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It’s almost time to “Spring Ahead”

Alright people – it is coming in hot, but we’ve still got lots of time to get this right.

Daylight savings time is coming for us. Again. I know. Doesn’t it feel like this just happened?! No. Just me. I must be getting older.

Transitioning sleep times can be fairly straightforward, or, it can be a little bit tricky. It really depends on your specific child, how sensitive they are to change, and how sensitive YOU are to change. We know our children feel our feelings as we are connected on a cellular level. So, if changes to your child’s sleep routine cause you a little bit of worry, it might be time to start preparing for the hour where we “spring forward”, so you can take this change in stride.

The clocks will go forward one hour on Sunday, March 11th at 3:00 am in Canada. For frame of reference, 7:00 pm will become 8:00 pm, and 6:00 am will become 7:00 am.

Just like any sleep change, there are a few different techniques you can use to begin to help your child with this transition. I will outline a few below, and those that I feel are easiest for most families to follow.

For all children:

Once Sunday March 11th rolls around, treat the clocks as the true time. You may need to “push” your child ever so gently onto their new schedule, and I would advise waking your babe up at normal time to start the day. If they need to be up at 7:00 am on Monday morning to get to daycare on time, don’t let them sleep til 8:30 am on Sunday.

For infants and toddlers with a set bedtime:

You can begin making this transition as early as 4 weeks prior to the change. If you are someone who likes to plan ahead, this can suit you quite nicely! If your child goes to bed most evenings at 7:00 pm, begin moving their bedtime 15 minutes earlier each week. Wake them up 15 mins earlier the next day if necessary, and put them down for their naps 15 minutes earlier as well. For example;

  • Week 1: 6:45 pm fast asleep

  • Week 2: 6:30 pm fast asleep

  • Week 3: 6:15 pm fast asleep

  • Week 4: 6:00 pm (which will become the new 7:00 pm on March 11th)

As you can probably see – this is NOT going to work out, if you have been letting your child sleep til their normal start time in the morning, and napping them at their regular nap times as well. They won’t be tired when that slightly earlier bedtime rolls around, and they are going to fall asleep right at their usual time.

When we schedule shift, we really move the whole schedule. Not just bits and pieces of it.

For those who have not prepared quite as far ahead, this is still a nice transition to use over the course of 4 days, or a week or two. Work on slowly moving the time up with each passing night until you arrive at a bedtime one hour earlier than your usual bedtime, prior to the change. Approach naps a little earlier, and wake your child to start the day at an ideal time if necessary.

For infants and toddlers with a somewhat flexible bedtime:

My advice on this one is to also be somewhat flexible. A few days before the time change, begin moving their daily naps slightly earlier.

This really depends again on how time sensitive your child is. Some babies will respond super well to having their naps moved up by 15 mins every few days, and an older toddler might not notice this change in the slightest.

Move bedtime up by the same amount of time that day, and you should be able to adjust to the new time within 2 – 4 days.

If your child typically goes to bed between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm each night, aim for the earlier time over the course of a few days leading up to the change, and then somewhere in the middle of that hour for the few days following the change.

For example; the week before the time change bedtime is closer to 6:15, or 6:30 pm, and the week after the change bedtime is closer to 7:15 or 7:30 pm. You can then begin moving this time up if it still is not suitable to your schedule.

Yeah. So. I didn’t plan and now my kid is going to bed at 10:00 pm. Now what?!

If you’re reading this March 12th after your child was up til 10:00 pm the night before, my best advice is to relax. Do get your child up at the wake-up time you expect tomorrow morning, and they should make the transition on their own within 3 – 4 days. But remember this – the best place to counter a later than preferred bedtime is in the MORNING!! Not, at night. 

Older children tend to make this transition quite seamlessly by going by what the clock says as of March 11th. But all children WILL find their groove within 7 – 10 days for sure.

Lastly, get your child outside first thing in the morning for a few days after the change for some fresh air and natural light. This will also help re-set their biological clock and the fresh air will help achieve good naps, and easier sleep that day. Not to mention, the whole point here is that we get to enjoy a little more light later into the evening!

Thank you to Stacie-Lynn for the beautiful photo featured here.

 

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Is now the time to make sleep changes?

Every family that I have worked with has asked themselves this question.

I know there is a lot of hesitancy around hiring a baby sleep coach. It is usually the non-nursing partner who is the most skeptical. “Do you really think this baby lady is going to solve our sleep problem? What does she know that google doesn’t?”

Quite possibly nothing would be my answer. Google knows A LOT these days. I know Google could probably teach me how to change a flat tire, but I am still calling my husband to do it for me! And I know Google could probably teach me how to bake a lemon meringue pie… but I’m still picking one up from Save-On on my way home.

I know. I’m being silly again. I tend to be that way. One cannot take all the sleep stuff too serious, or one will never get the babies sleeping. My recipe for getting babies to sleep includes; every sleep book under the sun, all of the googling, as well as, years of experience in putting babies to bed and getting those babies sleeping. It is the experience part that I rely on every day to get me through the difficult nights, and expectedly early mornings.

I always ask the families who have decided to work with me, why NOW is the time. These are some of the responses I have heard.

“We have talked about hiring a sleep consultant many times. I’ve been at my wits end before, but I keep waiting for some improvement to take place. And then it never does. It never seems like the perfect time (i.e. travelling, teething, etc)., but we realize there will never be a perfect time and something has got to give!” ~ Kristen, mom of 15 month old Logan, Delta, BC.

“We just want dad to be able to put her to bed! We have worries, stresses, and thoughts about this not going well. We want to talk with someone who has experienced all of this before us, and can offer us some advice as we make this big transition.” ~ Sarah, mom of 10 month old Abigail, Toronto, ON.

“Because I am literally exhausted. We have been trying to make changes on our own for over a month now, and nothing seems to be working. We are hoping for longer stretches at night, and seeing our baby learn to fall asleep more independently. I can’t imagine how I could possibly go on at this pace.” ~ Amelia, mom of 5 month old Connor, Coquitlam, BC.

The thing is. I get it. I have literally been in the shoes of every one of these parents who is finally reaching out for help. I have felt the effects of true sleep deprivation.

I remember driving a car thinking – I should not be driving this car right now because I didn’t sleep at all last night. I’ve cancelled play dates because the thought of getting out of my pajamas was just too much to bear. I’ve hid from friends and family with their well-meaning advice, and “good” sleeping babies.

 

 

Although my approach is slow and steady, progress is made every single day. I love checking in with families, and hearing about the night before. The ups, the downs, the highs and lows. I am here to weather the storm. I can help prepare a new plan as needed, or assure a family to hold steady as we wait for this moment in time to pass.

Most often, families comment about how they wish they had of started sooner. After one week together, babies are usually falling asleep peacefully in their beds. After two weeks together, the middle of the night stretches are starting to consolidate, and at the end of three weeks nap sleep is becoming reliable and consistent.

Here are some of what a few of our happy families have had to say.

“Things are going well! We’re not ready to shout it from the rooftops, but things are happening. We had two long stretches of consolidated sleep last night and only 2 night wakings! We need some encouragement, but we feel like we are on the right track!” – Ted, Dad to 9 month old William, after Night 4.

“We are feeling great! She had some good stretches of sleep last night. Bedtime was easy. She was awake when I put her down in her crib tonight, and she went down easily without a fuss. We heard her wake once around 12:30 am, but she went right back to sleep. Celebrate with us today. We are feeling good! – Alanna, Mom to 10 month old Harlow, after night 15.

“We are tired today, but we are feeling hopeful. Miles slept in his crib for the first time ever! And this is the first time that Ryan has ever been able to successfully put him down to sleep in his crib! Things are looking great. I am feeling so much better, and I am just so proud of how well Miles and Ryan did together! – Carly, Mom to 5 month old Miles, after night 8.

When it comes to making sleep changes, there are certainly some times that are better than others. If you’re having a hard time deciding if that time is now, please reach out. We can hop on the phone, dive deeper in email, and decide together if now is the right time to make a change, and if I am the right person to help get your baby sleeping.

XO

Lara

Thank you to Astrid Miller Photography and Stacie-Lynn Photography, for the beautiful images featured here.

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Transitioning Your Child to their Own Sleep Space

Where should your baby sleep? Crib, co-sleeper, bed, bassinet, DockAtot?! The possibilities are endless. And although you swore up and down while expecting that you would NEVER end up with a baby in your bed, we all know how that sometimes plays out!

The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that a baby sleep in a crib in their parent’s room for the first 6 months of their life. They define this as “co-sleeping”, I however, define this as “room-sharing”, and tend to think of co-sleeping as truly having your baby share the bed with one or more parent through some part of the day or night.

Now before you think I am going to write a blog shaming you for co-sleeping, continue reading. Ha! That would never be my intention because really, I don’t give a f*ck where your family sleeps. I don’t sleep in your bed, so.. why would I care? I trust that you have made a decision that fits your family’s lifestyle, and that if you have decided to co-sleep; you are of course following all precautions to do so safely such as those listed here.

What this article is about is HOW to prepare your child to sleep in their own room, and in their own crib, when that time comes. Do you just decide one night that this is how it will be? Rip off the band-aid and let er fly?!

I am going to go with… No… I always think, what would the baby prefer? How can we adjust baby to a new scenario in a way that is most natural, and more likely to invoke a positive response?

Step 1: Begin Building a Positive Room Association

Essentially this means playing with your child in their new sleep space. Make a focused effort to go to this room a few times per day. Bring some of your baby or toddler’s favourite toys, and enjoy the space together. Play on the floor. Offer them your focused attention. Read some stories, and sing some songs in their new room. Do this for at least a couple of days, before moving on to the next step. 10 or 15 minutes twice per day tends to be a good guideline in terms of spending focused time.

Step 2: Build a Positive Relationship with Your Child’s Crib or Bed

If this is a place your baby has never slept before, it may be completely foreign to them. If you have seen your baby go into their crib and immediately burst into tears upon hitting the mattress, it is pretty safe to say they have no clue what this space is for, and whether or not they should trust it! Let’s get them comfortable here.

We want our babies to see their crib as a safe haven. Therefore, when they do wake up through the middle of the night they know where they are. They trust that this is a place they like and enjoy, and can spend a few minutes looking around and relaxing in before they fall asleep, as well as, return to sleep through partial arousals in the night.

Follow the same ritual as you did in preparing your child for their new room. Allow your child to PLAY in their crib. I know I know… some of you are saying, but I want her to SLEEP in her crib, why on earth would I let her play in it?! Isn’t that just going to teach her that this space is for playing in? No. No it is not. For the reasons listed above! We want this to become one of your child’s favourite, most comfortable places, and one way to achieve this is through play.

At first, stay with your child and truly entertain them. Bring them toys, read them books while they are in their crib, sing songs etc. Then begin to build up your time away. Begin to do something in your child’s room. For example; fold laundry, or begin going through their closet and sort the clothes that no longer fit! When your baby babbles, go over to the crib and babble back. Show your love and support and that you will always be there to check on them. They can feel safe knowing you are always going to respond to their needs while they are in their crib.

Next, move on to the step of leaving your child to play in their crib for a few minutes at a time. Say, “mommy is just going to go get a glass of water, or check on brother, etc,” you get the idea. Leave the room but stay within earshot. Do return as you promised you would, and babble back at baby. At first you may just leave the room for 30 – 45 seconds, but see if you can grow this to 2 or 3 minutes, and even up to 5. Every return to your baby shows them that they can in fact trust you, and you mean what you say in terms of offering them support.

If you are planning to do any “sleep shaping” with your little one, I see the above as an essential step in preparing them for this; especially for a child who has never slept in their crib. Wait until you are in a place of putting your baby down in their crib and they immediately smile and coo, etc., before you begin your sleep coaching regime. You will probably save you and your baby A LOT of tears!

Step 3: Baby Already Knows their Bed

If your baby has already been sleeping in their crib in your room, and has a positive relationship with this space your job is much easier. After spending some time on step 1, I would suggest moving your baby’s crib to their room for at least one nap, before expecting them to sleep all night in this space. There is really no need to juggle back and forth between having naps in their new room, and then nighttime back in your room. Just aim to have afternoon nap here, followed by bedtime the same day. Pick a day and time when you feel you and baby are ready, and commit 100% to your baby’s new sleep space. You have spent some time allowing your baby the chance to become accustomed to their new space, and you can support them here. But, it would be unfair to juggle back and forth between rooms, or even bring your child back into your bed at this particular time.

Step 4: Don’t Hesitate to Stay Nearby

Even if your child is accustomed to falling asleep without your presence, don’t hesitate to stay nearby on the first few nights baby is sleeping in their new room. Some parents decide to offer support by sitting on a chair in their child’s room until baby falls asleep, or even sleeping on an air-mattress on the floor for the first couple of nights. It is really up to you.

After all, this is all about YOU, your baby, and YOUR family. Of course I am happy to offer suggestions as to how we might help this all go more smoothly, but at the end of the day all that matters is that your family is happy with your sleep situation.

If you’re not… perhaps then it is time to see if I can help find a customized solution for you.

XO

Lara

Thank you to Stacie-Lynn Photography for the beautiful photo I used to showcase this blog. <3