I think this question always lingers in the back of a mother’s mind when she is contemplating a new pregnancy. How do I bring a new baby home to my other child? It can feel scary and intimidating.
“Will I be able to love my newborn as much as my other baby?” “Will my toddler feel neglected while I’m so busy nursing or trying to calm the baby down?” “Will my toddler’s temperament or attitude change with this new baby coming home?”
All of these questions are NORMAL and so real. I don’t ever want you to feel guilt around wondering these things.
Now in regards to sleep – will things change when you bring your new baby home?
YES. Yes they will.
This is because a new baby is so fun and exciting and toddlers are the MASTERS of FOMO (Fear of missing out). They basically invented FOMO to try to coax us into letting them stay up past their bedtime 😉
Their sleep will also change in a sense that you can’t physically do all of the things anymore. If you’ve resorted to laying with them until they fall asleep – you won’t be able to do that anymore because you have another tiny human to look after.
Even children who have been sleep trained will sometimes have a mini “regression” period because things are different now and they aren’t the complete centre of attention.
So what can we do?
Remain CONSISTENT. I always tell my clients that I PREACH consistency and if there is one thing I want them to remember from our time working together, it is to remain consistent – no matter what.
Keep Your Bedtime Routine. Just because you have a newborn, doesn’t mean your toddler’s bedtime routine gets shoved to the back burner. If you’re feeling like it’s impossible, you can bathe them together, give your toddler their bedtime snack while you’re nursing the baby, etc. Toddlers LOVE to be involved and “in charge.”
Keep Them in the Crib. Chances are – you’ve thought about moving your toddler into their own “big bed” and out of their crib – because the new baby will need the crib, right? WRONG. It is rare that we put a brand new newborn into a crib for their first days/weeks at home. Newborns can sleep in the bassinet, in a pack n’ play, or heck – buy a used crib!! But DON’T move your toddler into a bigger bed just to convenience the new baby. I like to keep toddlers in their cribs until they’re 3 if they aren’t unsafely climbing out of it. Lower that sucker to the floor and keep them in it!
1 on 1 Time. This one is super important and often forgotten about – especially with the chaos of balancing 2 children now! Your toddler thrives on attention and quality time spent with you. Make a point to spend 15-30 minutes a day just the 2 of you. It will seriously help them wind down and ease into their bedtime routine at the end of the day. It also lets your toddler feel really secure in their relationship with you – especially with this new HUGE change.
Play & Outdoor Time. I have preached play and outdoor activity consistently on my social media posts, but not often enough on my blog. Time spent outdoors is SOOOO important for sleep. Where I live, the temperatures reach -40 celsius BUT we always make it a priority and bundle up and head outside. Physical activity is also imperative for a restful sleep. Making time for play and outdoor time will seriously help your toddler sleep well.
Room Sharing. If you are planning on sharing your toddler’s room with the new baby, I have a few suggestions first. DON’T move your toddler. Toddlers like stability – let them stay in their own room. I also wouldn’t combine rooms unless your baby has dropped all of their night feedings (around 6 months of age). This is because your new baby WILL require food in the night, where your toddler won’t. It isn’t fair to your toddler to have them wake up every time the baby is hungry, only because they’re sharing rooms. When you decide to sleep train your baby, I suggest sleep training them in your room first, and then transition them to the room they’ll be sharing with the toddler afterwards.
Seek Help. If your toddler is really not sleeping well – or they haven’t for a long time – GET HELP. I offer extensive 1 on 1 support packages where daily schedules and helpful routines are laid out for you to easily follow. I also provide TONS of follow-up support so you really feel confident in your good sleeper. No surprises for you, mama!
I want you to know one last thing – YOU ARE A GOOD MOTHER. Whether or not you follow this advice, you are AMAZING. Bringing a child into this world is scary, but so rewarding. Know that you’re doing the best job. No one is a better fit for your child than YOU!!
The truth about food and sleep is that THEY ARE SO CONNECTED.
They are both required for survival and the body requires both each day in varying amounts. We know that our children require lots of sleep, but we also know that they need meals as well – so let’s chat about timing.
Who knew that the timing of meals actually matters if we want our kids to sleep better?
Let’s take this on a scientific level. When we eat food, the digestion process starts as soon as that food enters our mouths. Once the food reaches the stomach, it mixes with our stomach acid and starts to break down – eventually leading into the small intestine, then the large intestine…and you know what happens next. Complete digestion can take anywhere from 24-72 hours.
When we eat a large meal, we have something called the gastrocolic reflex. It is a normal reaction the body has to eating food in varying intensities. When food hits your stomach, your body releases certain hormones. These hormones tell your colon to contract to move food through your colon and out of your body. This makes room for more food.*
With that knowledge – WHY do we feel like we need to make sure our children are “full” right before a nap or bedtime? Is it a myth that a full stomach leads to a longer sleep?
YES – it is a myth!
Once the digestion process has started, the body warms up as it is working. AND in order for sleep to happen, our internal body temperature has to cool down.
So what does this mean for nap time?
This means that TIMING IS EVERYTHING.
I recommend that if your child’s nap time is around 12:30pm, that lunch starts by 11:30am and finishes by 12:00pm. This will ensure that if a bowel movement is made, it happens before the nap. It also gives your child’s body some time to “cool down” after eating, meaning they will have a better quality of sleep – instead of wasting time tossing and turning due to discomfort in their bellies. It can also lengthen the nap because it will be of better quality.
The same thing goes for dinner. Have dinner at your normal time and if needed, offer a healthy snack 30-45 minutes before bedtime, but no more eating right up until bedtime.
The same goes for you, mama. If you would like to improve the quality of your sleep at night, try cutting off eating 1-2 hours before you go to sleep, and only drinking water after then if needed. I bet you’ll notice a big difference!!
It’s only 12:36pm, but let me tell you. We have had A DAY.
Nathan is on nights for work, so he sleeps during the day while Drake and I try to play quietly. Drake loves to scream and laugh loud, so I figured we would head down to MacDonald Island to play in their indoor playground.
I have everything ready to go, except Drake will not come to me to get his boots or coat on. This is very typical for the stage he’s in. He just wants to be chased and not follow direction…I mean, he is only 1. Finally after some tears, we are ready to go. I load him up into the truck and we head downtown.
After playing for over an hour at the park, nap time is approaching and I start to pack up our things. As soon as Drake spies his boots and coat, the meltdown of the century commences.
I have heard of the “terrible twos” my whole life, but I thought that that really happened once they were actually 2…NOT BEFORE. What kind of unfair universe am I living in???
Kicking, crying, screaming, wanting up, flailing to be put down, you name it, he’s doing it.
I hate when these massive tantrums happen in public. You can’t help but feel like everyone is watching, and I hate the looks I get from other parents who are wondering why I’m not shushing my child. I usually just let him feel his feelings and ride the wave until he calms right down. He eventually starts laughing and rolling all over the floor, which is my cue to get him up and venture off to the vehicle.
Once we reach the truck, another tantrum starts. I’m feeling less patient because I had JUST dealt with a huge fit, so I buckle him in tight, completely ignore the screaming, and then climb into my seat.
The drive was the most peaceful part of my day so far.
We pull into the garage and the crying starts again. “Drake, we’re home! Let’s go get a snack and then get ready for nap” I say as I’m feeling very impatient. He looks at me and tries to kick off his boots while i’m unbuckling him.
In a moment of frustration I say, “WHY are you SO irritating?”
He doesn’t look at me, but instead looks toward the ground, his lower lip quivering and tears welling up in his eyes. He leans his head right onto my shoulder and silent tears fall onto his cheeks.
He is only 22 months, but I’m telling you – he did not listen to one single thing I said today except for that.
I pulled him in extra close as I apologized and told him I loved him. Tears now streaming down from my eyes feeling like the worst mother in the world, and all he does is hug me. He ran to the living room, found his bunny, and used his bunny’s ears to wipe my tears.
Mama, if you’re reading this and feeling like everyone else has it together, except for you – you’re wrong. We’re all struggling to be the best that we can be, but let me tell you 1 thing I’ve learned. Don’t ever get mad at your babies and then put them right to bed. Even though it was nap time for us, I kept him up a little longer, hugged him a little tighter, and made sure he knew I loved him before putting him down.
Why am I relating this experience back to sleep? Well – have you ever had anyone say “I’m so mad at you” or “we need to talk” and you get this intense knot in your stomach and even though you may have been tired, you can’t seem to settle down until either you talk it through or find a solution?
Our children react similarly. If they know we’re angry, sad, or disappointed with them, they won’t be able to sleep well either.
Children are SO forgiving, and even in my moment of frustration this afternoon, Drake ran to get his bunny to comfort me. Let’s all try to be a little more loving, a little more patient, and a little more understanding. They are just tiny, innocent humans.
One of my biggest rules for parents who are sleep training is to remain consistent. Whether it’s the bedtime routine, where baby sleeps, or what the consequences are for leaving their room in the night, consistency is absolutely essential to regular nights of quality sleep.
However, there’s this crazy little thing called life that tends to get involved and throw the occasional curve ball into your routine. Special occasions, family functions, and the occasional emergency can all call for an exception to me made and for your little one to stay up past their scheduled bedtime or miss a nap.
So when can you make exceptions? Well, I would say, “As rarely as possible, but as often as is absolutely necessary.”
The truth is, is you’re visiting family or friends, and you let your little one stay up late in order to extend their visit, they’re probably going to be a bit of a handful the next day. So ask yourself, is it worth it to have a grouchy baby on my hands tomorrow in exchange for a couple of hours of fun tonight?
Another important thing to consider is how well your baby adapts to a change in routine. Some kids are quite good at dealing with a slight change in the schedule, whereas others can get thrown for a loop for the next couple of days if they so much as go down late for a nap.
But I don’t want to sound like I’m condemning parents and kids to a lifetime of repetition. It’s important to have some new experiences and to enjoy life, so yes, exceptions should be made. Just make sure that you evaluate the costs and benefits and prepare as best as you can for the situation.
In addition, I would advise against making any changes too early into the program. If you just started sleep training a week ago, don’t pick this moment to go on a trip or stay overnight at someone else’s house. Once you’ve had a month or two of really solid, quality nights, then you can start playing around with the rules on occasion.
The other piece of advice I would offer when it comes to breaking the rules is, “Try to bend them instead.”
If you’re going to be at a friend’s place when baby’s supposed to be taking a nap, consider bringing along a Pack and Play or a stroller so that they have somewhere to lay down when it’s time for a snooze, or if you have a bit of a drive involved, try to plan so that baby can sleep in the car when they would normally be going down for a nap. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than skipping a nap altogether.
This may all sound a little authoritative, but overtiredness is an absolute monster when it comes to bedtime. Kids who are overtired will have a harder time falling asleep, which leads to a bad night, which leads to more overtiredness, and so on. It’s a cycle you really don’t want to get into.
So you’re ultimately the only one who can decide when it’s okay to break the rules. If you feel your little one can handle it, give it a try. If not, I suggest you play it safe. As they get older, you’ll find they’ll be more accepting of changes in the schedule, but developing them into champion sleepers in these early years will go a long way towards that goal.
I’m sure you can guess what my answer is to this question, since I am, after all, a sleep consultant. I tend to put a high priority on sleep and am, in my humble opinion, justifiably passionate about its benefits for babies and even adults.
But is my passion for sleep clouding my view on this matter, or is there evidence to support my position? Oh, I am SO glad you asked.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer that feeding our kids a healthy, balanced, varied diet is essential to their well-being. I might even go so far as to say that it’s the single most important factor when it comes to our children’s health.
But sleep is, if not equally as important, a very close contender.
Childhood obesity is a huge public health issue, and kids who are obese grow into obese adults, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the myriad health issues that come along with obesity. (But just in case you’re not familiar, they include diabetes, heart disease, all kinds of cancer, osteoarthritis, and joint inflammation, just to name a few.)
But what does sleep have to do with obesity?
A 2008 study by the National Institute of Health looked at the average number of daily hours of sleep that kids between 6 months and two years old were getting, and then compared those results with their occurrences of obesity. The children who got an average of less than 12 hours of sleep a day were over twice as likely to be obese than those who slept for 12 or more. A much larger study done in the UK showed similar results.
With all of the health issues, as well as the general quality of life concerns that come along with obesity, it seems to me that sleep should be a major concern for parents.
However, every day I hear people advising new parents with what I’m sure is meant to be reassuring rhetoric, but I must admit, given the evidence, I find it really upsetting.
“Babies sleep when they want to sleep. Don’t force it.”
“Not sleeping is totally normal for a baby.”
“Just follow your baby’s lead. They know how much sleep they need.”
Can you imagine this same kind of talk if it was concerning baby’s diet?
“Babies know what’s healthy to eat. Just follow their lead.”
“Eating chocolate is totally normal for babies.”
“Kids will eat when they’re ready. You shouldn’t schedule mealtimes.”
If you heard those words coming out of anybody’s mouth, you would immediately qualify them as a lunatic, and you certainly wouldn’t listen to their advice on your kids.
As parents, we all obviously want our kids to live healthy, active lives, and we want to give them every advantage to ensure they get a good start. Making sure they get enough sleep, and teaching them solid sleep skills, will go a long way to promoting their overall health down the road.
I hear this too often, “why would I hire a sleep consultant when I could just find this information in a book or google?”
Well, let me tell you.
Let’s back track a little…
Think back to being 8 months pregnant. At 8 months pregnant, I was SURE I would have a med-free delivery. I figured I would labour at home for hours and then show up to the hospital (midwives aren’t available where I live – I would have jumped all over that) with just enough time to get admitted and have my baby. Then of course I would quickly leave and go back home, because who wants to stay in the hospital for longer than anticipated? Not this chick.
When I hit the 30 week mark of my pregnancy, I started to severely swell. My ankles were permanent cankles, and my legs felt like tree trunks. It’s funny to me now, but shockingly scary back then. I got written off of work by my doctor, so I spent my remaining 10 weeks reading everything I could get my hands on about birth and breastfeeding (nothing about sleep because – I wasn’t going to have sleep problems……..LOL).
10 weeks had passed and I had learned how to perfect my labour positioning and how to get a perfect latch for every feed. I was basically an expert.
Finally, at 40+3, baby Drake arrives.
I’ll summarize my labour and delivery by saying: IT DOESN’T ALWAYS GO AS PLANNED.
I’ll also summarize breastfeeding by saying: HOLY OUUUUUUCH.
I will update you by saying: we did successfully make it to 1 year of breastfeeding, but it took a lactation consultant, a tongue tie correction, and a few visits to the breastfeeding clinic.
Fast forward to my sleep situation – as soon as I was having issues with Drake’s sleep, I reached out to a sleep professional. Just like I had reached out to a lactation specialist when I was having breastfeeding problems.
The point of this history is: People have these jobs for a REASON. They are the professionals!
At 4 weeks postpartum, I was not in the right mental or emotional state to pick up a massive baby sleep book, and start implementing my own strategies, crossing my fingers it would work.
Was hiring a sleep consultant a financial investment? Of course!
Was it worth it? YES YES YES.
So what will I do for you that is different than any book available? I will send you a questionnaire that details your child’s current nap and night time habits. I will ask about their temperament and eating habits. In older children we will discuss school routines, screen time allowance, and play. These questions help me get to know your child.
Then, a customized sleep plan is headed your way. I have many moms ask this before hiring me “what method do you use?” And truthfully – I can’t always answer that. That’s because I need to see the answers on your questionnaire to see how your baby reacts to your response – and your tolerance to change as well.
This isn’t a “cookie cutter” approach. Your plan will not necessarily work if your best friend were to implement it on her own child.
The follow-up support is HUGE. This is really where your money is. This is where you have the freedom to message or text me with any questions or concerns you have while you’re implementing the plan. With your plan, you really are set up for complete success. Although, if you’re feeling wishy washy about any portion – that’s what I’m there for.
I actually follow-up with YOU for the first full week, and then the second week as well if things are still a little iffy.
THEN – I don’t leave until your sleep goals have been met. Simple as that.
In summary – do you need to hire someone for every aspect of your life? No. My husband has fixed lots of things around our house that could have been fixed by someone else.
But if you have been struggling with sleep for SO. LONG. and you’ve tried everything and nothing is working – don’t you think reaching out to a sleep professional is worth it? How much is your sleep worth to you? Because mine is worth a whole lot more than $450.
So, is hiring a sleep consultant an investment? Yes.
Is hiring a sleep consultant absolutely worth it? YES.
Let’s talk about travel babyyyy, let’s talk about you and me – let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about TRAVEL!
Travel – the most scary T word when it comes to doing it with kids. I remember feeling so anxious before our first trip with Drake. Would I survive? I knew he’d be fine, but WOULD I BE FINE?
My sister was attending a school down in St. George, Utah while I had given birth to Drake. We had planned to do a long road trip down south to see her in July/August, but I felt compelled to see her with the baby sooner. (I mean, he was over 9lbs at birth – she needed to see Drake as small as possible lol). My mom and I booked a quick 6 day trip for June – Drake would have been 2 months old.
“Perfect!” I thought.
…..until the week before came and I started packing.
I packed my largest suitcase and it was busting at the zipper. 10,000 diapers, 20,000 wipes, 47 outfit changes, 10 bathing suits, a bassinet, sleep sack, noise machine, cream, shampoo, my change table (basically) – all for Drake. For me, a couple outfits and some underwear.
The trip ended up going very smooth. I felt anxious the whole time though – which I feel is a normality among new mothers.
Every noise he made in the night made me flinch – not because I wasn’t used to him, because I was trying to be conscious about him not disturbing my mom and sister (which I didn’t realize wasn’t actually a bother at all). I felt overwhelmed with the difference in routine and nap length not being predictable.
What I’ve learned is: JUST GO WITH IT. Travel. Skip the nap. Make the memories. Stay up late. Eat the food. But also – respect your baby.
What do I mean by respect your baby?
I mean – respect your child’s sleep needs. For newborns it is so easy to have them nap on the go. I’d brought Drake to over 10 movies in theatre by the time he was 2 months old. I would let him cuddle into my chest and I would sit so still with a blanket over him, trying to avoid the judgemental stares from others in the theatre (sorry). Clearly not a great idea because both arms were busy and I couldn’t eat my popcorn…but priorities.
For a baby who is over 3 months, they start having more “awake” time and they really start liking having a schedule. Schedules are nice because they’re predictable. If your child knows you have a bath every night, then once bath time rolls around, it acts as a cueing mechanism to signal their brain that sleep is near.
For a toddler – they ABSOLUTELY need structure. Can we skip a nap here a there? Of course. Does that mean early bedtime? Totally. If you are vacationing in Disney and you don’t want to leave midway through the day just to put your 2 year old down for a nap – you’ve got options. Either let them have a nap in the stroller, or keep them awake and move bedtime up by an hour.
That being said – we’ve done a lot of travel with Drake. We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I have a solid list of concrete items I ALWAYS bring with me now to make the days and nights breezy.
Sleep Related Travel Tips:
Play Pen – check with your hotel or wherever you’re staying and make sure they have either a crib or a playpen. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with clients who used to have great sleepers, but since they co-slept on vacation, they can’t get their child back into their crib at home. If your hotel doesn’t have one – bring your own.
Sound Machine – this is a MUST. Those hotel doors slam SO LOUD when trying to even shut them quietly. Also, who wants to be confined to a still, quiet room for 12 hours? Not me. Crank that sound machine and turn the TV on. Order room service. Enjoy your evening! The sound machine isn’t considered a sleep prop because it is portable and it doesn’t lull your baby into sleep. It IS a familiar sound, but its purpose is to eliminate any external environmental noises from waking up your child.
Routine – Don’t break your bedtime or nap time routine just because you’re on vacay. Bring the favourite book, bring the lovie, sing your regular song, do a sink bath if a regular bath isn’t available. DO your routine. This is SO essential.
Lovie – If your child has a comfort item in their crib that they sleep with, you must bring it. They associate this item with sleep and it will be much easier for them to transition to a new environment if their lovie is there with them. Another thing that is helpful to bring along is a familiar bed sheet. Babies love smell and familiarity.
Darkness – make that room dark. Bring garbage bags and duct tape if you must. Another super cool that is available now is either the Slumberpod (discount code: midnightmama)or the Snoozeshade (discount code: midnightmama10). Both items fit perfectly over a pack n play and provide a perfectly dark space for your child to sleep. Honestly, the Slumberpod has changed my life. (Read my real time review here). Another option is to tuck their playpen into a closet or even a windowless bathroom so that they get that optimal darkness. Darkness is the main factor in melatonin production. It is essential.
Travel Days – travel days are a total write off. I just want to let you know that even MY child sleeps on me when we’re flying. There’s no nap room hidden on the airplane for our sleep trained babies (I mean, I wish). I do suggest trying to schedule daytime flights, only because red eye flights are SO hard for your littles, but once you reach your destination, if it’s bedtime, do your routine and off to sleep like they would at home.
So, that’s it!
Most of all, I want you to remember to have fun. These items I’ve listed are definitely not necessary, but they would make your trip way easier. If you have fallen back into some old habits when you went on vacation and you’re wondering how to fix that – let’s set up a call and I can evaluate your situation and give advice as needed.
Author Satchin Panda wrote a book called: The Circadian Code, which outlines the biological necessity that sleep plays in our bodies. As adults, we should be getting at least 7 hours of consolidated sleep every night. Any less than 7 hours, and we are starting to rack up our sleep debt. Babies and children have higher sleep needs, therefore children under the age of 5 require a full 12 hours at night, and even some naps throughout the day too. School aged children should be getting 8-11 hours of sleep a night.
Is this happening in your home?
So we know sleep is important, but how do we do it? How do we just fall asleep and get those 7 hours?
Well – I wish it was a simple “how-to” answer.
When working with clients, I have them start by filling out a questionnaire. This helps me really evaluate the current sleep situation they are in, and if there are any tips/pointers I can give right away. Most commonly, I see the use of Melatonin in both children and adults. I have actually seen people give their children under 2 a dose of melatonin.
This feels scary and alarming to me.
Why are we supplementing a child with a hormone their body naturally produces?
Let’s dive right in to WHAT melatonin really is and what does it do for our bodies?
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland. This hormone helps regulate the sleep – wake cycle in our bodies. As a supplement, it can be used to treat jet lag or help shift workers adjust to their schedules. It should not be taken as a daily supplement to your routine. In Canada and the US, Melatonin can be purchased over the counter, but in Australia and Europe, you must be over the age of 54 and have a history of sleeping problems in order to purchase.
Human melatonin production decreases as we age, but having a complete melatonin deficiency is very rare.
Melatonin is not categorized as a drug, it is in the same category as vitamins and minerals. It does not require the same FDA approval as other medication. Synthetic melatonin can be produced in factories that are not regulated by the FDA. This means that although the dose on the bottle reads anywhere from 1-5mg of melatonin, each capsule could contain a varying amount of the intended dosage.
There has not be adequate research data proving the effectiveness of melatonin. When compared with a placebo, most studies show no benefit of melatonin. The National Sleep Foundation said: “Large studies are needed to demonstrate if melatonin is effective and safe for some forms of insomnia, particularly for long-term use. It may be true that melatonin is effective and safe for some types of insomnia and for children but not for other types of sleep problems. How much to take, when to take it and its effectiveness, if any, for particular disorders is only beginning to be understood.”
On the bottle of melatonin, it says “discontinue use after 4 weeks.”
So why are we using melatonin as a way to get to sleep?
Did you KNOW that the number 1 prescribed medication in America is SLEEPING PILLS?
Did you KNOW that exposure to sunlight can be WAY more effective in regulating our circadian rhythm than taking a melatonin supplement? Regular physical activity can also have huge impact on our ability to fall asleep at night as well.
How often are you looking at a screen? Are you watching TV while in bed? What about checking Facebook while under the covers? How about checking one last Instagram story or reading one last email before finally closing your eyes.
These are all MAJOR factors in balancing our sleep.
Instead of popping a melatonin and then watching a movie, how about you dedicate 1 hour to a bedtime routine that is “screen-free” and relaxing. I bet you’d find there are huge benefits to doing this simple act of self-care.
As for your children – do you think that melatonin should be a daily supplement and that the reason your child doesn’t sleep well is actually because they’re deficient in melatonin production? NO. There are SO many varying methods on how to get children to fall asleep and stay asleep that require no supplements or medication.
Teaching your child healthy sleep habits isn’t selfish – it is a gift that keeps on giving. A baby who sleeps well will become a toddler who sleeps well….a child…then a teenager….and finally an adult who sleeps well.
It isn’t too late to teach you or your child these healthy habits. I provide a completely holistic approach to sleep. One that relies heavily on routine and consistency.
Reach out & I can absolutely get you on track to be a great, healthy sleeper.
One of the most common questions I get asked as a Paediatric sleep consultant is, “When should we move him into a big kid bed?”
Uhmmmm…..NEVER lol. Here’s a few reasons why I want to prolong this transition and keep that babe in a crib as long as possible.
Number 1 reason is – there are so many other priorities when it comes to your baby’s sleep. Establishing a bedtime routine, teaching independent sleep skills, getting your baby accustomed to a schedule, etc. These are all things that should take place before you worry about moving them out of the crib. Sometimes parents think that by moving their child into a “big kid bed” this instills some maturity and they’ll automatically start sleeping better. Let me tell you, this is not the case.
Believe me, it’s going to be a
lot easier to make the transition once you’ve got a good, skilled sleeper on
The other reason I tell parents
to wait as long as they can is because, unless you’ve got a new baby on the way
and need to make some space in that crib, there’s just no reason to push it.
Toddlers will inevitably notice
that they sleep in a different bed than their parents, or their older siblings,
and will ask why.
Once they’ve shown some
interest, and feel like they want to make the switch, I’m all for it. But don’t
look at it as some kind of developmental stage that your child should reach at
a predetermined age.
They’ll get there when they get
there, and there’s no harm if it’s later rather than sooner.
I should actually throw in a
little disclaimer here. If your little one has started the “escape artist”
routine, and is climbing out of their crib in a dangerous way, there’s
potentially some harm if they fall on their way out.
However, if they’ve got the
skills to get out of the crib safely, (and some kids I know are exceptional at climbing out of their
cribs) then, again, I once again recommend sticking with the crib.
One of the biggest reasons I
see for parents moving their kids to a big kid bed, is because they’re hoping
it will solve some existing sleep issues. Maybe baby’s gotten into a habit of
wanting to climb into bed with Mom and Dad, or they’re suddenly waking up and
demanding a glass of milk in the middle of the night.
So maybe a big kid bed would
help them feel more grown up. Maybe it would give them a feeling of security
It will not. Full stop.
In all my time as a consultant, and with all of the other consultants I network with, to my knowledge, none of us have ever seen bad sleep behaviour solved by moving baby to a new bed.
I would recommend waiting until your child is close to 3 before making that transition into a bigger bed. But again, this is just a guideline. You can ultimately make whatever choice is best for your family.
So, now that I’ve told you to
wait as long as possible, how about those of you who have done that already,
and are now making the switch?
The first thing you might
notice is how quickly and easily your little one makes the transition. Your
little one climbs into the new bed, loves the cool print on the new sheets, and
sleeps happily straight through the night.
So maybe you’re in the clear….or maybe you’re not.
There’s typically a honeymoon
period with the big kid bed. Kids initially think they’re great, but then,
after a couple of weeks, they start to wake up and leave their room in the
middle of the night, asking to get into bed with mom and dad.
You may be tempted to comply with this request, but I strongly suggest you put an early and absolute boundary on bed sharing at this point. If your child starts leaving their room in the night, walk them back, tell them it’s not allowed, and let them know what the consequence will be if they do it again.
Again, regardless of how sweet the request is, or how easy it might be to just flip back your comforter and let your little one climb aboard, don’t give in. You really need to make it clear that it’s not allowed, or you’ll be dealing with nighttime roaming for months.
If you’re thinking this transition feels all too scary and your child sleep wonderfully in a crib – keep them there.
I’ve never seen a 13 year old still in a crib, so they’ll easily transition one day 😉
Have questions? Comment below and I’ll be sure to answer them!
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I just want to start off by saying…whatever happened with routines and bedtime this summer, I hope you at least had a great time 😉
During our too-short summer months, we have a way of letting our routines become flexible and for bedtime to become later and later. “But mom, it’s not even dark outside!” – every child ever Our daylight hours have a LOT to do with our body’s natural production of melatonin. Here in Northern Alberta, we have daylight from 5am-11:30pm all summer long. 6.5 hours is not enough rest for our little kiddies, and especially not enough rest for us. Believe me, I GET IT. I want to be out enjoying the warmth and sunshine just as much as you. And I did. And now I have some sleep stuff to fix within my own household lol.
So as the summer comes to an end (sadly) and you look back on the fun & sunny memories made, the barbecues, the camping, all of that ice cream – so much ice cream….it also means that with this sunny finale, you need to get your children back into some sort of routine so that the night before their first day back to school isn’t a nightmare.
So what should you do? How do you get back on track?
You don’t. You’re hooped. Kidding <3
Don’t wait until the night before school starts to try to implement your old routine. the excitement of the new year and the anticipation of seeing their friends will make things too difficult to have everyone in bed and sleeping by 8pm. SO START NOW with early bedtime.
Give yourself 2 weeks to slowly move bedtime back to the usual time. If your kids have been going to bed around 9:30pm every night this summer, then start by moving bedtime up by 15-20 minutes for 3 days, etc. This way, by the time school starts, your child’s internal body clock will be adjusted to the school time.
Bedtime should be anywhere between 7-8pm. This is true for pre-school, school aged, and adolescents. If YOU need to be your child’s alarm clock in the morning, then that means they are going to bed too late. If your child is going to bed early enough, there will eventually be no need for an alarm clock as their internal body clock will be set to wake. Putting your child to bed at the same time every night helps teach their bodies the appropriate amount of sleep needed during those night-time hours, so they can wake feeling refreshed and energized.
Let them help! Let’s get those kids involved. You could even make a bedtime routine chart that includes the steps to their routine, so they feel in charge of it. Some good routine activities can include (but are not limited to): a bath, getting pjs on, reading a story, singing a favourite song, a light snack (nothing sugary or caffeinated), 3 good things about their day, a warm glass of milk, etc. The reason routines are SO IMPORTANT is because they act as a cueing mechanism for your child’s body and brain. It lets them know that sleep is near. Once you do decide on an appropriate routine, it should be in the same order every night, as to not confused your child. A good routine length is between 30-45 minutes. Setting a timer can be helpful to ensure you don’t get distracted.
NO screen time within an hour of sleep. Playing video games, or watching Youtube on the iPad/TV right before bed has been linked to an increase in the amount of time it takes a child to wind down and fall asleep. These activities should be stopped at least an hour before bed, ideally 2 hours.
Make sure their room is dark enough. The level of darkness really plays a role in the amount of melatonin produced. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being so dark you can’t see your hand in front of you), your child’s room should be anywhere from an 8-10. The darkness will help with the transition back to school, with both the morning and the night. The early rising sun plays a huge role in waking us up too early, so the use of blackout blinds are very helpful.
If you would like some printable bedtime routine charts or other “kid friendly” facts about sleep, check out www.sleepforkids.org
If you have any other questions about getting back into routine, or have any sleep-related concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.