Toddlers are fascinating creatures, aren’t they? Watching them develop into thinking, creative little people is such a fascinating time, and one that parents often wish would last a little longer.

Of course, they usually wish that after baby’s grown out of the toddler stage, because along with that creativity and new-found intelligence, we usually see a lot of boundary-testing, which can be a frustrating experience.

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One of the central rules of sleep training is that you should allow your little one to develop their abilities to fall asleep on their own. So it can cause a real “Should I or shouldn’t I” moment when you look at the baby monitor and see that your child has pushed themselves into an uncomfortable looking ball against the side of their cot.

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If there’s anything that can send your child’s sleep off the rails, if there’s an arch-enemy for sleep training, it is, without a doubt, the dreaded condition of overtiredness.

Kids, as with all people, have a natural rhythm when it comes to sleep. Our bodies secrete hormones to keep us up and running during the day, and different ones to help us rest at night. They’re dependant on a variety of factors, but timing is the most prevalent.

So what happens when your little one stays awake past the time when these natural cues to sleep are activated? Well, the body assumes there’s a reason that it hasn’t been allowed to get to sleep, assumes there’s a need to stay awake, and fires up those daytime hormones again.

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One of the most aggravating situations I see parents running into when they’re sleep training is the sudden onset of a minor illness when they’re finally seeing some progress.

After months of sleep issues, they finally decide to take the initiative and get serious about getting their baby onto a schedule, baby starts getting the hang of it, the whole family is starting to see longer periods of consolidated sleep, and everyone’s getting ready to break out the champagne…

And then BAM! Baby gets a cold, or an ear infection, or a bout of diarrhoea, or one of the other seven thousand illnesses that babies are prone to, and the whole thing goes off the rails.

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It’s taken you a few weeks to get your baby into a good schedule and sleeping well. Now that you’ve put in the time, effort, and energy to make this big change in your family’s life, that trip you have planned for next month is starting to stress you out! If you’re like most parents, your biggest fear is that a trip is going to derail all the progress you and your baby have made and cause you to start this process all over again. Sometimes the mere thought of it frightens parents so much that they cancel all summer trips and just vow to stay home until the child leaves for college. That is how important your baby’s new sleeping regime has become to everyone.

The good news is that you do not have to cancel all travel plans this summer and confine yourself to the house for the rest of your child’s life. It is possible to have children who travel really well, if you keep a few things in mind:

Don’t over-schedule

The biggest mistake parents make is that they over-schedule themselves. They try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might normally have had back in their “child-free” days, forgetting an important fact: They have a child now.

A nap in the car isn’t the end of the world

An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime probably isn’t going to do too much harm, but if your baby spends a couple of days taking car seat naps here and there and having late bedtimes, she may become so overtired that by the time bedtime rolls around on day two, she has a complete meltdown and seems to “forget” all her sleep skills and just cries the house down.

You may start to give into this pressure and bend your expectations for your baby’s sleep. It’s easy to see how you could revert back to your own familiar ways in no time if you gave into this pressure and fear.

Keep to your routine as much as possible

It’s very normal for babies and toddlers to test the boundaries around sleep when they are somewhere new. Just because the rule is the rule at home, that does not necessarily mean the rule is the same at Grandma’s house. This may mean that your baby cries for some time at bedtime or has a night waking or two. The best way to handle it is to not do too much different than you would if the regression happened at home. You can go in every five minutes or so to offer a bit of reassurance, but other than that, don’t bend your rules. If you hang on tight to your consistency, within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again.

Familiar items are always handy

Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket!

Bed sharing is probably the worst idea

Another big mistake parents make is to bed share with their baby or toddler while traveling. Bed sharing is a big no-no! Even it’s it is only for a few nights, if your baby decides this is her new preferred location, you could find yourself starting all over again when you get home. Most hotels have a cot you can use or rent or take your pack and play along and use that as a cot.

Try and put your baby in another room if possible

If your child is eight months or older, my advice is to try to make some sort of a private space for your baby to sleep. This could be the bathroom (if it’s big enough) or the closet. Anywhere that you can build some sort of a partition between you and your baby, so that if she has a wake up in the middle of the night she is not so excited to see her two favourite people that she ends up wide awake thinking it’s play time! Of course, getting an extra bedroom for your child is great if that’s an option for you.

When Should I Stop Swaddling My Baby?This week’s question comes from Victoria:

“At what age should I stop swaddling my baby? It is the only way she will fall asleep and stay asleep.”

That is a great question Victoria and it can be a tricky one because I recommend that people swaddle newborns. I think it’s a great tool.

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 Signs Your Child Should Stop Daytime NapsToday I want to talk about,

Signs that it may be time for your child to stop daytime naps. I know that’’s a sad day for a lot of parents. Trust me. I’’ve been there twice but there are some things you should start to look for that may be an indicator that your child just really does not need that afternoon nap any longer. Read more

White Noise What is that and can it put babies to sleepSound familiar?

Your fussy baby finally falls asleep for her afternoon nap and you sit down for a much needed moment to yourself only to hear a car with a broken muffler roaring down the street. Just like that, Sleeping Beauty is wide awake and mad… NOT a good combination. Read more

Transition from Cot to bedChildhood is full of exciting milestones: first tooth, first solid foods, first steps. Making the transition from cot to bed is another sign your child is growing up. For some parents the idea can be a bit nerve-wracking.

They wonder what life will be like if the child is free to get out of bed whenever she wants will he be roaming the halls at night?

Will she ever settle down and go to sleep? Read more

Stop breastfeeding at nightAdvice to mum to “stop breastfeeding at night”

Sometimes parents just need a little bit of advice and guidance. You don’t know… what you don’t know. Not all mum’s breast feed, therefore please also consider this when bottle feeding your little one.

“My 13-month-old falls asleep on her own when I first put her to bed but then wakes during the night and screams unless I get her and breastfeed her back to sleep. How do I get her to put herself back to sleep during the night?”

This is a fairly common problem that children have. The good news is that you have tackled the main issue, which is getting her to fall asleep on her own.

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