Can Developmental Milestones in the First Year Interrupt Sleep?

Written by Super User. Posted in Blog

Can developmental milestones in the first year interrupt sleep?

Yes! Let’s take a look at what’s happening with your child’s development and a perspective on how to manage when their progressions in one area seem like set-backs in other areas.

We often hear parents ask about sleep regressions related to different developmental periods. While it can definitely feel like a regression, it’s really just an interruption as your child moves into a new stage and all their developmental paths settle out.

Here are some developmental progressions your child will make in the first year, some common ways in which these progressions affect sleep and what you can do if your family is in this stage.

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1. Motor milestones – When your baby reaches the point of mobilizing on their own, they will be endlessly fascinated with their new skill and often want to practice it while they are in bed or if they wake in the night. Sometimes they are in the middle of their skill development and get “stuck” literally in a position and it’s frustrating for them. Examples include rolling front to back, back to front, crawling and standing. These are the skills we hear a lot about from parents. What you can do is help you baby along to practice these skills and get lots of exposure to them during the day. For example, if your baby is rolling back to front and then gets stuck, work with him to roll front to back so he can become independent in this skill and sort out his own position at night. Babies that are developing motor skills also need more movement during their day than they did when they were newborns. Give younger babies lots of floor time to practice their skills and older babies lots of opportunity to move, crawl, climb, explore. The balance of getting good sleep is getting a good quantity and quality of movement time during the day.

2. Cognitive milestones – Around 4 months of age, babies ‘wake up’ to the world and are very interested in what’s around them. They are keen to explore and know what is going on around them. This is a fun age but can lead to over stimulation for sensitive babies. Watch your child’s reactions to stimulation at this point and take care to not over stimulate them, especially close to a sleep time. This can make it difficult for them to settle to sleep and stay asleep. Around 6-9 months of age, your child will develop object permanence. This means they will understand that you still exist though they cannot see you. Babies that are in their crib room awake may be upset because they cannot see you. Give your baby lots of reassurance during the day by playing games like peek-a-boo and leaving them to play independently in a safe space for a few minutes at a time, returning cheerfully.

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3. Teeth! Teething can be a huge issue for some kids and a non-issue for others. It is typically the phase in which the gums are swollen before a tooth erupts that are the most difficult. Comfort your baby during these times using pain management (discuss with your doctor/pharmacist) and lots of love and support. A baby in lots of discomfort needs you to help them be comfortable and get sleep. This is not a teachable time for babies. It too will pass with the eruption of the tooth and then you can get back on track with sleep.

Could What I’m Feeding my Toddler be Keeping them Awake?

Written by Kristen Yarker. Posted in Blog

Could What I’m Feeding my Toddler be Keeping them Awake?

There’s a lot of old wives tales and urban myths about foods and food ingredients either helping or hindering sleep. However, there isn’t strong evidence connecting specific foods and sleep –either preventing sleep or causing kids to fall asleep (and stay asleep).

Here’s a roundup of the most common foods that we hear are connected with sleep.

A Glass of Warm Milk

A glass of warm milk is a classic trick to help kids fall asleep. However, it’s unlikely that it’s the milk itself that makes kids sleepy. What’s more likely is that it’s the routine that gets kids ready for sleep. Kids thrive with routines. It signals to them what’s about to happen next in their world and it tells them what’s expected from them. This includes bedtime routine.

If you choose to have a bedtime snack, have a bedtime snack every day. Serve your child’s bedtime snack in the same place every day (I recommend sitting at the table). Join your child while he/she’s eating and have a conversation. Don’t talk (negotiate) about having two more bites. Instead enjoy the opportunity to connect, perhaps telling stories, talking about your day, etc. Then brush teeth and continue with the rest of the bedtime routine.

Sitting to eat together is an opportunity to connect with each other and wind down from the day. It’s a fantastic way to get kids prepared for falling asleep.


Interestingly, when it’s tested in scientific studies, sugar doesn’t cause kids to be more active. Yet, countless parents can tell you that sugar makes their kids “hyper”. If your little one is having difficulty falling asleep, try keeping sugary treats as occasional daytime foods (as opposed to evening foods) and see if it has an effect on your little ones’ sleep.

Artificial Colours

There is mixed evidence in scientific studies about the effect of artificial colours and the preservative sodium benzoate on kids’ behaviour. Some studies have found that there is no effect on kids’ behavior. Other studies have found that some kids don’t react to these foods but some kids do react. The way to find out if your child is a member of the group of kids who may react, is to eliminate all foods with these additives from your child’s diet for a period of time and see if there’s a change in her/his behavior. Label reading for these foods can be challenging. So, if you’re thinking of testing your child’s reaction to an elimination diet, I recommend working with a dietitian to make sure that you’re catching all food sources and still making sure that your child’s getting all the nutrition that she/he needs.

Food Negotiations

Waking up hungry in the middle of the night can be a side-effect of battling at mealtimes with toddlers who are picky eaters. No-one loves a negotiation like a toddler! Unfortunately, they can enjoy winning the battle so much that they ignore their feelings of hunger resulting in waking up in the middle of the night because they’re hungry.

While it feels awful to hear a child tell you that they’re hungry, resist feeding them a snack in the middle of the night. Feeding snacks in the night rewards kids for not eating at mealtimes. Also, it role models eating snacks in the middle of the night (which we don’t want to encourage). Instead, focus on removing the battles at daytime meals and snacks. How to remove the battles? Well, that’s what I share with parents at my blog. Come check it out!

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD is known as The Dietitian who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food-Confident Kids. Answering the question: “How do I get my child to try new foods?”

Time Change and Sleep

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Blog

Here are some things to help your baby or child to sleep better with the time change this Nov 4th, 2012 as clocks are turned backwards one hour:

  1. 1.Start moving your baby’s sleep schedule by say, 10 to 15 minutes backwards. So if you are normally putting your infant to bed at 7:30 pm, on Nov 4th that would be a shift to 6:30 pm. Start moving it back in 10 minute increments 6 days before the 4th of November. Older children can move back in 15 minute increments 4 days earlier (good luck with Halloween!)
  2. 2.Keep a regular schedule e.g. napping times, eating times, and getting to bed time (accounting for the adjustment period).
  3. 3.Use the natural light to wake up – open the blinds when it’s wake up time.
  4. 4.Get out into the natural light early in the day, this helps set the circadian rhythm.

Upcoming Seminars with Jennifer Garden

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Blog

SleepdreamsTM Inc. offers sleep seminar courses on sleep for infants and children by Jennifer Garden. Jennifer is the founder of Sleepdreams, is part of the sleep research team at Children's SunnyHill UBC. She is university faculty and practicing Occupational Therapist registered in BC & Alberta. Get the right information on sleep help for your baby or child by a true professional with trusted qualifications. Jennifer presents at international conferences to health care professionals including paediatricians, physicians, therapists, nurses, respiratory therapist, researchers and other health care professionals. Jennifer is interviewed as a trusted expert on sleep across Canada as interviewed by the CBC, Global News, CityTV, and newspapers from coast to coast. Jennifer's clinical practice in paediatric sleep, experience as a mother of twins and abilities as university instructor provide for an informative, interactive and personal sleep seminar.


Summer is upon us and we are focusing on our extremely popular Facebook parties. The cost is absolutely free.


If you would like us to help co-ordinate a seminar in summer 2016, please let us know.



Go to our Seminars Page for more info!

Many Healthcare Plans Cover our Fees

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Blog

As Registered Occupational Therapists specializing in sleep for infants and children, many extended health care plans recognize and cover the cost of our services. Sleep is an activity of daily living and falls within the scope of practice of Registered OT's. Ask your extended health care provider if they cover Occupational Therapy services. If your health care coverage includes an expense account then OT services should be covered within that umbrella of registered health care providers. Our OT's are registered health care providers and specialists in sleep.

Private Practice Fee Survey

Alberta College of Occupational Therapists

College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists