Sleep and Nutrition

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Healthy Kids

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”. A picky eater can quickly turn a happy mealtime into a power struggle, and often the parent loses. So before you add short-order cook to your parenting resume, try these tips:


  • Eat with your child. Try to eat with your children as much as possible so that they can watch your modelling of how to interact with different foods. By the time a 6 month old is ready to have solid foods, they have probably watched their mother eat at least 600 times.
  • Let your child be messy. Especially for infants. A great rule for those new to eating (6 months and beyond) is that once you give them food, you do not take it back. This involves cleaning faces and hands during meal times or scraping a face with a spoon in order to retrieve food that has spilled out of the mouth. For the little ones that are very sensitive, this can be quite alarming and may cause them to be quite defensive orally. There really is no mess that a bath cannot fix.
  • Offer a choice between two items. This can be as simple as asking if a child wants pasta with sauce on top or on the side for dipping. Or let a child choose between two possibilities for lunch. But keep it within your limits as a parent.
  • Involve children as much as possible in the kitchen. Baking is a great time to include children in the kitchen, as long as you grade activities to their abilities. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, let them pour ingredients into the bowl after you have measured them out. Take turns stirring the dough. Let your children help set the table. If you are worried about plates being broken, make that your job and get your children to place utensils, napkins and cups for everyone.
  • Allow dips. There is something to be said about the power of a dip. Vegetables are eaten. Eggs are devoured. You can be creative with dips. Like above, penne noodles can be dipped in sauce. Turkey can be dipped in gravy. Fruit can be dipped in yogurt. You can also give another ‘choice’ by asking if they want sauces put ‘on the side’.
  • Make food fun. Sometimes food just has to be fun. And it should be. Meal times are a time when family units can come together and discuss their days. So show your children that meal times can be fun. Have “Green Food Friday”, when all the food at the table is as green as possible. Or have breakfast food for dinner.
  • Present food in new and different ways. Take cheese. Cheese is a food that can be cubed, grated, melted, presented in sticks, sliced or even cut into a fun shape with a cookie cutter. Sandwiches can be cut into fun shapes as well using a cookie cutter. Let your child pick which cookie cutter to use, and help them to cut it if they have not yet developed that skill.


Remember that some children need a food presented to them at least ten times before they will feel comfortable enough to eat it. If your child is extremely picky, remember that force-feeding will never solve the problem, but will only make it worse. If you have concerns regarding your child’s eating habits, talk to your family doctor about your concerns. You may need the help of an occupational therapist to help you make mealtimes a positive experience in your house. 

Attached and Healthy

Written by Jennifer Garden. Posted in Healthy Kids

Your approach to your child's sleep can be dependent on your parenting style. Even if children are sleeping they still need to feel áttached'to you. A baby under the age of 6 months should always be attended to. Good sleep hygiene can begin prior to 6 months but only insofar as establishing good bedtime routines and avoiding negative sleep associations. Contact one of our sleep help experts to find out more and discuss appropriate sleep help to suit your child and your parenting style.

If your child is older and going through separation anxiety, it will be important for you to talk to them during the day. Tell them that you look at them, watch them and check on them when they are asleep. You can tell them “Mommy saw you sleeping last night and you looked so peaceful.” or “You smiled in your sleep last night.”

Young children don’t yet have a good grasp on verbal language skills until usually around 18 months. For these kids you will need to be present for them and help them to calm down when it's time for bed. You will also need to set firm boundaries around sleep as your actions “speak louder than words”, or rather, your actions are the words at this stage. Be consistent. Consistency helps as your child is trying to understand what you are asking of them. If you keep changing the routine, your child will have a tougher time figuring out what’s expected.

Sleep Tips Circadian Rhythm

Written by Jennifer Garden. Posted in Sleep Tips

According to research, external cues such as light from outside are a major contributor to circadian rhythm sleep disturbances. Use blackout blinds to eliminate light coming into your baby or child’s room during naptime or night-time sleep. This helps program your child’s circadian rhythm to provide him or her with the sleep needed.

How Long Should your Child Sleep?

Written by Jennifer Garden. Posted in Sleep Tips

SleepdreamsTM professional sleep consultants are a research based practice. We provide sleep help based on current sleep data compiled by experts in the field of sleep research.

Results from study completed by Iglowstein et al (2003) reporting total  quiet time in crib/bed up to 16 years of age. Data only provided to 5 years of age in this chart. Data are separated into total sleep, daytime sleep and night time sleep at different ages. Numbers in + are reported as one standard deviation (e.g. representing 68% of population). Please note, at 1 month of age, data are variable.

Sensory Strategies for Sleeping

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Sleep Tips

As occupational therapist, we are specialized in sensory processing and we use this expert knowledge as sleep consultants. We view sleep through this lens to better understand how your child self-regulates from a state of ‘awake’ to a state of calm and then to sleep. Here is a little information about the senses and sleep for your baby or child.

Our sensory system allows us to process and understand the environment around us. Sensory processing is described as the organization of sensation in the brain for use related to every day life activities, such as sleeping, playing and eating. Sensory processing continues during sleep. Here are some sensory strategies to consider in order for your infant, toddler or child get a better night’s sleep. 

Our senses include smell (olfactory), taste (gustatory), vision (visual) and proprioception (information from your muscles, tendons and joints) touch (tactile), hearing (auditory) and vestibular (balance).  Here are some tips you can use for some of them: 

Vision: Try to make your child’s room as dark as possible. Consider using blackout curtains, especially during the summer months. No night-lights are needed for children less than 1 year of age. When decorating your child’s room, try to keep the visual stimulations to a minimum and choose calming colours. 

Proprioceptive: Try a quick 5 minutes massage prior to bedtime. If a bath is a part of the bedtime routine, give lots of big hugs and gentle squeezes with the towel to provide more deep pressure, which tends to be quite calming. Some infants and children might prefer tighter fitting clothing for pyjamas or a sleep sack to provide more deep pressure input.

Hearing (auditory): Use the same story or song as a part of your bedtime routine every time you put your child to bed. They will find comfort in the same ritual and will begin to associate that auditory input (i.e. song or story) with sleeping. A white noise or sound machine used at 50 decibels (you can download an app to measure decibel levels on your smartphone) will help drown out any sudden noises that might alert and wake your baby or child. Recent studies suggest locating the sound machine as far as possible from your child and setting the volume to its lowest setting. Never place a sound machine in the crib or crib rail and operate it only for a short duration of time.