Teething and Sleep

As a Sleep Coach, there are many questions that I am asked quite frequently. How to approach sleep when baby is teething is definitely at the top of that list. If you’ve read my bio, you’ll know that as first-time parents we struggled majorly in the sleep department for the first few months. We climbed out of that sleep deprivation hole only for someone to casually say to me, ‘Wait until she starts teething’. WHAT!? NO! In my head, with every tooth that came in, we’d be back at square one with all-night wakings, zero naps, and a screaming, overtired baby. Luckily – this doesn’t need to be the case. Read on below to find out why teething can affect sleep and what to do to help ensure sleep doesn’t majorly regress during this inevitable time.

How can teething affect sleep?

Teething gets a really bad rep for creating a host of sleep issues and it can - especially for a child that already struggles to connect sleep cycles [sleep training for the win!]

Teething won't necessarily CAUSE your baby to wake through the night but for a baby that's already wakeful, it can make re-settling very difficult. It can also make the initiation of sleep more challenging as well if baby is experiencing discomfort.

There are 2 different types of teething - chronic teething [which is basically happening all the time as the teeth are slowly moving their way up through the gums and is on and off for the first 2+ years of a child’s life] and acute teething. Teething is at its worst [acute teething] when you can see those little white bumps just before they pass through the sensitive nerve endings near the skin surface. Once the tooth is through, the discomfort is mostly gone. This should take no longer than 3 days to occur so if your sleep is out of whack for weeks - teething isn't likely to blame. 

It can be difficult to know with certainty whether wakings at night are teething related or not. One good way of determining this is whether your baby’s wakings are occurring in a pattern or not. So, for example, if your baby is waking up at the end of every single sleep cycle [60-90 minutes at the beginning of the night, every 2-3 hours as the night goes on] then teething isn’t likely to blame, and it’s more likely a habit/sleep association/schedule issue. If your baby starts waking up at random times [say, at 9:00pm when they usually sleep until at least 1:00am, or every hour in the second half of the night] then teething might be to blame.

If your baby’s gums look like this, be prepared!

If your baby’s gums look like this, be prepared!

What are some other tell-tale signs that your baby might be teething?

  • Baby seems uncomfortable or extra fussy during the day

  • Gums are red, swollen, or bulging

  • You can see a little white nub right below the surface of the gums

What are not typically signs of teething?

  • Drooling

  • Hands in mouth

  • Fever [a slightly elevated body temperature [think: 99-99.5°] can be normal but an actual fever is not an indication of teething and if your baby has a fever and is sleeping poorly, you may want to rule out an ear infection]

  • Diarrhea

  • Cough

  • Congestion

  • Vomiting

What can we do to help when baby is teething?

The best weapon against teething discomfort preventing a good night’s sleep is a dose of Tylenol/Motrin before bed. If your baby is 6+ months of age, then I would be giving Motrin vs. Tylenol as it is an anti-inflammatory as well as a fever and pain reliever. Give the Motrin 30 minutes before bed if you suspect teething pain/discomfort. If your baby has been waking in the middle of the night or early morning and struggling to fall back asleep/stay asleep, then go in at the 6 hour mark and re-dose baby to help them through the second half of the night [this is like a dreamfeed but with medicine, let’s call it a ‘dream dose’!. While your baby is still asleep gently put the syringe of pain reliever into the back corner of their mouth. Very gradually squeeze the medicine into their mouth. Most babies will just swallow the medicine without waking up. If the on-set of sleep or early part of the night is when baby is struggling, there’s no need to offer the dream dose unless they wake in the middle of the night and are having a tough time re-settling.  If your baby still wakes up for nightfeeds, you can preemptively re-dose them at one of their feeds just to help avoid any issues through the second half of the night.

**speak to your healthcare provider before offering any medication, this is not medical advice

If your baby wakes in the middle of the night and is needing comfort and that 2nd dose of medicine and you haven’t done the ‘dream dose’, consider holding them for 30 minutes until the medicine takes effect, and this should help you to be able to lay them down afterwards.

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Keeping a consistent routine and schedule when your baby is teething is important as well! Continue to lay them down awake, continue to always give them time to re-settle on their own in the middle of the night if they do wake, continue to be consistent in how you respond to any protesting/middle of the night wakeups, and try to avoid bringing in any long-term habits for a short-term phase. It’s important to especially try to avoid bringing back the associations that you worked the hardest at undoing [i.e. if you were previously bedsharing and have now moved baby to his own bed, try to avoid bringing baby back into your bed and perhaps try to comfort by rocking instead. Or, if you have worked hard to eliminate a nursing association, try to avoid using nursing as a comfort tool if possible].  In saying this, if all else fails and your baby is really struggling, you can do what you need to do to help, but just remember the key is getting back on track the DAY baby is better.

So, put together, what might your teething plan of attack look like?

You notice baby is acting extra fussy today. You look inside baby’s mouth and there is a super swollen gum with a tiny white bump right under the surface with a small section poking through. In hopes of avoiding a tough night, you give baby a dose of Motrin before her bath, about 30 minutes before bed. Baby falls asleep well but then wakes up at 2:00am crying [this is an abnormal time for her to be waking up]. You wait 10 minutes to see if she can re-settle on her own without help, but then you go in and pick her up to comfort her. Seeing as it’s been 6+ hours since her last dose of Motrin, you re-dose her and hold her in the rocking chair for half an hour. After 30 minutes you lay her back down - but she starts to cry again. You leave the room to see if she can re-settle but after 10 minutes she’s still crying. Knowing she might be in discomfort, you go back in the room and hold her again, hoping to get her sleepy enough to lay her back down and have her stay asleep [I would repeat this in 10 minute intervals as needed]. The next transfer is successful, and she stays asleep the rest of the night.  The next night, you offer a dose of Motrin 30 minutes before bed but then also do a ‘dream dose’ at 1:00am [6 hours after 1st dose] to try and avoid the middle of the night waking – and it’s a success! To be careful you do this for one more night [3 nights total of possible teething discomfort].


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting, now based out of Kamloops, B.C. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Nightmares vs. Night Terrors

Check out my graphic below to see what the major differences are between nightmares and night terrors!

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Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting, now based out of Kamloops, B.C. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

The (Dreaded) 18 Month Sleep Regression

I hate to say it, but this regression is often the most difficult of the sleep regressions due to a discipline aspect that is involved which wasn’t present before. We really need to be diligent to ensure we don’t see a colossal setback with sleep during this time.

If you are struggling with this regression or are looking to prepare in advance, please check out the article below that I wrote for Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit’s blog for the 5 important steps to take to tackle it:

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Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting, now based out of Kamloops, B.C. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Your Step-By-Step Guide to Nightweaning

Nothing truly prepares us for the sleepless nights that we endure when we first bring home our babies. The one thought that I would always hold onto was that nothing was forever. When my first-born turned one and she was still waking at night for a feed, I started to wonder whether it maybe was forever! With my second [and third!] babies, now armed with much more knowledge about sleep, I vowed to do things differently. I knew it was possible for babies to sleep through the night much earlier than 15 months of age. Below you will find a step-by-step guide to getting that glorious full night of sleep [at least most nights!] The below instructions assume that your baby is healthy and you’ve discussed nightweaning with your doctor. The steps should be followed in order as by tackling one step, it may mean that you don’t even need to move onto the next step! Let’s do this!

Step 1: Look at the schedule

There are two main factors that play a part in babies sleeping well at night: sleep associations and schedule. An independent sleeper who is overtired won’t likely sleep through the night and a well-rested baby that requires help to fall asleep likely won’t either. So we first want to look at baby’s schedule, and mainly, we want to make sure that baby is not overtired. Following age-appropriate awake times is crucial and most importantly, we want to ensure that baby is not awake too long before bed. A baby that is overtired at the on-set of nighttime sleep is much more likely to fight bedtime, experience nightwakings, and wake early the next day. We might confuse some of these overtired wakings for wakings for hunger, so ensuring baby is well-rested first and foremost is key in ensuring we see a reduction in wakings that are not hunger-related.
We’ve made sure baby is not overtired, but now we need to make sure baby isn’t undertired [huh?] Baby sleep is all about finding that balance between enough sleep and not too much sleep. Enough awake time but not too much awake time. A baby that is undertired [by not getting enough awake time in during the day or by napping too much] may try to make up for that lack of daytime awake time by….you guessed it! Being awake at night. If your baby is waking at night and you suspect maybe too much daytime sleep/not enough awake time is the issue, try to adhere to the following rules:

4 months of age: aim for a minimum of 7.5 hours of daytime awake time and no more than 4.5 hours in naps
5 months of age: aim for a minimum of 7.75 hours of daytime awake time and no more than 4 hours in naps
6 months of age: aim for a minimum of 8.25 hours of daytime awake time and no more than 3.5 hours in naps
7 months of age: aim for a minimum of 9.25 hours of daytime awake time and no more than 3.25 hours in naps
8 months of age: aim for a minimum of 9.75 hours of daytime awake time and no more than 3.25 hours in naps
9 months until 1 nap: aim for a minimum of 9.75 hours of daytime awake time and no more than 3 hours in naps
Baby on 1 nap: aim for a minimum of 10.25 hours of daytime awake time and no more than a 3 hour nap
**when a baby first drops a nap, it is normal that daytime awake time will be lower and this is okay. It should only be temporary though and you should work to slowly increase awake times to reach the above goals.

Step 2: Look at the routine

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As mentioned above, the two main factors that contribute to a good night of sleep are schedule and sleep associations. Now that we know your baby is rested, we need to work on eliminating any unhelpful sleep associations. An unhelpful sleep association is anything that your baby cannot recreate on his own throughout the nighttime [I’m looking at you, pacifier!] If your baby is reliant on nursing to fall asleep, a bottle, rocking, pacifier, holding, etc. they will wake requiring these same associations to help them back to sleep. Some form of sleep training will be required in order to reinforce healthy sleep habits. This is the hard part but it’s crucial in order to ensure we have good, lasting, healthy sleep habits. Your baby can do this, believe in him!
When we sleep train, we want to make sure that baby is going down fully awake [not drowsy!] and that we’ve separated food from sleep. Putting baby down too drowsy or still feeding them to close to sleep will reinforce that unhelpful sleep association [i.e. baby is still reliant on you/food to prepare their body for sleep]. If your baby is 16 weeks of age or older, you want to be laying them down ‘wide awake but calm’ or ‘awake, minus the drowsy’ and the last feed of the night should occur at the very beginning of the bedtime routine [before the bath if it’s a bath night or before diaper change and jammies if it’s not]. As a note, it is not important that baby is kept awake during middle of the night feeds [or is woken up at the end of the middle of the night feed]. As long as baby is falling asleep on his own at bedtime, it won’t create an association if baby falls asleep eating in the middle of the night.

Step 3: Look at the age

Alright, so we now have a super well-rested baby that is sleeping totally independently! Woo hoo! But baby is still waking at night to eat. Boo hoo! Are you doing something wrong? Not necessarily! Sleep training does not [and sometimes, should not] equate to total nightweaning. Having a well-rested independent sleeper should drastically reduce the number of times baby is waking at night, but it won’t stop them from waking if they are truly hungry [or if they have a sticky habit, more about that below]. It is very normal for babies to wake at night to eat in their first year of life, often multiple times/night. When we are thinking about nightweaning, we want to make sure we aren’t expecting too much out of baby. What would be expecting too much?

4/5 months of age: expecting baby to eat less than twice per night unless they have dropped feeds on their own
6-9 months of age: expecting baby to eat less than once per night unless they have dropped feeds on their own
**when I say ‘dropped feeds on their own’ this means that baby has started to sleep through feeds without us actively trying to wean them and your doctor has okay’d this

Some babies will naturally consolidate their nighttime sleep earlier than others and may only need 1 feed/night at 4 months of age or no feeds at night by 6 months of age but I wouldn’t recommend trying to actively nightwean a baby down to less than the above.

Now, while we don’t want to expect too much out of baby, we also don’t want to expect too little. While sleep training often greatly reduces the number of times baby is waking at night as it eliminates the sleep association problem, if a baby is used to being fed at a certain time or after a certain amount of hours of sleep, we may now have a habit on our hands. These habitual wakings can be a bit trickier to eliminate and would require us to use our sleep training method to encourage baby to either a) fall back asleep on their own or b) lengthen out their stretch of sleep to something more age-appropriate. What is age-appropriate?

4 months of age: an initial stretch of 5 hours, followed by another stretch of 3.5 hours
5 months of age: an initial stretch of 6 hours, followed by another stretch of 3.5 hours
6 months of age: an initial stretch of 7 hours, followed by another stretch of 4 hours
7-9 months of age: an initial stretch of 7 hours, no second feed
10+ months of age: 11-12 hours of consolidated sleep
**stretches are counted from the beginning of the last feed, not from the time baby falls asleep

If your baby’s stretches of sleep are much shorter, you want to encourage them to wait longer in between feeds to ensure we aren’t feeding the habit. Whichever method you used initially to help baby to learn to fall asleep is how you want to respond if they were to wake before these times. You would continue with your chosen method until baby a) falls back asleep or b) you reach these above times. While it may seem like you are ‘rewarding’ baby by now feeding them after he woke early, you’re still setting the expectation and feeding baby when he is likely hungry [and he may have built up an appetite in that time and if so, it would be very difficult for him to fall back asleep without the feed].
If your baby is hitting these above stretches but still having a lot of extra nightwakings, try to really pay attention when they eat at night. Do they seem hungry? These stretches above are just an average and won’t be suitable for every baby. If your baby is capable of sleeping longer stretches but we’re feeding them too early, we are feeding the habit and that will encourage extra wakings. If you think this is the case, try increasing the time before you feed baby by 15 minutes every few nights to see if it helps.
Once you’ve reached the 7 hour stretch and baby is 6+ months of age, it can be wise to increase the stretch by 15 minutes every week to start working towards that full night of sleep by 10 months of age. So at 6.5 months of age, you might be at 7.5 hours. At 7 months of age, you might want to use an 8 hour cut-off, and so on.

Step 4: Look at daytime consumption

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When a baby has been used to being fed at night [or multiple times per night] their body becomes accustomed to those nighttime calories. If a baby is getting the bulk of their calories at night, we call this ‘reverse cycling’. This is especially common with babies who require food to fall asleep. While this can happen very quickly and easily, luckily it can also be undone [by following the above and below steps!] One of these important steps is to try and increase consumption during the daytime. This might mean adding in an extra feed for a breastfed baby [not right before sleep times though! Make sure any milk feeds are separated from naps by at least 30 minutes + some sort of activity] or increasing ounces in baby’s bottles. Also, try to ensure that baby’s feeds are distraction-free. Try feeding baby right upon waking from sleep with the lights still off, white noise still on, sleepsack on, etc. If baby is bottlefed, make sure the nipple size is appropriate - oftentimes if baby starts to eat less or slower, it can mean you need to increase the nipple size. If your baby is eating solids, try incorporating some high-fat/high calorie foods such as avocado, heavy cream, butter, olive oil, fatty fish, beans, whole-fat yogurt, full-fat coconut milk, eggs, bananas, etc.
If you have any questions or concerns about how much your baby should be eating, please speak to your pediatrician.

Step 5: Look at how you respond

Perhaps one of the most important steps you can take to working on increasing those stretches of sleep at night is waiting it out. Babies are noisy sleepers, especially those new to independent sleep. They wake up, cry a bit, fall back asleep. For babies just new to independent sleep, this can occur after every single sleep cycle at the beginning of the night, as their transition is ‘sloppy’ and unrefined. This gets better with practice! We often mistake partial arousals as cries for hunger and in we go to offer a meal. Despite not really being hungry, baby likely obliges by eating - and a habit is born. While sometimes it’s not easy, especially in the middle of the night, establishing a wait time before entering baby’s room can be a game changer for nighttime sleep. I would start with whatever number you are comfortable with, even if it’s just 1 minute at first, and try to increase the wait time by 1 minute every night or every few nights until you are waiting 10 minutes. I would be waiting even if it is technically time to feed, as you always want to give baby a chance to self-settle before you intervene. Also, if we are rewarding every waking with instant gratification [food] we are really reinforcing that wakefulness and it’s more likely that baby will continue to wake at night even once he’s not hungry! Your baby might really surprise you if you give him that chance!

Step 6: Look at nighttime consumption

You’ve followed steps 1 through 5 but baby is still eating more at night than we’d like [come on baby!] which means we move to the final 2 steps which are the more ‘active’ nightweaning steps. The first step is the slow wean, which means that we will be slowly reducing the amount of calories baby is eating at the nightfeed(s) that we are trying to eliminate.
If you are nursing, time the nighttime feeds for 2 nights and take the average. On the 3rd night, reduce the minutes you are nursing by 3 minutes. Every 3rd night, reduce the feed(s) by another 3 minutes until you are only nursing for around 5 minutes.
If you are bottlefeeding, you will want to reduce the number of ounces in the bottle(s) by half an ounce every 3rd night until you are only offering 2 ounces.
If your baby is 9 months or under and you’re keeping 1-2 feeds/night, you can feed baby as much as he wants at the remaining feed(s).
You should plan to reduce the earliest feedings first. For example, if your baby is 5 months old and eating at 10:30pm, 1:30am, and 5:00am, plan to cut out the 10:30pm feeding. That first stretch of sleep is the most important stretch of the night as not only does it set the tone for the rest of the night [i.e. if we feed too early at the first waking, the rest of the night is likely to be fragmented] but it also contains the deepest, most restorative sleep and is when growth hormones are secreted, memories are formed, and baby’s learning ability and overall alertness for the next day is affected.
Once you are down to 5 minutes of nursing/2 ounces in the bottles, we can move onto the next step:

Step 7: The final step

We made it! If you’re at this step, that means that your baby has an age-appropriate daytime schedule and bedtime. He falls asleep 100% independently without any props and you feed at the beginning of the bedtime routine. He eats well during the day and you have been waiting him out at night [if your baby is 6-9 months of age, I would try increasing the wait time to 15 minutes before this final step to see if that encourages him to skip the feed. If your baby is 10+ months of age, I would try waiting 20 minutes]. You’ve reduced ounces/minutes at night but he’s STILL waking. The last step is to eliminate the feed entirely which is possible now that you’ve really set the stage. You would use your chosen sleep training method [or if you’re a lucky duck and haven’t had to sleep train, read up and find a method that you are comfortable with] and when baby wakes at night and is still awake after your 10 minutes, you’d encourage him to fall back asleep on his own [perhaps by using timed checks, sitting next to the crib, or leaving him to settle on his own]. If you’ve followed all of the above steps, it should not take more than 3-5 nights until baby is sleeping through that waking. If baby is really protesting and you’re losing your resolve, try rocking your baby to sleep instead of feeding [obviously best case scenario is baby falls back asleep on his own but rocking to sleep is better than feeding to sleep!]
If your baby, in this process, has dropped all nighttime feeds and maintains that full night of sleep for 7 nights in a row, your baby has now learned how to sleep through the night successfully and if he were to wake at night, I would not be offering a feed anymore [checking in on him or comforting him is okay of course, but a feed would not be offered]. Once a baby learns to sleep all the way through, sleep generally overrides hunger, which means that hunger isn’t likely to wake him out of a deep sleep and wakings at night are more likely attributed to something else [overtiredness, teething, illness, milestones, etc.]


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting, now based out of Kamloops, B.C. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Newborn Sleep 101

I have been sleep consulting now for 4.5 years and have learned so much in that time. The earliest I begin working with families is once baby has reached the 16 week mark which means newborn sleep is a bit of uncharted territory for me! Or it has until recently, as my 3rd baby was born in April 2018 and I have learned so much in 7 short weeks. If you've read my 'about me' section here, you'll know that I struggled majorly with my first-born and sleep. Ignorance was not bliss! With my second, I did a lot of things differently and while it was exponentially better, I couldn't help but think if there are more ways we can help improve sleep in the first few months [or the 'fourth trimester' as some call it]. Thus began my research - I scoured the Internet and the most popular newborn sleep books for the best tips and advice on how to improve sleep in the newborn days. And it has paid off so far! This blog post is meant to outline what I've done differently this time around and what has helped shape baby W into a so-far great sleeper [hello 9 hour stretches of nighttime sleep!] Happy reading!

While I know that a lot of newborn sleep is 'luck of the draw', I also know that trying to cultivate some healthy sleep habits right off the bat is never a bad idea. While true bad habits are not created until a baby is older, oftentimes by setting baby up on the right foot, we can avoid having to do any major sleep training down the road. The key with most newborns is trying your best to avoid the overtired state, which can be tricky as babies at this age are very prone to overtiredness. So what have I found to be the most important keys in the early weeks with newborns? 

Baby dab!

Baby dab!

 

Get those days and nights sorted out ASAP

Babies live in perpetual darkness in your tummy which means that when they enter the world, their circadian rhythms are all sorts of messed up. Additionally, most babies are more active at night while you are sleeping and sleep during the day when your movements help lull them to sleep. One your main priorities in the early weeks should be helping baby sort out her days and nights. A few important ways to do that include:

  • Waking baby up every 3 hours during the day. Even if it's just for a quick feed and then right back to sleep, making sure baby doesn't sleep through feeds in those early weeks is important as then baby will start to try to make up for the missing intake at nighttime. This also ensures baby doesn't clock too many daytime sleep hours which then = less nighttime sleep hours. As the weeks go by, you may need to even experiment with capping naps closer to the 2-2.5 hour mark [by 6 weeks I was capping baby W's naps at 2 hours and that has helped us get some nice long stretches at night].

  • Nap in the light, nights in the dark. Until you are certain baby has their days and nights sorted, put baby down for naps in a bright-lit area [we had baby W napping in her crib right away but I would keep the curtains open for naps]. Once days and nights are sorted, naps should be in the dark to ensure good-quality sleep. Nighttime should always be dark and boring - try not to interact or stimulate baby during nighttime hours [nighttime should begin somewhere between 9:00-11:00pm for babies up to 6 weeks of age and 8:00-10:00pm at 6+ weeks of age].

Attempt independent sleep from day 1

Most of us have read at some point that putting baby down 'drowsy but awake' is important. With my first 2 children, by the time I had read or thought about that, I was already in the thick of rocking/feeding to sleep. So I wanted to experiment this time around with independent sleep from day 1 [and I'm not kidding, I put baby W down awake in that plastic crib in the hospital - ha!] I was absolutely amazed at how she had this innate ability to put herself to sleep [I'm sure you've read newborns can't self-soothe - I beg to differ!] I would turn the white noise on, swaddle her up, rock her for a minute, and lay her down awake. And she'd lay there silently, close her eyes, and fall asleep. I'm not gonna lie - it almost felt wrong! It felt like I should be rocking her to sleep! But I didn't have to! My mind-set this time around has been to work on things in the early months that will make it easier on her down the road. Working on independent sleep right away should mean that sleep training is not necessary [or at least not any major sleep training!]. But trying to start right away is the key, as once baby has been accustomed to one way of falling asleep, it becomes more challenging to undo it. Now, as baby W gets older and more alert and aware, independent sleep doesn't have the 100% success rate it did in the early weeks. Just keep in mind that independent sleep is the ultimate goal, not the be all and end all. What that means is that if by attempting independent sleep baby is on the verge of becoming overtired, you want to rescue that sleep time. I gave baby W 20 minutes to attempt to fall asleep on her own. If independent sleep didn't happen within those 20 minutes, I'd resort to rocking, nursing, using a swing, carrier, etc. to help her fall asleep. At such a young age, avoiding the overtired state is extremely important.
So what would I do during those 20 minutes that I was attempting independent sleep? From the get-go I established a solid nap routine [short but sweet!] I'd walk up to her room saying, 'it's nap time!', I'd turn on the white noise [this was a HUGE cue for sleep from day 1 - I was that crazy lady using white noise in the hospital but it has proven extremely helpful in signaling sleep for her], dim the lights, swaddle her up snug [using this technique - a snug swaddle is KEY!], lights off, sing her a song while walking around the room, then stand in front of the crib and bounce/shush until she was drowsy [I gauged 'drowsy' by waiting for one long, slow blink]. I would then lay her down awake and put my hand on her chest while continuing to shush and sometimes rocking her back and forth in the crib. If she cried I would give her a few seconds [it was actually quite amazing how on a number of occasions it was almost as if she needed to have a little 10 second cry to release energy and then she would calm and close her eyes] and if the crying was escalating, I would pick her up and bounce/shush again. The crying I experience is never very intense [not nearly as intense as when I am putting on her lotion at bedtime!] and a lot of it just seems to be her releasing energy [remember, not all crying means that something is wrong, sometimes crying is just a baby saying 'I'm tired!'] I would repeat this process until baby W was calm in the crib and then I would leave. If she cried once I left, I would wait 5 minutes [I have used a baseline of a 5 minute wait from day 1 - of course if the crying was escalating I would go in sooner but this almost never happened], and go in and repeat again [until we hit that 20 minute mark where I would rescue the nap instead].
This process was very similar to how I would approach bedtime as well. The difference there is that I have been doing a bath every single night since night 1 [the bath, I think, is what really helped with sorting out days and nights and has been a big cue for bedtime]. I only use soap every 3 nights to avoid drying out her skin and we lotion every night. As well for bedtime, I split the bedtime feed in half - meaning I start the bedtime routine by nursing her on one side [if you are bottle feeding then feed half the bottle], then we proceed to bath, lotion [hates that part!], jammies, nurse on the other side [rest of bottle], swaddle, sing, bounce/shush, down in bed. Again, we attempt for 20 minutes before rescuing the bedtime [rocking to sleep, nursing to sleep, or as a last-ditch effort on a particularly rough night - using the swing].
It's not always perfect but even just attempting independent sleep in the early weeks will be helpful to establish fully independent sleep down the road! The big key to being successful with independent sleep is nailing those waketimes. Babies are SO sensitive to overtiredness in this early months that trying to put a baby down awake and overtired is a bit like trying to wrestle my cats into their carrier to go to the vet, which brings me to my next point....

Keep awake times SHORT

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Keeping intervals of wakefulness short for newborns is extremely important. This was one area where I went drastically wrong with my first-born and likely contributed to her colic-like symptoms that we experienced [I thought my newborn was a genius for being able to stay awake for 6 hours but then wondered why she screamed all night every night - oy!]. Newborns need a LOT of sleep and they need to sleep often. It's sometimes hard to believe how often we should be putting young babies down for naps but as I have mentioned a few times, avoiding that overtired state is key. Once you hit that overtired point, any chance of independent sleep will be extremely difficult and if you do manage it, you will likely experience a lovely 25 minute micro-nap - not fun! Babies up to about 3 months of age should basically stay awake long enough to eat, have a change, and then it's time to go back down again. This can feel extremely frustrating and exhausting but it does get better! A few times I kept baby W up just because I wanted to hang out with her longer than 10 minutes and it majorly back-fired every single time. So how long are we shooting for?

0-1 months: 40 minutes maximum
1-2 months: 40-60 minutes maximum
2-3 months: 60-80 minutes maximum

That's it. Seems crazy, right? I hear you! But babies up to 2 months of age require 16-20 hours of sleep. That only leaves about 4-8 hours of awake time every single day. Baby W is currently 7 weeks old and I aim to start her nap routine at 40 minutes of awake time. This leaves about 10-15 minutes of 'play time' after changing and feeding. Any longer than this and we hit that overtired state and more than likely will have to rescue the nap.

Separate food from sleep AND encourage full feeds

When encouraging independent sleep, we want to ensure we remove any associations that can negatively impact sleep. An association is something that occurs at or near sleep times. Some of these associations are positive [white noise, swaddle, lovey] and others can negatively impact sleep [rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, etc.] Basically, anything a baby cannot re-create on their own is an association we try to avoid! Milk is definitely a strong association and something that ideally we would try to separate from sleep times as much as possible. Therefore, once baby starts to have longer periods of wakefulness, it's a good idea to feed them at the beginning of their awake time, followed by changing and play, and then down for a nap [there may not be much time in the early months between the two but we can still try to separate it, even if it's only by 10 minutes!]
The other key with helping to establish good sleep in the early months is encouraging full feeds. This is something I've actively tried to do this time around and it has really helped. If baby falls asleep eating - wake baby up. I did this by feeding one side, burping [try to always get a good burp out! Newborns can be very easily bothered by gas!], changing, then feeding the other side [nighttime feeds included]. By encouraging full feeds, especially during the day, we should see longer stretches of sleep emerge earlier on as sleep is closely tied to food in the early months. 
 

Wait it out

I have found that waiting it out [i.e. not rushing to baby] has become easier and easier with each subsequent child. With my first, I wouldn't even let her make a peep before I rushed in to rescue her. If your baby cries, that means you're doing something wrong, right?! No! Babies can be noisy sleepers and remember that a lot of crying can just be baby's way of expressing fatigue or trying to blow off steam [especially if overtired/overstimulated]. Now we're not talking about letting a newborn cry-it-out, but if baby is crying at a sleep time [either trying to fall asleep or trying to fall back asleep] try to wait a few seconds and really listen - is the crying very intense or not? Does the crying seem to be tapering off or becoming stronger? Is there a lot of breaks in the cries? You know what you're comfortable with and that is important - there's certain cries that I would go in immediately for and there's cries that I would wait out a bit. As I mentioned above I tried to have a baseline of a 5 minute wait once baby W was a few weeks old, but if the crying was getting more intense then I would go in sooner. With time, I've been able to build up to closer to 10 minutes [again, gauging it by the type of crying] and it's quite amazing how many times baby W has been able to settle or re-settle on her own if I give her that opportunity. I want her to know that I believe in her ability to self-soothe - that she can do it on her own but that I'm here to help her if she needs it. To me, this is helping her build confidence, something that I feel she might not learn as well if I do it all for her! But of course, keeping age-appropriate expectations is important, remembering that independent sleep is just a goal we are working towards, not something we insist on. Fully independent sleep can come later, right now we are just practicing.

Find that sweet spot bedtime

Newborns naturally have a later bedtime and trying to find that sweet spot bedtime for your newborn is important. With my second-born, I tried to shift bedtime too early too quickly and I believe it contributed to the shorter stretches of sleep and evening wakefulness that we experienced. While I love me an early bedtime, I've found that not trying to push bedtime too early too quickly has really helped. Sometimes the later bedtime can be stressful as those evening naps can be tricky to get [most of the time I don't even attempt the crib for the last nap of the day and instead we go for a stroller walk/jog or I use the swing or carrier] but working hard to get them in should ensure a more peaceful night of sleep. 
From the get-go, I would call any sleep after 8:00pm nighttime sleep. So if baby W woke up at 8:30pm from a sleep time, I would start my bedtime routine right after she woke and the next sleep time [around 9:30pm] would be bedtime. Remember, bedtime up to 6 weeks of age can be anytime between 9:00-11:00pm [so the sweet spot may be different for your baby] but I tried to keep it on the early end so I would be able to shift it earlier more easily [I am not a night owl!] Once I had that 9:30pm bedtime established, every week I would try to shift it a bit earlier by ending the last nap earlier by 15 minutes. A good goal to have would be to end your last nap at 7:30pm by 1 month, 6:30pm by 2 months, and 5:30pm by 3 months. Additionally, if you're trying to shift bedtime earlier, try to ensure baby isn't sleeping in too late in the morning, as this can make it hard for baby to settle earlier in the evening. As a general rule, the wake-up time should be 12 hours before your goal bedtime. So if your goal bedtime is 9:00pm, I would wake baby up at 9:00am. If goal bedtime is 8:30pm, wake baby up at 8:30am. This ensures sufficient awake time during the day.
I have also found that the awake time before bed can often be a bit longer than in between naps, and it's good to aim for about 1-2 hours of awake time between last nap and bedtime up to the 3 month mark. 

If you have found this post helpful, you will love my Comprehensive Newborn Sleep Guide, check it out here!


I hope you have found this information helpful as you navigate through those difficult early months! I am so happy to share this with you all and welcome your thoughts/opinions. 

Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Toddler Sleep Schedules [with 2-1 information!]

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Considering the popularity of my blog post for sleep schedules from 4 months to 18 months, I thought it was time to give toddler sleep some love! Read on to learn about different schedules for toddlers from 18 months [or 1 nap] to age 3! I will preface this blog post the same way I did my first schedule post by saying that all children are different and yours might not necessarily fit into this schedule perfectly every single day but it is just meant as a guide to know what is typical at each age and as your child grows.  I intended this to be a helpful guide to see what a day in the life of a toddler on an age-appropriate schedule looks like - meals, naps, and nightsleep. When looking at these schedules, what's important to note is the time awake in between sleep times, not necessarily the time on the clock [unless otherwise indicated]. I generally recommend laying the child down 15 minutes before these targeted 'asleep' times to give them ample time to fall asleep.

18 months [the start of the 2-1 transition]

Children at this age need roughly 13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, 1.5-3 hours of that sleep should occur in the daytime with 11-12 hours of sleep at nighttime.

Prior to the transition [age 13-18 months]:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:00am - snack
9:45am - 10:45am - nap#1 [to hold off the transition until this point, it's beneficial to cap this nap at 1 hour]
12:00pm - lunch
2:00pm - snack
2:45pm - 3:45pm - nap#2 [a full 4 hours of awake time between naps 1 and 2]
5:30pm - dinner
6:30pm - bedtime routine [should not include any milk, last milk with dinner!]
7:15pm - bedtime [asleep by this time]

One week into the transition:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - either a big snack OR lunch split in half
10:15am - 12:15pm - nap [we pushed out the first nap by 15 minutes every 3 days. If the nap ends at noon or later, we move to bedtime. If the nap ends before noon, we do a catnap/quiet time around 3:00pm]
12:30pm - either a big snack OR the other half of lunch
2:30pm - small snack
5:00pm - dinner
5:30pm - bedtime routine
6:15pm - bedtime

Two weeks into the transition:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am -  breakfast
10:00am - either a big snack OR lunch split in half
11:00am - 1:00pm - nap [we continued to push the nap out by 15 minutes every 3 days]
1:15pm - either a big snack OR the other half of lunch
3:15pm - small snack
5:30pm - dinner
6:00pm - bedtime routine
6:45pm - bedtime

Four weeks into the transition [transition complete]:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:00am - snack
11:15am - lunch
12:00pm - 2:00pm - nap [nap was pushed out by 15 minutes every 3 days to a 5.5 hour waketime]
2:30pm - snack
5:45pm - dinner
6:15pm - bedtime routine
7:00pm - bedtime

Please check out my Comprehensive Nap Transition Guide here for detailed information about each nap transition!


19-23 months 

Children at this age require 12-12.5 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. 1.5-3 hours of that sleep should occur in the daytime and 10-12 hours of sleep at nighttime.

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:00am - snack
11:45am - lunch
12:30pm - 2:30pm - nap [if the child's 1 nap is well-established, we should move to a 'by the clock' nap occurring between 12:30-1:00pm. This nap should be no longer than 3 hours and not past 3:00pm]
3:00pm - snack
5:45pm - dinner
6:45pm - bedtime routine
7:30pm - bedtime

2 years old 

Children at this age require 12-12.5 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. 1-2 hours of that sleep could occur in the daytime and 10-12 hours of sleep at nighttime. After age 2.5, children do not developmentally *need* a nap like they did prior to this age [although the longer you can hang onto it, the better!] Keep in mind that if your child has dropped their nap, they should now be clocking the full 12-12.5 hours of sleep at nighttime, so bedtime should reflect that based on what time they normally wake up in the morning.

A 2 year old who is still taking a nap:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - snack
12:00pm - lunch
1:00pm - 3:00pm - nap [at this age, the 'by the clock' nap should occur between 1:00-1:30pm. This nap should be no longer than 2 hours and not past 3:00pm]
3:30pm - snack
5:45pm - dinner
7:15pm - bedtime routine
8:00pm - bedtime

A 2.5 year old who is no longer napping:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - snack
12:00pm - lunch
1:00pm - 2:00pm - quiet time [a quiet time every single day for a toddler who is not napping is extremely important. Even if they are not sleeping, time to re-charge their batteries for at least 45 minutes mid-day will help avoid major evening crankiness]
2:30pm - snack
5:15pm - dinner
5:45pm - bedtime routine
6:30pm - bedtime

3 years old

Children at this age require 11-12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. 1-2 hours of that sleep could occur in the daytime and 9-12 hours at nighttime. For children who no longer nap, they should now be clocking the full 11-12 hours of sleep at nighttime, so bedtime should reflect that based on their usual wake-up time.

A 3 year old who is still taking a nap:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - snack
12:30pm - lunch
1:30pm - 3:00pm - nap [at this age, the 'by the clock' nap should still occur between 1:00-1:30pm. This nap should be no longer than 2 hours [but may need to be closer to 1-1.5 hours to not interfere with nightsleep] and not past 3:00pm
3:30pm - snack
5:45pm - dinner
7:15pm - bedtime routine
8:00pm - bedtime

A 3 year old who is no longer napping:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - snack
12:30pm - lunch
1:30 - 2:30pm - quiet time [a quiet time every single day for a toddler who is not napping is extremely important. Even if they are not sleeping, time to re-charge their batteries for at least 45 minutes mid-day will help avoid major evening crankiness]
3:00pm - snack
5:30pm - dinner
6:15pm - bedtime routine
7:00pm - bedtime


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Creating an Ideal Sleep Environment for Your Baby [a.k.a. The Baby Cave]

As October is SIDS Awareness Month, I wanted to write a post not only detailing what an ideal sleep environment for baby would be in terms of helping to promote quality sleep, but also ways that parents can achieve this while also making sure baby is safe. SIDS rates in Canada have fallen in recent decades and awareness and education is key.

Below, I will discuss the 3 main components that make up an ideal sleep environment for baby, and some tips to help ensure we have a safe environment for our little nuggets as well.

Baby Cave Component #1 - Temperature

The temperature in baby's room is an important factor for several different reasons. First and foremost, a cooler room for baby = better quality sleep. Over a 24 hour period, our body temperatures naturally peak and decline. Our internal temperature is usually at its highest in the early afternoon and lowest around 5:00am. When we fall asleep, our bodies naturally cool off. Helping baby's body get to that lower temperature faster can encourage deeper sleep. It can also help baby fall asleep quicker. If we provide an environment for our baby's body to fall asleep more comfortably, it will do so in a faster manner. If it’s too hot or too cold, baby's body will waste energy trying to regulate, making it harder for baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. So what is the ideal temperature for optimal sleep? We are aiming for somewhere in the neighborhood of 68-72°/19-21°. If you live in a house that is difficult to control the temperature and it is tough to achieve a room temperature in this range, dressing baby for the temperature is your next best option. Check out my chart here for what to dress baby in for varying room temperatures.

The next important reason for being aware of the temperature in baby's room is to reduce the risk of overheating. Interestingly enough, the risk of SIDS is higher in the colder months as caregivers tend to bundle baby up excessively by placing extra blankets [try a sleepsack instead!] or clothes to keep them warm. But over bundling may cause infants to overheat, increasing their risk for SIDS. Your baby should never feel hot to the touch - if you feel baby's chest or abdomen and it is hot or sweaty, we need to remove a layer of clothing or lower the room temperature. 

Baby Cave Component #2 - Darkness Level

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It's tough to stress how much a dark space for baby can transform their sleep. Many parents fear by creating this ideal sleep environment, we are only conditioning baby to be a finicky sleeper, but it could not be further from the truth. An ideal sleep environment helps cultivate a good sleeper, and good sleepers are adaptable. Parents may report that their children have a bit of a tougher time sleeping in a new sleep environment when it is not dark [say, at daycare] but this is likely more closely related to the fact that it's a new and different sleep environment than the fact that it's not as dark as they are used to at home. While these children may go through a period of adjustment [just like any child would!] they are no worse off than a child who may have become accustomed to sleeping in a bright room at home. Why does a dark room make such a difference?

  • Quality of sleep: the quality of sleep is much higher in a room that is cool and the quality of sleep is almost much higher in a room that is dark. Darkness is essential to sleep. The absence of light sends a critical signal to a child's body that it is time to rest. Light exposure at the wrong times alters the body's internal "sleep clock" in ways that interfere with both the quantity and quality of sleep. Melatonin, often known as the "sleepy hormone" or the "vampire hormone" influences sleep by sending a signal to the brain that it is time for rest. This signal helps initiate baby's body's preparations for sleep—muscles begin to relax, feelings of drowsiness increase, body temperature drops - but melatonin is only produced when it is dark. Light exposure inhibits the naturally timed rise of melatonin, which delays the onset of the transition to sleep and sleep itself. So baby may be able to fall asleep eventually, but the onset of sleep is more challenging and the quality of the resulting sleep would be lower.

  • Overstimulation: as we all know, babies [and older kids as well!] are very easily overstimulated. Overstimulation happens when a child is swamped by more experiences, sensations, noise, and activity than he or she can cope with. A stimulating environment is important for our children to play in as it helps them learn and grow, but children also need downtime and the opportunity to spend time in a calm and stimulation-free environment. One big source of stimulation is light, but luckily it's also something that we can control especially at sleep times. By blocking out this stimulation when our babies are trying to sleep, we are making it easier for them to fall asleep [especially if your baby is an independent sleeper who falls asleep on their own without parental assistance] and to stay asleep [as all children will wake at the 30-45 minute mark for naps, and a dark room can help promote the transition into that next sleep cycle]. Especially if you are struggling with naps, experiment with getting baby's room darker - sometimes this in of itself can help encourage more quality daytime sleep. How dark are we aiming for? On a scale from 1-10, 1 being bright and sunny and 10 being pitch black, we want to get that room somewhere between an 8-10 day and night. This to me would mean that if you're in baby's room anytime during the day or at night and you were to have your hand outstretched in front of your face, it would be hard to make out your hand.

A fantastic product to help achieve the proper darkness level [but still keeping it super affordable!] are these window covers. My kids spent a lot of time with tin foil over their windows as I struggled to find something that was equally as effective - until a client sent me a link for these! Life changing! Check 'em out!

Baby Cave Component #3 - Noise

This point goes hand-in-hand with the above point. While a baby can be easily overstimulated by light stimulation, another major source of overstimulation is sound stimulation. It isn't realistic [and oftentimes impossible!] to control all of the sound in our homes - you may live on a busy street or you may have other children at home that don't understand the concept of being quiet while baby sleeps. So while sound outside of the room cannot often be controlled, we can rely on white noise inside of the room to help block out or mask some of that noise. White noise has so many benefits for a child's sleep, including increasing the quality of sleep and helping to reduce stress and avoid overstimulation. While again, parents may be worried about a child becoming dependent on white noise, thankfully it's not addictive or habit-forming [want to get rid of it? Turn it down a notch every day until it's gone]. And even if your child does grow up to be an adult that prefers some sort of ambient sound when they sleep, it's much easier to re-create a sleep environment with a bit of background noise than to re-create a completely silent sleep environment. When baby was in your tummy, there was constant white noise [and it was about as loud as a lawnmower!] Silence is often deafening for babies. 

To use white noise safely and effectively, it's important that we ensure it is not too loud [it should be no louder than 50-60 dB, or about as loud as if you were in the bathroom with someone while they were showering]. The best spot to place the source of white noise in baby's room would be across from the crib, not right next to it. White noise should always play continuously [I'm talking to you, Sleep Sheep] and not on a timer. It should play for the entire duration of nightsleep and for naps as well. We should also be playing a boring, constant, and monotonous sound. No music [too stimulating!] or anything with 'too much' going on - plain white noise is great, or a constant rain/waves/heartbeat noise. White noise is also a great cue for sleep for baby, and especially if you are working on eliminating any sort of props from a child's sleep routine [nursing to sleep, rocking to sleep, bottle, etc.] replacing that with another sleepy cue [like white noise!] can help with that transition.

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Extra Tips to Help Encourage a Safe Sleep Environment 

  • Always place baby to sleep on their back. Even once baby is able to roll, continue to always lay baby down on their back. Once they can roll on their own to their tummy, it is safe for them to sleep in that position, but back to sleep always.

  • Using a fan. The use of a fan has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 72%. A ceiling fan is great if it's available, but even a table fan can work to help encourage proper air flow.

  • Use a sleepsack. Blankets on a baby are likely to be kicked off within minutes, rendering them quite useless [and unsafe!] but a sleepsack isn't going anywhere. Kids don't often learn to pull blankets onto themselves until about 3-4 years of age, making a sleepsack very useful to keep kids cozy!

    Find more tips and guidelines here!


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

How to Shift an Early Schedule

Summer is here! Which means lots of sun, lots of fun, and lots of - early morning wake-ups (boo!)  At this time of the year my inbox is flooded with parents desperate for help with children who are waking too darn early. It could be the late evening sun or the early morning sun [get that room dark parents!] that starts the problem, but it's often getting trapped in an early bedtime/early wake-up cycle that perpetuates the problem. I have a few posts here and here that address some other reasons why your child would wake early [and I'd recommend reading those first before proceeding with this article!] but this post is going to focus on one common cause of early wake-ups - a bedtime that is too early.  So if you've troubleshooted all other possible causes of the early wake-up but suspect this is your problem, read on parents!

What do we define as an 'early wake-up'?

You and me both sista!

You and me both sista!

'Early' is a bit subjective - early to one family might mean 7:00am and early to another family might mean 5:00am. For the purpose of this article, I define 'early' as a) anything earlier than 6:00am and b) a wake-up time that resulted in less than ~10-12 hours of nighttime sleep. 

What do we do first?

The first step when working to eliminate an early wake-up is to ensure that there isn't anything external that could be waking baby at an earlier hour. Is it too bright in baby's room in the evening or early morning? If you think of a scale from 1-10, one being bright and sunny and ten being pitch black, we want that room between an 8-10 for all sleep times. An 8-10, to me, would mean that any time you are in that room [for any sleep periods] and you were to have your hand outstretched in front of your face, it should be hard to make out your hand. Melatonin [the sleepy hormone] is only produced when it's dark [thus why it's called the 'vampire hormone'!] If that room is too bright when baby is trying to settle at night or trying to re-settle in the early morning, we aren't getting help from melatonin and this can lead to early wake-ups. Cheap ways to get that room nice and dark include black garbage bags on the windows, tin foil, a dark blanket, cardboard, etc. [go full ghetto on that room!] For something more long-term, check out these window covers - they work fantastic and are super affordable as well.

Once you've got your baby cave rockin', you've read my other two articles above and eliminated those factors as possibly contributing to your early wake-ups, and you're pretty certain you've got a baby stuck in an early wake-up/early bedtime cycle, your next step is a schedule shift.

What is a 'schedule shift'?

The term is pretty self-explanatory - we are attempting to shift the schedule. We never want to just push baby's bedtime later in hopes of shifting the schedule, as too-long of a stretch before bed will almost always lead to an early wake-up. We need to shift the entire schedule - naps and bedtime. Because we are stretching baby, the schedule shift can cause some overtiredness but we just have to persist - give the schedule shift a full week before deciding if it is working or not. The schedule shift looks differently for different nap schedules so I've broken it down by number of naps:

If your baby is on a 3 nap schedule:

  • Continue to leave your baby in their crib until 6:00am [if you've read the above articles, you'll know leaving them until 6:00am is important as by scooping your baby up earlier than 6:00am and exposing them to light/stimulation of any kind, we are re-setting that internal clock for 'early'!] Now, I don't mean you have to just leave them in their cribs alone, you could be comforting/reassuring during this time or even just sitting in the dark room with them!

  • Do not put down for baby's first nap until 8:15am. As baby progresses through the schedule shift, you'll want to push this 'no nap before' rule to 8:45am. Using an extra long wind down routine before sleep times to help calm baby if they are getting a bit overtired is a good strategy to help us make these desired nap times possible.

  • Do not put down for baby's second nap until 11:15am. As baby progresses, your goal is no put down before 11:45am [as a note, if your baby is currently not an independent sleeper, your goal would just be for baby to be soothed to sleep by about 15 minutes after these ideal put down times. So, perhaps you'd start rocking them at 11:45am with a goal of them being asleep by 12:00pm].

  • Do not put down for baby's third nap until 2:30pm. As baby progresses, the goal would be no put down before 3:45pm [the variation here is bigger because this awake time is the least sensitive of the day, so we are able to stretch it a bit more without disastrous results].

  • Do not put down for baby's bedtime until 6:15pm. Our ultimate goal for put down will be no earlier than 6:45pm. Because bedtime is the most sensitive time of the day, an extra long bedtime routine is a really good idea! If you have a particularly tough day, a put down of 6:00pm would be appropriate, but keep working on it!

If your baby is on a 2 nap schedule:

  • Continue to leave your baby in their crib until 6:00am [if you've read the above articles, you'll know leaving them until 6:00am is important as by scooping your baby up earlier than 6:00am and exposing them to light/stimulation of any kind, we are re-setting that internal clock for 'early'!] Now, I don't mean you have to just leave them in their cribs alone, you could be comforting/reassuring during this time or even just sitting in the dark room with them!

  • Do not put down for baby's first nap until 9:00am. As baby progresses through the schedule shift, you'll want to push this 'no nap before' rule to 9:15am. Using an extra long wind down routine before sleep times to help calm baby if they are getting a bit overtired is a good strategy to help us make these desired nap times possible.

  • Do not put down for baby's second nap until 1:00pm. As baby progresses, your goal is no put down before 2:00pm. The variation here is bigger because this awake time is the least sensitive of the day, so we are able to stretch it a bit more without disastrous results [as a note, if your baby is currently not an independent sleeper, your goal would just be for baby to be soothed to sleep by about 15 minutes after these ideal put down times. So, perhaps you'd start rocking them at 2:00pm with a goal of them being asleep by 2:15pm].

  • Do not put down for baby's bedtime until 6:15pm. Our ultimate goal for put down will be no earlier than 6:45pm. Because bedtime is the most sensitive time of the day, an extra long bedtime routine is a really good idea! If you have a day with two short naps, a bedtime put down of 5:45-6:00pm would be appropriate, but keep working on it!

If your child is on a 1 nap schedule:

  • Continue to leave your child in their crib/bed until 6:00am [if you've read the above articles, you'll know leaving them until 6:00am is important as by scooping your child up earlier than 6:00am and exposing them to light/stimulation of any kind, we are re-setting that internal clock for 'early'!] Now, I don't mean you have to just leave them in their cribs/beds alone, you could be comforting/reassuring during this time or even just sitting in the dark room with them!

  • For a child younger than 2 years of age: you want to slowly shift their nap later and later into the day until you are not putting them down for their nap any earlier than 12:15pm. What time did you put them down for their nap yesterday? Take that time and add 15 minutes. Every few days, add another 15 minutes until you are not laying them down until 12:15pm at the earliest [our ultimate goal is a nap occurring between 12:30-1:00pm].

  • For a child 2 years of age or older: you want to slowly shift their nap later and later into the day until you are not putting them down for their nap any earlier than 12:45pm. What time did you put them down for their nap yesterday? Take that time and add 15 minutes. Every few days, add another 15 minutes until you are not laying them down until 12:45pm at the earliest [our ultimate goal is a nap occurring between 1:00-1:30pm].

  • Continue to always be flexible with the timing of bed based on when your child woke up from their nap. For a child under the age of 2, we are aiming for bedtime to occur about 4.5-5 hours after the nap ends. For a child that is age 2 or older, bedtime should occur about 5 hours after the nap ends.

In summary...

Early wake-ups are tricky. The stronger your child's internal clock is, the stickier these early wake-ups will be. It can take time and patience to re-set that internal clock but it is possible! Hopefully the above strategies can help your family and I appreciate you taking the time to read! Have a wonderful summer!


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

The 2,3,4 Schedule

Who's read about the 2,3,4 schedule for napping? Read on to find out what my thoughts are on whether this type of schedule can work for your baby.

What is the 2,3,4 schedule?

The 2,3,4 schedule for napping is pretty simple - two hours after your baby wakes for the day, you put them down for their first nap.  Three hours after that nap ends, you put them down for their second nap. Then 4 hours after that 2nd nap ends, you'd put them down for bed. Pretty simple right? Seems like a dream!? Read on :)

Who is the 2,3,4 schedule recommend for?

The 2,3,4 schedule is often recommended for babies 6 months and up.  Some experts recommend it if your baby is napping for a total of 3 hours/day. Other sources recommend that solids are introduced before beginning this nap schedule (not sure what solids has to do with it but hey!)

Hey Pam, what do you think about this schedule?

I'm glad you asked! I personally am not a big fan of the 2,3,4 nap schedule. I'm sure it can work beautifully for some babies (I would think very easy-type babies that are naturally good sleepers and aren't very sensitive to sleep could do okay on this schedule). But for a vast majority of babies that have trouble sleeping (meaning most of the families I work with or families that would be seeking out sleep advice right now!) it can often spell more trouble.  And here's why:

1) Most babies are not ready for 2 naps at 6 months of age

I personally recommend trying to hold off the transition to 2 naps until baby is closer to the 8 month (adjusted) mark.  Reason-being that a 6 month old (unless it's a baby who has consistently always taken very long naps or consistently always slept through the night) will have a very hard time coping with the longer awake times needed to sustain 2 naps. On a 3 nap schedule, baby is generally awake about 1.75-2.5 hours during the day. This is a good number. Once we jump up to 2 naps, baby needs to be awake more like 3-3.5 hours (or even 4 hours if we are attempting a 2,3,4 schedule!) This is a huge jump and many babies will not be able to cope with these long awake times without becoming overtired (which can then lead to short naps, nightwakings, bedtime battles, early wake-ups, etc.)

2) There is a shortage of awake time in the day

If you add up 2 + 3 + 4, that = 9 hours. So on a 2,3,4 schedule, we are aiming for baby to be awake for a total of 9 hours in a 24 hour period. If we take that 9 hours and add the 3 hours of naps we are aiming for with this schedule, that gives us 12 hours. Let's take a 7 month old for example who requires 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. With those 9 hours of awake time + 3 hours in naps (12 hours) that leaves us with 12 hours remaining. That means we would need that baby to sleep for 12 hours every single night in order for them to not start waking earlier than they already are. With this schedule, what can slowly happen is the wake-up time creeps earlier....and earlier....and earlier. Until we're stuck with an early wake-up and no way to get out of it. Here's a visual to help you to process this:

700am - baby wakes up for the day
900am-1030am - 1st nap of the day (great nap baby!)
130pm-300pm - 2nd nap of the day (there's our 3 hours!)
700pm - bedtime

Now this baby needs to sleep for 12 hours that night to make it back to 7am, but baby has already had 3 hours in naps so they only have about 11 hours left in their 'sleep bank' to get them their 14 hours. So baby wakes up at 630am (because baby had 1 feed, so we exclude time awake for that):

630am - baby wakes up, ready to take on the day
830am-1000am - 1st nap of the day
100pm-230pm - 2nd nap of the day
630pm - bedtime (uh oh...we are getting earlier. Now we are expecting baby to sleep 12.5 hours to get us back to 700am, but with those 3 hours in naps, baby still only needs about 11 hours of sleep so chances are, they will now wake at 600am. And the next day 530am.....and so on).

Do you see what I mean!? The lack of daytime awake time can shift the schedule earlier and earlier. At 7 months of age, I would be recommending more like 9.5-10 hours of awake time in the day (and a 3 nap schedule, like the one outlined here) to ensure baby doesn't start waking at the crack of dawn.

3) 2 and 3 hours is too short, 4 hours is too long

For a 6-7 month old baby, a 2 hour interval before the first nap is spot-on. This is exactly what I would recommend. But at 10, 11, or 12 months of age, for many babies (especially those sleeping well at night) this is much too short. We might start to see baby taking a long time to fall asleep or refusing that first nap entirely! Then we're really pooched. 
For a 6-7 month old baby, a 3 hour interval before the 2nd nap is a bit long, but not terrible. At 8/9 months of age, this may still be appropriate, but at 10,11, or 12 months of age, this is often too short. And yet again, what we'd likely see, is short naps or refusals.
For a 6-7 month old baby, a 4 hour interval before bed is WAY too long. Heck, this is even too long for an 8,9, and probably even 10-11 month old baby! Again, some easy-type babies or naturally good sleepers may still sleep well at night with this long awake time, but for the majority, baby will start to become overtired and bedtime battles, nightwakings, sleep-cries, and early wake-ups will ensue (see my blog post here on more appropriate timing for bed). The timing of bed is the most sensitive time of the day and the most important for us to really nail. It's the time we want to mess around with the least.  

In summary...

If a 2,3,4 schedule is working for your family - GREAT! Do not change a darn thing. As I always say, if it ain't broke - don't fix it! But if you're attempting this schedule and it's just not working for you, consider the above reasons to be why. A more flexible and age-appropriate schedule is what I would recommend. I suspect a lot of experts recommend this schedule because it's 'easy'. It's easy to just say 2,3,4 and be done with it! But this definitely does not work for everyone and many babies are more sensitive to those extra few hours in the day - and that's okay :) 


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

GUEST POST: Rob Lindeman on How to do Bedtime Fading

This guest post is brought to you by Rob Lindeman of Sleep, Baby! He is a sleep coach, entrepreneur, and writer living in Massachusetts. He blogs at http://www.essentiallyhealthychild.com.

 

How to Do Bedtime Fading: Best Sleep Training Method?

The so-called “cry it out” techniques for sleep training are getting a lot of attention. Meanwhile, there is another method that gets very little press, but which is highly effective. It’s called “bedtime fading”.

What is Bedtime Fading?

Bedtime fading is a method for teaching a child to fall asleep that is based on a simple principle: a child who is not tired will not go to sleep!

Babies and children are famous for “fighting” bedtime. Parents tell me that their child “fights” sleep. Or they tell me the child fights the parents at bedtime. The truth is that the child is fighting neither sleep nor the parents. She is fighting the time. She isn’t ready to sleep yet. Forcing the baby to bed earlier than she wants to is a recipe for conflict. Worse, the baby may develop negative associations surrounding sleep. This is never a good thing.

The Three Key Features of Bedtime Fading

One key feature of bedtime fading is finding the child’s “natural” time of sleep. This is presumably later than the perplexed parents want, but it’s what the baby wants. There are a couple of ways of finding out what the natural time of sleep is. See “The Bedtime Fading Technique” below.

Another key feature is “sleep onset latency“. This is nothing more than the amount of time it takes a person to fall asleep after getting into bed (or the crib in this case). Sleep experts agree that it’s never a good idea to have a long sleep onset latency, with a limit at about 20 minutes. Anything longer than that suggests the individual will not or cannot sleep. Ideally, you want the child to be falling asleep within 10 minutes. Less than 5 minutes, though okay, suggests that the child has a “severe sleep debt”. This is another way of saying “she’s totally exhausted”.

The third feature are good sleep associations. We want the child to associate going to sleep with calm and quiet. We want her to feel comfortable and safe. This step is essential to teaching the child to self-soothe, and to wind herself down to sleep on her own, without assistance from caregivers.

How to Do Bedtime Fading

Step One

The first step is to determine the baby’s natural sleep time. There are at least two ways to figure this out. The first is to keep a sleep diary. Parents or caregivers write down the times the child falls asleep every day. They should do this for every nap as well. Doing so provides useful information for them and for the sleep coach. The last time she falls asleep is probably the time she is “set” to fall asleep.

A second method for determining baby’s sleep time is called the “response cost” method.

[A Digression: The official name of this method is called “bedtime fading with response cost”. I never liked this expression. It’s high-tech expression for a truly low-tech idea.]

It works like this: you put the baby to bed at the time you want (the desired bedtime). If the child doesn’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, you remove the child from the crib or bed and allow her to play (quietly) and otherwise stay awake for 30-60 minutes. This is the “response cost” to the child. Then you try again. If the child still won’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, you repeat the procedure. You do this until the child falls asleep rapidly. Now you’ve found the child’s natural bed time.

Step Two

For at least two days, you treat this later bedtime like the normal bedtime. This means establishing a steady, consistent bedtime ritual.  You want to aim for any activity that promotes calm and quiet.  I recommend starting the routine at dinner time, no matter how late. From then on the routine is completely predictable. It’s usually a mix of these activities: a warm bath, brushing teeth (if she has teeth), book reading, lullabies, prayer, etc.

Step Three

From here, you gradually fade bedtime earlier to your desired bedtime (hence “bedtime fading”). Experts differ as to the number of minutes to fade and the number of days to stay at each bedtime. Some recommend fading 30 minutes earlier every night until hitting the target. Others recommend moving in 15 minute increments. This is my preference. Half an hour is too big a jump for some children. I also recommend two days for each bedtime. This means the entire bedtime fading technique may require two weeks or more to complete. It is well worth the effort.

Setbacks can happen. Sometimes the child will revert to her previous “natural bedtime”. If so, I recommend repeating the fading technique, but this time taking it more slowly. Perhaps spend three days at each time point.

Other children might fall asleep well as a result of a successful bedtime fading campaign but will continue to wake up frequently at night. In this case, many experts recommend using an extinction method (since we don’t want to call it by its more infamous name. Okay, okay: cry it out.)

This is Great! How Come I’ve Never Heard of It?

Good question. Here’s a baseball analogy: Say your team has a power hitter batting in the clean-up spot (fourth in the order). He’s having a monster year. By the end of April he already has 12 home runs. People are already starting to compare him to Barry Bonds or even Babe Ruth. Camera crews follow him to every ballpark. He’s all they talk about during the sports segment on the evening news. Meanwhile, the guy hitting in front of him (the number three hitter) is quietly having a career year. He’s in the top 5 in just about every offensive statistical category. Why? Because pitchers don’t want to face the monster following him. So they throw strikes to the number three hitter, trying to get him out. And instead of getting him out, he’s getting hits. But no one pays attention because the monster sucks up all the headlines.

That’s kind of like what’s happened to bedtime fading. Extinction methods are like the home run hitter hitting clean-up. Bedtime fading is like the number three guy racking up all the amazing numbers that no one notices. Bedtime fading is an amazingly successful technique that is based on all the principles we know are essential for good sleep: a tired child, consistency, routine, and good sleep associations.

 


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Never Wake a Sleeping Baby!...???

There are pieces of advice that all of us parents have heard at one time or another after we have babies. 'Never wake a sleeping baby' is probably right up there with 'keep them up longer and they'll stay asleep longer' and other similar gems of sleep wisdom. While the 'never wake a sleeping baby advice' is quite harmless compared to some of the other 'helpful' advice out there, it is still not the whole truth. In this post, I will debunk this rumor and look at the times that it is absolutely a good idea to wake that sleeping baby.

Wake your sleeping baby if....they are a newborn.

Day/night confusion occurs often with newborn babies. We know that light (artificial or natural) helps to set our body clocks, but in the womb, baby is exposed to very little light. Also, your baby is more prone to being active when you are resting (i.e. at night) and sleeping while you are moving (i.e. during the day) as the rocking motion of you going on with your day-to-day life lulls your unborn child to sleep. With these two factors at work, children will often be born a bit confused about when they should be awake more frequently and when they should be sleeping longer stretches. So, with all newborn children, I would recommend waking them every 3 hours during the day for a feeding. There is no need to keep them awake after the feed if they fall back asleep, but this helps to a) make sure they are taking in enough calories during the day to sleep longer at night and b) exposes them to light during the day to help re-set their body clock.

Wake your sleeping baby if... too much daysleep = not enough nightsleep.

Naps are very important for all children. Getting adequate rest during the day is crucial to a child's physical and mental development. However, nightsleep is far superior to daysleep and should be protected at all costs. If you think your child may be sleeping excessively during the day which in turn is leading to lower than average nightsleep (i.e. much lower than 11 hours for most children) then you may want to look at capping naps during the day. What would 'excessive daysleep' look like?

3 months and under: any single nap longer than 3 hours
4 months: any single nap longer than 2.5 hours and/or more than 4.5 hours of total daysleep
5 months: any single nap longer than 2 hours and/or more than 4 hours of total daysleep
6 months: any single nap longer than 2 hours and/or more than 3.5 hours of total daysleep
7/8 months: any single nap longer than 2 hours and/or more than 3.25 hours of total daysleep
9-13 months: any single nap longer than 2 hours and/or more than 3 hours of total daysleep
13+ months: more than 3 hours of total daysleep

Some babies have higher sleep needs than others so don't look at capping daysleep unless you are noticing a direct effect on nightsleep.

Wake your sleeping baby if... you are holding off a nap transition.

Nap transitions can be a really stressful time in a baby's (and your!) life. They often lead to early bedtimes, early wake-ups, and overtiredness is almost always inevitable. One way that we can make sure that these nap transitions are less taxing is if we are holding it off for as long as we can. Nap transitions are something that we never want to rush into. Dropping naps before a child is truly ready can be disastrous for both day and nightsleep. One of the easiest ways we can hold off a nap transition is by waking baby in the morning and/or from naps in order to keep the last nap for as long as we can. I would recommend trying to keep 3 naps until as close to 8 months (adjusted) as possible and 2 naps until as close to 18 months (adjusted) as possible.
Let's take a 7 month old, for example. We may have to start waking our 7 month old up at 7:00am to ensure we can fit in 3 naps before 5:00pm. We might also have to start waking this baby from their 2nd nap at 2:00pm to ensure we can fit in a 3rd nap from 4:30-5:00pm.
For a 17 month old, we might have to start waking this child at 7:00am as well, and then waking from the first nap after an hour to ensure we can fit in a 2nd nap from 3:00-4:00pm. Holding off these nap transitions helps to avoid a cycle of overtiredness and promotes a smoother transition.

Wake your sleeping baby if... the last nap is running too late.

As I mentioned above, protecting nightsleep at all costs is very important as allowing baby the opportunity to clock 11-12 hours of nightsleep (excluding time awake for nightfeeds) helps ensure your child is well-rested. To protect that nightsleep, in addition to making sure that naps aren't excessive, we want to avoid baby napping too late in the day. When a nap runs too late in the day, it encroaches on nightsleep territory. This can cause a too-late bedtime (resulting in insufficient nightsleep), nightwakings, sleep-cries, and potentially an early wake-up the next day (again, resulting in insufficient nightsleep). 
Waking baby from their last nap of the day to protect bedtime is a must. What time should we be waking them by? For a baby that is between 3 months and 8 months of age, you want to ensure that naps are finished by 5:00pm.  For a baby that is  8 months (or whenever they transition to 2 naps) and older, naps should be finished by 4:00pm.  For children that have transitioned to 1 nap, this 'nap cut-off' may be even earlier than 4:00pm depending on how long of an awake time they need before bed (i.e. for a 2 year old, sleeping until 4:00pm would likely mean they aren't falling asleep for the night until 9:00pm, so you'd likely want to end naps by 3:00pm to ensure a relatively early bedtime).


For more of these 'Sleep Wives Tales', check out my blog post here, where I debunk 5 more of these rumors about baby sleep!


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

My Top 10 Twin Sleep Tips

Say that 5 times fast!
I wanted to give some love to my twin families - there's a lot of you out there! At any given time, I am working with at least one twin family (I think my record was seven sets of multiples at once - wowza!) I can still remember my first twin case and how nervous I was. I don't personally have multiples so how the heck am I going to help a family with two babies!? Well you know what? A lot of the same rules still apply with multiples vs. a singleton child. There are definitely some difference and a lot of extra factors that come into play but I've actually come to find that my twin babies are my best sleepers. They are so adaptable and resilient - they've had to be! They have to be able to sleep through their siblings' noises and that can be a lot of noise! With that, I wanted to offer up my TOP 10 TIPS on twin sleep to help you amazing moms and dads out there get a few extra winks tonight:
**note that while I've consistently written 'twin' babies throughout this article, these tips apply to all multiple families - twins, triplets, quads (this is the sound of me bowing down to you, by the way).

TWIN TIP#1 - WHITE NOISE

This had to be my #1 tip, there's just nothing else that compares to the need for white noise with twins. White noise has not only been shown to reduce stress in children and help them sleep, but it also works really well to block out sound. Now, usually we're trying to block sound from the house from reaching baby but in the case of twins, we're trying to block sound from one side of the nursery to the other side. White noise is a very effective way to help Baby A sleep through Baby B's noises, and vice versa. In fact, with twin families, I actually recommend double white noise in the babies' room (for example, a white noise machine and a noisy fan). You would place one source of white noise (noise machine) halfway between the cribs and the other source of white noise (fan) on the noisiest wall of the nursery (for example, a wall that's adjacent to your living room, kitchen, a noisy street, etc.) Using double white noise really helps to muffle sounds coming from inside and outside the room so our babies can sleep peacefully day and night.

TWIN TIP#2 - START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON

I can imagine that when you are pregnant with twins, you envision the sleeping arrangement your children will have. Will they share a crib for the first few months? Will they start out in separate cribs next to each other? Will you start them in the same room but split them up eventually? Now, what you envision might not be exactly what ends up happening (lots of families who contact me end up resorting to sticking one baby in another for naps or even naps and nights because Baby A naps much worse than Baby B) but if you decide after the 16 week mark to sleep train those babies, sleep train them where you want them to be sleeping eventually. Even if you're worried that this will = less sleep for Baby B - go for it. This helps them to become acclimated to each other's sounds (and you're using double white noise now, right?) and it avoids yet another transition down the road when you do decide to move them back in together. Maybe you're okay with them being separate for naps and only together at night - it's completely up to you and what works best for your family. What's important is making sure where you start is where you want to end up.

TWIN TIP#3 - WRITE IT ALL DOWN

I'm not sure how any family with 2+ babies can make it through a day without writing everything down but I'm surprised to find out that some don't! Heck, I have to write things down with only 1 baby or I forget what time they woke up, what time I have to put them down, etc. Especially once you decide to make sleep a priority and really focus on establishing healthy sleep habits for your babies, keeping a sleep log is of utmost importance. This really helps you to see patterns, progress, where things need to be tweaked, and helps you to stay on track. On my sleep logs, I recommend families include:
- Morning wake-up time
- All feedings (breast/bottle/solids)
- Mood before naps (happy, tired, fussy, alert, yawning, etc.)
- Put down times for naps, asleep times, and wake-up times
- Mood upon wake-up from sleep (did they wake up happy? Crying? Babbling? Fussing?)
- Bedtime put down and asleep time
- Any nightwakings, nightfeedings, sleep-cries

TWIN TIP#4 - KEEP THEM ON SCHEDULE

Now this tip is not only for your babies' sake but for your own sanity's sake. I remember when my son was 9 months old and my daughter was 3. He was on a 2 nap schedule and she was on a 1 nap schedule. This meant that I had a child sleeping from 1000am-1130am, 100pm-300pm, and 300pm-400pm. OY! That gave me a window of less than 2 hours in the morning, 1.5 hours in the afternoon, and a few hours in the evening to actually leave the house. It was TOUGH. Now, this is sometimes life with two kids of different ages and with different sleep needs but this is an example of why keeping your multiples on the same sleep schedule is so important - to avoid having one baby sleeping all.day.long. This becomes especially important if you decide to sleep train - I recommend to my families that you always wake the babies within 15 minutes of eachother. If Baby A wakes at 700am, we wake Baby B at 715am. If Baby A takes a 30 minute catnap, unfortunately, we wake Baby B at the 45 minute mark. With time and consistency, most multiples end up 'syncing up' their schedules and while it's unfortunate to short-change one child, in the long-run it's worth it. This is another reason I say it's okay if they are waking each other up from each other's sounds - we want them on the same schedule anyway so they are doing the dirty work for you!

TWIN TIP#5 - FEED TOGETHER, FEED APART

In the beginning months when the babies are young and eating frequently throughout the night, it makes sense to feed Twin A when Twin B wakes for a nightfeeding. This avoids one child being awake all night (hey, the opposite of Tip#4!) so it helps buy you and your partner more sleep. But once we start to focus on the babies sleeping longer stretches at night, you want to give both children the opportunity to sleep through (whatever that means for their age). This means only feeding the child that wakes up and allowing the other child to wake naturally when they are hungry. Another option that can work amazingly well for many families is establishing a dreamfeed early on. This can help your babies' long stretch of sleep coincide with yours. Note that I don't recommend starting a dreamfeed with older babies that are not sleeping well at night (i.e. if you haven't started one yet and your 4 month old twins are not sleeping well at night and are waking 3+ times, a dreamfeed is not a good option for you. A dreamfeed is a better option for newborns (0-3 months) or for babies 4 months+ that are already sleeping fairly well at night).

TWIN TIP#6 - SLEEP TRAIN

Okay, okay, you don't have to if you don't want to but I would really, really recommend it. First and foremost, sleep training does not = cry it out. There is a stigma about sleep training and it entailing hours of dreadful crying while we sit back and think about how terrible and awful we feel about the whole process. It doesn't have to be like that. There are many gentle approaches we can use with young and older children alike to help them learn that oh-so-important skill of independent sleep. While it's true that sleep training twins is often more challenging than singleton babies, it is far from impossible. Yes things take longer to come together. Yes the gentler methods are often much more difficult when there's two babies to consider. But as I mentioned above, my twin babies are often my best-sleeping babies. Parents are usually more motivated because they lack the time/energy/patience to deal with sleep issues x 2 and they also are much more aware of the need for a solid schedule and foundation for sleep for their children. So if you find yourself at that 16 week mark and things just aren't going your way -  don't be afraid of change. While the prospect of less sleep is  daunting, it's short-term pain for long-term gain. The positive changes that you and your babies will experience from sleep coaching are endless. If you feel you can't go it alone? I'm here for you moms and dads :)

TWIN TIP#7 - ADJUSTED AGE

This is a short tip but it's a question I get a lot.  We always want to follow the babies' adjusted age when it comes to sleep scheduling. While 38 weeks is full-term for twins, I would still consider these babies two weeks early. This applies to starting sleep training (at 16 weeks adjusted), when trying to figure out the babies' schedule, sleep needs, amount of awake time, or even when anticipating sleep regressions or leaps.

TWIN TIP#8 - IDENTIFY THE SENSITIVE SLEEPER

There's always one of them. One twin who is just a teeny bit more finicky than the other. One twin that puts up a little bit more of a fight. One twin who is just a little bit more sensitive to sleep. I can usually identify the 'Sensitive Sleeper' with ease by just reading the Intake Forms I receive from my families. Once we identify which one of the babies is the Sensitive Sally, we stick closer to their schedule. What do I mean by that? For young babies especially, 15 minutes can make or break a nap or bedtime. Putting them down just 15 minutes early can result in 30 minutes of playing/hanging out/laughing/whatever else those crazy babies can do while lying awake in a dark room (!?!). Put her down 15 minutes too late? Crying/yelling/I-can't-handle-life screaming. So you now know we are to be waking the babies within 15 minutes of each other but what does that mean for the timing of the next nap? How do we know what time to put them down? Let's take twin babies who are 6 months old (adjusted), for example. We know that at 6 months of age, the babies could probably handle about 2 hours of awake time between 1st and 2nd naps. Baby A woke up at 10:00am from his 1st nap and we woke Baby B woke up at 10:15am. We know baby B is the sensitive baby so we'd count our 2 hours from the time she woke up, so as to avoid one of the above situations arising.

TWIN TIP#9 - HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

The biggest difference between sleep training a singleton baby and sleep training multiples is the time it takes to see full progress. Many families ask me, "How long will it take until I see results?" and while there's no for-sure answer to this question, this is a general guideline that most babies follow. Depending on the age of baby, method used, consistency of parents, etc. progress generally goes as follows:

  • 3-5 nights - baby is now 'sleeping through the night' for their age

  • 7 days - baby is now falling asleep within 30 minutes for all sleep times with some combination of babbling, fussing, soft crying

  • 10 days - baby is now showing progress with longer naps although things may still not be consistent

  • 2-4 weeks - baby is now showing consistency with naps (consistency meaning, for example, nap 1 is always the longest nap, nap 2 is over an hour but shorter than nap 1, nap 3 is 30-45 minutes long). Nap lengths may not be exact day-to-day and that is normal

Now what about for twins? I'd say you could multiply that time by 1.5 or even 2. Nighttime can take 5-10 nights to come together, the babies may take closer to 10-14 days until they are falling asleep easier for sleep times, longer naps may emerge after 2 weeks instead of a week and a half, and true consistency may not materialize until 3-8 weeks instead. But do not let these numbers deter you! As I mentioned above, many times my twin families are my quickest studies, and while these things take time (sleep training is a journey!) the end result is well-worth the effort.

TWIN TIP#10 - ALL OTHER RULES APPLY

As I mentioned above, many of the same principles apply to twins and singleton babies alike. The following sleep concepts are the same across the board:
- Swaddling newborns (especially those preemie twins - they need that snug feeling!)
- Super dark bedroom
- Feeding upon wake-up from sleep (i.e. an 'EASY' routine) or at least separating from sleep by 30 minutes and some sort of activity
- Consistent sleep routines (nap and bedtime)
- Early bedtimes 
- Avoiding the overtired state
- Not rushing in 
- Using all the tools in the first few months - you are in survival mode!
 


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Hello Spring! Surviving the Spring Forward

Ummm weren't we JUST falling back? Time flies! Daylight savings time begins on March 10th in Canada and the US and it's the time of year all of the parents of early risers look forward to....at least for a few days.

What to Do?

This time shift definitely has less of an impact on our children's sleep than falling back in the Fall [although this time change is actually harder on our bodies since we are losing an hour of sleep]. If your child is already on a good sleep schedule, your first option is to not make any in-advance changes. For a child who sleeps 7:00pm-7:00am, their new wake-up time will be 8:00am (woop!) and there isn't much of an impact here. Your bedtime will be shifted an hour later but the effects of the time change are only apparent for a few days, maybe a week tops.

For children who are already on a later schedule (think 8:30-8:30 or the like) the sleep-in will result in an even later wake-up and subsequently, an even later bedtime. What we can do in this case is split the difference of the wake-up time. Wake your child up 30 minutes early on the day of the time change, so as not to rob them of too much nightsleep, but also not to let them sleep in too much resulting in a way-too-late bedtime. 

If you're really keen on keeping your child on the same schedule, you can wake them 1 hour early on the day of the time change so as not to see any lasting effects from the time shift (however if your child has a very strong internal clock, you may find them still not able to fall asleep until their 'usual' bedtime). The key also during this time change is not to use too early of a bedtime. If on Sunday your child happens to have a really crappy day of sleep and you’d normally have them down for an early bedtime [say 5:30pm] keep in mind that this is now actually 4:30pm so you may be better off sneaking in another nap to avoid a total meltdown with a too-early bedtime.

If you are looking to take advantage of the time change for baby who is an early riser, there are a few important things to remember:

1) The time change doesn’t actually re-set a child’s internal clock, but it does make the child’s wake-up time by the clock later, so in order to make this stick we need to make sure there is ZERO light in the bedroom in the morning [and remember the sun is now coming up an hour earlier so it’s very likely there would be sun streaming in at this time if you don’t have the windows blacked out properly!]

2) Do not wake your child the day after DST [obviously!] and just follow your new schedule the next day, with naps now occurring one hour later than usual. LOTS of sunlight in the evening helps lock in that new schedule!

3) If on this new schedule your child is still sleeping the same amount of hours as before and you are confident that it’s enough sleep for them, you’re set! We did it! Hurray! But if you suspect your child is still not getting enough sleep [let’s say if before the time change they were sleeping 7:30-5:30 and now they are sleeping 8:30-6:30 which is a better morning wake-up time but perhaps not enough nighttime sleep, which can be evidenced if your child wakes crying in the morning] then now we try to shift things a bit earlier very slowly to see if we can boost that 10 hours to, say, 10.5 or 11 hours. We do this by moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier every 3 days and watch how it affects morning wake-up time. So for example, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after the time change you try bedtime at 8:15pm. If wake-up time remains 6:30am then on Thursday, Friday, Saturday you try 8:00pm. If wake-up time remains then for the next 3 days you try 7:45pm. If at some point the wake-up time creeps earlier, you know you’ve pushed too far and you’ll want to go back to whatever bedtime was maintaining the 6:30am wake-up time.

This is an important time to make sure your child's environment is conducive to sleep. It will gradually begin to get lighter and lighter in the evenings so that cave-like sleep space becomes even more important. As always, I highly recommend my Blackout EZ window covers as an awesome and affordable way to get baby's room as dark as possible.

Happy Spring everyone! 


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting now in Kamloops, BC. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Why Sleep Training Doesn't Work

I would say about 85% of families that contact me for a sleep consultation have tried some form of sleep training on their own and failed...sometimes miserably. Oftentimes, these parents will say to me, "I've tried everything" which I consider a challenge. There are usually many things that families don't consider or aren't doing properly when putting a sleep training plan into action. It's not that these families are intentionally sabotaging themselves, it's just that, especially with those children that are more 'sleep-sensitive', the stars almost have to be aligned in order for this difficult process to be successful. Below, I've included the top 8 reasons that sleep training fails, and what we can do instead to help make it a success!

Sleep Training Fail #1 - Starting with a nap

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With any of the families I work with, I always recommend that when starting a sleep coaching program, we begin with nighttime. The reason for this is that your baby's drive to sleep is much higher at nighttime, thus ensuring that sleep will overcome your child more easily. At nighttime, there are less distractions, there is less room for error, and there is more sleep pressure (and your baby's circadian rhythm, or biological clock) driving your child to sleep. At nighttime, when your baby's drive to sleep becomes overwhelming, she will flip from 'wake' to 'sleep' like a switch. This same phenomenon does not occur during the day and your baby can easily fight sleep all day if she wants to. 
While it's true that we can sleep train for only nights and not naps, I personally do not recommend sleep training for only naps and not nighttime. Chances are you will have much more success with getting your nights straightened out, which will give you the confidence to pursue nap coaching once you are ready.

Sleep Training Fail #2 - Feeding too close to sleep times

I've said it once (or maybe more than once), I'll say it again - feeding too close to sleep times, even if your child is not falling asleep eating, can hurt sleep. While it's true that with newborn babies, our goal is to 'tank them up' to sleep longer, once a baby is past the 16 week mark (a.k.a. the age where we can begin gentle sleep coaching), we want to focus more on healthy sleep habits to help baby sleep longer vs. stuffing their bellies to try to get an extra hour or two out of them. To be honest, if you are getting much more than 2 wakings at night at 4 months, or much more than 1 waking per night at 6 months+, those wakings are not likely hunger-related (I am assuming a healthy, well-fed child) so no amount of food before bed is going to make these wakings go away. Instead, we want to direct our attention to ensuring that the feeding-to-sleep association is completely removed, that 'food' and 'sleep' are two completely separate events to the child, and are in no way related ("I do not need food to sleep, I can sleep on my own!") We do this by making sure to follow an E.A.S.Y. routine (with nursing/bottlefeedings upon every wake-up instead of right before naps) and moving the last feeding of the night to the very first part of your bedtime routine (i.e. before the bath). I'll stress this again because it's very important - even if your child is not falling asleep eating, if the feeding is occurring too close to the timing of sleep, it can still cause an association.

Sleep Training Fail #3 - Drowsy but awake

This fail is related to the above and is another big reason sleep training can be unsuccessful - helping your child to the 'drowsy' state. Whether it be feeding too close to sleep times that is making your child drowsy or you are rocking/bouncing/shushing your child until drowsy and then putting them down, this can actually interfere with your child's learning of how to sleep. I'm sure you have heard from many different people to put baby down 'drowsy but awake' and this couldn't be more true for newborn babies (0-4 months of age). Putting baby down in this state from a very early age can help you to avoid ever needing to sleep train (WIN!) but once we make the decision to help our baby learn to sleep independently (after the 16 week mark), you want the child to be falling asleep completely independently - from the wide awake (but calm) state.
Why does drowsy but awake work against us? When a baby is in the 'drowsy' state, they have actually already entered the first few stages of sleep. This drowsy state is similar to back when you were in class and you started nodding off - you could faintly hear what the teacher was saying but you weren't really retaining any of the information. This dazed and confused state is how a baby feels when we are putting them down drowsy. We plop them in their cribs and they suddenly jerk wide awake, completely unaware of how they got themselves in the crib. They are still going to associate 'falling asleep' with wherever they became drowsy, and therefore when they wake (if they do indeed end up putting themselves to sleep) they are going to need you to recreate those same conditions that helped them to 'sleep' (or to 'drowsy').
To achieve the 'wide awake but calm' state, simply go through your child's normal sleep routine (if it's a nap, this routine should only be about 5 minutes long and might end with a song or two in the rocking chair) aiming to help calm them and prepare them for sleep - not to get them drowsy. While you might think that getting them halfway there will help lessen the amount of crying that will ensue, the opposite is actually true. 

Sleep Training Fail #4 - An overtired baby

Making sure you are well-educated on the amount of sleep your child needs, how long your child should be awake at any given time, and what a typical daily schedule should look like for their age is extremely important before implementing any sort of sleep training plan. While some overtiredness is inevitable while sleep training, not giving your child enough opportunities to sleep, keeping them up much longer than their recommended awake times, or putting them to bed way too late, will be disastrous for sleep training.  No amount of sleep training will work on a child who is overtired and whose schedule is not meeting their needs. Simply sleep training without any plans to establish an age-appropriate schedule for your child can result in lots of unnecessary tears (for both parents and child!) Babies are a lot of work, they take up a lot of our time and are very inconvenient at times, especially when their sleep needs are so high, but respecting a child's need to sleep (and sleep often!) is well-worth it, I can promise you that. So before you plan to sleep train, take the time to devise a nap schedule for your child, put a few days aside to devote all your attention to the process (a long weekend works great for working parents) and try not to listen to others who say your child, "doesn't need to sleep that much". 

Sleep Training Fail #5 - No support

Sleep training is tough. It's hard. It's never fun. But the pain is worth the prize when you have a child that falls asleep easily, stays asleep longer, and truly LOVES to sleep. Having someone supportive on your side through this process is extremely important. It might be your partner, a friend, your mother, an aunt, uncle, a sleep consultant ;), etc. Whoever it may be, you need someone to be able to vent to, to cry to, to help you be strong. Setting boundaries for your child is all about being consistent and sleep training is likely the first boundaries you are having to set in your child's life. Change is not easy, especially for babies, and there is bound to be some protest to these changes. If you don't have someone to lean on during this process, it can make it very difficult to follow-through with the 1000% consistency that you need in order to be successful. Your supportive person should be on the same page as you with the process, you don't want to be trying to convince this person that what you are doing is right or trying to validate your actions the entire time. You need a rock.

Sleep Training Fail #6 - Lack of consistency

As I've mentioned already, consistency is key. No matter what method you choose, from the super ultra gentle to the more direct, as long as you are 1000% consistent, you will see results. As humans, we are programmed to want quicker results, to see some concrete progress within a short period of time, which is why the gentler sleep coaching methods can be tougher for parents - simply because they take longer to work. But again, if you are consistent, things will come together for you. I always encourage my families to try any one method for one week. If you are making sure not to make any of these sleep training mistakes and are completely consistent for a full week, your child should be well on their way to great sleep within that time. Switching up the method too much (especially going from something more direct to something more gentle) or throwing in the towel multiple times can be confusing and unfair to the child. Make sure that when you begin, you are fully committed to the changes and that there's nothing going to stand in the way of you being successful (like too many activities scheduled, family in town visiting, travel, etc.)  I generally recommend that my families are able to dedicate at least two weeks (and preferably a month) without any major disruptions.

Sleep Training Fail #7 - Fear of the early bedtime

I talk about early bedtimes a lot. There is no time that is more important for an early bedtime than during sleep coaching. Naps will almost always suffer during sleep training, at least for the first few days. The best thing for your baby on a day of craptastic naps is an early bedtime. There is no advantage to stretching your child to an 'appropriate' bedtime when said stretching will just result in your baby becoming overtired and waking crying every 3-4 hours all night long because the bedtime was too late. How early is too early? For a child that is still waking to eat at night, the earliest I recommend putting baby down is 4:30pm. For a baby that is sleeping through without feedings, the earliest bedtime I use is 4:45pm (and these are put down times). Do not fear the early bedtime! It will be your best friend on days where things just don't go your way. To prepare your child for an early bedtime, make sure you are completing your full bedtime routine (bath included) as this will help signal to your baby 'bedtime' vs. 'just another nap'. Contrary to popular belief, if your child wakes up 45-60 minutes after an early bedtime, it often means that bedtime was still too late, and not too early. If your baby does wake, treat it like you would any other nightwaking according to your sleep coaching plan. Avoid taking the child out of the room or feeding them back to sleep as feeding at this time a) can create a habitual waking very quickly and b) will set the rest of your night up to be fragmented with every 3-4 hour wakings.
The timing of bedtime is especially important on the first night of sleep coaching (remember, because we always start at bedtime). Stretching bedtime, even by 10 or 15 minutes, can result in much more crying and protesting (as an overtired child has a build-up of stress hormones in their body, which makes sleep very difficult).

Sleep Training Fail #8 - Method does not match family

There are many different methods we can use to help baby to sleep. From those deemed 'no cry' (spoiler alert: there will still be tears) to the more 'let cry'. How do you choose which method is best for your child? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my parenting philosophies? You want to pick a method that YOU are comfortable with and that YOU can be consistent with. Sleep training will always take you out of your comfort zone but doing your research and picking a method that is best aligned with your unique views on the subject is very important.

  • How severe are my child's sleep problems? If your baby's sleep issues are substantial (rely on many props to fall asleep, has accumulated a large sleep debt) you may want to consider a more gradual approach to help baby learn to sleep. If your child's sleep issues are minor and only some small adjustments need to be made, a more direct approach might be in your best interests.

  • What is my baby's temperament? If you have a very easy-going and adaptable baby, you'll likely have success with any method you decide to use. Children that are more 'sensitive' or 'alert' may need less stimulation/parental intervention in order to be successful within a reasonable amount of time. Remember, the process is not necessarily 'gentler' for the child if intervening too much is making it more difficult.

  • How old is my child? More 'direct' approaches are often not recommended for babies under the age of 6 months (i.e. Extinction-type methods) but there are many gentler options for babies between the age of 4-6 months (or after 16 weeks of age, adjusted). For toddlers/preschool-aged children who need a parent to help them fall asleep, gentle approaches are often recommended so as to help avoid episodes of separation anxiety.


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

The (Dreaded) 8-10 Month Sleep Regression

You came out of the 4 month sleep regression unscathed (sort of) and things are going pretty well in sleep-land when BAM! the 8-10 month sleep regression hits you like a ton of bricks. Babies seem to always be going through 'something' - whether it be a growth spurt, a mental leap, a regression, or some other super-fun phase that gets in the way of sleep. If we are prepared for these 'regressions' and understand why they are occurring, it can make it easier to get through and perhaps help to avoid a true 'regression' at all.  Read on to find out about the two main reasons for the 8-10 month sleep regression, the 4 month sleep regression's less popular friend.

What is a sleep regression?

The 4 month sleep regression is vastly different from the 8-10 month sleep regression because the 4 month sleep 'regression' isn't really a true 'regression'. A regression would mean that, with time, the baby's sleep would eventually resume as usual, but unfortunately, that's not what happens. The changes in a baby's sleep at 3-5 month's of age are here to stay. With the 8-10 month sleep regression, the changes are often temporary and are due to a baby's brain development. There is a lot that goes on cognitively at this age, and all of these changes can affect baby's sleep - whether that means they start waking more at night and/or start fighting/refusing naps.  Not coincidentally, these 'regressions' (which generally occur at 4 months, 8-10 months, and 18 months) all occur around the same time as nap transitions.  If we aren't prepared to handle these changes in baby's sleep, this can lead to the child becoming overtired, overtiredness leads to difficulty falling and staying asleep, and before we know it, a 'regression' has occurred.

8-10 month sleep regression cause #1 - Physical milestones

There is so much going on in baby's life at this age. They might be sitting up, scooting, crawling, pulling up, cruising, and some might even start walking. Baby is also learning the basics of communication and might start teething (if they haven't already). This is a lot in a little baby's life, and all these things take time, energy, and practice. Sometimes this 'practice' can occur at the wrong times, when baby should instead be sleeping. It can be hard for a baby to learn to shut down their brain, particularly a child that doesn't have self-soothing skills to begin with. Those babies that need more help to sleep may now start to really fight your soothing efforts, finding them too stimulating, and may try to take these opportunities of your company to show you their sweet new moves. If your 20 minutes of rocking has now become 60 minutes, that may be your baby's way of telling you that they are ready to be going down more awake on on their own, as your presence is inhibiting their ability to fall asleep, instead of helping.
If your baby is already an independent sleeper and has started to have some serious party time in their crib before sleep times, firstly you want to make sure that their environment is conducive to sleep. We want to be extra-vigilant that there is nothing stimulating in our child's crib and that their room is pitch black. A baby can be stimulated by anything - a wallpaper design, a toy across the room, a pattern on their crib sheets - so making sure that room is nice and dark will surely bore them into sleep (check out this company here that makes awesome custom window covers to get baby's room pitch black). As well, using a sleepsack for naps and nighttime helps to cut down on monkey business - it's not impossible to roll/sit up/crawl/stand with a sleepsack on, but it makes it more difficult. If baby is already sleepy, they might decide it's not worth the fight. Additionally, make sure your baby's sleep schedule is meeting his needs. Does he need a bit more awake time before naps so that he's tired enough to sleep easily? Here's a good way to determine if pushing a nap later might help:

  • If your baby is taking a long time to fall asleep (much more than 15 minutes) with lots of protesting/playing but then still takes a good nap (over 1 hour) that he wakes up happy from - try pushing that nap 15 minutes later.

  • If your baby falls asleep quickly at naptime, but then takes a short nap (under an hour) that they wake up happy from - try pushing that nap 15 minutes later.

  • If your baby falls asleep quickly for a nap, but then takes a short nap (under an hour) that they wake up crying from - try pulling the nap back by 15 minutes.

  • If your baby falls asleep within 1-15 minutes for a nap and then takes a long nap (over 1 hour) - you have nailed it, don't change a thing.

What not to do:

Don't give too much attention to the nap/bedtime battles. You don't want to make long-term habits for a short-term phase. This regression will pass in time, but if you make a habit of now rocking the child, letting them sleep in your bed, sitting with them until they fall asleep (unless you are already doing these things), or skipping naps entirely, this regression now turns into a new habit for the child, one that will be tough to break.

8-10 month sleep regression cause #2 - Nap transition

Eight months is the age where your 3rd catnap needs to be eliminated, if it hasn't already. Especially if you are finding the child refuses this nap at least 50% of the time, if the 3rd nap is occurring much past 4:00pm, or if with the 3rd nap, you are now clocking less than 11 hours of sleep at night - it's time to go. I generally recommend that even if you're not seeing these obvious signs of readiness by 8 months of age, you should still begin the transition towards a two nap schedule. Nap transitions are tricky and they can be messy if we're not handling them properly. If we  jump too quickly into a two nap schedule, this can cause baby to become overtired... and a regression is born. Nap transitions aren't a race - slow and steady really is best. Start by slowly adding awake time before each of your naps - maybe 5 minutes onto all of them or 15 minutes before one nap. The best order to add time in is middle first (2nd and 3rd nap) then 1st nap, then bedtime. It is normal during a nap transition to flip-flop back and forth between 2 nap and 3 nap days depending on baby's wake-up time and the quality of the naps. With time, you will find that you are unable to fit in a 3rd nap before 4:00pm so you'll want to use an early bedtime to compensate. I can't stress this enough, this is where nap transitions go wrong. Parents become too stuck on a 'set' bedtime, but now that we've lost an entire sleep period, that stretch between the 2nd nap and the 'set' bedtime is way too long, causing the child to become overtired (bedtime battles, nightwakings, sleep-cries, and potentially an early wake-up the next day are all symptoms of a too-late bedtime). There is no advantage to a later bedtime if the child is awake crying every 3-4 hours because the bedtime was too late. Do not be afraid of a temporary early bedtime during nap transitions - it is essential.

What not to do:

Don't let that third nap hang around too long if it's obviously causing issues with nightsleep. Naps are important but nightsleep is far superior.  If your 3rd nap is interfering with nightsleep and causing baby to clock less than 11 hours at night - it's time to go. 
Don't rush the transition - slow and steady is best.
Don't stall in the transition. You need to continue to slowly stretch baby's awake times to move them to a solid 2 nap schedule. Your day will likely start out like this:

7:00am - wake-up
9:30am-11:00am - nap 1
1:45pm-3:15pm - nap 2
6:15pm - bedtime

and should eventually look like this:

7:00am - wake-up
10:00am-11:30am - nap 1
3:00pm-4:00pm - nap 2
7:30pm - bedtime


Sleep regressions are an exhausting part of parenting but we all go through it at some point.  During these times, just remember to be flexible, be prepared, and be careful not to create a new sleep crutch (or bring back an old one).  As hard as it can be to remain consistent at times, it really is best for everyone and helps the regression pass in a more timely manner. If you’d like my information on the 3-2 transition, check out my Comprehensive Nap Transition Guide here!

 

Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

What to Dress Baby in at Night

I get the question, "What should I dress my baby in at night?" a lot. Therefore, I've made a handy chart for you to refer to if you're just not sure. This chart was created for children who wear a sleepsack to bed [which I recommend for all babies and children alike!] but the same idea can be applied to children who are not wearing a sleepsack or who are swaddled. The recommended temperature for baby's room, in order to provide the optimal environment for good-quality sleep, is between 19-21°C [68-72°F].

** as a note, 'TOG' is the rating used to describe the warmth or 'thermal resistance' of a product. The lower the 'TOG', the more lightweight the sleepsack is. Most sleepsacks come with a TOG rating on the package.

** as a note, 'TOG' is the rating used to describe the warmth or 'thermal resistance' of a product. The lower the 'TOG', the more lightweight the sleepsack is. Most sleepsacks come with a TOG rating on the package.

 

Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Source: http://gro.co.uk/pages/what-to-wear

Daylight Savings Time and Your Baby's Sleep - with new tips!

Remember the good 'ol days when Daylight Savings Time meant an extra hour of sleep? HA! Those years are far behind us. Around this time of year I receive countless e-mails from families worried about the upcoming shift. Should you be concerned? Not if you have a solid plan of action. Read on for some strategies to cope.

True that!

True that!

Daylight Savings - the gist

  1. On Sunday, November 4th, the sun will be rising an hour earlier than it normally does, meaning we have an extra hour of sunlight in the morning [make sure you have those blackout blinds up!]

  2. On Sunday, November 4th, the sun will be setting an hour earlier than it normally does, meaning we have an hour less of sunlight in the evening.

  3. On Sunday, November 4th, if we haven’t implemented any plan in advance for DST, baby will be waking an hour earlier than he normally does [technically he’s not really waking earlier, the clock is just telling us it’s earlier]. So if he normally wakes at 7:00am, he will now be waking at 6:00am.

  4. On Sunday, November 4th, if we haven’t implemented any plan in advance for DST, baby will be wanting to go to bed an hour earlier than he normally does. So if he normally goes to bed around 7:00pm, he will now be wanting to go to bed around 6:00pm.

  5. If we don’t want baby’s schedule to shift earlier by an hour [according to the clock], we may need to plan in advance and shift baby’s schedule an hour later beforehand.

Plan of Action #1 - The Slow Schedule Shift

For those families with children who are already perpetual earlier risers, this strategy might be right for you.  This strategy is also best for those with younger babies [8 months and under]. Putting a little work in ahead of time can help to ensure this transition is as smooth as possible.  How do we do this?

Shift your baby's schedule 15 minutes later starting on the Wednesday before the time change hits. I don't recommend pushing any more than 15 minutes as you don't want baby to end up overtired [and we know that pushing bedtime too late usually results in an early wake-up anyway! Not cool baby!]

The first step to doing this is extending baby’s darkness exposure in the morning and delaying any morning feeds, if possible. We can do this by leaving baby in their crib in the morning for longer [if baby normally wakes at 6:00am and you scoop them out 10 minutes later to feed, trying leaving baby until 6:30am and then feeding then]. If baby is not happy with this extended time in the crib, pull him out as you normally would but hang out in the dark [no lights/TV/etc.] for those extra 30 minutes [and working up to an hour]. This can be quite challenging if you need to hurry to work in the morning or have other children to tend to so just do the best you can!

How would this look in real life? Baby A [6 months old] wakes at 6:00am on Wednesday and we leave him until 6:15am. We go into the room, lights still off, white noise on, and scoop him up to feed. After the feed, we change his diaper and hang out for some floor time, keeping stimulation low and lights off. At 7:00am, we turn on the lights and leave the room - it’s morning time! We’d repeat this Thursday - Saturday, aiming to get as close to an hour each day as we can.

The second step to this is shifting baby’s bedtime later by that same hour in the days leading up to DST. So, for instance, if your baby is 6 months old and you usually put him to bed 2 hours after his 3rd nap ends, you would push him to 2.25 hours on Wednesday in hopes that he'll also sleep in 15 minutes later the next day. On Thursday, push each nap time 15 minutes later as well [if you’re following more of a ‘by the clock’ schedule vs. using waketimes, then you’d just put baby down 15 minutes later by the clock than you normally would]. Continue this schedule of 15 minute stretches until the time change hits, when [hopefully] your schedule will have shifted later by 1 hour. To make this even more successful, keep evenings super bright and full of stimulation.

How would this look in real life? Baby A [6 months old] wakes at 6:00am on Wednesday and we use the above strategy to avoid light/stimulation until 7:00am. He has a great day of sleep on Wednesday waking from his last nap at 4:30pm. Normally we’d have him down at 6:30pm for the night but we’ll push to 6:45pm. The next day [Thursday] baby A wakes at 6:00am again and we use the same darkness strategy in the morning. Normally we’d lay him down at 7:30am for his first nap [1.5 hours after he wakes] but we’ll push to 7:45am on this day. We’ll do this same 15 minute stretch for all 3 naps, and baby A ends up going down for the night at 7:15pm on Thursday night, waking up at 6:30am on Friday morning. We continue to repeat until the schedule is shifted by an hour by Sunday, so baby A wakes at 6:00am on Sunday [which is 7:00am old time]. Now we can resume our normal schedule and normal timing of naps, and baby A is going to bed at the same time he was before we started the shift and waking at the same time as well.

Plan of Action #2 - The Big Shift

This strategy might work well for families with children that aren't waking up too early [closer to 7:00am] or those who have older babies [over 8 months of age]. Keep their schedule the same up to the time change but then on Sunday, push the schedule [as much as she can handle] back to her 'normal' routine/timing of sleep. Your bedtime may be on the earlier end for a day or so but with time [and lots of natural light! As that is what sets our internal clocks!] she should settle back into her old schedule.

How would this look in real life? Baby B [9 months old] normally has a bedtime of 7:30pm with a wake-up time of 7:30am. She typically takes naps at 10:30am and 3:00pm. On Sunday, November 4th, she will wake up at 6:30am [which is actually 7:30am]. Her parents leave her in bed until 7:00am and then hang out in the dark room for an extra 30 minutes until 7:30am [her normal wake-up time]. Her normal nap time is 10:30am so her parents have her down for her first nap at 10:00am - a bit earlier as she’s quite tired but close to our goal. The second nap starts at 2:30pm and her bedtime is half an hour earlier than normal, at 7:00pm. The next day, she wakes at 7:00am and her parents leave her until 7:30am. She is able to handle a bit more awake time so her naps are back to 10:30am and 3:00pm with her normal 7:30pm bedtime.

Plan of Action #3 - Plan? What Plan?

This "strategy" works best for older kids [think preschool age] who are already waking up and going to bed at a reasonable time [7:00am or later with a 7:00pm or later bedtime] or who are not prone to overtiredness/easy type children. This would also work well if your child is on a too-late schedule [maybe a toddler who still has a nap but bedtime is getting pushed too late]. Your child wakes at 6:00am on Sunday [which is still actually 7:00am] and you'll stick to your same schedule and put him to bed at 7:00pm that night [which to him will be 8:00pm].

How would this look in real life? C is 2.5 years old. He normally has a 2 hour nap from 1:00-3:00pm with a bedtime of 8:00pm, although he sings and talks in bed until 9:00pm and then wakes for the day at 7:30am. His parents would like his bedtime to be earlier so on Sunday, November 4th, C wakes up at 6:30am [7:30am before the time change]. His parents lay him down for his nap at 12:30pm [1:30pm before the time change]. He naps from 12:30-2:30pm and he goes to bed at 7:30pm [8:30pm before the time change]. He talks and sings until 8:30pm [much more reasonable!] and wakes up the next morning at 7:00am.
If you wanted to maintain the exact same schedule as before, you would just keep the nap time at the same time [1:00pm new time, 2:00pm old time] and bedtime at the same time as well [8:00pm new time, 9:00pm old time].

What Else Can We Do to Help with Daylight Savings? 

  • Shift all your routines later, not just sleep times.

  • Making your baby's sleep space as dark as possible is essential for helping to reset their internal clock. Check out this great company here for custom window covers to completely darken your baby's sleep space.

  • Continue to always leave your baby in their bed until 6:00am [new time]. If this transition is too big to achieve on the first day, do it gradually over a few days.

  • Natural sunlight is key for resetting our internal clocks, so take baby for a 20-30 minute early morning walk for a few days after we fall back, as the sunshine will help baby process that it's morning and will help to resolve any confusion with her circadian rhythms. Do the same in the evening before the sun goes down, if possible.

  • What not to do? Don't try to make the jump to their 'normal' bedtime too quickly. This will only lead to overtiredness and likely an early wake-up the next day. Embrace an earlier bedtime for a few days. The good news about Daylight Savings is that the effects only last a few days (keep this in mind when you're all excited for a later wake-up in the Spring. Sorry to burst your bubble!)

 

Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

My Baby's Nightwakings - Habit or Hunger?

Frequent nightwakings are within the top 3 issues that I deal with on a daily basis. It's tough enough to be consistent with baby sleep during the day, but when it's the middle of the night and all you want to do is go back to sleep - it's even harder. But sending a consistent message 24 hours/day is very important in order to see success with our babies' sleep, and that means trying to stay strong even in the wee hours. First, let's take a look at what the 'average' nightsleep of your baby at each age looks like:
 

Average Nightsleep for Babies 0-12 Months

0-2 months: every 2-3 hour feedings during the day and night (could mean as many as 5 nightfeedings)
3 months: 3 nightfeedings, longer first stretch emerges (about 4 hours long)
4 months: 2 nightfeedings, first stretch is about 5 hours in length
5 months: 2 nightfeedings, first stretch is 6+ hours
6 months: 1 nightfeeding, longest stretch is 6/7 hours
**in order for baby to go longer than 6/7 hours at night, solids need to be well-established, meaning 3 meals/day consisting of all 4 food groups in addition to milk
7 months: 1 nightfeeding, 6/7+ hour stretch
8-9 months: this is the average age that babies will drop all nightfeedings
10-12 months: babies may have an occasional nightfeed, but are able to sleep through most nights 

**this chart is assuming that baby is gaining weight properly, healthy, and has no other medical concerns. Speak to your doctor if you have any doubts


Trying to decide whether your baby is waking out of habit or out of hunger? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your baby eating enough during the day? Sometimes babies will get stuck in a cycle of taking in too many calories at night thus leading to less during the day (also called 'reverse cycling'). Baby truly needs this feeding, but it's important to reverse the cycle.

  • Does your baby eat and then fall back asleep quickly and easily? Sometimes when a nightwaking is habitual and not hunger-related, it will take baby quite some time to return to sleep afterwards.

  • After your baby feeds, does s/he then sleep in sound 3-4 hour stretches? If you're feeding baby only to find them waking up again every hour all night long, you likely have a habitual waking on your hands.

  • If you don't feed, will baby stay up crying for an extended period of time? A baby who fusses or cries persistently if s/he's not fed may truly need the feeding.

  • Does your baby fall asleep for the night completely independently from the wide awake state? If baby is a self-sufficient sleeper with no sleep props and is still waking for a feed, it might be truly necessary.

  • Is baby under the age of 8/9 months? It is very likely that before this age, baby may still need at least 1 nightfeeding.

 

 

Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Early Wake-Up? Ask Yourself These Questions

There's a few topics that I get questions about every single day; short naps, too many nightwakings/nightfeedings, the 4 month sleep regression, and early wake-ups. The latter is what we will be discussing today. Nobody likes to see a "5" on their alarm clock in the morning (unless you're crazy like me and set your alarm for that time!) and a 5:00am wake-up call from your baby is even less desirable (you're not cute at 5am baby! You're just not!) If you're finding that your wake-up time is creeping earlier and earlier, or maybe it's always been early, there's usually a reason for it. Generally, the natural wake-up time of most children is anywhere between 6:00-8:00am. Especially if that early wake-up call means your baby has clocked less than 11-12 hours of nightsleep, ask yourself the following questions to see if you can get to the bottom of it:

  1. Is your bedtime too late? A bedtime that is too late for baby is a recipe for an early wake-up. The majority of babies do best with a bedtime of between 6:00-8:00pm. Check out my blog post here for help finding your baby's ideal bedtime.

  2. Is your bedtime too early? While you all know I love me an early bedtime, we never want to get stuck in a perpetual 5:00pm bedtime cycle, as this, over time, will lead to baby waking up early. A super early bedtime is great on crappy nap days or when we are trying to chip away at some sleep debt that may have accumulated from weeks/months of poor sleep, but it's not meant to be used consistently over the span of several days/weeks.

  3. Are you keeping baby awake too long in between last nap and bedtime? That stretch between the last nap of the day and bedtime is the most sensitive of the day, and if we are stretching it too far will lead to nightwakings, sleep-cries, and a potential early wake-up the next day. Check out my blog post here for the maximum interval of wakefulness your baby should have, at any given age.

  4. Is your baby hungry? If that 5:00am wake-up is 3.5-4 hours from your last nightfeeding, then baby may be truly hungry at that time and it's a good idea to feed him and put him back down to allow him time to fall back asleep and continue his nightsleep. Many babies will keep one last early nightfeeding into their 9th month.

  5. Are you always leaving baby until 6:00am? Getting baby up before this time lets him know that this is indeed an appropriate wake-up time. We always want to ensure we leave baby until 6:00am to discourage any wakings prior to this and to send a consistent message, 24 hours/day.

  6. Is baby falling asleep independently with zero props? Sleep is the lightest between 4-6am and if baby relies on any props to go to sleep for the night initially (yes, that paci counts!!!) then when they wake up in these early morning hours, they will need you to re-create these same conditions but since sleep is so light at this time, it is harder for them to fall asleep even with your assistance.

  7. Is baby's bedroom dark enough? Especially with the summer solstice in June, the sun is up early. If baby's bedroom is too bright at this time (and with sleep being very light at this time as well) it may be difficult for the child to return to sleep. Turn that bedroom into a baby cave!

  8. Is your baby teething? The most common 'sleep symptom' of teething is a temporary early wake-up. Again, we know that sleep is light in the early morning hours and if baby is uncomfortable/in pain/discomfort then it will be difficult for them to return to sleep at this time. The effects are at their worst one week before the tooth pops through, with the worst offenders being the top front teeth and the molars.

  9. Is baby overtired? An inappropriate daytime schedule (not enough naps/daysleep, baby being kept awake too long in between naps, etc.) is a major cause of an early wake-up. The best solution for an overtired baby is an early bedtime to help them catch up on sleep (as well as a round of sleep training if the cycle of overtiredness is caused by negative sleep associations!)

  10. Is baby going through a nap transition? Early wake-ups are inevitable as baby transitions to a new nap schedule, even with well-rested children who consistently sleep through the night.

  11. Is baby reaching a new milestone? At the peak of mastering a new skill (crawling, standing up, walking, talking, terrible 2's, etc) baby may temporarily wake early for 2-3 weeks.

 

 

Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

A Letter to Your Family about Sleep

Dear helpful friend/family member/neighbour/random person at the grocery store,

This letter is intended to help you understand the complicated world of baby sleep. As we parents all know, things are always changing. Twenty years ago there wasn't any "Professional Sleep Consultants" to help teach babies to sleep. So why now and why should we listen to them? Because we are now discovering how important sleep is to children of all ages, and how detrimental sleep deprivation can be. There is no one single thing that will magically work for all babies to help them sleep, but there are many things that families may be doing (or advised to do) that can be the exact opposite of helpful. I hope that this article will help bring some of this unhelpful advice to the surface, and to help you understand why exactly it is ill-advised. The following "un-advice" is taken directly off my Facebook page from family members of my lovely followers.

Sleep Un-Advice #1 - "Your daughter doesn't need to sleep so much during the day. If she stays up longer, she will sleep better at night."

Ahhh yes. The 'ol "keep them up so they will sleep longer" schpiel. This is the crème de la crème of poor sleep advice. I strongly believe that sleep is the area that the most poor advice is given simply because there is so much with baby sleep that is opposite of what you would think. As the saying goes, "sleep is not logical, it's biological". Babies need to sleep. A lot. WAY more than most would think. To give you an idea, here is a breakdown of sleep needs per day over the first 12 months of life:

Under 2 months: 16-20 hours
3 months: 15.5-18 hours
4 months: 15.5 hours
5 months: 15 hours
6 months: 14.5 hours
7/8 months: 14-14.5 hours
9-11 months: 14 hours
12-14 months: 13.5-13.75 hours

Do you know what happens when a baby is overtired? There is a hormone in our bodies called 'cortisol'. This is the same hormone that is secreted when we are stressed....or when we are sleep-deprived. The more sleep-deprived we are, the more this hormone is secreted. Once we have reached the state of overtiredness, with all this cortisol pumping through our bodies, it is nearly impossible to fall asleep. I'm sure you have experienced a time when you are so dead exhausted, you go lay down in your bed, only to find yourself staring at the ceiling for hours because you simply cannot fall asleep. The same rule applies to babies, only amplified since they are so young and sensitive to sleep. In order to avoid this overtired state, babies need to sleep...A LOT. To give you an idea of how long a baby can tolerate being awake before they become overtired, here is a breakdown of the maximum awake times for the first year:

Under 2 months: 45-60 minutes
3 months: 1.5 hours
4 months: 1.75-2 hours
5 months: 2 hours
6 months: 2.5 hours
7 months: 2.75 hours
8/9 months: 3 hours
10-14 months: 3-4 hours

Keep in mind, these are the maximum awake times. Meaning we want baby to be asleep before we hit this maximum time. As well, some babies may require a bit less awake time before they reach that overtired state (especially between morning wake-up and first nap, this time is often very short as this nap is a continuation of nightsleep).

How much a baby needs to sleep and how often a baby needs to sleep is often something that is grandly underestimated by families. Sleep is a biological need, not a luxury - it's food for the brain! Sleep begets sleep - the more sleep a little baby gets, the more its little body wants!

I get the same thing. My child naps too much during the day and if I just kept him up he would sleep longer at night. And I also get that a 6:30-7:00pm bedtime is ridiculous and that I’m too tied down to a schedule. I love that my child is a happy baby because he has a great sleep routine! I will preserve that for as long as I can! And frankly I’m ready for bed by 8pm anyways!
— Momma C

Sleep Un-Advice #2 - "No one believes me when I say the earlier you put the baby to bed the longer he/she will sleep."

I know I said the above 'advice' was the cherry on top, but I might have to call it a tie here. Not only are early bedtimes something that families push back on, but it's something that a vast majority of my clients push back on as well. I don't blame them, it really does seem opposite that an early bedtime would = a later wake-up but it couldn't be more true. Now why is that?

Babies all have natural wake-up times that are predetermined before they are even born. As an adult, you are likely either a night owl or a morning lark. I bet if you asked your Mom or Dad whether this rang true while you were a baby as well, they would agree. We can't fight biology. We can't fight these natural wake-up times. All we can do is respect them and put baby to bed at an appropriate time so as to allow them to clock the 11-12 hours of nightsleep they need. Every single night. In 90% of cases, a baby's natural wake-up time is anywhere between 6:00-8:00am.


Let's take a 5 month old baby named Julia for example. Julia has a natural wake-up time of 7:00am. Julia's mother knows this because Julia is very well-rested and she sleeps through the night for her age (meaning two nightfeedings). Knowing that Julia's natural wake-up time is 7:00am and that she needs 11-12 hours of nightsleep with two nightfeedings, that would mean Julia would have to be asleep for the night between 6:30-7:30pm in order to clock a full 11-12 hours of nightsleep (subtracting, of course, the time it takes for her to eat twice at night). What will happen if we put Julia to bed at 9:00pm because 6:30pm is "just too early to be going to bed"? She will wake up at the same time in the morning but will only have slept 9.5 hours. As well, since Julia's bedtime was too late for her, she may wake up crying several times in the night. Now Julia will be extremely overtired, which may lead her to take short naps the next day and thus perpetuate the cycle of overtiredness. There really is no advantage to a later bedtime if baby is up every 3-4 hours crying because the bedtime was too late. This goes hand-in-hand with Un-Advice#1 - babies need a lot of sleep, and we need to respect their need for said sleep.

Sleep Un-Advice #3 - " I get told that I am letting my children run my life, they should be fitting into my lifestyle instead of me working around theirs."

This criticism always really baffles me. I know for me, when I became pregnant with my first child, I knew my life was about to change drastically. I knew that I wouldn't get to do all the things I used to do, to take vacations on a whim or meet my friends for coffee at the drop of a hat. Babies change your life. When you have a child, your mission in life is to take care of this little person - to feed them, clothe them, nurture them, and to ensure they are healthy and happy. Babies are never convenient, and especially where it comes to sleep, they are highly inconvenient. A baby's sleep needs are SO high, as I've mentioned above. They need to sleep - A LOT. But this sleep is just as important to them as being fed nutritious food. We wouldn't starve our babies, so why sleep-starve them? We wouldn't feed our children junk food so why feed them junk sleep? Now, of course I am not staying that you are now house-bound for the first 2 years of your life because your baby needs to sleep, we all know life happens. An occasional nap on-the-go here or a late-ish bedtime there is not going to be detrimental to your child. But guess who deals with the ramifications of these late bedtimes or missed naps? Especially for those babies who are especially sleep-sensitive, a late bedtime can lead to a sleepless night and an extra early wake-up the next day....for baby AND Mom/Dad.
We are all just trying to do what's best for our children, and healthy sleep IS what's best for them. Babies are only babies once. Their sleep needs are ever-changing and there will come a time when they don't need to nap, where they don't need to be asleep for the night in the 6's, and where a late bedtime won't throw them off for the next 3-5 days. But for now, adhering to a good sleep schedule and allowing your baby the opportunity for lots of good quality, healthy sleep is only going to benefit them in the long-run.

I’m on baby #3. The first two slept anywhere and everywhere and still do. My third was a whole different baby who is an absolute nightmare when she even slightly deviates from her norm. She’s been called a “bad baby”, I’ve been told that we shouldn’t have more because she’s “too much”. Sleep training has saved my marriage and given me a sweet, happy baby. So while I am strong in my convictions that our sleep habits work - I do get worn down when I hear all the complaints listed here: “your kid controls your life”, “she should/shouldn’t be tired”, “she needs to learn to sleep anywhere”, etc.
— Momma J

Sleep Un-Advice #4 - "A baby will be more portable and sleep anywhere if they're taught to."

I have written about this popular 'advice' on another one of my articles (as well as a few other helpful 'suggestions' that friends and family love to share including starting cereal to help baby sleep and crying it out damaging babies), you can check it out here . But I will write about it again now because I am just very passionate about this topic. While it seems logical that always putting baby to bed in his/her crib, in a pitch black bedroom with some lovely, soothing white noise is going to spoil baby and cause them to not be able to adapt to any other situation, this is entirely false.

Why do we use a dark bedroom for baby sleep? First off, because babies (especially older babies) can be stimulated by just about anything - a wallpaper pattern, a toy across the room, a shadow on the wall. All of this stimulation can lead to poor sleep. As well, from a scientific standpoint, a dark bedroom stimulates the production of melatonin (the sleepy hormone). The brighter the days and the darker the sleep times, the more melatonin is secreted (and therefore, the quality and quantity of sleep is increased).
And as for white noise? A baby in the womb is subjected to constant noise - the sound of mom's blood pumping, her heart beating, and muffled voices from the outside. It is quite daunting to go from constant sound for 9 months to dead silence. White noise has been shown to reduce stress in babies and to help them sleep better - it helps them to power down at the end of the day, a day that is filled with 100 new sights, sounds, and experiences. In addition to white noise helping babies to decompress, it also is crucial in muffling the sounds of the house which can wake baby during naps and/or the night. While some may say that "baby should get used to the noise" what would you do if you finally fell asleep for a nap and then someone started vacuuming outside your door, the dog started barking, doorbells are ringing, kids are running around outside your room screaming. You wouldn't be too impressed. So why shouldn't a baby have the luxury of a quiet and peaceful sleep time, especially when we know how important this sleep is to the child? Sure there are going to be times where the child may need to sleep in a noisy environment or perhaps a bedroom that is not pitch black but this is the beauty of healthy sleep - a child who is well-rested and given the opportunity to have quality, restorative sleep learns to LOVE sleep. They don't care where they do it, their bodies just love it. Why should we provide our children with improper sleeping conditions 100% of the time just so that the 10% of the time when they are sleeping in these non-ideal conditions (say at the beach, or camping,etc.) that they might be adapted to it already? Well-rested children are extremely adaptable, and the key to helping a child become well-rested is providing them with opportunities for healthy sleep.

My son (who is currently 18 months) has slept in his pitch black bedroom, in his crib, with his double white noise blaring for every single sleep time since the day he was born. We took a leap of faith and went camping one day, mainly because I wanted to experiment with how he would do in these non-ideal sleeping conditions. In the bright camper, with no white noise, dogs barking, kids screaming, he took his usual 3 hour nap. His body loves to sleep, it doesn’t care where it’s doing it, it just knows it WANTS it!
— Pam

Any way you slice it, we are all just trying to do what's best for our kids. Not all babies are easy babies, and it can be hard to walk in the shoes of someone with a more sleep-sensitive child if all you've had are easy children. Not all babies can sleep anywhere, anytime, in any environment. If you had a child like this - consider yourself lucky! And to be honest, it likely wasn't anything you did to make them that way, you were just dealt a lucky hand. As well, our expectations of 'good sleep' are vastly different across the board. While one mom might consider it 'normal' for her 12 month old to be waking up 2-3 times at night (and therefore she doesn't feel the need to keep baby on an age-appropriate schedule during the day), other parents know that life can be better than that! That a baby can sleep much better than that if we provide them with the right tools. So the next time you are ready to criticize a friend/family member/neighbor/etc. on what they choose to do in order to help their child sleep better, consider instead applauding them for respecting their child's need for sleep, even if it means sacrificing a bit of their own time to attain it.

 

 

Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!