OMG why didn’t anyone tell us what life was like having a newborn baby in the home.
For some it is overwhelming, others just take it in their stride and this is okay We all deal with life differently and with parenting there is no right or wrong way, there are easy and hard ways and the best thing about parenting is you can’t fail at this job.
Parenting is a lifelong journey and parenting to sleep is part of that journey. Just as your parents are still parenting you.
BABIES NEED TWO NUTRIENTS – FOOD AND SLEEP – if they sleep well they eat well and if they eat well then they sleep well.
It also takes TACT – time, acceptance, consistency and touch.
Crying is communication
Communication is words
Words we always STOP, LISTEN and ACT – where are we when our baby is crying, what are we doing?
This is an exciting but exhausting time of being a parent. It is about getting to know the little one that you have just given birth with, finding your role as parents and also learning how to navigate with sleep
deprivation and maintaining your old life style and adjusting to your body’s new demands.
I often encourage parents where possible to take time out of everyday life and to cocoon yourselves and get to know your baby. For parents who have more than one child, this is a time that extended family or friends can step in and support you all to allow you time to adjust to your newborn.
There is so much information for parents to take in but I can’t stress enough how the 4th trimester is about nurturing. Babies thrive on being held close and sensing the rhythm of your heartbeat, your familiar smell and the warmth of your body. This intimacy emulates the womb and helps build a sense of trust, confirming to your baby that life outside the womb is safe. In a sense, parents are like shock absorbers – holding your baby close absorbs their anxiety and tension so they are able to relax and feel secure.
Every baby is different and some require more nurturing than others. On occasions nurturing calls for going that extra mile to comfort your baby in times of distress. Yes, your baby is going to cry – they are talking to you.
As time passes and expectations are put to rest, parents often discover an internal strength and I always encourage parents to trust themselves and follow their gut – I firmly believe this is a key aspect in helping parents find their feet.
It is important to understand that crying is natural – it is their form of communication and if we think in that crying is communication and communication is words and words we stop, listen and act. The act is
where are you, what are you doing for your baby when they are calling you and of course this can be the most stressful and confusing time for a parent.
When working with parents with newborn babies I encourage parents to engulf their babies for their naps during the day and overnight try and get them into their cots as much as possible. Whatever way you are going to parent it takes TACT – time, acceptance, consistency (80%) and touch. You cannot spoil a newborn so remember by holding a baby you are not going to make a rod for your back or let alone spoil a baby so listen to your gut not others.
Whatever you are doing in arms I recommend that you can replicate in a cot and in many cases this is where it gets hard as for the first 12 weeks you have been advised to rock, walk, swing, drive or put a buggy and rock over a cord but at around 16 weeks the same people then advise you to put them into their cots with no movement. It is difficult to change your pattern of showing a baby how to self-settle with large movement to no movement. My advice is to sit still no large movements – your body becomes the mattress and you do a movement on your baby that can be replicated in a cot. I call this cupping and you can see this on a video that you can purchase from my website called settling.
Give your baby and yourselves a good environment to sleep in – this means a pitch black room not partially or in a lighted room. Yes, they will sleep anywhere perhaps up to 6 week when they have their 1st PROGRESSIVE MILESTONE and yes they sleep anywhere in arms as most of them have buried their faces into your body to find sleep but remember melatonin is produced in the dark – think of this when adults work night duty and they have to re train their bodies to sleep in the day – they either use eye masks or blacken their rooms.
Check out my website for both temporary and permanent black outs – Screenaway is the only 100% blackout blind in NZ. The temporary static blinds are also good and can be found on my website as well.
I am a great believer that sleep breeds sleep and again it is how they fall asleep and stay asleep that is also important.
I think the most popular question I get is when is too early to put our baby into a routine.
As soon as your baby is born they are in a routine.
They wake and cry
You feed, burp, change and snuggle
Your baby sleeps.
Then from that simple answer I look at how long their wake cycles are. All my information is a guideline only and then you as parents need to work it out. If I have a client that comes back to me and says it’s not
working and they have crossed all the t’s and dotted all the I’s then it’s not going to work. You take the information that are given or researched on the internet and check the person’s credentials to ensure their way of parenting is similar to how you wish to parent.
0 to 6 weeks wake cycles are 45 minutes to 1 hour
6 to 12 weeks 1 hour to 1 ½ hours
A wake cycle is when you take your baby out of their cot and start the next wake cycle and finishes as you are swaddling and placing into their cot.
A nap cycle is when you place your baby into their cot and then finishes when you pick them up and say it’s wake time. It is not from the time they fall asleep as self-settling is part of their sleep cycle the same as resettling is. It is the length of their naps that dictate how often they feed. So if someone says your baby needs to be on a 3 or 4 hourly routine for feeding take this on board but in reality that is not how it works.
Remember Babies need TWO NUTRIENTS FOOD AND SLEEP if they sleep well then they feed well and if they feed well then they sleep well.
Feeding to Sleep
We are all lead to believe that feeding to sleep is bad, however it isn’t and out of all the props that parents use this one can actually be done in the cot if need be. I believe that feeding to sleep is a ‘good’ prop as you are nurturing your baby, however the question I always ask is how long do you want to do this and if you aren’t okay about feeding to sleep until they no longer need it then I suggest working on changing it before you don’t want to do anymore. Also remember how they fall asleep is how they will want to re settle as well. Also when she wakes overnight some babies tend to look to resettle how they settle, however this is not always the case.
This is often a debatable subject and today’s advice is not to swaddle. However in my experience there are babies that need to be swaddle and it is about encouraging healthy swaddling techniques rather than saying NO swaddling.
The reason it is recommended today not to swaddle is that our babies are born with some amazing natural reflexes while still growing in the womb. The modern thought is that it is important that babies use their startle reflex, which help to remind babies to reset their heart rate, breathing and temperature. It is said that by swaddling you are inhibiting all these reflexes.
The reason why I swaddle is twofold. The first is to avoid baby’s s full startle reflex (Moro Reflex) which may disrupt their sleep. The second reason is the security it gives your baby by representing a cocoon — similar to the feeling of the womb. It is important to do your research about the risks and benefits of swaddling, so you can make your own informed decision with all the information in mind and based on the needs of your own baby.
If you swaddle your baby either with arms across their body or the hands up swaddle the swaddle will minimise their strong startled reflex but will still startle so they can still reset their heart rate, breathing and temperature. This is hard to do if they are in the arms down beside them unless they are in a stretchable swaddle material which will allow their arms to move towards their chest as they fall asleep.
White noise is a mixture of sound waves extending over a wide frequency range, providing a constant background noise. It is believed to replicate the sound of the noise in the womb and has been proven in many cases to be very soothing for a baby.
In my experience continuously played white noise may encourage light sleeping and it is important that your baby learns to sleep through household noises. Think about why you are using white noise. If you are using it because of loud outside noises then I suggest drowning them out by placing the machine closer to the window and for those early morning noises, such as birds singing, try putting the white noise machine on a timer.
If you are using it because you have a noisy toddler or a noisy household, then I suggest using the white noise machine outside the bedroom door which allows the volume to be set louder. Ideally the recommended level of white noises is played between 50 to 75 decibels and a study conducted by a Canadian research group recommends that the devices may be capable of creating sounds loud enough to cause hearing loss after prolonged exposure, and they suggest the following guidelines for families to encourage safer use of the machines:
Self-settling – start of the sleep cycle
When you first swaddle your baby and they are ready for sleep I suggest that you place them in their cot wide awake . This is when you will step back and allow them the ability to find their sleep. You will only step back for up to a minute and this can be less than a minute as well. If settling in arms then you would pick up your baby and engulf and hold to sleep, however if you are trying to settle in their cot then you would pick your baby up do a quick burp and then back into their cots and touch. Touch and presence is important as your baby is talking to you and you have just started to replace your body(mattress) with their cot mattress. To see how to self-settle, this is explained clearly in both books and in particular my second book.
When comforting your baby and instead of doing a large movement then I recommend you do a movement on their body which I call cupping. Cupping is doing movement on their lower torso and this hand does this movement without removing from their body. Your other hand is on their chest and it is important not to do cupping or movement on their chests – this is done on their lower torso.
Whatever you do to encourage them to fall asleep in arms again I repeat it is important to be able to replicate this in the cot.
Resettling – keeping your baby asleep
Resettling will be either in the cot or in arms and ideally at this age it is better to intervene before they stir as it is easier to resettle a sleeping/drowsy baby than a wide awake one.
Resettling is continuous cupping. An example is that your baby wakes at 40 minutes so you can enter the room before this and ideal just listen until you hear a movement and then start the resettling or you can touch lightly – one hand on chest, one hand on lower torso.
Once you feel a change in the baby then start your cupping. If your baby starts to stir move and is moving towards waking then it is okay to pick your baby up and resettle in arms. Again constant cupping (small movements on your baby) and this can take 45 minutes. It can be constant, it can be constant then off and on. Ensure you are doing a movement on their body like they would feel if you were walking or rocking – the difference is that cupping can be done in the cot as well.
IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WHEN DOING MOVEMENT ON YOUR BABY THE MOVEMENT IS ON THEIR LOWER TORSO NOT THEIR CHEST – the chest hand is stationary.
If you can’t resettle then start the next wake cycle which begins with a feed. If your baby is cap napping through the day and sleeping well at night ask yourself why is my baby doing this. One of the most common issues is the difference of darkness between day and night. Remember at night you baby doesn’t need a night light on to see what is going on – if you need it then remember to use it when you are in the room and turn off when you go back to bed.
These are ‘parent led’ feeds and in my opinion, if the baby is sleeping there is no benefit to the baby in having this feed.
Obviously, dreams feeds are one aspect of routines you need to work out for yourself. It may seem a good option when you start doing it, however I have found that a lot of sleeping (in particular night waking) and feeding issues from around 4 months onwards are a consequence of the ‘dream feed’. Just because you may have decided you no longer want to do a dream feed or that you think your baby no longer needs it that doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby will feel the same and it can be a very
difficult element to drop from your babies routine.
Another aspect to consider when opting to dream feed is that a baby’s brain and body grows and develops while sleeping and when picking a baby up while they are asleep for this feed you are in fact disturbing their growth time.
Make sure you are well informed on this and do your research and then make your own decision.
With self-settling and resettling it takes time – babies do not have the tools on board to self soothe or resettle until 12 to 16 weeks – some babies take longer as well.
It’s okay for a baby to cry – this is communication – it is not okay to ignore the cry.
It’s okay to hold a baby to sleep – just remember your body is the mattress so keep still – yes it takes longer but it is easier than to transfer your baby to a cot
At the end of the day do what you feel is right, you are your BABY WHISPERER and BABY EXPERT, not the experts – I am the person who can listen to you, guide you and support you while you find the answers.
Remember CRYING IS COMMUNICATION AND COMMUNICATION IS WORDS AND WORDS WE ALWAYS STOP, LISTEN AND ACT – the act is what is my baby telling me, where am I when my baby is talking to me, am I doing too much for my baby (i.e. large movements, plugging to stop the crying), am I not doing enough and then answer all these questions and anymore you ask yourself and then take the next step. It also takes TACT – time, acceptance, consistency (80%) and touch (presence).
Dorothy Waide, in case her name is new to you, is a Karitane Mothercraft Nurse, and has over three decades of experience and expertise with babies. Dorothy is an author of two books – You Simply Can’t Spoil a Newborn and Simply Parenting from 12 weeks to 12 months. Dorothy has also worked alongside OHBaby! magazine as their Sleep Expert for over 10 years. She has regularly appeared on TV morning shows and the Parenting Squad on 1ZB.
Like many other industries, sleep training has those in favor as well as those who vehemently disagree with it. Before we get into the heart of this article, allow me to share a quick overview of the process Sleep Consultants use, in case you are new to the world of sleep training.
A majority of Sleep Consultants have an in-depth intake form that the parents fill out prior to their Sleep Consultant creating their customized sleep plan. We then analyze the parents’ responses and use them to create a sleep plan that ensures alignment with their family’s lifestyle and parenting philosophy, as well as one that considers their child’s temperament, medical needs, and full medical history. Sleep Consultants have a variety of sleep training methods in our repertory, once we understand the complete
picture, we are able to determine which method would fit the child and family best.
If you are up for a social experiment, ask “What are your thoughts on sleep training?” on a public forum, grab some popcorn, and wait for the responses to roll in. Now, I don’t actually suggest you conduct this experiment unless you’re quite bored and want to read a plethora of passionate responses ranging from one extreme to the other.
The responses would likely range from “Sleep training saved my sanity, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my family!” to “Sleep training is abusive and cruel.”
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultants take the latter statement to heart; not because it holds any validity but because we care so deeply about our clients and invest so much of our heart into this work. We see firsthand just how attentive and loving the parents of our young clients are. The parents of our clients are seeking education about pediatric sleep. They ask a plethora of questions about the different methods we use, and we work with them to create a plan that supports their parenting philosophy and helps them reach their family’s sleep goals. Thus, when we see someone who’s uneducated in our field utilizing extreme language to incite fear, it is extremely disheartening.
The parents we work with are exhausted from irregular sleep, which can be detrimental to one’s physical and emotional well-being. These parents are desperate for solutions and have finally mustered up the courage to seek support from qualified professionals.They know that their child/children are not getting adequate sleep, which hinders their ability to thrive.
“Studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity and even depression.”Rachel Dawkins, Johns Hopkins Medicine
You may be wondering, “Well then why do people jump to the conclusion that sleep training is abusive or neglectful?”. It wouldn’t be fair for me to ignore those claims, and not give my expert opinion as to where they stem from.
When I see claims made against sleep training, most of the time it is because of the false impression that babies lay crying in their crib for hours, only falling asleep because they have learned their parents have left them and are not coming back.
If you’re new to the sleep training world, they are referring to a method called Extinction, more commonly known as Cry It Out (CIO). Extinction is simply one of many methods that sleep consultants have to choose from when working with a family to reach their child’s sleep goals. Unfortunately, people unfamiliar with the sleep training industry have come to use the terms “Sleep Training” and “Cry it out” interchangeably.
Here is how I would explain extinction to a client of mine, should I determine
it is the best fit for their child:
“In this method, you will complete your bedtime routine, ensuring your child’s love tank is full. You then lay them down drowsy, but awake, and leave the room until morning. You do not return into the room, at any time, for any reason.”
I, personally, have never used extinction with a client, however I can see instances where it would be fitting to use. For example, let’s say we have a healthy four-year-old who communicates well with their parents, but simply will not sleep in their own room. Their parents have tried other, more gentle, methods with no success. This would be an instance in which I would feel comfortable with using CIO.
I support fellow Sleep Consultants who choose to use extinction with their clients, because I trust their discernment and ability to choose a method that fits their clients’ needs. I know the training they have received and the guidelines they were taught regarding which clients are a good fit for extinction. I also am a member of multiple forums with other Sleep Consultants, where we share tips, ask questions, and support one another. Not once have I come across a Sleep Consultant who solely uses extinction.
Furthermore, there are five components to establishing a healthy sleep foundation. Meeting the child’s emotional needs is one of the five components. Sleep Consultants are trained to educate their clients on how to ensure their child’s emotional needs are met prior to beginning sleep training, which can reduce the amount of crying that occurs during the sleep training process. Every parent I have worked with has been concerned with their child’s emotional well-being throughout the sleep training process including the parents who are comfortable with longer periods of crying.
Every child is different and every parent has their own level of comfort when it comes to crying periods. Every time a sleep trainer analyzes an intake form, we are putting together a unique puzzle that results in our ability to choose the method that will work the best for that specific client. In the end, the goal is always the same: helping a child learn how to sleep independently by choosing the method that the specific child will respond to the best.
“But other sleep training methods include crying it out!”, one may claim. However, that is incorrect, the only method that includes “crying it out” IS extinction. All other methods we utilize include at least one of the following: check-ins, physical touch, reassuring words, or picking the child up. I have yet to come across a client where I am unable to find a method that a parent is comfortable with implementing, nor would I ever suggest a method I felt a parent would feel uncomfortable utilizing with their child.
Yes, there can be. When a parent decides to hire a sleep consultant and implement a sleep training plan, the child quickly notices the changes that are taking place and they’re not always thrilled with those changes. Change can be hard, whether you are a baby, child or an adult! Since a large portion of the children we work with cannot speak yet, they express their disapproval with the only language they know, crying.
Children cry when we discipline them for hitting their siblings.
Children cry when we don’t allow them to eat the goldfish they found under the couch.
Children cry when it’s time to leave the park and go home for dinner, and so on.
When children cry for those reasons, our logic tells us that they are just upset. We never question if our bond with them will be affected adversely by us enforcing rules that we feel are important. Yet, when many opposed to sleep training hear that children may cry, even for a few minutes, they claim abuse and some even use fear mongering language to make a parent think their child will feel neglected if they choose to sleep train. While I understand that these claims are typically coming from a good place, one that cares for the child’s emotional well-being, it is important to understand that Sleep Trainers are educated on nurturing a child’s well-being and how to choose the method that will work best for each child. Many of us are mothers ourselves and understand how painful it can be to hear your child cry which only entices us more to choose the most gentle method that will be effective for each child.
As parents, it is our job to make decisions that are in our child’s best interest. I think we can all agree that ensuring they get adequate sleep is in every child’s best interest. Many times, the decisions we make for our children are not ones they would make for themselves, if given the choice.
Would most teenagers give themselves a curfew?
Would a seven year old make the rule that they must brush their teeth twice a day?
Most of them, no.
Yet we enforce the rules that are important to us as parents because we know that children’s brains are still developing and while they are smart and capable, they need guidance. When we enforce rules we are teaching responsibility, to respect, boundaries, and good habits that will set our children up for success in life.
Sleep Training and extinction do not mean the same thing. Extinction is simply one of many methods a Sleep Trainer can utilize.
Sleep Consultants and the parents they work with care deeply about the emotional well-being of the children who are being sleep trained. Yes, even the parents who utilize extinction!
Parents who sleep train their children are not abusive.
Parents who utilize extinction are not abusive.
At Sweetest Sleep Co., I am passionate about education and breaking the negative stigmas that are tied to our industry because sleep training literally saved my life. I was in the midst of a gruesome battle with postpartum depression. My daughter was sleeping on my chest, waking multiple times a night to breastfeed for eight months. Once I implemented a sleep training method, my daughter began to sleep through the night in four nights. It was then that I became inspired to help other parents find the same relief I now had.
If you’d like to discuss the content of this post more or have general sleep training questions, I am happy to chat with you anytime – www.SweetestSleepCo.Com. Without proper sleep, everything crumbles.
Hello, I’m Alicia Cochran. Founder of Sweetest Sleep Co. I am a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant through the Cradle Coach Academy. After successfully sleep training my own two children, I knew that I had to become certified and emerge myself into the world of pediatric sleep so that I could help other exhausted and sleep deprived parents. At Sweetest Sleep Co., I work with parents to sleep train their children aged 4 months – 4 years using techniques customized to their child’s age, temperament, medical and dietary needs, family lifestyle, and parenting philosophy. My clients have come to love my unconditional support, passion to educate without judgement, and prompt reply times. I work virtually with clients nationwide and offer in-home sleep consultation services in the Dayton, Ohio area.
In honour of World Maternal Mental Health Day on Thursday May 5, 2022, and Maternal Mental Health Month throughout the month of May, I wanted to take a few moments to acknowledge and talk about Maternal Mental Health. In addition to being a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, I have also been a Mental Health and Addiction Clinician for almost 12 years, and I’m currently working on a certificate in Perinatal Mental Health. I believe that Mental Health is always an important topic, and Maternal Mental Health specifically is a very important topic that deserves discussion and awareness!
Maternal Mental Health issues are more common than many people may realize, and they impact many mothers worldwide. In Canada, 20% of mothers will experience a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (these are mental health issues that may arise during pregnancy and in the postpartum period). These number have increased during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
An interesting study conducted in 2018, published through the Journal of Psychiatric Practice showed that Mothers of Twins/Multiples face higher rates of Postpartum mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, when compared to mothers of single babies.
Other studies have shown that sleep deprivation significantly impacts maternal mental health and functioning.
It’s also important to mention that there are many other moms out there who do not necessarily meet the criteria for Postpartum Anxiety/Depression, but they still may be experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety than they typically would experience.
These results tell us that many moms are struggling, and it’s really important that moms/caregivers have the right supports in place to take care of their own mental health, while they’re also taking care of little one(s)!
Now that we know more about the prevalence of Maternal Mental Health Issues, let’s shift and look at what we can do to help so that we can ensure moms needs are being met!
Reaching out for support can be a very important step in someone’s journey to feeling better and feeling more like themselves again. This support can be through a combination of professional and personal supports. Professional supports may be through a family doctor, a professional specializing in Perinatal Mood Disorders (such as a therapist, a social worker, a nurse, psychiatrist, etc). Personal supports may be through family/friends, who are understanding and available to connect. Building a support network can truly make the world of a difference to those who are struggling.
If you’re a mom, you might be thinking “I don’t have time for self-care!”. I know the feeling! I’m sure you are very tight for time and it can seem so hard to fit in time for yourself! But, it’s so important for your overall health, and mental health that you take some time to focus on taking care of yourself as well. You have probably heard the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to taking care of your family. If you do not have the energy and resources to take care of yourself, it will be impossible to take care of others. I encourage you to try to incorporate some time for your own self-care, even on the days that are busy and hard! Self-care doesn’t have to be an hour-long massage (although that sounds lovely!) it can be as simple as having 15 minutes to yourself to do something that makes you feel good. It’s important for you to find something that works well for you, and makes you feel good – every person will be different with this! For one person, it may be getting out for a walk, for someone else, it might be enjoying a hot cup of coffee, getting outside in nature, reading a book for 10 minutes, or listening to music. Regardless of what it is for you, find some time to incorporate self-care into your day, so that you can prioritize yourself, your needs, and your mental health!
I know that when it comes to being a mom, you have a lot on your plate! You may feel like you are constantly juggling a million different things at once! While this can be the norm for you, it can also be the norm to share these responsibilities with others, so that you don’t feel the immense pressure of taking care of everything all by yourself! It’s okay to ask for help, and let others know what is helpful for you! When you are able to share some of the load with others, it can help to take some of the pressure off of yourself, so that you can focus on taking care of you.
Given that sleep deprivation can significantly impact maternal mental health, it’s also important to focus on mom’s getting adequate sleep! Now I know that this may seem impossible, especially in those early newborn days when you’re feeding around the clock, and when you might be dealing with many night wakings. This is where it may make sense to ask for help from your partner, family members, friends, or even professionals like a night nanny, a doula, or a sleep consultant! Sometimes parents may take different shifts in the night by handling feeds and night wakings, so that each parent can get a solid stretch of sleep. Or maybe a family member can come over and take care of your little one while you get some rest. Sleep is so important for your mental health, your physical health, your recovery from childbirth, and your ability to function overall!
Maternal Mental Health is an important topic to discuss and promote in our society. Moms often carry multiple responsibilities and pressures, which can affect their overall mental health, functioning, and the family! Making sure that moms have access to the right supports, engaging in self-care strategies, focusing on adequate sleep, and sharing some of their responsibilities can help to improve and promote maternal mental health!
Jillian Thistel is a mom of three little ones – she has a son and twin daughters! Jillian is also a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, and has been a Mental Health and Addiction Clinician, supporting clients and families for almost 12 years. She became interested in pediatric sleep after having her twin girls and learning about the unique challenges often associated with twins’ sleep. Jillian created Twinkling Stars Pediatric Sleep Consulting to help families achieve better sleep, so that the whole family can flourish!
Jillian offers a variety of sleep support services for families with children ages 0-4 years old, focusing on each family’s unique needs, supporting & empowering parents, decreasing stress levels associated with sleep struggles, and offering a gentle, flexible, compassionate approach.
Jillian has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology, a Graduate Certificate in Addictions and Mental Health, and she is currently working on a certificate in Perinatal Mental Health. She lives in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario Canada with her husband, 3 children, and 2 dogs.
On some level, you knew you were going to be tired when you had a baby, so the profound exhaustion that comes with being a new parent shouldn’t be a complete surprise. Maybe you thought it would be like exam season at University when you pulled an all-nighter or two.
You had no idea becoming a parent would mean pulling about 90 all-nighters in a row!
Hang in there, it gets better! We have some self-care tips to help you feel more like yourself until your baby figures out this “sleeping” thing.
Well-intentioned friends will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, but we know better. Look, newborn babies are crappy sleepers. They take little cat naps and will wake you up as you drift off. That’s just frustrating! Besides, nap time may be the first time you have had two free hands that day.
Instead, use one of baby’s daytime snoozes to do something that makes you feel human again. Take a hot shower. Change into clean clothes, even if it’s just a fresh pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt. Eat a hot meal using both of your hands. If you have older children, spend some one-on-one time with them.
It’s tempting to use sugary treats for an energy lift, but it’s a short-lived boost, and you’re just going to feel worse when it wears off. Instead, choose nutritious, high-protein snacks that will leave you feeling full longer. This is especially true for nursing mothers who have high caloric needs, and even higher nutritional needs. Try some Greek yogurt with a little fresh fruit, or a (small) handful of raw almonds and fresh veggies.
Remember that fatigue is a natural side-effect of sleep deprivation, but it’s also a common sign of dehydration. Leave full, reusable water bottles in all the places you normally sit, or where you stand and sway if yours is a baby who just won’t tolerate being put down.
It’s OK to indulge in the occasional cup of coffee, but essential oils can be just as effective. Cinnamon, cardamom, lemon, fennel and clove give you a boost, without keeping you awake when you finally are able to get some rest.
If you don’t have a diffuser, you can try adding a couple of drops of essential oil to a bath, or simmering along with some water in a pot in the kitchen.
Like all phases in parenting, this too shall pass. If you are out of the first few weeks of parenthood and nobody is sleeping, call our dream team of sleep consultants to help you – and your baby – get the rest you all need.
In 2011, Janey founded her sleep consultant business, WeeSleep®. Too many sleepless nights with her own baby led her to seek training from an internationally renowned pediatric sleep specialist so she could help other parents overcome their infant or toddler sleep challenges. Janey has since become a leader in infant and toddler sleep techniques, and is often a guest speaker at seminars, hosts workshops, and has been interviewed on many health and wellness podcasts. She also leads her Success Specialists who coach a growing Dream Team of more than 40 WeeSleep® certified infant and toddler sleep consultants as far away as New Zealand.
The WeeSleep® Dream Team provides personalized and compassionate support to parents as they teach their baby or toddler to become an independent sleeper. Janey believes that teaching positive sleep skills will create healthier infants and toddlers, and in turn, healthier, happier parents who have a more balanced home life.
For more information, visit www.wee-sleep.com
It’s no secret that making changes in your infant or toddler’s sleep takes work. When you’ve tried to implement changes and don’t see progress, that can feel defeating and leave you wondering “why isn’t sleep training working for us?”
If you’re asking yourself this question, I encourage you to also ask yourself:
Once you’ve answered the above questions for yourself, read below for more insight into why sleep training may not be working for you. Chances are, if you’ve already tried different sleep training methods, you’re aware of many sleep logistics. This article will explore some other factors that sometimes are overlooked.
Making changes in your little one’s sleep might not be the smoothest walk in the park, however there is a difference between sleep changes being work and something not feeling right. If the approach you’ve been taking doesn’t feel right to you, chances are it won’t work.
Babies and toddlers feel parents’ anxious energy and look for calm and consistency in parents when behavioral changes are being made. Simply put, if the approach you’re taking to change your child’s sleep leave you feeling anxious, unsure, or you’re very hesitant, it’s time to pause and reassess.
It is important to note that not every child can meet the same sleep goals. If your goals for your baby are for them to settle to sleep independently and back to sleep in the night, that may be very practical.
If your goal is for your baby to fall asleep, sleep for 12 hours without a feeding and nap during the day, but they aren’t taking in enough nutrition during the day, then this goal isn’t currently realistic.
Making sure your child is developmentally ready and aligned with the goals you’re setting for their sleep will go a long way in how progress is measured. This includes timing. If your baby is currently cutting teeth, handling a medical diagnosis, or undergoing other stress-it isn’t the most realistic time to make changes.
Look at what is working in this process. Maybe your baby is actually settling themselves to sleep on their own now. Maybe they’ve gone from waking 6 times a night to now 2. Maybe they are sleeping well at night now but having a hard time at naps.
Seeing what is working allows for space to change and assess what isn’t working. There can be several reasons why things aren’t working, let’s take a look at a few of them:
TIMING OF SLEEP + SLEEP NEEDS + ENVIRONMENT
Timing is almost everything. If your baby is overtired, they are less likely to nap well or fall asleep well at bedtime. If they aren’t tired enough, the same can happen.
Keep a log of your baby’s naps and night sleep to better see and understand how they reacted to various amounts of time awake in relation to sleep time. Usually, babies need to go down for naps sooner than most think. In terms of bedtimes, the same is also true for many babies.
Understanding how much sleep your baby or toddler actually needs is also helpful in figuring out their sleep. If naps are more sleep than they need, you’ll likely see their nights affected.
Naps are imperative for nighttime sleep. Too little and sleep at night can be hectic, too much and sleep can lessen. Treating daytime sleep important like nights will help in the sleep training progress. If you’re only working on night sleep and your baby isn’t sleeping at all during the day, it is time to assess helping naps before throwing in the towel completely.
Read more on naps and sleep needs here.
Sleep environment such as darkness, using a sound machine, proper clothing and temperature play additional roles in sleep. Learn more about optimal sleep environments here.
YOU’RE NOT FEEDING ENOUGH
Ensure your child isn’t hungry. For infants, schedules suggesting going 4 plus hours between feedings by day may not be doable for your child. In fact, often when I hear naps aren’t working, it’s because feedings are too spaced out so babies are hungry when they fall asleep, yet too hungry to stay asleep and then too tired to stay awake for their next nap.
Try finding a rhythm with feedings as the priority, allowing sleep to flow around it. You might be surprised.
YOUR CHILD NEEDS A DIFFERENT APPROACH
If you’ve been at something for weeks and don’t see an improvement, it doesn’t feel right, or your child seems to be regressing in other parts of their life, it could be you need a different approach.
Some children need more hands-on help when working towards independent sleep, and this is okay. This might look like phasing things out one at a time, such as moving to their crib, being held when they wake and easing out of that in phases.
Some actually need more space to just be and work on their new skills, which can make constant interval “check-ins” in some methods of sleep training non-effective and harder on them.
HAVING A PLAN
Do you have a plan of action or are you winging it with every evening and every waking? Knowing what you will do as different scenarios arise during the process allows you to feel more prepared, more confident, more responsive to your child and see results.
Have you given your current approach enough time to work with consistency in your methods? Many parents will be eager to stop after only a few nights and not huge progress. Depending on your little one’s age and approach, I encourage you to give it 7-10 days for infants to see a difference. This can be longer for toddlers also depending on where their sleep is at and your goals.
If you’ve given it time, looked at factors in this article and don’t see sleep changes, it simply may be time to pause and reassess, then start fresh. This can look like taking a week to simply be in sleep survival mode, focus back on feedings, daily activities, and supporting your child’s needs where you can.
Gather a plan. Seek help from a professional for insight that aligns with your family. Take a breather, then try again.
Kaela Kajiyama is a Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Newborn Care Specialist working with families for over 14 years. She works with children from birth through early childhood to find sleep solutions that are sustainable for the whole family.
Learn more about Kaela and her services at https://sustainablesleep.co/
I fall asleep within moments of hitting the pillow these days, but it hasn’t always been so easy. I’ve struggled with insomnia during various stages of life, and there’s one remedy, that’s both free and without side effects, that I’ve fallen back on time and time again: mantra.
“I’m thankful for this time to rest” is a mantra and a mentality that has truly saved my sanity on more than one occasion.
Mantra is a Sanskrit word, which can be translated as “mind release.” The practice of mantra involves repeating a particular sound, phrase, prayer or word over and over again, to aid in concentration and meditation.
Overarousal of the mind is often the culprit when it comes to difficulty falling asleep (or back to sleep), so anything that slows brain activity and moves us toward a more dreamy, meditative state is going to be a sleep aid. In other words, relaxing the mind through mantra can create an internal environment conducive to sleep.
LET GO, TO SLEEP
Sleep does not respond to pressure. The more we crave it, and the more we command our body and mind to succumb, the less likely we are to get a taste of the elusive slumber we so very much crave. This is the great irony and frustration of sleep — it cannot be willed.
In our achievement-driven society, most of us find this truth to be quite dissatisfying. The greater the desire and the harder the work, the greater the likelihood of success, right? Well, wrong — when it comes to sleep. Contrary to the mindset we embrace as we push toward our goals, drifting off to sleep is all about letting go. Letting go of the push, letting go of our day, letting go of our constant stream of thoughts, letting go of our go-go-go-minds and our desire for control, and allowing our dreamy state of consciousness to bubble to the surface.
As we learn to loosen our craving for sleep, we allow sweet slumber to find us, rather than us desperately pining for it. Mantra is a simple and accessible tool to help calm down our brainwave activity and facilitate our “letting go”
MY FAVORITE MANTRA FOR SLEEP
“I’m thankful for this time to rest.”
Gratitude plus an invitation to rest the body – you can’t beat this combination when it comes to a pro-positivity and pro-sleep frame of mind. You may not sleep all night, but you can definitely rest!
SAMPLE SLEEP MANTRAS FOR PARENTS
If a statement or positive affirmation such as the above feels too tedious, you could try the mantra:
I rest. I rest. I rest.
Or even more simply,
Rest. Rest. Rest.
Or, perhaps the word peace or calm resonates more with you than rest. For example, “I am thankful for this peace,” or “I am peaceful,” or “Peace. Peace. Peace.” or “Calm. Calm. Calm.”
CHOOSING A SLEEP MANTRA THAT WORKS
Truly, any positive statement, prayer, sound, or word can be an effective mantra at bedtime. By repeating your mantra as you lay in bed, you’ll release your tired mind of its tireless preoccupations.
When I crawl into bed, and take notice of my cozy sheets and blanket, comfortable mattress, and my general satisfaction with the fact that no one needs me at that particular moment, I truly feel grateful for the opportunity to rest. Couple that with “I am thankful for this time to rest” as a mantra, and sleep tends to find its way to me in my comfortable bed…pretty quickly, in fact.
When you use a sleep mantra, you’ll let go of your fixation on sleep as a goal, and allow your attention to focus elsewhere. You’ll also set yourself up for a win, because the goal with mantra is simple: repeat the mantra and don’t sweat it if your mind wanders — just bring your attention back to the mantra whenever you notice that it’s drifted elsewhere.
As your mind wanders, and you bring it back to your mantra, you’ve also strengthened your power concentration. You’ve infused your subconscious with positivity, activated the parasympathetic nervous system, and created an internal environment more conducive to sleep. All of that while just laying in bed!
So tonight, how about making your goal mantra and relaxation, rather than sleep? Take the pressure off of yourself! And well, to put it bluntly, you simply can’t force sleep no matter how hard you try, so what’s the point? Plus, the benefits of repeating a mantra are profound, and far healthier stressing, tossing, and turning. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll fall asleep before you get a chance to realize that you’ve reached your goal of relaxation.
CAN MANTRA HELP MY BABY AND CHILD(REN) SLEEP BETTER TOO?
You bet your sweet sleep it can! Mantra is an awesome tool for activating the parasympathetic nervous system (aka the Chillax Mechanism). And when we’re calmer, our babies are too. Studies show that children mimic their caregivers’ emotions. So when you’re anxious or frustrated, your child absorbs this crappy emotional energy. When you’re peaceful and chillaxed, they absorb this too. Scientists call this phenomenon neuroregulation. Do you want your baby to absorb the chillax or the crazy? Mantra can help!
Try repeating a mantra or affirmation as you snuggle at the end of the bedtime routine, or as you lay your little one down for sleep.
DO I HAVE TO REPEAT THE MANTRA OUT LOUD?
While chanting aloud can be especially impactful (via stimulation of the vagus nerve, if you want to go deeper into the science), mantra, whether it’s silent, recited, whispered, or chanted at full blast, is a powerful tool. So if you’re concerned about being heard, or you’re too damn tired to chant, feel free to do so in your head. But I urge you to try chanting aloud sometime — your baby will love it, your kiddos might just leave you alone, and if you have a co-parent or partner, they can deal or join — because the feeling of the mantra vibrating through your body can be a natural high that all parents deserve to experience.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER MANTRAS I COULD TRY?
Any positive statement, prayer, sound, or word can be an effective mantra at bedtime. Don’t get too hung up on picking the right sound or words.
“It’s time to let go.”
“Each breath relaxes me more.”
“I welcome rest into my mind and body.”
“All is well and I’m at peace.”
Liz Harden, MPH, believes that every human deserves stellar sleep. As a sleep coach for more than nine years, Liz leads Little Dipper Sleep – a sleep coaching practice based in Chapel Hill, NC, serving clients worldwide. She and her team provide flexible, inclusive, evidence-based sleep coaching packages, programs, and classes to parents of kiddos, from newborns through elementary school and beyond. Known for creating the Mindful Method for SleepTM, Liz’s process equips parents with the mindset tools and scientific insight they need to thrive and confidently set the stage for peaceful naptimes and bedtimes.
She shaped this approach with her Masters in Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, a certification from the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants, multiple certifications in yoga (including kids yoga), and years working with The Baby Sleep Site and Huckleberry, the expert sleep app. Today, as an advocate for all tired humans, Liz is passionate about helping all families discover the magic of stellar sleep regardless of income level or background.
Liz currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with her husband and two kiddos who sleep well now but definitely didn’t come by it naturally. Her family also includes two ducks, Fluffy and Daffy, whose quacking thankfully doesn’t keep everybody awake.
I think it’s safe to say, we all know how important eating the right things and exercising are for our health, but did you know that sleep is just as important for helping us live a healthy life? If we’re sleep deprived it can feel almost impossible to make the ‘right’ food choices.
I’m pretty sure, if you’re reading this, that you are no stranger to feeling sleep deprived, regardless of why you have difficulty with your sleep. So it won’t surprise you when I tell you that when we’re tired we automatically reach for unhealthy food choices, naturally choosing comfort food, which is usually high in sugar and/or fat.
When we’re tired, it’s like our bodies are telling us what to eat. And who are we to deny our bodies what they ‘need’? So we reach for chips, donuts, and other quick snacks for that much-needed boost of energy.
Of course, fat and sugar do give us that burst of energy we need, but, their effects won’t last for long. Did you know that when we’re not getting enough sleep, our hormones, including our hunger hormones are out of alignment too? The two most important are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the one that tells us we’re hungry and leptin is the one that tells us we’ve eaten enough.
When we’ve had enough sleep, we have just the right amount of each of these in our system, so we eat until we are genuinely full, then stop. We’re also more likely to make better food choices because we’re not craving that sugary ‘high’ to help power us through. BUT, when we’re tired, our ghrelin levels are high and our leptin levels are low, meaning we’re more likely to overeat because our body isn’t giving us the cues to stop.
It’s not just our hunger hormones that have us reaching for sugary snacks either! Our stress hormone, cortisol (which is also the hormone that wakes us up) is higher when we don’t get enough sleep.
Cortisol also helps balance our blood sugar levels as well as regulating our energy levels. If our cortisol is too high, we are more likely to turn our less than ideal food choices into fat, particularly around our mid-section (also known as our spare tyre or stress belly). It’s made up of visceral fat – the bad kind that wraps around our internal organs, rather than just lying under the surface of our skin.
Of course, if we’re eating higher fat or sugary food later in the day (when we’re likely to be most tired), we have less time to wear off the calories too, not to mention that sugar and fat can interrupt our sleep too if we eat them too close to bedtime.
A simple tip (which will involve some self-discipline I’m afraid!) is to try to analyze why you’re feeling hungry. If you are physiologically hungry (a growling stomach etc), then go ahead and eat, trying to stick to healthier choices. If you’re psychologically hungry (you just fancy a snack), step away from the pantry! Maybe try sipping some water instead and see if that helps? Because it’s very easy for us to confuse thirst with hunger, especially when we’re tired.
It may surprise you to know, that sticking to regular mealtimes can also help our sleep as well. That’s because it helps regulate our internal body clock (also known as our circadian rhythm). Trying not to eat large meals too close to bedtime (when we can avoid it) also makes a big difference so our bodies have chance to rest and recuperate the way they should, rather than digesting our meal. Let’s face it, lying down when you’re full isn’t a great sensation either, and can cause us to feel uncomfortable meaning we’re less likely to drop off to sleep easily.
Now, I’m not telling you not to have the occasional treat, that’s obviously entirely up to you. But, I’m a believer that knowledge is power.
Now you know how what you eat and when you eat it can impact your sleep and why you might make poorer food choices when you’re tired, you can start to address what’s potentially the real issue. Not your willpower, but your lack of sleep!
Sam Sadighi is a certified sleep practitioner who coaches families and adults to regain the sleep they need using research and evidence-based techniques. Sam uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia for older children and adults to help ‘retrain their brains for sleep’. Available for both adult and child clients for between 4 – 6 weeks, she provides the individuals she works with the tools to help them rectify their difficulties, as well as providing them with techniques they can use at a later date should the need ever arise. Although based in London, England, she happily helps clients worldwide.
By Jennifer Blunston, PhD, Cert. BBM, PTS
The first 1000 days of life are crucial in terms of setting the stage for optimal health and growth of our children. Identification and prevention of sleep disordered breathing is therefore key to help give babies the best chance to flourish— to transform into adults with healthy jaws, healthy airways, and restorative sleep patterns. For these conditions to be met, we need to look at how children are breathing.
Nasal breathing with the tongue resting against the roof of the mouth is a crucial component to the proper growth and development of a child’s jaw and airway. In the beginning of life, breast feeding not only promotes the proper position of the tongue against the palate, and initiates correct swallowing patterns, but also helps the baby maintain nasal breathing. The tongue’s pressure against the palate, with lips lightly closed, drives the growth of the face, jaws and airway in a forward direction. This essentially shapes the palate into a broad u-shape and creates a strong jaw, a wide straight smile, and a healthy airway. With poor tongue function, we can expect to see a flatter and narrow face, crooked teeth and a smaller airway. So what causes low tongue posture and mouth breathing in infants & children? The growth and development of a child’s face, jaws and teeth are determined not only by genetic factors, but by maladaptive habits and environmental factors. Extended bottle or pacifier use, thumb, blanket or finger sucking, allergens, pollutants, and nasal congestion can all cause mouth breathing in a child.
If a child mouth breathes or has a tongue which is tethered to the floor due to a tongue-tie, a high arched and narrow palate can develop. The one thing we should remember is that the roof our mouth is the base of our sinuses. So the problem gets further compounded because the child now feels like its difficult to breathe through the nose and thus keeps breathing through the mouth! On average, we swallow over 1000 times per day. Proper swallowing with the tongue against the palate promotes a pumping action that releases sinus congestion as well as fluid in the inner ear. Therefore a low tongue resting posture may cause a baby to experience feeding issues, breathing issues, disturbed sleep, speech and articulation issues, and ear, sinus or eye infections. In addition, most of us think that digestion begins in the gut, but it actually begins in the mouth. The peristaltic wave actually starts with proper tongue mobility and an effective swallow. Tongue-tied kids who are swallowing incorrectly are often sympathetic dominant, our stuck in “fight or flight” mode, and can often hold tension or stress in the body. This results in a decrease in gastrointestinal motility and the development of possible gut issues, such as gas and constipation. If we release the tongue tie, and tension, these children can tap into their parasympathetic system or “rest and digest state” and begin to relax the body.
Once your child gets older, you may notice them having chewing and swallowing difficulties. Chewing wholesome, natural, hard foods is essential to the development of wider jaws and faces. Unfortunately, modern society has advocated the use of soft, mushy baby food and processed foods that lack texture which has eliminated the need for proficient chewing and swallowing. Even when children do not have teeth yet, the gums can be used to masticate small bits of solid foods like apples, peaches, cooked squashes or carrots, and meats. Not only will this baby-led weaning promote fine motor skills but also encourage healthy eating of foods with a variety of textures. By simply chewing harder foods, the muscles in the face are able to work and get stronger. This will promote the development of a healthy bite and airway. So the next time you are shopping, maybe reconsider the yogurt and apple sauce pouches! (1)
A low tongue posture can result in the back of the tongue falling into the airway as the baby or child sleeps, potentially causing sleep disturbances or sleep apnea. In 2016, the American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry called overlooked sleep disorders in children a “hidden airway epidemic.” In addition, between 25-50% of pre-schoolers exhibiting sleep problems, also have behavioural issues. A six year study of over 11,000 children by Dr. Karen Bonuck at Albert Einstein College of Medicine revealed that children with sleep disordered breathing (SDB), such as snoring or sleep apnea, are twice as likely to develop behavioural difficulties like hyperactivity, emotional symptoms, and aggressiveness. (2) Sleep not only promotes physical restoration of the body, but promotes the proper neurological development of the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain responsible for attention, focus, memory, behavioural control, and learning.
Many parents are unaware of how their child truly sleeps. Become “Sleep Detectives” and simply watch and listen while your child is sleeping at night. Common red flags that may suggest improper tongue position and sleep disordered breathing include the following:
You may ask… What can I do if my child has one or several of these symptoms? Speak to your pediatrician and get a referral to an otolaryngologist (ENT) who can assess the health of the child’s airway. In addition, orthodontic intervention may be needed to expand the palate and give the tongue enough room to rest on the roof of the mouth. Further, consult an orofacial myofunctional therapist (OMT) who is knowledgeable about myofunctional disorders who can assess your child’s tongue posture, swallowing and breathing to determine if therapy is required to help restore nasal breathing and function to the tongue and airway muscles. Research is demonstrating that the re-education of these muscles is a crucial component to treating pediatric sleep disordered breathing. (3) Prevention, recognition, and treatment of sleep breathing disorders can truly impact not only the quality of a child’s sleep, but their behavioural, cognitive and social development as well. Be an advocate for your child’s oral health and their airway health—this is truly the foundation of their wellness.
(1) Rapley, G, Murkett, T. Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide-How to Introduce Solid Foods and Help Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater. New York, NY; 2019.
(2) Bonuck, K. et al. Sleep-Disordered Breathing in a Population-Based Cohort: Behavioral Outcomes at 4 and 7 Years. Pediatrics 2012; 129(4): 857-865.
(3) Guillmenault, C. et al. Critical role of myofascial reeducation in pediatric sleep-disordered breathing.Sleep Med. 2013; 14(6): 518-525.
For the past 6 years Jennifer Blunston, BSc. PhD. has helped clients achieve better overall health as an orofacial myofunctional therapist—an emerging field in health care. Based out of Calgary, Alberta, Jennifer enjoys educating her clients on how proper nasal breathing, and palatal tongue rest posture can help balance the nervous system, optimize our physiology, and promote physical recovery and wellness. She works with a wide range of clients including children who have adopted improper breathing or swallowing habits, to adults who are undergoing treatment for sleep apnea or TMJ therapy. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys spinning, walking with her two dogs, and travelling with her husband and two children—exploring the world one country at a time!
“Many of my clients seek treatment to alleviate facial pain and headaches, improve their fitness, prevent orthodontic relapse, and manage stress levels. My passion is working with clients who suffer from disordered breathing, jaw pain, or anxiety. We all deserve to breathe better, sleep better and feel better!” states Jennifer.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science at St. Francis Xavier University, and a Doctorate degree in organic chemistry at the University of Alberta. Jennifer has completed continuing education in the field of orofacial myofunctional therapy with the Academy of Orofacial
Myofunctional Therapy, and trained at the Coulson Institute in Denver, Colorado. She is also certified as a personal training specialist, and as a certified instructor in the Buteyko breathing method. To learn more about Jennifer you can visit her website at www.myofunctionalfitness.ca or follow her on Instagram @myofunctional_fitness.
Starting childcare is an inevitable choice for most families, and it can be daunting for both parents and their little one – preparation is key.
Here are my top 10 tips for starting childcare:
Number 1 – RESEARCH
Finding childcare that feels right for you, your little one, and their personality can be a challenging prospect, especially when you are trying to find one that has availability for the days you need, in the required area and ticks all your boxes.
By visiting the childcare centres, you will get a feel for them, the staff, how they are run, and
whether you think they will be a good fit for you and your family.
Number 2 – Arrange play dates
Once you have selected a childcare centre, arrange to have some “play dates” before your child starts. Most centres will be happy to facilitate visits for families before starting childcare. You can request more if needed, and most childcare centres are pretty flexible.
Playdates before official start dates are when you stay with your child in the room to be immersed in the environment they will be joining. I suggest arranging a few playdates a couple of weeks before the planned attendance begins and between 930 and 11 am or after 2 pm. These times are generally when the children are doing activities, making it less stressful for your child and the staff for you to be there at that time.
Between 930 and 11 is when the children are usually doing planned activities. Coming at this time will allow you to see what your child will be involved in while attending childcare. The later afternoon time is usually free play. This can let your child explore their new environment freely and help them become comfortable with the other children staff and centre before starting childcare.
Number 3 – Have a transition comforter.
Having a favourite item that represents home can help your baby as they transition into childcare. I recommend having a “Lovie” (with a back up spare) and introducing the lovey, long before childcare. The intention is that this will be a toy from home which goes to childcare with them to offer comfort and familiarity in their new environment to help them feel more comfortable.
Number 4 – Teach self-settling before starting childcare.
I know that this seems obvious, but many children start childcare that cannot self-settle yet. They may only fall asleep on the breast, in arms or in a carrier and have not been taught how to self settle before attending childcare. It’s not fair on your child the childcare staff or you. It can be stressful knowing that you’re dropping your child to childcare when they don’t know how to settle any other way but at the breast. Your baby then has to learn a new way of settling in a strange environment, which can cause more anxiety and make the transition into daycare take longer. It is also more stressful for the carers who have more than one baby to care for and get to sleep. If you can start teaching self-settling in the months leading up to beginning childcare, it will help with their transition.
Number 5 – Be prepared for illness.
If possible, try to avoid starting your child in late autumn or winter where colds and flu are more frequent.
Younger children, especially babies and toddlers who are constantly putting their hands in their mouth, sharing items and crawling around floors, are so much more susceptible to illness, particularly at this time of year.
If attendance begins around this time, you might like to consider giving your child a probiotic and multivitamin to help boost their immune system.
Number 6 – Label everything.
Anything that goes to childcare that is not labelled do not expect it to return home. I don’t mean that negatively, but I know from working in childcare that with so many children and so many loose containers, bottles, and clothing items, it is challenging to find the owner of that item if it does not have a label.
Number 7 – Have a childcare wardrobe.
If there is an item of clothing that you do not want to come home dirty, with paint stains or minor rips in it, do not send it to childcare.
Childcare is messy, and they are there to have fun, explore, and not worry about the clothing they are wearing. Again, the childcare staff do not have the time to make sure that your little ones pretty dress doesn’t get paint on it, although they will do their best with paint smocks to protect clothing. It is undoubtedly best to make sure that you have an at-home wardrobe and the childcare wardrobe (hand me downs are perfect for childcare!).
Number 8 – Drop and run
When you drop your child off at childcare, try to drop and run, don’t linger. I know this sounds mean, but if your little one is anxious as you’re dropping them off, your lingering may cause that anxiousness to build and grow and make it harder for them to transition during the drop off time. Talk to the childcare centre staff and make sure that your hand your little one over to a preferred career when you arrive to ensure they feel as comfortable as they can. Usually, the carers in your child’s room will take special attention and care for newer children and all children at the drop off times, so it is good to get to know them so they, in turn, get to know you.
Number 9 – Be prepared at home
After a long day of childcare, the last thing that you need to be doing is rushing home after pick up, rushing through dinner and then rushing through your bath and bedtime routine. Try and be organised with a couple of quick, easy, reheatable dinners so that when you come home from childcare, you can take about 15-20 minutes to reconnect with your little one before the evening rush.
Options could be sitting on the sofa, playing on the floor, or taking a blanket out onto the lawn. Childcare and the long day can be stressful for both you and your little one. Take this short time out before rushing into your evening routine to reconnect and relax. It will help avoid overtiredness and over stimulation at the end of the day and fill their emotional cup with mummy and daddy love.
And finally, number 10 trust.
Trust that there is a transition, and over the first couple of weeks, your babies routine is likely to be disrupted, they are likely to be overtired, the childcare staff are not always going to get it right.
Trust that they, as childcare staff, are doing this job because they love it and because they love working with children. They are doing their utmost, and they are doing their very best to make sure that your child and all the other children in their care are getting the best quality care they can give. And while your little one is transitioning, they are doing their best to support them through that.
Hi, I’m Elaine Harvey, wife, mum, and the founder of Lullababy SOS. I’m an Early Childhood Educator and a Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant.
Elaine helps mums and dads with all things baby and Toddler related with a special focus on sleep, settling and routine. She started out as a Night Nanny and Maternity Nurse in London 20 years ago, and after moving to Australia 2007 she established Lullababy SOS to help parents who were struggling with knowing how to help their babies and toddlers with their sleep and routine. Elaine’s approach is not based on the standard settling methods but focus’ more on helping parents understand their child’s needs, sleep science, routine structure and what they the parents may be doing to help or hinder progress. Elaine’s goal is the help parents know that you are not alone; you’re not supposed to have all the answers and you’re not supposed to know how to manage every situation every day.
As you know we are in a time where we have access to fabulous gadgets and tools to help us manage our time, money, financing, efficiency, etc. I don?t know about you, but I personally have all the techy gadgets: iPad, iPhone, macair book, ,imac, ipod. Basically I am one big apple! However, I know I am not using these gadgets most effectively to maximize my time, business planning, etc. There are just too many fabulous resources and new apps coming out everyday for me to keep up with! I have downloaded highly effective apps (or at least I’ve been told they are) but like many, I get overwhelmed and am often reluctant to try new things – even ones that are supposed to help me improve or get on track. When I came across Digitwirl I not only envied Carley for having the world’s second greatest job, but I was instantly able to relate to her time saving and organizing tech tools since I’m a huge fan of using what works to best help me manage everyday life. Being a stay-at-home mom and wife as well as running a business and consulting, it takes a lot of juggling, many sticky notes, and constant reminders that ?ding ding? on my phone! Being a sleep consultant also has me printing and wasting paper like a mad woman! Questionnaires, tracking, sleep plans, notes…you know the drill!
Running a business also creates all sorts of paper clutter from receipts. I love using Carley?s recommendation – the ?Lemon.? All of my receipts in one place! Heaven! My accountant will love me too!
Another app that helps you save time by managing financial statements, account numbers and receipts ALL IN ONE PLACE without the paper clutter is called Manilla. It reminds you of when bills are due and you can pay them right online. Never miss a payment date and never forget a password. You can also go back and look at old statements and receipts as well.
Anyway, I encourage all of you tech savvy, business and task-juggling super consultants to check out Digitwirl and Carley?s tips and videos. She makes things super easy to understand and you can pick and choose what is right for you. She has done all the work to make sure these are tried-and-true and won’t be a waste of time for you! Her clips are short and sweet (exactly what I like). Hopefully you’ll find some apps and tips that help you maximize and organize your life and business.
Janey Reilly is Founder & Principal of WeeSleep, a leading global professional baby and toddler sleep consultancy based in Ontario. Prior to launching her WeeSleep practice, Janey worked in marketing and sales for leading companies such as Disney Online Studios, Sparkling Hill Resort, and Intrawest.