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"Jill and Jennifer gave us the skills, reassurance, and confidence we needed to make the dream of sleep a fast reality. This approach was truly amazing in helping our family to thrive and we are eternally grateful!"

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor, Actors


"Sleepy Planet's mellow techniques got our baby snoozin' thru the night...wheeewww! What a relief. Thanks!

Jack Black, Actor


"Our twins were up constantly at night until we found the Sleepeasy Solution. Thank you for giving us the sleep we'd been dreaming of!"

Marcia Cross, Actor

HEATHER WRITES:

The past couple of nights after our usual routine when I put Miles (18 mos) in his crib, after about 5 mins he starts wailing. Last night I went in rubbed his back a little and then left. He cried for about 5 mins after I left then fell asleep.  Tonight we waited to see how long he would cry for and he cried hard for about 30mins (husband checked in once). I went in there at 8pm and basically held him on my lap til he fell asleep then transferred him to the crib—let’s hope he stays asleep til the morning!

He is fine at naptime, goes into the crib awake and falls asleep quickly.

I was thinking this might be a separation anxiety thing (being a working mom, I feel guilty when I come home on the later side and he goes to sleep 30 mins later). Do you know how I should be handling this? I know rocking him to sleep is probably not the right thing but it felt right to comfort him. Anyway, any advice appreciated.

OUR REPLY:

Whenever a little one’s sleep knocks off track suddenly, it’s a good idea to see if there is anything new on his horizon – at this age, perhaps lots of talking, potty learning?  Is mom expecting a baby by any chance? (Even if it’s early, sometimes they know!)  If any of these are happening, separation anxiety can spike, temporarily.

If none of those as happening, it could be that he’s going through a phase where he really does want some mommy connect time at the end of the day.  If there’s any possible way to scoot your schedule around, you could try to come home another 15-20 minutes earlier to spend time. That’s better than sliding bedtime later if possible, as a later bedtime can cause him to be overtired and thus have a harder time settling.  Alternatively, you might have your caregiver do bath and even feed him before you get home, so you can just concentrate on connecting in other ways, and plan to eat yourself after he goes down.

Meanwhile, play lots of separation games with him during the day – ie, duck around the corner and come back, hide behind furniture and peek out), and make a little “mommy book” for him – get the photo album at the drugstore that has one picture per page, and put pictures of only Mommy and Maxwell in the book.  Have your caregiver look at it with him during the day, so he still has a visual connection. You can also communicate all of your separations to him; even if just going to the bathroom, get down on his level, make eye contact, and tell him, “Miles honey, mommy’s going to the bathroom for a few minutes. Be right back!” Let him fuss for the few minutes you’re gone, then check back in with him when you’re back: “Here I am!  Even when you can’t see mommy, I’m always in your heart.”  Be sure to play with him during the day in his room, too – so he isn’t only associating the room with somewhere that he’s separating from you.

Last but not least:  lose the guilt!  That can actually create anxiety for you, and when you’re more anxious, he will be too.  You are a wonderful, loving mommy who happens to work.  You aren’t shortchanging him by making that choice – though a few adjustments to your schedule (as per above) may be the ticket at the moment.  During the day, when you think of him, send him LOVE rather than stressful thoughts about feeling guilty!  On your way home, spend the last 10-15 minutes of your ride looking forward to seeing him and connecting, rather than playing the “oh no we hardly have any time to spend tonight” script.  If he does start to get upset at bedtime, just take some nice deep calming breaths yourself, and try to stay centered.

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Help! My Child Is Waking Early!

The #1 thing we hear from parents this time of year? Help – my child is waking SO early!  Here are some of our favorite tips to help you – and your little one – get some extra zzzs.
* It’s the time of year when nature is ALIVE with energy & new beginnings. Some kids with high sensory perception key into this and really do feel rested on less sleep (temporarily).
* Because the birds and the sun wake up so early, make sure your child’s room is VERY dark in the morning (10 on a 10 scale) and that you have white noise to cover bird songs.
* Because the sun also stays up later, make sure your child’s bedtime hasn’t slid past her optimal window. If in doubt, experiment with adjusting bedtime earlier by 15 minutes per night to see if your child can sleep longer in the morning (yes, earlier to bed often means LATER to wake up).
* Ensure your child is going down AWAKE at bedtime. If you’ve gotten lax about this, make sure there’s no question in your mind about whether she’s asleep or awake as you’re leaving the room.
* For 5 days consistently, DO NOT get your child up if she wakes early; instead, do check-ins. If check-ins upset your child more, consider not checking in.
* If all else fails, have a conversation with your child at putdown: “Honey, you’ve been waking super duper early, and mom and dad need more rest. It’s OK for you to wake up as early as you want to, and we’ll come get you when it’s time for US to get up” (or “when the sun comes up” or “when the sun comes out on your nightlight”).  Can preverbal kids really understand what you’re saying?  And even if they do, will they really get on board?? We’ve actually had some decent luck with this, surprisingly!  It’s all in the tone: you’ve got to be loving but very firm, like you really mean it. Try it and see!

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Holiday Travel Tips

Here’s what’s great about the holidays: getting to spend time with family (OK, maybe that’s also a little stressful!), hot chocolate and curling up by the fire, and all the twinkly lights. What’s not so great: the way holiday travel can wreak havoc on your child’s sleep. If one of your holiday wishes is to get more sleep, we aim to help you do just that with our favorite travel tips below!

* Whether driving or flying, schedule travel during a nap or around your child’s bedtime. Yep, sometimes red-eye flights are the way to go.

* For older kids, explain what will happen on the trip to help keep things on track: “Mom and dad will sleep in their bed, and you’ll sleep in your own bed in our room. We’ll brush teeth, put on PJs, and read books just like at home.” Make a simple book to show your child what will happen.

* If traveling east, you can try to stay on West Coast time. Example: if baby normally goes to bed at 7 and wakes at 6, he’ll now go to bed at 10 (so you can go out to dinner) and wake at 9 (woo hoo!). The key to making this work is ensuring that your room is very dark in the early morning (ask your hosts’ permission to tack up garbage bags with painter’s tape) and using white noise to drown out sounds that might otherwise wake your child early. He may naturally adjust to local time at some point during your trip.

* If traveling west, your child will wake early the first couple of days – bummer – but help her s-t-r-e-t-c-h as close as possible toward her normal put-down times for naps and bedtime without breaking her. Hang in there – she’ll adjust in a couple of days.

* Spend some time in the new room – playing, unpacking – before you ask your child to sleep in there.
* Do as much of your usual wind-down routine as you can, adding an additional 10-15 minutes to help her relax in the new place. Going through her familiar routine will help make her sleepy even though she’s in a different environment.

* Bring your child’s favorite lovey or stuffed animal from home – and if using a crib, bring a crib sheet you haven’t washed in a few days, so it smells familiar.

* It’s fine to do naps on the go in the car or stroller on vacation. If naps are shorter than usual, make bedtime earlier so he’s not overtired.

* If your child has trouble settling or wakes in the night, start with minimal assistance and work your way up: put a hand on baby’s tummy while you shush; then pick her up if necessary, calm, and return to her crib; and if all else fails, help her to sleep – you won’t enjoy your trip being sleep deprived! For older kids, give them the benefit of the doubt if they get out of bed a few times, returning them lovingly but without making a fuss. If you do end up helping your child to sleep on the road, or even pulling her into bed with you, just return to good habits as soon as you get back home (adjusting expectations re: time change for a day or two). Remember, knowing how to sleep is like riding a bicycle – even if the bike sits in the shed for a week or two, you never forget how to ride.

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Tips for Kids Who Climb

Due to potential safety hazards, some crib tents have been recalled, and most retailers don’t carry crib tents anymore.  Parents whose kids are trying to climb out of the crib but not yet old enough for a bed (most kids transition best after age 3) can be left feeling like there aren’t any good options.  Here are a few ideas you can try if you’re feeling stuck.

* Make sure you have lowered the crib mattress all the way down to the lowest setting.  Remove bumpers and any toys in your child’s crib that could allow him to get leverage and climb.

* If you see your child start to climb, go into the room and VERY FIRMLY say NO CLIMBING. If your child sits back down, leave immediately.  You might have to do this a few times in a row for your child to really get the message – and be sure not to engage in any other way.  This solution is best for a child who just seems to be experimenting with limit testing and is mostly a docile kid. If your child does continues to climb, try one of the ideas below.

* Put your child in a sleep sack made for older kids, so he can’t climb.

* Get an inflatable travel bed for kids.  These beds are basically tents that you zip kids into and they can’t get out on their own.  Introduce it during the day as a cool, wow-y new thing that they “get” to sleep in.  Encourage your child to play in the tent (with your supervision) for a few days before asking him to sleep in it.

*Some kids younger can 3 can learn to sleep in a bed.  Whether this is the right choice depends on the child and level of maturity/impulse control. Please contact us if you’d like our support through this process.

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Dropping the Nap

(This is Part 3 of our three-part series on nap transitions.)

The nap at 3 years may get even later, pushing toward 1 or 2 pm and ending around 3:30 or so. Most children start to give up their nap somewhere between 3 and 4 years. However, your child may continue to nap as late as age 5 (if you’re lucky!), and some kids do transition earlier. As with other nap transitions, you’ll know your child is ready to give up the nap when either (1) he begins to consistently refuse his nap, either chatting, talking, or playing in his bed at length, or crying and protesting; or (2) the nap becomes so late that it interferes with his ability to go to bed at night earlier than 8:30 (the latest bedtime we recommend through age 5). Remember to rule out acute teething, illness, or other unusual circumstances (such as a new baby in the home) when determining whether your child is truly ready to give up his nap.

When your child begins to transition from one nap to none, you’ll enter the last “Yuck Zone” where he will vacillate between needing and refusing a nap. For a while, you can follow his lead: when he does nap, maintain the bedtime as usual. If he refuses the nap, however, you’ll need to put him to bed unusually early (by as much as 1 hour, if necessary). You can “cheat” by driving for the nap for a little while if the car puts him to sleep – though many parents who experiment with trying to do only one short “blip” nap in the late afternoon, even in the car, often greet a very cranky bear upon waking, and if that’s the case for you it isn’t worth trying for it. When you make the leap to giving up the nap entirely, your child will be able to stay up till his usual bedtime after a few weeks. Bonus: after they’ve given up their nap, many kids will actually tack on additional sleep to their nighttime total, sleeping as much as 12 or 13 hours straight through. Enjoy it while it lasts!

A lot of parents worry about a child being forced to give up his nap before he is ready, due to preschool schedules beginning in the summer or fall. Usually this is the case for a child scheduled in an afternoon program. If this is the case for you, you can either try to do a short driving nap beforehand, to take the edge off of his fatigue. But if he won’t fall asleep that early and doesn’t get the nap, be sure to adjust bedtime significantly earlier – he’ll be ready, with all of that increased activity at school. Whatever you do, don’t let your child nap very late into the afternoon, as this will cause him to stay awake till all hours.

If a child who’s given up his nap is still at home, you can direct him to some quiet time, with or without your participation, either in his room or in a quiet corner of your home – say, a child-size table in your family room – that includes low-key activities such as coloring, playing with blocks, or working on a puzzle. Avoid screen time during this rest, which will only key him up more. The duration of quiet time depends on the child – some will be happy to play quietly for as much as 45 minutes to an hour; others will be able to tolerate only 20 minutes. Any quiet time is beneficial.

See our links below for sample schedules – and good luck with all of your nap transitions!

 

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Transitioning from 2 Naps to 1 Nap

(This is Part 2 of our three-part series on nap transitions.)

The range of transitioning to one nap is 12 to 24 months, though the norm is about 14-16 months.  When your child resists the second nap consistently (more than half of the time), and/or the second nap is beginning to interfere with her ability to settle at night, it’s time to transition to one nap. Welcome to yet another “Yuck Zone,” where your child will resist the second nap but won’t seem rested enough – or won’t sleep long enough – with only one. On some days, your child may need a second “blip” nap, and other days one nap will suffice.

When shifting from 2 naps to 1, your child will sleep about the same amount that she did before in two naps, now consolidated into one chunk (usually 90 minutes to 3 hours total). You’ll now need to help him stretch his daytime wake window far enough into the morning that you have approximately equal amounts of time between wakeup for the day and the start of the first nap, and end of the nap and bedtime. For example, if your child usually goes to bed at 7:30 and wakes at 6:30, you can try for a 12:00 putdown (5.5 hours from wakeup); if he slept till 1:30, you’d have 5.5 hours till bedtime.  Many kids need to start out at an earlier naptime, such as 11:30; if your child has been napping earlier, say at 10:30, stretch him slowly, in 15-minute increments over a period of several days.

What to do about lunch once your child is napping once a day?  It’s a bit of a catch-22 when the nap is on the earlier side, but you basically have two choices: do an early lunch beforehand, and a hefty snack after the nap to tide him over till dinner; or, do a hefty snack before the nap and lunch after, particularly if your family eats dinner on the later side.

Some tips for transitioning to one nap:

  • Your child may initially have trouble sleeping more than one hour, or longer than the length of her previous first nap. Try to keep her in the crib for at least 90 minutes total, extending her cribtime past when she wakes so she has the opportunity to go back to sleep and learn how to stretch. Check in if you need to – and if she’s not crying, you may want to leave her even longer.
  • Be patient; this transition takes time, and it may be a couple of weeks until your child can nap at least 1.5 hours consistently.
  • Adjust bedtime earlier temporarily – 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how shy of typical nap totals your child is – to avoid overtiredness and the dreaded cortisol effects!
  • Your child may need a very short blip second nap in the late afternoon every 4-5 days while on the way with this transition.  It’s fine to allow him to sleep in the stroller (if he will) or the car if you’re running errands. Make sure the blip nap ends within 2.5 hours of bedtime.

For sample schedules for a child transitioning to one nap, click here.

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Transitioning from 3 Naps to 2 Naps

(This is Part 1 of our three-part series on nap transitions.)

To determine whether your child is truly transitioning from 3 to 2 naps, make sure to rule out acute teething (cutting a tooth through the gum), illness, a brand-new motor milestone (such as crawling), or other circumstances that would temporarily affect naps (such as a move or a trip).

You do not need to decide when it is time to transition from 3 to 2 naps; your baby will let you know when it’s time by changing her nap patterns. Somewhere between 6 and 9 months, your baby’s third nap will begin to shrink slowly (eventually dwindling to perhaps only a 10 or 15 minutes “blip”) until it disappears altogether. (Blip naps are usually easiest to get in a car or stroller, if you have that option.) Gradually, your child will begin to resist taking the third nap entirely; when she refuses this nap consistently for 4 to 6 days in a row, she is ready to drop the nap. Warning: you will then enter what we fondly call the “Yuck Zone,” where three naps seem like too many but two naps don’t seem like enough. On some days your child may still need a third “blip” nap, and on other days two longer naps will seem sufficient.  The key is to follow her lead, allowing for a bit more flexibility with naps until she has fully transitioned to two naps (this usually takes one to two weeks).

When your child transitions from 3 naps to 2 naps, you’ll need to adjust her daytime wake windows later by 30 minutes each, so that the first nap is scheduled 2.5 hours after wake time and the second nap is scheduled 3 hours after the end of the first nap. So if your child wakes at 6:30 am, move the first nap to 9 am. If she sleeps an hour, the second nap will now occur at 1 pm. Also remember to adjust your bedtime earlier at night temporarily to avoid  overtiredness (and the dreaded cortisiol effect), as she’ll have longer to stretch now between her last nap and bedtime.

To see sample schedules for a baby transitioning from 3 to 2 naps, click here.

Remember, the sample schedules and waketimes windows we offer are guidelines that will work well for most babies, but there will always be babies who can’t quite stretch as long, or who can stretch longer than average. Aim to put your baby down for a nap before she’s overtired (rubbing her eyes or fussy) but long enough after the last sleep period that she’s tired enough to go down and stay down for the right length of time.

Last thing: there’s a reason we titled the nap chapter in our book, The Sleepeasy Solution, “The Art of the Nap”!  Naps have a lot of moving parts (timing, environment, way that the baby goes to sleep, the way you respond to her if she’s learning) that need to coordinate for a nap to go well. Fine-tuning naps can take 1-2 weeks, so hang in there and stay positive!

Coming soon: transitioning from 2 naps to 1 nap

 

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Tips for Spring Holiday Travel

Ah, the first holiday break for the year. While you’re likely excited about spending the time with friends and family, you’re probably not looking forward to the miles of driving or crowded airports. If you’re traveling with children in the coming weeks, here are some tips to keep the spring in your step.

  • Pack less toys and pack quiet toys. Small kids are often interested in new things, which includes the air sickness bag in the pocket (graba pen, draw a face and have a puppet show), in-flight magazines and the emergency landing card (talk about colors, airplanes, slides, funny vests). Pack a surprise bag of small, wrapped toys they haven’t seen yet.  On the plane, this is also the time to put away your book or iPhone until they’re sleeping. Your small children (and your neighbors seated nearby) will be happiest with all of your attention on your children.
  • Pack more diapers/wipes/extra change of clothes. I average a diaper per hour for babies under six months, and a diaper every two hours for babies six to twelve months. Yes, it’s a lot, especially if you’re traveling internationally, but you don’t want to be looking for diapers in the middle of traveling. Pack at least two packs of wipes and split them between bags. I had someone walk off with my suitcase at baggage claim after a 12-hour flight and having extra diapers & wipes in my carry-on was a lifesaver.
  • Plan your food options. No matter how or where you’re traveling, bring food along for your child. Options while traveling can be limited and your child might be hungry outside of meal times served on planes or between rest stops, not to mention being stuck on a frozen runway. Pack at least one well-loved snack for take-off and landing; the chewing and swallowing will make the pressure changes much more comfortable. Keep an eye on the sugar content – you don’t want to be trapped in a plane or car with sugar-highed kids!
  • Most importantly, relax. Kids can pick up on your tension and become even more upset, so keep your destination in mind, stay calm and do whatever is needed to keep your children safe and content. If that means a friend along to help, then do it. Years from now, you want your children to fondly remember the fun holiday visiting Grandma and Grandpa. (You can fill them in on the chaos and drama when they have their own children!)

Read more on flying with kids from a mother and flight attendant at Flying With Children.  For more tips on keeping sleep on track while traveling, click here.

Many thanks to guest blogger Vahnee for these great travel tips!  Find her blog at www.crunchyparenting.com, or follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

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Daylight Savings This Sunday, March 11

You know spring is just around the corner when it’s time to turn the clocks ahead! Follow these guidelines to ensure that your little one transitions smoothly.

Before bed, turn clocks ahead 1 hour.  If your child normally sleeps till 6:30 AM, the next morning she will likely sleep till 7:30 AM.  Her entire schedule – naps and bedtime – will then shift one hour later.

If you’re happy about this change, great!  Just protect her room from too much light in the early morning, and use white noise so she won’t wake with the birds.

If you’d rather help your child get back to her usual schedule, try the following:

1.  Put your child down at her regular bedtime, say 7:30 PM, on Saturday night.

2. Set your alarm for 6:30 AM (according to the new clock) and wake your child at this time.  To her, it will feel like it’s 5:30 AM, but don’t worry.  She’ll be tired, but she’ll adjust.

3.  If your child naps, put her down at her normal nap time according to the new clock and resume a normal schedule from there.  Don’t allow her to nap longer than usual.

4.  On Sunday night, put her down at her usual bedtime according to the new time.

Excerpted from our book The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep

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Holiday Travel Tips

Here’s what’s great about the holidays: getting to spend time with family (OK, maybe that’s also a little stressful!), hot chocolate and curling up by the fire, and all the twinkly lights. What’s not so great: the way holiday travel can wreak havoc on your child’s sleep. If one of your holiday wishes is to get more sleep, we aim to help you do just that with our favorite travel tips below!

* Whether driving or flying, schedule travel during a nap or around your child’s bedtime. Yep, sometimes red-eye flights are the way to go.

* For older kids, explain what will happen on the trip to help keep things on track: “Mom and dad will sleep in their bed, and you’ll sleep in your own bed in our room. We’ll brush teeth, put on PJs, and read books just like at home.” Make a simple book to show your child what will happen.

* If traveling east, you can try to stay on West Coast time. Example: if baby normally goes to bed at 7 and wakes at 6, he’ll now go to bed at 10 (so you can go out to dinner) and wake at 9 (woo hoo!). The key to making this work is ensuring that your room is very dark in the early morning (ask your hosts’ permission to tack up garbage bags with painter’s tape) and using white noise to drown out sounds that might otherwise wake your child early. He may naturally adjust to local time at some point during your trip.

* If traveling west, your child will wake early the first couple of days – bummer – but help her s-t-r-e-t-c-h as close as possible toward her normal put-down times for naps and bedtime without breaking her. Hang in there – she’ll adjust in a couple of days.

* Spend some time in the new room – playing, unpacking – before you ask your child to sleep in there.

* Do as much of your usual wind-down routine as you can, adding an additional 10-15 minutes to help her relax in the new place. Going through her familiar routine will help make her sleepy even though she’s in a different environment.

* Bring your child’s favorite lovey or stuffed animal from home – and if using a crib, bring a crib sheet you haven’t washed in a few days, so it smells familiar.

* It’s fine to do naps on the go in the car or stroller on vacation. If naps are shorter than usual, make bedtime earlier so he’s not overtired.

* If your child has trouble settling or wakes in the night, start with minimal assistance and work your way up: put a hand on baby’s tummy while you shush; then pick her up if necessary, calm, and return to her crib; and if all else fails, help her to sleep – you won’t enjoy your trip being sleep deprived! For older kids, give them the benefit of the doubt if they get out of bed a few times, returning them lovingly but without making a fuss. If you do end up helping your child to sleep on the road, or even pulling her into bed with you, just return to good habits as soon as you get back home (adjusting expectations re: time change for a day or two). Remember, knowing how to sleep is like riding a bicycle – even if the bike sits in the shed for a week or two, you never forget how to ride.

For more info on holiday travel, sleep, and other parenting tips, join us on Facebook and Twitter!

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