
– make sure you’re not encouraging the habit; if you are “starting the day” before 6am over and over again, you’re helping drive your child’s biological clock and she will likely continue to wake. If she is at an age to need a feed then do this, and encourage her back to bed (even if she won’t sleep straight away).

Being up early is not nice. If it’s happening regularly, I would encourage you to try to remedy this as soon as possible. Sometimes it can take up to a month of consistent work to get the early wake up ironed out!

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Toddlers – parenting and sleep manners!

I often talk about parenting during the day vs parenting during the night. Particularly in relation to the toddler or younger child, and particularly with night-time battles (staying in bed, going off to sleep).

Think about whether you are using the same expectations at night as you are during the day; if a child is not sure of the expectation, or if the parenting is “mis-matched” this can be part of having issues at night with sleep.

So, think about it:

– are you expecting independence during the day but not at night, or vice a versa?
– are you giving in to demands for constant attention during the day but not at night, or vice a versa?

Your child sends out signals to you and waits for the return signal as to what the expectation is. I like to ask myself, “What is my child learning (or not learning) during this particular interaction with me?”

There is no one right way to parent, but being both empathetic and definite in your expectation, during daytime and at night is a positive way to raise children.

Here is an example for you:

“I hear that you do not want to go to sleep right now. That’s fine — I can’t make your body go to sleep. But it is bedtime, so you’ll need to use your bedtime manners:

1. stay in your bed
2. be calm and quiet

I love you and I’m looking forward to seeing you again when bedtime is over.”

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