Tips For The Early Riser

Who wants to start their day at 5am? Not me! If your baby or toddler is consistently waking up way too early in the morning, you’re not alone! This is one of the most common reasons parents call me for help. If you’re living with an early riser, I have three questions for you. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these, it’s time to make some changes in order to get some extra zzz’s in the morning hours.

First of all, is your child’s room letting in sunlight? During the summer months, especially, this should be the first thing to check. Is there a spot where the blackout blinds are letting in bright cracks of morning sunshine? If so, fixing the curtains could instantly mean more sleep for your baby. Even a very small amount of natural sunlight can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep in the early morning hours. Since your baby can’t tell time yet, he will take his cues from the daylight. Seeing the sun during a transition between sleep cycles will signal his body that it’s time to wake up. The next time your baby wakes too early, have a look around the room to make sure there isn’t any sunlight peeking through.

Second, are you feeding your baby when he wakes this early? Depending on the age and health of your child, he may not need to eat right now. By approximately six months of age, your baby should capable of making it through the night without a feed. Of course, this is a very general guideline, so make sure you chat with your child’s doctor if you have any question about whether or not he should be eating during the night. If he is not truly hungry, but simply begins to expect this feed, it’s very likely he will have trouble going back to sleep without it. Offering a feed may seem like it’s buying you a few extra hours of sleep in the morning (assuming he goes back to sleep), but it may also reinforce this as his new wake time. It may cause him to wake fully and become more alert during a time when his body should still be asleep.

Third, is he having a very early morning nap? If your baby is waking early, chances are good that he’ll be ready for a nap almost as soon as he’s out of his crib in the morning. Of course, when this happens, it throws the schedule off for the entire day. It becomes a cycle of waking too early, napping too early then either needing an extra nap and fighting sleep at bed time, or being cranky and fussy all afternoon waiting for dinner, bath and bed. It becomes a cycle that you really don’t want to get stuck in.

Think of it this way: If you woke up at 4 am, went to have a snack in the kitchen, maybe read a book for 15 minutes then went back to bed until 7, you wouldn’t consider 4 am to be the time you got up for the day, you’d say you got up at 7. It’s the same with this early wake and early nap. The early nap simply becomes an extension of his night time sleep. This can build up quite a sleep debt for your child, making it even more likely that he’ll wake early again the next day.

Even though it will be tough for a few days, I encourage you to stick it out until his normal morning nap time before putting him down, even if he’s been awake since 4:30. Consistency is very important when it comes to sleep. If he’s been awake longer than usual for the morning because of an early wake, he’ll be fussy and tired, but after that first nap, things will be back on track. Take him outside for some fresh air if you can, or keep him occupied with a new toy or game if he’s having a hard time. The rest of the day should play out as normal. And, as long as you handle those early morning wake ups appropriately, his body will take over and he’ll start making up that lost sleep in the morning.

Another mistake that parents often make regarding early wake ups is to move the bed time. It’s never a good idea to keep your baby awake past his bed time. This can actually make the problem worse! When a child becomes overtired at bed time, he is actually more likely to wake during the night and too early the next morning.

As always, I’m here if you need help with this or any other aspect of your baby or toddler’s sleep. Give me a call at 250-552-5080 for a free 15 minute consultation.

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Dani Summer

Certified Sleep Sense Consultant

Cloud 9 Sleep Consulting

dani@cloud9sleep.net

250-552-5080

Certified Sleep Sense Consultant

Safe Sleep and SIDS Prevention

If you are a parent, chances are you’ve spent time worrying about SIDS.

I remember the first time my daughter slept through the night. I woke up feeling wonderfully rested and alert. Then I remembered my baby girl and I panicked. SIDS ran through my mind and I prayed she hadn’t stopped breathing during the night. I shot out of bed so fast that the cat went flying and I ran to my daughter’s bedroom. I threw open the door and ran to the side of her crib to find her sleeping peacefully. Right then and there, I made the decision to stop worrying. Of course, I still thought about it occasionally, but I didn’t fear it like I used to. I knew that we were following all of the Health Canada guidelines¹ and she was as safe as she could possibly be in her crib.

My advice to you, is to take every precaution possible, read the guidelines on safe infant sleep and let go of your fear. Enjoy your new baby and stop worrying about SIDS because you’ve done all you can do to prevent it.

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy infant (0-12 months of age) during sleep with no medical explanation. SIDS is a very rare occurrence (0.5 per 1,000 live births in Canada), so don’t let worry and fear take hold of you. Since the Back to Sleep Campaign started in 1994, the rate of SIDS has dropped drastically.

There are plenty of things you can do to lower your baby’s risk:

Start prenatal care as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant.

Have a healthy pregnancy – Take prenatal vitamins, eat a healthy diet and don’t smoke or drink alcohol.

Keep your baby away from cigarette smoke – If you, or anyone in your house smokes, change clothes and wash hands and face before holding the baby.

Put your baby to sleep on his back – This can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50%

Breastfeed your baby if you can – SIDS rates tend to be lower for breastfeed babies. If you smoke cigarettes, do so immediately after a feed to allow your body time to eliminate the chemicals from your milk. It is better to breastfeed than formula feed, even if you smoke.

Provide a safe sleeping environment – No soft cushions or pillows, bumper pads, loose blankets or stuffed animals in the crib. Make sure the crib or bassinet mattress fits properly into the frame with no gaps where your baby could become trapped.

Never bed-share if you have taken medication that causes drowsiness (primary or side effect), or consumed alcohol or drugs.

Never co-sleep with your baby on the sofa, reclining chair, or anywhere else he could be dropped, suffocated, rolled on or become trapped.

Does bed-sharing increase the risk?

This is a controversial subject. Some experts say bed-sharing can reduce the risk of SIDS, while others claim it can be dangerous for your baby.

While this is a personal decision and one best made by you and your partner, my professional stance on this subject is that a baby is safest in his own crib or bassinet.

Room-sharing is a form of co-sleeping, and not to be confused with bed-sharing. Room-sharing is when the crib or bassinet is in the parent’s room and can even be directly beside the parent’s bed. The baby and the parents do not share a sleep surface. This is preferred by most parents in the beginning for ease of breastfeeding and peace of mind. Bed-sharing is when the baby is sharing a sleep surface with one or both parents. If you choose to share a bed with your baby, make sure you understand how to do it safely.

If you have any questions about safe sleep, please contact me at 250-552-5080 for a free 15-minute consultation.

¹ http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/sids/index-eng.php

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Dani Summer

Certified Sleep Sense Consultant

www.cloud9sleep.net

250-552-5080

dani@cloud9sleep.net

Why Won’t You Sleep, Baby?

When my daughter was a baby, I remember sitting in her room, holding her and wondering, “Why won’t you sleep?” Every night, it was the same. She would sleep for an hour or two, wake, then I would nurse and rock her back to sleep and put her down in the crib.

When she was 9 months old, I hit my breaking point. I was trying to put her to bed one night, so we did the usual routine. I bathed her, diapered her and dressed her in pajamas. We went to her room for a story and I nursed her until she fell asleep. I lowered her into her crib, and as I was trying to slide my hands out from under her, she woke up. Now we had to start the whole process over again. This had happened a few times before, and the second time almost always did the trick. Not this time. This song and dance went on for over two hours! By the time I was finished getting her to fall asleep, and into her crib without waking her, my dinner was cold, I had missed the show I had been wanting to watch all week and my husband had fallen asleep on the couch. And, to make matters worse, she only slept a total of 20 minutes before waking up, so I had to go back to her room and rock her to sleep once more.

We often make excuses when out babies aren’t sleeping well. She’s hungry, thirsty, teething, gassy, etc. But often, the truth is that the baby simply hasn’t learned how to sleep independently, which means he hasn’t learned how to stay asleep independently either.

No one actually ‘sleeps through the night’. Everyone, including adults, wake for brief periods between sleep cycles. Usually this period of awake time is so brief that we don’t even remember having been awake at all. The difference between adults and babies, is that adults know how to put themselves back to sleep because we don’t rely on an external prop to fall asleep at bed time. We have a strategy. The difference between a sleep association (prop) and a sleep strategy (internal process) is that we don’t need any help to recreate a strategy. Imagine falling asleep every night, for years with your partner rubbing your back. Now, what if he was called away on a business trip and you all of a sudden had to sleep alone? It would probably be very difficult to fall asleep without him there. The same goes for babies who are breast fed to sleep or require a pacifier or motion to drift off. When those middle of the night wake ups happen, what should be a brief arousal before sliding into another cycle of sleep, turns into a full wake up. The environment has changed and now the baby needs help to recreate what was going on when he fell asleep. If he’s never learned that he can, in fact, fall asleep on his own, he will assume that being held, nursed or sucking on a soother is the only way to fall asleep. Props work wonders in getting a baby to fall asleep initially, however, they are not conducive to sleep in the long run.

The good news? Babies are quick learners! Sleep is a skill and we CAN teach our babies to fall asleep independently and fall back to sleep independently during the night. If you’d like to learn how, give me a call at 250-552-5080 for a free 15 minute consultation.

 

Certified Sleep Sense Consultant

Sleep Training Myths – Busted!

Sleep is the topic of much debate on mommy Facebook pages and online forums. All too often, an obviously struggling, sleep deprived mother looking for help, will ask a question about her baby’s sleep habits and get bombarded with variations of the same comments like: “You need to learn to enjoy this time with your baby. One day you’ll really miss it.” Or, “It was your choice to have a baby, that means you have to be a parent 24/7, not just when it’s convenient for you!” And, of course, “It’s normal, you just have to let him grow out of it.”

My heart hurts for this mother who is likely already feeling guilty for wanting to sleep train her baby. Yes she knows that her need for consolidated sleep is paramount to her ability to be the best mom she can be. So with that in mind, I’d like to reply to these comments and bust some myths about sleep training.

Myth #1: Your baby won’t love you in the morning after sleep training begins.

It’s outrageous to think that after making a few changes to your baby’s sleep environment and habits that she will fall out of love with you.

All you do during the day is tend to your baby’s needs. You provide her with love, food, clean diapers and clothes, snuggles, kisses, walks to the park and so much more!

Of course, when things begin to change in her routine, she will be resistant. I don’t know anyone, child or adult, who likes an unexpected change in routine. Since you can’t explain these changes to your baby, she will be surprised! She is not likely to accept the changes without a protest. As long as you continue to give her the attention you normally would during the day, her love for you will not change. She will come out the other side happier and healthier!

Myth #2: Sleep training means using the ‘cry it out’ method.

You can! But you certainly don’t have to. The Sleep Sense Program is not a ‘cry it out’ sleep training plan. If you’re uncomfortable with the thought of leaving your baby alone to figure out sleep on his own, you’re not alone! Most parents hate the thought of listening to their baby struggle alone in the dark. Why not stay in the room with your baby while he learns to drift off to sleep independently? There are many options and plans available that do not require you to use the ‘cry it out’ method.

Some crying is to be expected, but it’s only his protest to the change in his routine and exactly how he falls asleep. If he’s used to being rocked or nursed to sleep in your arms, and all of a sudden he’s expected to fall asleep in his crib, he’s going to be frustrated. He isn’t mad at you, he isn’t in pain and he certainly hasn’t stopped loving you.

The good news, is that most children will begin to adjust to this new routine after only two or three nights. If the baby has never had a chance to doze off on his own until now, it will take time to learn a new strategy for falling asleep. Once he gets a chance to practice and become familiar with this new strategy, the protest crying will ease and he will begin to calmly fall asleep on his own.

Myth #3: Sleep training creates too much stress for a baby.

Numerous studies have found no negative, long term effects related to sleep training, yet many studies highlight the negative, long term effects of sleep deprivation. These long-term consequences of lack of sleep include poor school performance, and a higher risk of ADHD, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Now, you have two choices:

1. Make changes to ensure your child is getting enough quality sleep. This usually means that your child will be upset for a few nights while he adjusts to the changes you’ve implemented. There will most likely be a few nights of crying, but as the child practices his new skill of falling asleep independently, the crying will stop and he will be a well rested and happy child.

2. Wait it out. This means that things will continue as they are for many months or possibly years. Children usually outgrow the need for parental assistance at bed time and during the night, between the ages of three and five. Can you wait it out? And what is happening to your health – and your child’s health – in the mean time? After many months of broken sleep, things like functioning at work, being patient with our children and partners, and staying healthy and active, become a struggle. It’s much easier to be a parent when we have a solid eight hours of sleep under our belts every day. As for your child, learning, playing and being a kid should come easily. With the proper amount of consolidated sleep, you can be sure that he will stay focused, energetic, happy and healthy.

If you’ve been holding back on sleep training due to some of these myths, I really hope that you’re now ready to reconsider. If so, let’s talk! I am offering a complimentary 15-minute evaluation to all parents. Just give me a call at 250-552-5080, and together we can decide whether sleep coaching is right for your family.

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