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Tips to Help Kids Sleep on Hot Summer Nights

Written by Sandy Garden. Posted in Blog

Having your little ones fall asleep on a hot summer night can be hard. Here are some tips to help make it easier, as well as to keep their room cooler, so that they can get a good night’s sleep.

While in the summer we are often outside a lot, it is helpful for little ones to stick to a familiar routine, such as still having their naps during the day or at least a rest. This will also help them to have a break from the heat and the sunlight. Ensure healthy sleep habits are already in place, and if your little one is dependent on a caregiver for falling asleep, this might be more challenging when they are uncomfortable due to the warm weather.

 baby water play

Ensure little ones are taking in enough fluids during the day. Infants and toddlers are not always able to let you know when they are thirsty, so ensure you offer lots of opportunities to hydrate during the day. Water, breastmilk and water-dense foods (i.e. watermelon, oranges, cucumbers, etc.) should be provided frequently throughout the day. Preschoolers and children should also be reminded to drink as they may become too busy with their play to remember to drink water when they feel thirsty.  

 

Keep your child’s room out of the direct sunlight during the day by keeping curtains or blinds drawn, but with the windows open to allow for air circulation.

 

Use a fan or a portable air conditioning unit. Both will allow for white noise as well, and that will help to limit any noises that may awaken your infant or child up early from a nap. Ensure cords are positioned well away from the sleep space or crib. Ensure the fan or AC unit is not pointing directly at your little one, as that will make it hard for them to settle to sleep. For a do-it-yourself AC unit, you can position a shallow pan or bowl (a roasting pan works nicely) full of ice in front of a fan. The breeze will pick up cold water from the ice surface as it melts, creating a cooling mist.

 

Give little ones a cool bath before bed as this will help to cool down their body temperature. You can also try putting their stuffed animal (or bed sheets/coverings) in the freezer for a few minutes before bed to cool down the sleep space. For preschoolers and children, you can try filling a hot water bottle with cold water to create a bed-friendly ice pack. Also, rice and buckwheat can keep you cool on hot nights and for a cold compress on really hot nights, fill a sock with rice, tie it off, and stick it in the freezer for an hour or so. The compress will stay chilly for up to 30 minutes, definitely enough time for your preschooler or child to nod off comfortably.

 

Use a thermometer in the bedroom so that you are able to check the temperature of the room. Your little one will sleep most comfortably between 16-20 degrees Celsius; however, up to 23 degrees Celsius is still a comfortable temperature for sleep.

 

Reduce the amount of clothing your little one is wearing while sleeping. A diaper and a sleep sack (0.5 tog rating) are fine to use when it is a really hot night. Ensure they are dressed in breathable cotton pyjamas or a onesie, as well as ensure the fitted sheet in the crib is also cotton. For your toddler or preschooler, try to limit the number of stuffed animals in their sleep space as this will allow for more airflow close to your little one while they are sleeping.

 

Watch out for dehydration. As mentioned above, make sure your little ones are drinking plenty of fluids during the day, and they may even need some water during the night. If your little one is irritable at night, it might not just be because of the heat, it might also be related to dehydration.

Spring time change - Sleep Tips for Babies and Children

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Blog

help babies and toddlers adjust to the time change

The beginning of Daylight Savings time is coming up this weekend. How can you help your little one adjust to the time change?

Our circadian rhythm is governed by hormones. We can help our bodies change out of daylight savings time by changing the pattern of eating, getting to bed, waking, and the time we exercise.

It’s that time of year again where we’re about to lose an hour of sleep. Here are a few tips to make it easier on you and the kids:

1. Ensure you have a consistent sleep routine. That means getting to sleep and getting up at the same time each day.

2. Make sure you keep screens out of the bedroom. They serve to disrupt sleep rhythm. Keep screen time away from bedtime -  no tv or ipad time at least 2 hours prior to heading to bed.

3. Make sure the bedroom is dark. Sunlight helps tell our brain it is ‘awake’ time while darkness cues our brain it’s time to sleep. Given most children’s bedtimes are near 7pm, the sun will only just be setting at that time so their rooms will be bright. Use blackout blinds to help create a dark environment.

4. Gradually transition to the new time change. The easiest way to accomplish this is to move bedtime earlier by 10-15 minutes each night. If bedtime is 7:30, put children to bed by 7:15, then 7:00, then 6:45, and finally 6:30. When the time change occurs on March 12th , 6:30pm becomes 7:30pm and you’re back to your typical bedtime. Don’t forget that means you’re also waking them 15 minutes earlier each day too.

5. Exercise is a key component to good healthy sleep. Ensure you and your child are getting enough physical excercise throughout the day. See the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology's 24 Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.

6. If you’re curious about how much sleep your child needs, check out the new guidelines from The American Academy of Sleep Medicine

 

You can read CTV's 2014 

Spring forward: Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend with contributions from Sleepdreams' Jennifer Garden.

 

What is my Child’s Sensory Profile?

Written by Jennifer Garden. Posted in Blog

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.

Fall Time Change and Your Early Riser

Written by Jen Gellis. Posted in Blog

Tot walking in leaves

On the first Sunday in November, clocks go back an hour. Before you head to bed on Saturday November 4th, turn your
clocks back one hour. So on Sunday November 5th (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 5th, 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.

Daytime Awake Periods – How Long is Too Long?

Written by Sandy Garden. Posted in Blog

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