Do you wonder why your kids can’t seem to get to sleep by a decent time at night? Or, do your kids complain that their stomach hurts in the middle of the night. Well, more than likely these are signs that your child is responding to the food they ate for dinner or as a pre-bedtime snack. While some snacks may be healthy for your child and aid in promoting sleep, other foods can cause wakefulness, stomach pain, and acid reflux.
So, which foods should your child not eat before going to bed? Here are 5 foods your child should avoid.
Cereal may seem like the perfect quick snack for your child if they complain of being hungry right before bed. After all, it is quick and takes almost no preparation. However, sugary cereals (you know them) digest quickly resulting in a spike in sugar. Sugar spikes affect kids much differently than they do adults and this could lead to an entire night of sleep disruption or light sleep as your child may experience increased blood sugar levels causing them to do an all-nighter.
Much like sugary cereal soda can create a spike in sugar levels for your child resulting in what adults need an energy drink to accomplish. In addition to sugar stimulation the carbonation of a soda can cause stomach pain and discomfort. Soda is recommended as one the foods to avoid at all times, but especially before bed.
Citrus fruits like oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit are highly acidic and can result in acid reflux. So, while you may think giving your child fruit for a late-night snack is beneficial remember that not all fruits are created equal. If you do decide to give your child fruit before bedtime, consider a banana or apple with a little peanut butter. These are not only filling but are also nutritious and likely won’t upset your child’s stomach.
Surprised? Celery seems like it might be a healthy choice for your kids before bedtime – think ants on a log. However, celery is a natural diuretic which may cause your child to need a late-night potty break when they should be sleeping. Diuretics are foods that push water through the digestive system and celery can cause a child’s system to respond the same way coffee would in yours.
Pizza is one of the most beloved dinners in America. Yet, be careful how close to bedtime you feed your kids a glorious cheese pizza. While it might be tasty, melted cheese and popular toppings like pepperoni are high in fat. Add acidic pizza sauce to this and your child may wake you up midway through the night complaining of stomach problems.
Few parents are keen on giving their kids food just before bedtime and it’s preferable if you can avoid it. However, your children are persistent and when they are hungry, they will let you know. So, if you find yourself searching for a quick snack, the best foods to avoid are those that are acidic, sugary and high in fats. Rather, options such as peanut butter on a piece of bread or apple, yogurt, or whole grain cereals such as oatmeal are good choices.
Krista is married and the mom to two adorable kids. She is a freelance writer that regularly covers sleep health, lifestyle, and beauty content. Krista is always looking for ways to better herself and has a passion for helping families create balance and happiness in their lives.
If there’s one thing that many parents dread doing, it’s having to deal with the stress of sleep training.
Sleep training is such an ambiguous term – what exactly is “sleep training” anyway? It’s basically any method you use to help your child learn to go to sleep on their own (note that I wrote “on their own” and not “alone”). It’s most often associated with babies, but the reality is – the stress of sleep training never truly ends…
You start by sleep training a newborn, and then you have to do it again after that baby starts teething. Then you move your toddler out of a crib and have to help them sleep in a big kid bed. Perhaps you move and have to teach your child to sleep in a new bedroom. Or you go on vacation, and when you get back, your child has forgotten how to sleep on their own and you have to start all over again!
Sleep training is not a one-time thing you need to teach your child. Unlike teaching them how to write their name or ride a bike – sleep training is something you will have to do over and over again, in several different ways and for several different reasons. So there’s no point in trying to avoid it.
There are, however, ways and reasons to avoid the stress of sleep training. The number one reason being the effect it has on a mother’s mental health.
To Sleep Train… Or Not To Sleep Train?
That is the question but there actually isn’t one right answer. Many parents sleep train without even realizing that’s what they’re doing. (Hint: simply following a bedtime routine is sleep training!) Sleep is a natural part of life, and sleep training means helping baby to do that. The obvious goal of sleep training is to have baby sleep through the night. But sometimes, the stress of sleep training is just too much to consider doing.
Pros of Sleep Training:
Reduces the negative effects of sleep deprivation (for both mom and baby)
Creates a predictable routine
Helps baby adjust to life outside of the womb
Develops good sleep habits early
Cons of Sleep Training:
It’s hard to get right
Requires a lot of patience and persistence
Increases mom’s stress level
Limits the amount of time mom and baby spend together
Is difficult to do while room/bed sharing
Sleep Training vs. No Sleep Training
Sleep training can cause stress and anxiety, but so can sleep deprivation.
A strict routine can make mom feel depressed and imprisoned but no routine at all can be overwhelming.
Having baby sleep in their own bed can be good for a mom who needs space but sleeping with baby can create a stronger bond.
Reduce The Anxiety
Just the idea of sleep training is enough to cause anxiety for moms. Many moms worry about how to do it properly and fear the thought of their babies crying for hours on end. There’s really no way to know in advance how a baby will handle sleep training. You will also find a lot of conflicting information and advice about sleep training. Reading about how excessive crying can cause brain damage will definitely cause a high level of stress for a mom who is considering sleep training their baby.
One of the best ways to avoid the stress of sleep training is to change your perspective on it. Having a positive attitude towards sleep training will help you to be more successful and reduce stress on yourself and baby.
Concentrate on the five senses. Make it a point to incorporate a calming activity for each of the senses into the bedtime routine. It’s a great way to send signals to the brain that it’s time to go to sleep. Calming each of the senses will help baby to relax, which will make sleep training so much easier. It will also help to reduce mom’s anxiety and stress level, making her feel more confident at bedtime.
If the idea of sleep training is causing a lot of anxiety, then it might be a good idea to speak to an online therapist before beginning. They can help you to change your thought process and will be available for you to speak to if you feel overly stressed once you’ve started. Having a plan in place to handle your stress is a great way to manage any mental health problems that might arise.
Another way to eliminate the stress of sleep training is to make sure that you are using the right method. Taking advice from other parents is a guaranteed way to use the wrong method. All babies are different and using tricks and tips that worked wonders for your friend’s baby, or even for one of your previous children, doesn’t mean it will work this time. Using a method that isn’t the right fit for your child will surely end in failure, which can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
Find the Right Sleep Training Method
When I use the term sleep training, the brain automatically creates an image of a screaming baby in their crib and a sobbing mother on the other side of the door.
Sleep training has come a long way, and that is no longer the norm. Training does not have to be synonymous with crying. Since crying is baby’s primary way of communicating – sleep training is about learning to understand their cries, as opposed to ignoring them.
Sleep training methods can range from gentle to more extreme and which one to use will depend on the personalities of each baby and mom. It’s important to use a method and level of intensity that you’re comfortable with.
Some common sleep training methods include (but are not limited to):
Fading Method(Intensity Level: Low)
This is a very calm and gradual method of sleep training. Baby can be rocked or nursed to sleep or whatever else they’re used to. Slowly, over a few days or even weeks, the length of time they are rocked or nursed is reduced. Eventually, baby becomes less dependent on it.
Chair Method(Intensity Level: Low)
This is another calm method of sleep training that involves keeping a chair beside baby’s crib and staying in the room until they fall asleep, but without holding, rocking or talking to them. Each night, the chair is moved further away from baby’s crib, until it no longer needs to be in the room at all.
Pick Up, Put Down Method(Intensity Level: Low)
This method is one where the parent is not in the room with the baby. It involves putting baby into the crib, soothing them and then leaving the room. If baby cries, then you would go into the room, pick them up and soothe them, and then put them back down again and walk out. This would continue on and on as many times as needed until baby is asleep for the night.
Sometimes crying is unavoidable when it comes to sleep training. The controlled crying method includes putting baby to sleep in their crib while they are drowsy and then checking on them at regular intervals if they start to cry. In this more intense method, the intervals between checks start around 2 minutes and then 5 and then 10 and gradually get longer and longer.
Cry it Out/Extinction/Ferber Method(Intensity Level: High)
This is a very intense method of sleep training, but the claims are that it is the “quickest” way to sleep train a baby. This method involves putting baby in their crib while they are drowsy and then leaving the room but NOT returning to check on them for any reason. Parents often watch or listen on a baby monitor to make sure everything is alright. It sounds cruel and harsh, and is often a last resort.
If you’re unsure of which method to use, then you could consider getting a personalized sleep consultation from sites like The Baby Sleep Site. After answering an interview about your routine, habits and family life, a professional will provide you with a plan based on your specific answers. This is something I have personally done, and would definitely recommend for avoiding the stress of sleep training. You can read about my experience here.
The Danger of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is the norm among parents of young kids and there’s almost no avoiding it. The quest for more sleep is a main reason why parents choose to start sleep training. But despite being a parental rite of passage, sleep deprivation is known for causing all kinds of mental and physical health challenges.
Common effects of sleep deprivation
Irritability and moodiness
Lack of focus and concentration
Lowered metabolism and energy levels
Headaches and vision problems
Weakened immune system
Excessive sleep deprivation can also cause fits of rage, depression, anxiety, compulsive behavior, intrusive thoughts and even hallucinations. It’s been linked to bigger health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. For a mother in the postpartum period, sleep deprivation can exacerbate symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. It makes it harder to deal with all the physical and emotional changes happening in her body.
Putting off sleep training or avoiding doing it isn’t a great way to avoid the stress. Eventually, some type of bedtime routine will need to be established and so the earlier good sleep habits can be taught, the easier it will be. Another worry about delayed sleep training is the concern for mom’s mental health. Sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of mental and physical problems, especially for a postpartum mom, who’s hormones are in a delicate state. Allowing mom and baby to get a good night’s rest is the best plan and it all begins with avoiding the stress of sleep training.
Sleep training is one of those tough parts of parenthood. You either get it right or you struggle with sleep deprivation for many, many years.
Years ago, when I started researching sleep training for my first baby, there was so much conflicting information. I had no idea which method would work and so I resorted to good, old “trial and error.” Thankfully he was a pretty easy going kid who took to it wonderfully, unlike my second child. In an effort to avoid the stress of sleep training, I’ve started looking into sleep training consultants for advice with my third baby.
Sleep consultation sites like The Baby Sleep Site usually offer wide varieties of different options based on your sleep training needs, which can get really overwhelming (especially when you’re a sleep deprived parent who has no idea where to begin). And the last thing any parent wants to do is shell out money for a service that they’re not convinced is not going to be worth it.
Yes, it costs money. But for as little as $12/month – you have a valuable source of resources and information available at your fingertips. The Members Area comes loaded with e-books, articles, quizzes, downloadable worksheets and even a chat room.
One of my favorite features is the tele-seminars. They’re about half an hour long so you can listen to one while you’re cooking dinner or folding a load of laundry – perfect for busy moms who don’t have time to read through tons of articles!
Another great feature as a member is the custom schedule maker – which you can use as often as you need to as your baby grows.
The Members Area is a great tool for a parent who is just beginning to struggle with sleep training and needs some guidance on where to start.
But what if you need even more help?
What if you’ve read all the e-books and changed around your baby’s schedule 15 times just to try to make it work but they’re still not sleeping through the night?
It goes without saying that all babies are different, and some are definitely harder to figure out than others. That’s where the sleep experts come in. They’ve dealt with babies of all different temperaments and preferences before. Even a mother of three has only ever had to handle sleep training three kids – but sleep experts have handled sleep training thousands of them.
They offer both phone and e-mail consultation, depending on which you prefer. E-mail is a great option for busy moms but sometimes it really helps to speak to someone one-on-one. (They also offer an express sleep plan if you’re desperate for a good night’s sleep.)
The best part is, as a Member, you get a 20% discount towards the consultation package of your choice!
You can get more info about the other package options here but the difference is basically how many follow up e-mails you get (i.e. how much “time” you want to purchase.)
Beginning the consultation process is very simple but I would recommend setting aside enough time, free of distractions to complete the sleep history. It might also help to write down any notes about your child’s specific areas that you want to work on, what their schedule is like, and how they’ve responded to sleep training in the past.
Once you have an idea of what you need work on, you submit a sleep history assessment via the Help Desk. The questions are pretty straightforward and there are several places to elaborate further on what is happening specifically with your child.
It took me approximately 15 minutes to complete the assessment.
Prior to submitting your sleep history, there is an estimated chart of how long it will take to receive a response.
I submitted my sleep history on a Friday after 5 PM EST and received my personalized sleep plan on Monday morning!
The Personalized Sleep Plan
As a “researcher” myself, I didn’t have extremely high hopes for the personalized sleep plan. I felt as though I had read enough books and blogs, all of which had the same info, that there wouldn’t be much in the personalized sleep plan that I didn’t already know. (In the sleep history assessment, you have the option to select the level of detail you would like. I, of course, selected the highest level.)
I will admit that, upon receiving my personalized sleep plan, it exceeded my expectations. The key reason being – it’s personalized! I didn’t appreciate exactly what that meant until I received the sleep plan back from Nicole Johnson and her team of experts.
Let me highlight my favorite parts so that you can see what I mean:
Specific needs for my child based on the information I included in the assessment. For example, how much she should be sleeping or eating or napping based not just on her age but also on her temperament and history.
Daytime and nighttime routines based on her sleeping arrangements since my toddler and five year old currently share a bedroom.
A personalized mantra about my specific sleep training goals that I can repeat to myself on those rough, sleepless nights.
The day to day plan with precise steps to take each day, including how and what to prepare for before beginning the plan. (See image below)
All of these different things stood out to me in the personalized sleep plan. When I was doing my own research on sleep training, then it was up to me to create a plan based on what I learned and I truly had no idea if it was going to work for my child or not. Upon reading this personalized sleep plan, I found myself pretty confident that I could easily incorporate these changes, and more importantly, that my daughter would be comfortable with them.
The personalized sleep plan included actionable steps for me to take to correct my child’s sleeping problems, based on a number of different factors that I hadn’t even considered.
I still have my three follow up e-mails to use, which are good for 6 months. So as I incorporate these recommended changes to her schedule and bedtime routine, I will have help waiting if I encounter any problems.
Knowing that I have an expert in my corner has absolutely saved my sanity! I regret that I didn’t choose a sleep training expert when my second child was younger and I was battling such extreme postpartum depression. Perhaps it could have reduced the amount of stress and sleep deprivation I was experiencing then. But now, as a busy mother of three, sleep training is no longer an issue I need to stress about, thanks to The Baby Sleep Site.
How much does it cost?
The largest obstacle I would see to most parents hiring a sleep consultant would likely be the cost associated. For this, it all comes down to priorities and how important the sleep is to you. In my case, sleep deprivation is a big trigger of postpartum depression relapses, and so I can’t afford to lose that war.
It’s important to keep in mind that what you are paying for is the time and service of a professional. I’m pretty sure I’ve paid the guy who fertilizes my lawn in the summer more money and that hasn’t gotten me very far in life.
So when I take all these things into consideration, the cost of a professional sleep consultant is worth it, in my opinion.
Bedtime excuses are common in kids of all ages, and can lead to much frustration for parents.
Are you sick of getting your kids that “one more drink of water” after tucking them into bed each night? A mother who has already spent the entire day taking care of her children looks forward to finally putting them to bed at night. This is normally the only time a mother has to practice self care. So how do you win the bedtime battle and regain your alone time?
There are several ways to handle bedtime excuses and avoid the added stress that comes along with putting energetic kids to sleep.
1. Address all possible issues beforehand
Make a list of all of your child’s usual bedtime complaints and run through them each night before tucking them in. Do they have a cup of water? Have they used the toilet? Brushed their teeth? Got their favorite stuffy or blanket?
It’s no guarantee that they won’t come up with something else but at least you’ll have the bases covered.
2. Spend quality time together before bed
This is something that our family has recently started doing and it’s made a huge improvement in the number of bedtime excuses. Since we started putting the toddler to bed a half hour earlier than the older two, it allows time to do more “un-toddler friendly” activities like crafts, puzzles, board games or science experiments.
We all know how much children love attention, and at bedtime is no exception. Spending some time together right before bed can satisfy your child’s need for some extra one-on-one time.
3. Offer a distraction
Kids have wild imaginations and lying alone in bed is the perfect time for a child to come up with all kinds of excuses as to why they can’t sleep. A distraction at bedtime is a great way to help them slow down their thoughts and forget that they needed to tell you about something funny that happened that day. Some examples of good distractions are books, glow in the dark stars or posters, relaxing music or sound machines, or a projection night light.
But definitely try to avoid using screen time as a distraction before bed!
4. Stick to a consistent routine
Consistency is key when it comes to sleep training at any age. Handling bedtime excuses requires the same practice as sleep training a baby. Having a designated routine will help teach your child what’s expected of them. If your kids know what to expect when it’s bedtime, they will be less likely to ask if they can stay up longer or refuse to go to bed altogether.
They may try to test their limits, but if you remain consistent, they’ll soon realize they don’t stand a chance at winning.
5. Be boring
Dealing with bedtime excuses over and over again can be extremely frustrated and drive a parent to the edge of madness. Staying calm and positive is easier said than done but at the very least – try to be boring.
Make yourself a cup of tea, grab a good book and sit outside their bedroom door, waiting for the excuses to come rolling out. Then handle each one in a slow, controlled manner and speak in a monotone voice (if you need to speak at all).
Basically, try to be as boring as possible. Eventually, they’ll realize that it’s no fun getting out of bed.
6. Fresh air & exercise
If your child seems to have an abundance of energy at bedtime, consider how much fresh air and exercise they are getting throughout the day. While they may be active enough, fresh air and heart-pumping exercise is important to make sure they get enough oxygen in their blood. Tired kids make way fewer excuses than ones with some residual energy leftover at the end of the day. An after dinner walk may help to get your kids off to dreamland a lot faster.
If your kids still seem extra energetic at bedtime, diffusing some kid safe essential oils can help to calm them down.
7. Avoid giving in
Kids are way smarter than we give them credit for. And if we give in to one excuse, even on a night when we’re exhausted and at our limit, they will remember it and realize that it worked. They don’t call it a bedtime battle for nothing. If the bedtime excuses have gotten out of control and you truly want to put an end to them for good – then you have to stand your ground and avoid giving in.
Try setting a goal not to give in to a single excuse for one entire week. If that works, then try another week and so on.
8. Give out one free pass
Finally, my favorite tip to battle bedtime excuses is the use of a free pass. This has been tried and tested on my middle daughter, a.k.a. the QUEEN of bedtime excuses. Essentially, each child is given one free pass to use after they’ve been tucked into bed. If they absolutely need something, they may use their one free pass, i.e. one excuse. But once it’s been used, there’s no more excuses for the night. It provides something solid in the way of “just one more” and gives your child a sense of control and lesson in prioritizing.
Designing and decorating a child’s bedroom is never easy, especially when you have three kids with very different tastes.
How can you get it right without disappointing your child or having to change things around again in six months’ time? It’s a pretty difficult balancing act, and many parents get it wrong. Unfortunately, when parents do get it wrong, they tend to waste a lot of money, and that’s the last thing you need.
Luckily for you, there are lots of tips that you can take advantage of if you want to get this whole thing right without ever wasting any money. And it doesn’t have to involve taking the cheap option and disappointing your child either, so everyone can be a winner here!
Here are some tips that will allow you to get the most out of your child’s bedroom and remain relevant and suitable for a long time to come.
1. Don’t be Too Specific With Design Features
Your child’s interests, tastes and favorite TV shows and characters probably change all the time. That’s something that you should definitely keep in mind when you’re coming up with design features for their bedroom. If you choose a theme that is too specific, relating to a movie or TV show, they will probably lose interest in that thing within 6 months or a year if you’re lucky. That’s simply the nature of childhood. So many parents have made this mistake in the past, and it costs them big.
2. Keep Things Adaptable Because Change is Coming
It’s not just the general design you need to keep adaptable though. It’s also a good idea to keep the furniture and general arrangement and layout as flexible as possible too. As we’ve already mentioned, your children will change and grow up over time. That means their needs will also change. It’s wise to be prepared from that from day one when it comes to designing their bedroom. So don’t nail things to the walls and floors, and don’t set things in stone because you’ll only regret it later.
3. Fit a Chalkboard
Having a chalkboard in the room can be a great idea because it can serve all kinds of different purposes as your child moves through the different phases of childhood. They can use it to help them learn things while they’re young and still learning basic math and English skills. And they can later make use of it in order to get creative and express themselves in various ways. It could be as big or small as you want it to be so definitely consider this option.
One good way to add some style to your son or daughter’s wall is to use wall stickers and stencils. Stickers are perfect for short-term designs because they can be removed and replaced as soon as your child wants a new design to be put in place. These details will add something more to the room and stop it from looking dull or tired. There are so many sticker and stencil options out there that are ideal for children’s bedrooms.
5. Assess Furniture Materials and Choose the Ones That Will Last
The furniture you use in your child’s bedroom is important because you want it to be durable and as long-lasting as possible. The last thing you want is for your boisterous child to break a furniture item when using it. That’s not only dangerous for them but also costly for you as a parent. So always look at the materials from which relevant children’s bedroom furniture is made before buying. That way, everything you buy will last for as long as it possibly can.
6. Make Use of Old Picture Frames
You can do anything with old picture frames and it’s this that makes them so useful when you’re looking to liven up the walls of your child’s bedroom. You can add nice designs, photos or art to the frames and make them work nicely together. You could make a collage of picture frames because this often creates a nice impression, so give it some thought. It’s a simple trick but it works wonderfully.
Storage is a huge part of any child’s bedroom. Let’s face it; all kids of piles of toys and gadgets that need to have their own storage place. But that doesn’t mean the storage can’t be part of the design. It’s more than possible to use colorful boxes and baskets to make the room both stylish and functional.
8. Focus on Timelessness
Some design styles are timeless, and these are the things you should be focusing on if you want to avoid having to make regular design changes to the room going forward. The simple and classic touches that are both timeless and suitable for children are not always easy to find, but you’ll know them when you see them. Stay away from the temporary and plastic items that are only going to break or look tired within a few months of use.
9. Keep Your Child Involved in the Design Process
It’s important to remember the importance of keeping your child involved in the design process because they need to have their say. If they’re old enough to do that, they will be clear about what they want and what they expect. This is helpful because you don’t want them to start complaining about the design as soon as it’s in place. Obviously, you’re still going to have to take the lead, but your child should be involved in some way.
No parent should waste money when it comes to designing their children’s bedrooms. It’s more than possible to come up with designs that will hold strong and survive the test of time if you’re willing to think carefully and take the right steps. It is important for your child to have a comfortable, relaxing space of their own, but it is completely do-able on any budget.
With all of the horror stories floating around out there, it’s hard not to… Sleep training isn’t easy. As a parent, it’s one of the first opportunities to teach a child how to do something on their own, so it’s a task riddled with pressure, questions and self-doubt. If sleep training feels like the right decision for your family, then there’s no need to fear it. A positive sleep training experience is entirely possible.
Here are some tips for a positive sleep training experience.
1. Make the bedroom a sanctuary
“Go to your room” is something I heard a thousand times growing up as a kid, and I’m guilty of saying it to my older children now. But when it comes to sleep training, the bedroom should never be used as a place for punishment to avoid associating it with something negative. Designate a different room or area for time-outs. The bedroom should be a safe and comfortable place.
Before (and throughout) the sleep training process, spend plenty of time in the baby’s room playing or reading books and never force baby to stay in their crib or their room if they clearly don’t want to.
The more comfortable baby is in their room, the less they will dread it at bedtime.
2. Start early
Babies are actually born with naturally good sleep habits. They sleep when they feel tired and don’t know any different. Sleep training a younger baby can make for a positive sleep training experience. While young babies don’t sleep for long stretches, they do normally fall asleep on their own without much of a struggle.
Encourage that behavior – because the ability to fall asleep without help is the KEY to sleep training!
3. Conduct trial runs at nap time
While daytime sleep should be different from nighttime sleep, naps are a good way to get a feel for what sleep training will be like. The daytime is much less intimidating to begin sleep training. Both parent and baby will be somewhat more well rested than at the end of the day and there’s not as much pressure to get it right since naps are much shorter sleep periods.
While there’s no need to perform an entire bedtime routine at nap time, the key things to practice will be putting baby to sleep in the same place where they’ll be sleeping at night, and putting baby down while they are drowsy but not actually asleep.
If you can successfully get baby to go down for a nap on their own, then you’ll have a lot more confidence moving onto to bedtime.
4. Choose a realistic bedtime routine
Obviously sleep training involves some level of sacrifice, at least at first. But that doesn’t mean you should be wearing yourself out every night with baths and massages and stories and missing out on your social life. A bedtime routine doesn’t need to be elaborate.
Consistency is the key to a good bedtime routine so keep it simple and achievable. It could be the simple task of changing into pajamas and reading a special book (check out this list of the best bedtime books). Or maybe there’s a lullaby you like to sing. Even a special stuffed animal or blanket that’s reserved specifically for bedtime can do the trick. Diffusing some calming essential oils around bedtime can also help to calm the minds of both parent and child. Try to find one thing that soothes and calms each of the five senses. These simple habits, when done consistently, will give your baby the signal that it’s bedtime, no matter where you are or what time it is.
Having the option to be flexible in your baby’s bedtime routine will keep you from resenting the task altogether.
5. Eliminate the pressure
There is SO much pressure on parents to get sleep training just right. A common question new parents often hear is “is the baby sleeping through the night yet?” implying that something is wrong if they aren’t.
And if that wasn’t pressure enough, there’s also so much contradictory information about sleep training. Everyone has a method that they promise is the BEST and you always seem to be on the wrong side of the cry-it-out vs no-cry-it-out debate.
Accepting that all babies are different and sleep training is not a competition, or even a milestone, will help to take some of the pressure out of it. Sleep training will only be successful if both parent and baby are ready, and not because another baby who’s the same age or weight (even a sibling) was ready. Whatever method you choose to sleep train your baby should be the one that works for your baby and your family and no one else’s.
Remember that sleep training is not an all or nothing situation. It’s perfectly fine to take a break and try again another time.
6. Ask for help
Sleep training is not for everyone. Some babies have a much harder time sleeping than others and it can lead to a very unpleasant experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling with it.
While it’s great to have your spouse or partner around to tag team during those late nights, a friend to talk to (especially another mom who’s been there and done that) can do wonders for building up your confidence.
If the sleep deprivation is really getting to you and you’ve tried every method of sleep training without success, it could be time to call in an expert.
Sleepwalking can be a frightening episode for parents of young children.
When my second child started sleepwalking at 3 years old, it was a night I will never forget. I had heard stories about an aunt who had to be locked inside her bedroom at night due to her wild sleepwalking episodes, but never imagined that I would get to witness this phenomenon first hand.
Of course, like any good mother, I immediately panicked and started researching what this meant for her. I am happy to report that it’s simply a phase many children go through and while it can be incredibly creepy – it won’t last forever…
Here is some information for parents of a sleepwalking child.
1. What is Sleepwalking?
It sounds scarier than it is. The medical term for sleepwalking is somnambulism which basically means that a person moves around or performs activities as if they were awake but they are, in fact, asleep.
For more detailed medical information on the definition, symptoms and causes of sleepwalking please visit WebMD or Mayo Clinic.
2. Understand the Sleep Cycle
To truly understand when and how sleepwalking occurs, you must understand the sleep cycle.
There sleep cycle consists of 4 stages of sleep plus the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage. Sleepwalking occurs just after stage 4 when a person is transitioning from a deep sleep to the lighter REM sleep and they get stuck halfway.
Every night we go through several sleep cycles each one is an average of 90 minutes but it varies depending on age. Young babies can go through a full sleep cycle every 45 minutes which explains why they wake more often.
So while most sleepwalking occurs within the first 1 – 2 hours after your child goes to sleep – it can also occur at any time of the night depending on their sleep cycle.
3. It is Hereditary
I cursed my sleepwalking aunt – or rather, she cursed us. It is 10 times more likely that a child will be prone to sleepwalking if it runs in their family.
However, just because a family member was a sleepwalker doesn’t mean your child will be. Out of my three children, only one is a sleepwalker (so far…)
4. It’s not just “walking”
Sleepwalking does not always manifest itself as a person wandering around while fully asleep. In young children, they may only sit up in bed and look around or move their hands.
Sleep talking is sleepwalking’s less offensive cousin and usually occurs in the same manner. But not everyone who sleep talks sleep walks and vice versa.
If your child is prone to sleep talking, it might be an early warning sign of sleep walking OR sleep talking may be the extent of their night time extra-curricular activities.
In my experience with my daughter she had exhibited many cases of sleep talking prior to the first time I ever caught her sleepwalking. Her sleepwalking episodes have ranged from getting out of bed and wandering around, to full out tantrums throwing stuffed animals around her bedroom.
If you’re concerned about keeping an eye on them at nighttime, then a baby monitor is a good idea to have. You can find the top three baby monitors from Reviews.com and/or you can download the Baby Monitor 3G app if you have two compatible devices – a great option for travelling!
5. The Powerful Subconscious Mind
I was always bewildered by the fact that my 3 year old daughter could manage to climb out of bed, walk down the hallway in the pitch black without bumping into anything, open the bedroom door and come over to my side of the bed (where she proceeded to stand there and say absolutely nothing until I opened my eyes because I could feel her breath on my face).
The subconscious brain is powerful and the things it stores within it are endless. I’m certain my daughter could navigate our entire house while she was sleepwalking. It’s also quite impressive that her subconscious brain has learned the floor plan of the three different houses that we’ve lived in.
6. Sleepwalking Triggers
While a person might be prone to sleepwalking because of their genetics – there are also many environmental/psychological factors that can affect them as well.
Illness/Fever – this was a big trigger for my daughter. We were pretty much guaranteed an eventful night when she was fighting a fever.
Lack of Sleep
A full bladder
7. Sleepwalking or just walking?
My daughter is infamous for her bedtime stalling routines. She’s never been a “good” sleeper and has woken regularly throughout the night since she was born (thankfully NOW she knows how to go back to sleep on her own but the first 3 years were rough).
The first time I found her sleepwalking I had no idea that’s what she was doing. I assumed she was up because she had a bad dream or needed another drink of water or trip to the bathroom. It wasn’t until I saw the glazed look on her face and couldn’t get a response from her that I realized what was happening.
For the past couple years, every time she gets out of bed at night I wonder if she’s really awake and there are many times when it’s still hard to tell.
Ways to tell if someone is sleepwalking:
They don’t respond when you speak to them
They don’t make eye contact with you, even if their eyes are open
They seem disoriented or confused
They may be saying things that don’t make any sense or just mumbling words
8. Reaction vs. Overreaction
The number one thing you will hear about sleepwalkers is DON’T WAKE THEM UP!If you realize that your child is sleepwalking, the best thing to do is to guide them gently back to bed (you may have to do it several times).
While it can be incredibly freaky to open your eyes and see your half-asleep child staring at you in the darkness – restrain yourself from screaming!
Waking up someone who is sleepwalking could cause them unnecessary stress. They will be in a disoriented state and the confusion could cause them more harm than good.
They won’t remember anything in the morning and it’s best if you keep quiet about it unless they ask. Knowing about their sleepwalking habit could give a child insecurities at night time, they may become fearful to go to sleep or be alone.
9. They will outgrow it
As tiny brains grow and develop they will learn how to handle their sleep cycles better. They may go months or years without an episode only to have one set off by one of their triggers but it doesn’t mean there is anything psychologically wrong with them, or that you need to worry.
Children often outgrow sleepwalking before they hit puberty. Some people have sleepwalking episodes their entire lives, and if it becomes a problem as they get older, it’s worth discussing with a doctor.
10. Protect them
If you discover that your child is sleepwalking – all you really need to do is to protect them. Make sure their bedroom is safe (no bunk beds, floor is cleared of toys, etc). Lock the outside doors and/or windows and utilize baby gates near stairs if necessary. If you are concerned about your child opening doors and walking around while sleepwalking you can get a door sensor that chimes when a door is opened.
Don’t over-think the things they do while sleepwalking. While they are acting on subconscious it is normal for children to use bad language, urinate or do something else out of character while in this state.
We’ve all heard of people revealing secrets in their sleep – but the dream world is mysterious place and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
If your child is having more and more frequent episodes, try to keep a log of what foods they’re eating, activities they’ve been doing or medications they’re taking to try to determine a trigger.
And of course, speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.
There’s a parenting image we need to get out of our minds – it’s that one where the parent puts the sleeping baby down in the crib and then does some elaborate dance to make it out of the bedroom without making a sound so baby doesn’t wake up…
The trick to sleep training is that it isn’t a trick.
In my personal experience, teaching a child how to go to sleep on their own is just as important as teaching them all the other basic life skills like brushing their teeth or tying their shoes.
Ideally children should learn to be independent sleepers and not need to rely on rocking, shushing or cuddling.
Leaving a baby to figure it out and cry themselves to sleep doesn’t teach them anything.
Part Two of the Sleep Training Guide is aimed at babies over 6 months old who tend to be more curious about the world around them and try to test their limits. Here are my best tips and advice for dealing with sleep regression, bedtime barriers, and staying positive throughout the sleep training process.
Between 4 – 6 months babies go through their first major sleep regression (and roughly every 3 months after that until they graduate from high school).
It may be related to new teeth, illness, change in environment or routine – or it could be caused by absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Trying to sleep train during a sleep regression is like taking one step forward and two steps back, so my advice would be to wait until the sleep regression is over and baby is back to their normal routine to start any major sleep training.
Check out this post from shrewdmommy.com for more information on sleep regression.
A Fuller Stomach
6 months marks the big achievement of solid foods!!! While your baby will be eating an array of new foods, keep in mind that they will still be very dependent on milk for the next few months so don’t expect a “fuller stomach” to suddenly help them sleep longer at night.
Adding new foods to your baby’s diet can also cause changes in their activity levels and bowel habits which could alter your routine as well.
Your baby will be much more efficient at eating and may not need that middle of the night feeding anymore.
An Overactive Brain
Baby is discovering so many new things and will be much more active during the day. They will learn to (if they haven’t already) fight sleep in order to stay awake and play longer.
Over and under stimulation can affect how your baby sleeps at night.
Unlike newborns who can sleep in any conditions, older babies tend to wake easier and may be particular about where and when they sleep.
Distractions can work for you here. Try a projection night light, sound machine, stuffed animal, blanket, book or anything that will take your child’s mind off the fact that they are deliberately fighting sleep. Try not to cuddle, rock or feed baby to sleep. The idea is that it should be something that can soothe them when you are not around.
The older your baby gets, the less sleep they will need during the day. Make sure that they have been awake for at least 2 hours before bedtime (and longer as they get older).
It’s important to give them enough stimulation and exercise throughout the day (fresh air always works wonders to help children sleep better).
You can spread out their naps during the day but you don’t want your child to be overtired. An overtired child is a cranky child and a cranky child is an uncooperative child. And trust me, you’re going to need their full co-operation at bedtime!
The Bedtime Protest
You want your baby to watch you leave the room and be OK with it. You can give baby a little rub on the belly and say good night and then walk out of the room.
Do not try to sneak out of the room. We don’t want to trick baby into going to sleep on their own. And the last thing we want is for them to suddenly realize that we’ve left them and then freak out.
Do not feel sorry for them because they are alone. Sleep is a natural part of life and their bodies know this. They will follow your lead so if you seem stressed or feel sorry for them they will sense that.
If they instantly start to cry,wait a minute or two to see if they settle down on their own.
If their cry intensifies, then go back into the room and assure them that you are there and that it’s bedtime. Try not to pick baby up right away, instead try another distraction.
If they seem very distraught and upset then pick them up, console them and once they are calm you can try again. You want to make sure that both you and baby are calm when you put them to bed. If you have to, nurse them again or read a short book but don’t force them to stay in their crib if they clearly don’t want to.
If you and/or baby start to feel overly stressed out by this routine then try again another night. We don’t want either of you to associate any negative feelings with bedtime. If this has gone on for 2 or 3 nights in a row then take a week off and try again.
Night Time Waking
If baby wakes up in the middle of the night – wait 1 -2 minutes and really listen to their cry before going to them.
If they are just fussing and still sound half asleep, continue waiting.
If they suddenly let out one loud cry or scream, wait a few seconds to hear if more follows.
If their cry starts to escalate then go in and reassure them, offer a distraction and leave the room again.
If they seem very distraught and upset, then pick them up, console them (feed them if necessary) and once they are calm you can try again.
The listening and waiting can be key to helping your baby go back to sleep on their own. Oftentimes babies cry in their sleep. I remember many nights where I lay in bed listening to my baby’s cry on the monitor, finally deciding to get up and go to them and as soon as I put my hand on their bedroom doorknob they went back to sleep. I learned to wait an extra 30 seconds the next time.
You can find the top three baby monitors from Reviews.com and/or you can download the Baby Monitor 3G app if you have two compatible devices – a great option for travelling!
Bedtime battles can be so frustrating. Staying positive is so important, but it’s easier said than done. If babies and kids sense frustration or negativity at bedtime they will think of it as something to fear and they will fight you every time.
Consistency is key. Sticking to a bedtime routine means baby will know what to expect and when. Eventually, it won’t be so scary anymore – it will just be something that’s done every night.
Don’t pressure yourself if it isn’t working. Stress and sleep deprivation make for a bad combo. Take some time away from sleep training to get your positive energy back.
Sites like The Baby Sleep Site offer personalized sleep plans designed specifically for your child and focused on the areas that you need help with. Even if you choose not to purchase a sleep plan, you can become a member and access tons of great tools and resources available in their Members Area. Read my review of The Baby Sleep Site to get a sneak peek at what’s included in the Members Area and find out more information about their consultation packages..
Have you read PART ONE yet? Even if your baby is older than 6 months, you can still get some important tips and advice on sleep training!
Sleep training a newborn is all about establishing a good routine and developing the sleep habits that will become an important part of their lives. It’s about teaching them how the world works – when we sleep, when we eat and when we play – in order to be a functional human being. Sleep training a child is a long process, and the earlier they can learn, the easier it will be in the long run. By following a strict routine with a newborn, you may even be able to avoid sleep training in the future.
The goal of this sleep training guide is to:
Help your newborn baby identify the difference between day time and night time.
Establish a daily routine that focuses on healthy sleep habits.
Lay the foundation for stricter sleep training at a later age.
Help you predict what your baby needs and recognize the reason they are crying.
The reason why sleep training a newborn is so essential is because sleep at this age is instinctual and not something they have learned to fight (yet). This promotes a much more positive experience for both parent and baby. Remaining positive throughout the sleep training process is important to successful sleep training as the child gets older.
Here is a guide to sleep training a newborn (0-6 months), which includes routines to follow during the day, at nap time, bedtime and in the middle of the night.
Sleep Training in the Morning
Open the curtains
Let as much sunlight into your home as possible or sit by a sunny window. The point is to associate “daytime ” with brightness and noise.
Change baby out of their pajamas
It may seem like a tedious and unimportant task because many newborns stay in sleepers all day long. But the simple, routine, act of changing clothes in the morning will signal to your baby that it is time to start the day, and not just another one of their many wakeful periods.
Skin to skin contact
Several times a day, strip baby down to a diaper and lay them on your bare chest or cuddle next to them in bed. This is a great thing to do while nursing or bottle feeding baby as it can also keep them awake and stimulated so they will feed better.
If you’re a busy mother, or have other children to take care of and don’t have the time to lie in bed all day, then consider carrying baby around in a wrap-style baby carrier while shirtless.
A lot of effort should be put into those daytime feeding sessions. Feed baby as often as they want to during the day, whether it’s breast or bottle.
If you’re breastfeeding, now is the time to master the latch and try out different breastfeeding positions. Make sure to empty each breast even if it means feeding on the same side twice in a row. That will increase your supply and provide baby with more hind milk. Try using the breast compression technique to ensure baby is getting enough of the fattier hind milk and to help speed up the session.
Try your best NOT to let baby fall asleep during the feeding! Sucking is extremely soothing for a baby and it’s natural for them to drift off or get tired halfway through. If baby continues to fall asleep while nursing, they won’t get full enough and will wake up wanting more just a short while later.
Get a good burp
Different methods work for different kids but this is so, SO important. Try gentle bouncing or laying them on their tummy across your arm or leg instead of patting their back. Adding a little bit of pressure against their tummy with the palm of your hand, or holding their stomach against your rib cage as you bounce up and down can help to eliminate gas.
The number one reason why newborn babies cry after a feeding is because of gas. Often, babies will put their hands to their mouths or root around when they need to burp which can be confusing if they just finished nursing. For babies who are struggling with gas, try using colic tablets or essential oils to ease their tummies.
Get a good poop
This will usually happen on it’s own, so it’s really just a waiting game. You can try “pumping” their legs or holding them in a “sitting position” to get things moving along. The reason why you want to watch for this before putting baby down for a nap is so that they will be comfortable as they sleep and will have no reason to wake up before they’re ready to.
Newborn babies can poop frequently throughout the day (especially breastfed ones). Make sure to use a good bum balm to help avoid rashes with frequent changes. With time, you will learn how often and when they need to go. Their specific habits and routine usually remain constant as they grow older so this is just another way of getting to know your baby.
Talk or sing to baby, have tummy time and lots of skin to skin contact. A colorful play mat is a great tool to have for keeping young babies entertained. The environment should be stimulating and playful but not over-stimulating, so watch for cues that baby is done with a certain activity.
If you’re not sure exactly how to play with a newborn, then just take them around with you as you go about your day and talk to them while you do it. Babies don’t need a lot of entertainment at this age but they love to hear voices and watch faces.
Watch for signs of sleepiness
Throughout the day, keep an eye out for signs that they are ready to sleep. Some babies get very fussy, others may simply stare off in one direction and start the “slow blink.” As soon as you catch the hint that they are sleepy, prepare yourself to initiate the nap time routine.
Sleep Training At Nap Time
Put baby to sleep in their bed
Wherever you want baby to sleep at night time is where you should put them for naps as well. It may be tempting to hold and rock that baby for the next 2 hours but the sooner you can get them accustomed to sleeping in their own bed, the better (don’t worry, you can get in lots of cuddles during “playtime”).
Try to avoid letting baby nap in a car seat, bouncer or swing, as this can develop bad habits as they get older. Remaining consistent about where they sleep will help them get used to their bedroom and learn not to fear it.
Make sure that baby’s room is as comfortable as possible. Try using a warm or cool mist humidifier to make sure that their room is set up with the right conditions for them to sleep.
Keep the curtains open
Daytime sleep needs to be different from night time sleep, so keep the room bright. If it’s a dark or cloudy day, then leave a light on while baby naps. Make sure that there is a significant difference in baby’s room during nap time versus at night.
It’s common to try to avoid any and all noise while baby is napping, but that will become something you need to keep up for years. Most newborns are deep sleepers (hence the term “sleeping like a baby”).
Play music in the background, use a sound machine or open a window to let in street noise. If you have older children, don’t shush them while baby naps. Basically, go about your regular every day activities. This will teach baby to nap despite life happening around them.
Some babies tend to startle in their sleep when they hear loud noises, such as a dog barking or a car horn. Swaddling can help keep the startle reflex from waking them up.
Wake baby up after 2 hours
… and start all over again. It might sound cruel to wake up a sleeping baby but wouldn’t you rather save that sleepiness for 3 am? Several smaller naps throughout the day work better than a few longer ones at the newborn age so that baby can eat more often.
Sleep Training at Bedtime
Make sure that baby has been up for at least 1 – 2 hours before bedtime
Even a 10 minute nap in the car can sustain a baby with enough energy to last all night. It will take some work to plan out baby’s nap times but it is much easier to put a sleepy baby to bed than it is to wrestle with an energetic one.
Dim the lights
The wakeful period before bedtime should be focused on darkness and quiet – different than the wakeful periods during the day. Dim the lights, close the curtains or install blackout blinds.
You still want to make sure baby gets a really good feed, burp and poop
*Ahem* this is your life now…
Tone down the playtime
In the hours before bedtime, choose less vigorous playtime for baby. Avoid swings and bouncy seats or over-stimulating toys. Talk in quieter voices and play soft background music. Try to avoid having the television on.
Bathing and massaging baby are a great way to wind down before bedtime. Opt for sleep-inducing essential oils and use calming bath products designed to help baby relax. Let baby have some time without a diaper on before that longer nighttime stretch. Make sure that playtime before bed is calming and soothing instead of stimulating.
Change baby’s clothes
This is the other part of the day when it’s important to change baby’s clothes to signal that it’s bedtime. It doesn’t really matter what you put baby to sleep in because it’s just the act of changing into pajamas that will create that routine habit.
Try NOT to feed baby right before bed
A feeding before bed is important to keep baby full but if you don’t want to nurse them to sleep every time they wake up, then you need to disassociate it with bedtime. Aim for a half hour before bedtime so that they don’t fall asleep while nursing. You can feed baby first, then gently bounce or dance around with them to get out all those gas bubbles. Or change them into their pajamas after the feeding.
Initiate the “BEDTIME ROUTINE“
This is the last thing you will do with baby before you put them to bed for the night. It can include a bedtime story or lullaby, turning on a projection nightlight, some gentle rocking or cuddling in a chair, or goodnight kisses and hugs from everyone in the family.
Over the years the bedtime routine will evolve as your child grows. But it should always include a calming activity that is reserved specifically for bedtime so as to give your baby the bedtime signal.
Put baby to bed when you see the early signs of sleepiness
It’s worth repeating here – put baby down when they are sleepy but not actually asleep. The younger the baby, the more they are acting on instincts and as long as all of their needs are met, they shouldn’t protest when you put them down.
If baby cries when you put them down…
Try feeding or burping again until they get drowsy. If baby falls asleep while nursing, just try to get them into bed as soon as possible afterwards. Try your best to remain positive about the process, or baby will sense your anxiety.
Once down for the night – DO NOT WAKE BABY UP TO EAT.
Newborns need to eat on a regular schedule, but because you have been pumping them full of food during the day, you can worry a little bit less about how much they are eating at night. They WILL wake up when they are hungry but it should be longer than 2 hour intervals. The older and bigger they get, the longer they will be able to go without a midnight snack.
Use a baby monitor to listen for when baby wakes up, and try to get to them as soon as possible. Try not to let baby cry for too long, as this will stimulate them more than necessary. Newborns will normally only wake up to feed so there is no point in letting them “cry it out.”
Sleep Training in the Middle of the Night
If and when baby wakes up in the middle of the night…
Do not turn on any lights
Keep the room as dark and quiet as possible. A soft nightlight or mood light offers just enough lighting for you to see what you’re doing but the idea is to help baby associate night time with darkness and quiet.
Keep baby dressed
Save the skin to skin contact for the daytime. If you swaddle baby then it’s up to you whether or not to unswaddle them, but the idea is not to disturb or stimulate baby any more than necessary.
Because you’re pumping them full of milk during the day, you don’t need to worry about how much they’re getting in the middle of the night. This is a great time to use the breast compression technique while breastfeeding. Most likely, baby will fall asleep during nursing. If they do, try to get them back into bed as quickly as possible.
Do not talk to or stimulate baby in any way
If you’re smooth enough – you might be able to convince baby that this is just a dream and that they aren’t really awake at all…
Only change a diaper if it’s poopy
If baby had enough poopy diapers during the day then the chances of a poopy diaper at night are slim (though they do happen). Some babies are prone to diaper rash so if you absolutely must change a diaper, use a warm wipe or washcloth and try to make it as quick as possible.
Get a good burp
But don’t try any fancy positions that might overstimulate baby unless they seem to be having a lot of trouble with gas.
Immediately return baby to crib
Don’t make a big deal out of night time wake ups. Try to make them as quick and quiet as possible and don’t take baby out of their room.
Continue this routine for all night time feedings until morning and then begin the daytime routine all over again.
By following a routine with your newborn throughout the day, you will be able to get them on a consistent schedule. This will help you to predict what they need and when, so that when they cry, you can rule out the common reasons. Having designated awake and nap times will also allow mom to get more rest and/or work done without having to constantly wonder when baby will be ready to eat or sleep. You could even try using an app to track baby’s sleep patterns. The routine will eventually become second nature to mom and baby, and will continue to change and evolve as baby grows. It will also help to reduce the stress and anxiety caused by sleep training at a later age.
Have you tried all these tips and your baby is STILL not sleeping through the night?
There could be something you’re missing. All babies are different, and there isn’t ONE plan that works for everyone. Don’t be afraid to seek help from an expert. Read my review of The Baby Sleep Site for more information.