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Sleep Help Tips

SleepTip-01

Some sleep help for you and your baby: When transitioning your child from co-sleeping to sleeping in their own crib you can opt for some calming strategies for your child. A good sleep consultant will tell you the crib should be a boring place for your little one at bedtime. Waves on the ocean make for great white noise. That might be heard in Victoria or Vancouver, but not too often in Calgary! Read on about sound machines and other calming strategies...

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Sleep Help & Picky Eaters

Picky-Eater

Appropriate sleep, especially in the early stages, is influenced greatly by nutrition. For parents of toddlers, there can be nothing more frustrating than preparing a meal and placing it in front of your child, only to hear “Yuck! I’m not eating that”. Sleepdreams registered paediatric healthcare professionals are extensively trained in nutrition as it relates to sleep for infants, toddlers and children. Read the full article for lots of tips for getting food into your picky eater.

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Age Appropriate Activities for Sleep

AgeAppropriateActivity

A Sleepdreams sleep consultant is an expert on age appropriate activity for your child to encourage optimal sleep at night and nap time. Any sleep training should encompass age appropriate activity for your infant / toddler / child. Regardless if you are in Victoria or Vancouver in summer or in Calgary, Alberta seeking activities in winter you should read this for some extra sleep help. 

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Fall Time Change and Your Early Riser

Tot walking in leaves

On the first Sunday in November, clocks go back an hour. Before you head to bed on Saturday November 6th, turn your
clocks back one hour. So on Sunday November 2nd (at 2am precisely), your clocks will read the correct time.
This next sentence is important for those of you that have early risers. 
On Sunday November 2nd, when your early riser wakes at 5am or 5:30am, this will now be 4am or 4:30am. Yikes!
To have a smoother transition, here are some tips. 
Think about your schedule for the day including wake up times, snack and meal times, nap times and to bed times. On a
regular basis this schedule shouldn’t vary much for kids, particularly the waking up time and bed time, even on
weekends.
Remember to keep routines and sleep environments consistent - keep pre-sleep routines consistent and predictable. All
your previous efforts to create consistent sleep cues for your baby will pay off and help your little one adjust to
the time change.
Unless you have been gradually shifting your child’s sleep schedule this past week, you will be jumping ahead to the
new time on Sunday. To do this, put your child to bed at their usual bedtime according to the clock on Sunday night.
They will most likely be very tired. Wake your child at their usual time on Monday morning, according to the new time.
It will likely take your child 1-2 days to make this transition and they may a bit tired for a few days.
To help your baby wake a little later, try to hold off on “morning” time by soothing them and keeping them in their
“night” environment until you want to wake them. When it’s time to wake up at the new time, welcome them to the new
day with light and cuddles and offer them a feeding (or breakfast for older kiddos) a few minutes after they wake (if
that is your typical pattern of eating with them).
Don’t be tempted to stay up an extra hour, remember the morning will come earlier on Sunday. Get your rest!
If you prefer to shift your child’s sleep schedule more gradually, it’s not too late. Little ones who easily become
over tired may do better with this approach. You can still shift your child's sleep schedule beginning tonight and
after the time change into next week:
Beginning tonight and into next week, shift everything 10-15 minutes later each night. This includes wake up time,
eating, naps and bedtime.  After 3-6 days your child is ideally shifted an hour forward. So if they normally woke up
at 7, you’ve transitioned them to 8. This one is the most difficult shift.
        
No matter which approach you choose, your little one will be adjusted to the new time within a few days to a week and
be back to sleeping to their usual wake time. Be consistent and it will all work out.

What is my Child’s Sensory Profile?

overtired toddler

Your child’s sensory profile is a unique description of how your child processes the sensory information from his/her environment. Five sensory areas that OTs often evaluates include the following:

  • Tactile/touch
  • Auditory/hearing
  • Visual/seeing
  • Vestibular/balance& movement
  • Oral/sensations of taste, texture and temperature in the mouth

How is this information used?

Occupational Therapists often use this information to understand how the child is interpreting the world around them. Sometimes, if the child is under- or over-responding to information from these areas, it can impact their ability to engage in daily occupations, such as sleeping.

By understanding both the patterns of response (either over-responding or under-responding) and the sensory areas that are affected, we can help parents design activities and modify environments to help their child cope better with the world around them and more successfully engage in their daily tasks.

overstimulated baby

A story to illustrate one part of  a sensory profile:

 (Name and context are fictitious and only used to illustrate these points – they are not related to an actual client/child.)

Dylan is a bright and alert 8 month old boy. He loves being out and about, and looking at the world around him during his daily stroller walks. He rarely falls asleep in the stroller. He loves looking at faces and his big brother dancing around him. If the TV is on in the house, he is drawn to the fast-paced images on the screen. He sometimes gets fussy in a busy environment where there is a lot going on. His OT assessment indicated that he over-responds in the area of visual processing. Dylan’s OT talked to his parents about how his busy visual environment can alert his nervous system and make him feel irritable. It was recommended that his environments be dampened later in the day to help him wind down and that stroller walks be taken after he has woken up rather than used as a strategy to calm him prior to sleep time. The OT was also able to recommend specific calming strategies and some environmental modifications to his sleep zone to help him calm down rather than ramp up due to visual stimulation.

What does this mean?

We know that parents know their children best. That’s for certain. Applying this knowledge to their daily routines and adapting activities and modifying environments can help your child to cope better during the day and be more able to successfully engage in their daily play and self care (sleeping/eating) tasks.

Do you need more ideas or recommendations to help your child?

An Occupational Therapist can help. Contact us to discuss your child’s sensory profile and how it may be affecting their ability to cope with the day to day activities in their life including playing, eating, and sleeping.

Busy Boxes - Keeping your older child busy while putting your baby to sleep

Busy Boxes for Toddlers

 

Naptime and bedtime can be a challenging time for parents with more than one child. Once you have two or more children, getting through the pre-sleep routine can feel like a marathon. And then when one partner is not able to be there, you can find yourself struggling to figure out what to do with your older child while you are settling your little one.

One strategy that can make managing naptime and bedtime alone run more smoothly is a ‘busy box’. The ‘busy box’ is a box that contains novel quiet activities that only come out before naps and bedtime. This is helpful to occupy an older child when a parent is settling a younger child or infant to sleep. The key is that these activities are special for use only during pre-sleep times/quiet times. They can be much loved activities or new ones.

Busy Box Ideas:

toddler puzzle

  • Puzzles (ensuring that they are the just-right challenge and will not cause frustration)
  • A basket of play silks/scarves
  • Lacing games/beads
  • Open ended activities such as: Duplo, bristle blocks, magna tiles
  • Stickers
  • Magnet letters, shapes, pictures
  • Pom pom activities: sorting colours with tongs and placing into a container
  • Special selection of books: lift-the-flap books, simple look and find books, sticker books, Melissa and Doug’s On-The-Go Water Wow books
  • Listening to special music or an audio book: the library often has a good selection of loved children’s books with the accompanying audio recording

It is important to keep the activities fresh and interesting as well as limiting them only to before naps and bedtime. Additionally, although the purpose of the ‘busy box’ is to keep an older child entertained, ensure that they are still being supervised, as little hands can quickly get into trouble.

 

You can find more ‘busy box’ ideas on the Sleepdreams Professional Sleep Consultant pinterest account: Busy Boxes for when you are putting your youngest to sleep

Daytime Awake Periods – How Long is Too Long?

Daytime Awake Periods for Infants and Toddlers

It’s an incredible thing when you think about it... A newborn baby is only able to take in about 45 minutes of the world at a time, and only a short 12 months later, they have developed enough to manage to stay awake and process all that is going on around them for about 3 hours at a time. So much is happening in those first months!

cranky baby

All babies have an age appropriate awake time during the day. This is the time that they are able to cope with the world around them, interact socially, and learn through play and observation.  There comes a point, though, where they need to reset, rest, and have a break from the world around them. As a baby reaches the end of their awake time, they will become drowsy and signal that they are ready for sleep. 

Babies have different tired cues at different ages:

-Very young babies may start to look away and no longer engage in eye contact, start to suck on fists, or to arch their body away.  They may also show some physiological/autonomic signs like sneezing, yawning, and hiccupping.

-Toddlers may show increased clinginess, irritability, refusal to cooperate, biting, or pushing.

At any age, it’s apparent that the child’s ability to cope with the demands of the world around them is decreased and they need a break.  Getting your child to sleep before they cross into their over tired zone is important and will help them to get off to sleep easily.

overtired baby

Table of ages and awake times to help guide you in putting your child down for naps before they become overtired and have difficulty settling

Age

Amount of time awake between waking and next sleep

0-6 weeks

45 minutes

6-16 weeks

45 – 80 minutes

4-7 months

90 – 150 minutes

7-12 months

2 – 3 hours

1-2 years

3.25 – 4.5 hours

2-3 years

4.5 – 5 hours

3-5 years

5 – 7 hours

Introducing a Lovey into your Baby's Sleep Routine

We all have sleep associations, those parts of our routine in the evening that signal our body that it’s time for sleep.  Whether a bath, a hot drink, or tucking your duvet around you in just the right way, there is typically some sort of ritual that you use to prime you for sleep.

What about our children?  For babies, sleep associations are specific sensory experiences that they use to fall asleep and stay asleep.  There are two types, those that help prime us for sleep and calm us before sleep such as a warm bath, and those that actually help us fall asleep, like a sleep position.  The calming associations for your baby are what you do in their bedtime routine.  The association that actually gets your baby to fall asleep is a sleep soother.

Introducing a Lovey

A Lovey is a sleep soother. As babies reach the 4 month mark, it’s a good thing for them to have sleep soothers they can use independently so they can fall asleep and re-settle to sleep without your help. 

A Lovey is a small stuffed toy that your little one can use for comfort when falling asleep, and for resettling to sleep at night.   Your baby’s  Lovey is the best sleep soother they can have, and one that most little ones take to quite easily. 

Younger babies (newborn to about 3 months of age) don’t need Loveys as you’ll be the one soothing them when they need to get to or return to sleep.  You can start to introduce your baby to a Lovey at 4 months of age, but do not put it in the crib with them until they are consistently rolling both ways.  Also, try to keep your Lovey baby-safe and smaller than your child’s head.

If your child is heading into the 12-18 month range, it’s not too late to introduce a Lovey.  In fact, at this stage it will be quite useful, and they will take to it well.

How to select and introduce a Lovey:

  • Choose a Lovey that is small enough to take with you in your diaper bag and that is not a risk for suffocation.
  • Keep your eye on a replacement, or buy two and stash one safely away.
  • Have mom sleep with the Lovey tucked in her pyjama top for a couple of nights before introducing it to baby.
  • Introduce it by giving it to your child every time they fuss whether it be from pain, irritation, or tiredness.
  • Give your child a hug, comfort them, and tuck the Lovey into their body, offering a cuddle with the Lovey cuddled in between you and your child