Posts

When and how much napping should infants, toddlers & preschoolers have?

Everyone knows that the older a child gets, the fewer naps he or she needs. Yet, few really are aware of just how much sleep a child needs. Additionally, as parents we aim to have our children sleep to our own schedule, which may or may not fit your child’s. Here is some guidance for parents on napping and sleep requirements for children of various ages.

Newborn Sleep (1-2 months)

Newborns seem to sleep more than they are awake. And it seems they like to wake in the middle of the night. This is because unlike adults and older children, a newborn’s sleep cycle operates not on daylight, but on their own internal needs: feeding, changing and love. Newborns actually sleep between 10 ½ and 18 hours per day. They wake for short periods of 1-3 hours only. As parents, we can begin to hope for a more regular sleep routine by exposing our newborns to light, activity and noise during the daytime, and then providing a dimmer, quieter environment during the evenings. However, don’t get your hopes up that they will be sleeping through the night by the end of two months.

Infant Sleep (3-11 months)

Infants sleep between 9 and 12 hours at night and take two naps during the day lasting around and hour to two hours. This is an exciting time for parents, as they finally get some much deserved sleep!

But don’t enable bad infant sleeping habits. A baby needs to learn how to fall asleep on their own, so put them to bed awake. This reduces the incidents of crying at night, as they learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. It is also important that you develop and adhere to consistent sleeping and napping schedules over this period of time, especially at bedtime. Whether it’s a warm lavender bath or music before bed, you want to develop triggers that cue baby to sleep.

Toddler Sleep (1-3 years)

Just when you thought you had the whole sleep issue conquered, suddenly your infant becomes a toddler and the schedule starts breaking down. Toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep per day, but their nap times will decrease from 2 nap periods to one at around 18 months. This is the time when children begin to develop a resistance to going to bed or taking naps. Nightmares and night terrors may also develop during this time.

Again, consistency and routine are key. As a parent, you will have to set behavioural limits and enforce them. Communication is important, as toddlers develop these skills quickly at this age. Reassure your child without giving into their insecurities. A blanket or a stuffed animal can help them feel secure when you’re not in the room.

Preschooler Sleep (3-5 years)

By this time, children need much less sleep: 11-13 hours each night and no naps after they reach five years old. Preschoolers have many of the same problems as toddlers: resistance to sleeping, nightmares and may even develop sleepwalking habits. Keep a regular preschool sleep routine, especially as they approach school age. Keep in mind they may need to get up earlier and experience a need to nap again if they enter preschool. A return to naps should be temporary and many preschools incorporate ‘quiet time’ into the daily schedule.

Bed sharing with your baby the risks - Baby Winkz Blog

Bed Sharing or Co-sleeping with your Baby?

Many experts and parenting authorities have come out against parents sharing their beds with their infants, citing safety concerns. On the other side, organisations that promote attachment parenting or breastfeeding believe the benefits outweigh the risks.

Bed-sharing and co-sleeping are closely related: bed-sharing involves the infant sharing the same bed as one or more parents, and co-sleeping involves the infant sleeping close to, but on a different surface than, the parent(s).

Here, we will mostly address bed-sharing with your newborn or infant. Let’s look at both sides of the debate in detail.

The Risks of Bed-Sharing

Experts cite studies showing an increase in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation among newborns and infants who engage in bed-sharing. The increased risk comes from soft mattresses, loose sheets and blankets, pillows, and other impediments to infant breathing. There is also an increased risk of a parent rolling over onto the child, crushing or suffocating it. Opponents also point to the risk of death and injury from falling off the bed or becoming wedged between the wall and the mattress.

Beyond the physical risk, opponents claim that bed-sharing or co-sleeping creates stress for a child once they are expected to sleep alone. Another claim is an unhealthy dependence of the child upon the mother or father. Finally, co-sleep may interfere with a healthy relationship between the mother and father, as it reduces sexual intimacy and communication at bedtime.

The Advantages of Bed-sharing

One of the most cited arguments for bed-sharing is that sleeping outside the parental bed is a relatively recent phenomenon – it had its onset in Europe and America in the 19th century. Bed-sharing then had another peak in the 1990s. Beginning in 1992, a global SIDS awareness campaign effectively cut the rate of SIDS deaths by over 50%. Whilst there are studies showing a decrease in bed-sharing, many researchers believe bed-sharing is underreported due to social stigmas involved. The current reported rates in various studies range from 12-45% of parents engaging in the practice of bed-sharing with infants and young children, from routine to occasional. Yet despite this rate, the incidence of SIDS has continued to decrease.

Proponents of attachment parenting cite scientific studies showing reduced levels of stress hormones (especially cortisol) in both mothers and babies who co-sleep, and others that show more stable physiology in co-sleeping babies, including more stable temperatures, fewer long pauses in breathing, and more regular heart rhythms. Additionally, psychological and emotional health has been shown by numerous studies to be higher in co-sleeping children. This includes increased happiness and self-esteem, less anxiety and fear about sleep, fewer behavioural problems, and more independence as adults.

Finally, co-sleeping and bed-sharing help mothers get more sleep, especially when breastfeeding. Older infants and toddlers are able to breastfeed without waking the mother.

Balancing Risks and Benefits

Much of the risk specifically applies to bed-sharing. Co-sleeping using specialty products can help reduce the risk of proximity between parent and child while promoting the benefits. Parents can purchase bedside bassinets that attach to the bed and are open on the parent’s side, bed-top sharing surfaces that keep baby from rolling off the bed and are raised enough that the risk of parents rolling over is reduced, and infant enclosures that are placed on the bed and prevent rollover, suffocation and wedging.

Remember that you can have the advantage of proximity through a co-sleeping arrangement as opposed to a bed-sharing arrangement.

Travelling with a baby or child can present some tough challenges for parents. This is especially true when it comes to adjusting to new sleep patterns. Disruptions to your child’s sleep cycle can occur regardless of whether you cross time zones, as many parents encourage sleep during the travel itself, throwing their schedule off. Here are a few tips for managing sleep difficulties during your holiday travels.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Regardless of where you are going, how long you will be gone, or how you are going to get there, preparation is key. One of the first things you need to do is call airlines and hotels (if appropriate) to find out their child’s travel policies. Questions to ask include:

  • Can you board early?
  • Are infant/toddler care seats allowed?
  • Is there a bassinet or other infant sleep accommodations?
  • Is the flight or train booked? (You may request to be put next to an empty seat if not)

Another key to preparing is to consider how long it will take to get to your destination and how long you will be there. You can never truly ‘pack light’ when traveling with a child, but being gone for a few days will certainly require less packing than being gone for a month. Regardless of how you travel, getting into luggage will not be easy. You want to keep a bag of essentials closes at hand. Your bag should include:

  • Nappies and wipes
  • Small bag of toys and/or a mini DVD player
  • Snacks, food, and drink
  • Change of clothes (at least one; more for an infant)
  • Blankets and perhaps a pillow

Travel Sleep Solutions – The Journey

The big question is whether you allow or encourage your child to sleep during your travels. Whilst a sleeping child on an airplane may seem like a godsend for parents and passengers alike, it can ultimately wreak havoc upon reaching your destination. Some things to consider:

  • How long it will take to get there
  • How long you will be staying
  • Whether you are crossing time zones

If your travel time is long, napping and sleep are inevitable. This is especially true if your child is lulled to sleep by motion, as many are. You may not be able to avoid it. Consider your time of arrival: if you are arriving late at night, a child who has spent the day sleeping (off schedule) will be difficult to manage. Be prepared to entertain your child during the trip. Play games, interact, and talk – even if you are travelling with an infant. Babies, toddlers, and preschool children all have different activity and sleep needs. The best course – whenever possible – is to stick to regular sleeping cycles and nap patterns.

Jumping time zones presents an extra challenge and needs additional consideration. A dual-time watch can help you monitor home time and destination time, allowing you to set up a schedule to help your child adjust his or her sleep patterns during the trip. Incremental adjustments are best, but not always possible.

Travel Sleep Solutions – The Destination

Many children have difficulty adjusting their sleep cycles whilst on holiday for the simple fact that they are in unfamiliar surroundings. Surrounding them with familiar items and keeping on schedule as much as possible minimises the disruption. Take your own infant crib or carrier sheets and your child’s favourite toys – especially those they associate with sleep. Read the same books at night and sing the same songs.

If you have to bunk up with an older child, make sure you explain that it is only temporary and that upon arriving back home, they will be expected to sleep on their own again. Do this positively and offer a small reward for them to return to sleep on their own – gold stars, a new book and a lot of praise are good.

Travelling with a baby need not be a traumatic experience for either parent or child. Preparing adequately before your journey, asking the right questions, and bringing along familiar items can significantly reduce the impact of travel on your children’s schedule and sleep patterns.

Fantasy and Reality Children Can Not Tell the Difference

Halloween will be celebrated very soon, on October 31. During this time of year, it’s up to parents, caregivers, friends, and family to keep Bogeyman / Boogieman at bay from young children.

Not many people know why we dress up every Halloween and terrify each other. Let me explain, Halloween originates from pagan festivals held annually around the end of October in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Many people believed that during this time, the spirits of the dead would come ‘alive’ and walk among the living. They thought in order to avoid being harmed, it was important to dress up in costumes to “blend in” with the spirits or mimic them.

If your child under 7 years of age is afraid of people wandering the streets dressed as ghosts and goblins. Do not worry, you are not alone. Up until this age, their brains can not distinguish between fantasy and reality. They have not yet developed Cognitive Developmental reasoning; therefore they can not grasp concrete logic or mentally manipulate information. So if they see a person in costume dressed as a monster, they see a monster, not the person.

When your child has experienced Halloween and the outcome of it was frightening and scary for them. The likely result at bedtime will be a nightmare, which is an unpleasant and terrifying dream. Nightmares occur during the second half of a night’s sleep when REM intervals are longer. (REM is known as Rapid Eye Movement because the eyes are rapidly moving beneath closed eyelids.) As soon as your child wakes they can remember and describe the dream, so it is understandable for them to call out for comfort, want to sleep in your room or need an object of affection that makes them feel safe.

How do I handle my Child’s Nightmare?

From personal experience, last year Halloween (October 2011), my husband answered the door to trick-or-treat children who were dressed up as ghosts and scary monsters. Unfortunately, our Daughter was behind him and saw them, she was very frightened and witnessed this just before her bedtime. So you imagine what her night was like! Every day for the remainder of the week she would run away and hide every time the doorbell rang.

Nightmares are scary and are very uncomfortable for children, but they preventable. After a nightmare your child may or may not go back to sleep easily depending on their age and how scary the dream was. To help them relax and associate bedtime with safety and comfort, please follow the advice I used for my own daughter:

  • 2 hours before bedtime – Do not let your child watch, read, listen or participate in activities that will disturb them or get them over-excited, as this will form the basis for their night’s sleep.
  • Preparation for bed – Ensure your child is comfortable and relaxed, not highly stimulated. Talk about pleasurable and happy topics such as holidays or things they like to do. As part of my bedtime routine with my daughter, I twirl like a fairy and sprinkle magic fairy dust all over her. This reassures her and lets her feel protected against her nightmares.
  • After a nightmare – Listen to what your child has to say when they explain the dream and tell you about the monsters. Acknowledge their fears let them know you believe and trust them. Console and comfort your child, and make them feel safe by telling them something like “the monsters have gone away now, they are on holiday.” If necessary check the wardrobe and under the bed, and let them know their room is clean and harmless to sleep in.

Night Terrors

Night Terrors are very different from Nightmares.  Every child’s experience of a night terror differs, but usually, they can not be woken from sleep, they may scream, thrash about, sit bolt upright in bed, sweat, act upset, and may not recognise you when trying to comfort them. Do not fret or worry, so long as your child is in a physically safe environment they are not in any danger or harm and will not have any memory of their behaviour the next morning. It is far more frightening to witness, as the parent or care provider, you are unable to help or stop what seems like torment for your child.

Night terrors occur when a child’s sleep transitions from the deepest phase of (non-REM) sleep to lighter (REM) sleep, a phase where dreams occur. Between sleep cycles, your child wake’s briefly, then usually self-settles and goes back to sleep. The night terror is when their mind is trying to go back to sleep, but part of their mind is trying to wake up, both trying to win.

The reasons or triggers for night terrors can be due to:

  • Over tired
  • Fatigued
  • Illness
  • Reaction to new medication
  • Excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping in a new environment or away from home

How do I handle my child’s Night Terror?

  • Prior to Bedtime – Same as the nightmare preparations, ensure your child is relaxed and stress reduced to the minimum.
  • Bedtime – Your child should not be over-tired, fatigued, or have stayed up to late.
  • During/After the Night Terror – Do not try and wake your child, as it can be distressing for you when they remain in the same state. If you are able to awaken your child, they are likely to be disoriented and confused, therefore taking longer to settle down and go back to sleep.
  • Repetitive Night Terror – If the night terrors occur frequently and at the same time every night, you may find that waking your child breaks the cycle. This can disrupt their sleep pattern enough to stop the attacks without affecting sleep quality.

For most children, nightmares and night terrors happen only now and then so there is no cause for concern. If you need further help, I encourage you to download my comprehensive guide “The Five Steps To Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night!” You can also contact me.

On Sunday 28 October, 02:00am, clocks go backwards by 1 hour, so we get an extra hours sleep…supposedly. Changing the clocks twice a year, has an affect on us all and can increase our sleep debt. It it especially noticeable in babies, toddlers and young children as they tend to have a structured sleep pattern, going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning.

Split The Difference Routine

Many of you have worked extremely hard to get your baby to sleep through the night. Any disruption to baby’s sleep pattern will be temporary and they will adapt to the new time. The best way to handle them is to use the “Split The Difference” routine.

  1. Leave the clocks alone on Saturday night! So it’s not psychologically upsetting for you and your family that a big change is underway. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your breakfast go around and change the clocks. Everyone will be more relaxed.
  2. Morning / Afternoon Nap – Keep the same napping frequency but adjust it by 30 minutes for 3 days after the time change. For example if morning nap is 9:30am, you adjust this to 9:00am. If an afternoon nap is 1:00pm you adjust this to 12:30pm.
  3. Milk and food – Adjust these accordingly.
  4. Bedtime sleep – Adjust this also by 30 minutes for 3 days after the time change. For example if bedtime sleep is 7:00pm, then put your child to sleep at 6:30pm.
  5. This will mean that your baby is going to bed a little earlier or sooner than the normal wait between sleeps, but again it’s not so much so that it’s going to interfere with their schedule too much. It may take your baby a bit more time to fall asleep as he/she may not be as tired, but in a week’s time he/she will be back on track again.
  6. If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minute numerals, so that they can see if it is 6:00pm or 7:00pm, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. I would just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30pm, it reads 7:00pm and I would let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that by the end of the week, they would be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time.
  7. If you are dealing with a baby, you cannot do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6:00am is acceptable now. So your baby normally wakes at 7:00am, but is now up at 6:00am, you will wait till ten after on the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 6:30am the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
  8. On the 4th night, get in line with the new time. So your baby is having morning naps, afternoon naps and bedtime sleep at their usual times.

Please do not worry if your child wakes up at the old time in the morning, it can take up to a week to two weeks to establish a new sleep pattern. After all the hard work you have put in, do not fall back in to bad habits. Such as letting your child sleep in bed with you, giving them a dummy or feeding them milk, this will work in short term but will cause problems in the long term.

I would love to hear your feedback regarding your sleep routine

October is SIDS Awareness Month, it is important to help create widespread exposure about SIDS. As safe baby sleep habits are just as important as healthy sleep habits, detailed in this article are facts about with SIDS facts, risk factors and actions to reduce the risk.

What is SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS, is the leading cause of death in infants and children age one month to one year. Despite advances in research, the cause of SIDS is still not thoroughly understood. The diagnosis is given to children under one year who die in their sleep without any other known cause. Research shows there is a strong correlation to breathing and oxygen levels during the sleep cycle.

Safe Sleeping

While there is no way to prevent SIDS, there are ways parents can reduce the risk of infant death. Infants who are placed to sleep on their backs are at a much lower risk for SIDS than those placed on their stomachs. Babies sleeping on their backs are in less danger of experiencing restricted air flow.

The crib itself should also be free of anything that might unintentionally obstruct breathing. For instance, stuffed animals and pillows should be left outside of the sleeping environment. Mattresses should be firm and sheets tight. Crib bumpers, while cute, can also pose a risk to your baby.

Your baby’s comfort is also important. Many parents fret over whether their infant is warm enough during sleep and like to pile on blankets that not only pose a danger for restricted oxygen flow, but also make the baby too warm. There are various authorities that state the ideal room temperature for safe sleep is between 18.3 and 21.1 degrees Celsius. In fact, placing a fan in the room may decrease your infant’s risk of SIDS by 72%.[1]

Outside the Crib

There are several other ways you can reduce the risk of sudden infant death as a result of SIDS. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from SIDS. Good prenatal care is also important and may play a role in reducing risk further.

Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to have infants that die from SIDS. Even passive smoke exposure can double your infant’s chances of death. The top priority is to quit smoking if at all possible. At the very least, refrain from smoking in your home and car, or anywhere near your infant.

Finally, it is vital that all caregivers be aware of the risk of SIDS and understand the necessities of safe infant sleeping. Relatives and daycare providers should all practice safe sleeping procedures:

  • Baby should sleep on his or her back
  • No smoking in the home, car or immediate area
  • No loose sheets, stuffed animals, pillows or blankets in the crib
  • Keep baby comfortable and not too warm
  • Use a fan in the room if available

 

Following these important tips can significantly reduce your infant’s risk of suffering from SIDS and make your time with your baby a less worrisome experience.

Early Morning Wakes

It’s that time of the year when early morning wakes seem to be an issue for most parents

I’m not an early morning person!

And for a person who enjoys their lie ins on the weekends, and add a baby who wants to
wake up for the day at 5 a.m, the two don’t match and sets everyone off to a bad start of the day!

That’s why I wanted to give you some tips on eliminating and dealing with early morning wakes:

Here they are:

1.)   Make sure your child is not too hot or too cold and is wearing the appropriate clothes dependent on what the temperature is. Getting too hot or too cold will wake cause discomfort and result in a child waking.

2.)  Get black out blinds and ensure the room is dark, even a little ray of light could cause a child to wake early

3.)   Decide on a realistic time for you to start your day,
keeping in mind that 90% of babies will probably wake up
sometime between 6 and 7 a.m. (I personally decided that 6:30
a.m. was the earliest I could stand to get up.)

4.)   If your child wakes up BEFORE you’re ready to start your
day treat it is a night wake.