How to Help Your Child Spring into Daylight Savings

By Liberty Mahon, MS of Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support

It’s that time of year again when we get to welcome spring after another long, cold winter! Yes, it’s time to spring your clocks ahead!  Sure, this means that we will lose one hour of sleep on tonight, but it also means that long, warm sunny days are ahead. Here are a few tips to help your little one’s make this change:

  1. Stick to your usual schedule and routine. You will make adjustments to all parts of your daily routine according to the new time. Meal time, work, appointments will be according to the time change- your child’s sleep schedule is not different. If your child takes a nap at 1pm today then the nap should be at 1pm on Sunday, March 8th too regardless of the time change. Be sure to perform sleep routines such a calm a few stories or songs, a gentle massage or snuggle time before naps and bed times. These activities provide cues to children that it is time to get ready to sleep. This helps children to unwind and prepare themselves to sleep regardless of the time.
  2.  Don’t let your child sleep in.  Your child will not know that daylight savings has occurred and will likely sleep until his usually wake up time. Avoid the temptation of letting your child sleep past 7:15am. It may seem like a crazy idea to wake a sleeping child, but waking after that time will  shift the rest of the child’s sleep schedule for the day. If your child has slept in, he may not be ready for his nap at the usual time. It is likely that in the first couple of days your child may want to continue with his former sleep pattern and he may seem tired in the morning, but within a week or so his body will soon adjust.
  3. Let the sun shine in. When your child wakes up or is woken up, provide wake-up cues using light  that the day is ready to begin. Turn on the light, open the curtains and greet with a big, happy smile! Avoid the temptation to snuggle up in a dark or dim room and allow your child to nod back off to sleep. Just as a bedtime routine provides cues  that it is time to sleep, a wake up routine such as time provides cues that it is time to be awake. Exposure to natural light will also help reset the body’s biological rhythms to the time change. While it is still cold outside in the mornings, play near windows  where the sun is shining in. As the weather gets warmer, enjoy the playground or go for a walk in the stroller in the AM.
  4.  Block out light during sleep times. Darkness promotes the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that makes the body feel tired and helps the body to fall asleep. As the days get longer and sunnier, it will still be sunny at bedtime and that makes it harder to fall asleep. You can make your child’s sleep environment darker by installing room darkening shades and/or black out curtains. Blankets, towels and even dark garbage bags are great temporary solutions if needed. They may not be aesthetically pleasing, but they do the job!  Also, remove or turn off any devices that emit light in your child’s sleep environment.  If light is needed so that you can check on your child at night, use a very dim night light and place it away from where your child is sleeping. You can also promote melatonin production by turning off tablets, phone and TV at least one hour before sleep times.
  5. Keep your child well rested. Especially during this change, make an effort to stick to your schedule and be sure to give your child the time and place to sleep.  If her sleep is not at its best during this time, such as naps have become shorter, then put her to bed earlier to avoid an overtired state. Bedtimes are usually between 6-8pm, but can be as early as 5pm if extra sleep is needed. As I mentioned above, you can expect that it will take a few days for your child’s sleep to regulate as her internal clock resets. A consistent and patient approach is your key to success.Liberty Mahon, MS is a certified Early Childhood Special Education teacher and a certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant trained through the Family Sleep Institute. She is a co-creator of the Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support Program. CTS Sleep Support offers a variety of consultation packages including in-person, phone, Skype/Face Time and e-mail consultations. Her services include a personalized plan and her support as she helps you to help your child learn to sleep better. Please go to www.childrenssleepsupport.com for more information or email her at liberty@childrenssleep.com.  You can also follow Children’s Therapy Sleep Support Program on Facebook.

     

Is Getting Enough Sleep Really That Important?

By Liberty Mahon, MS of Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support

In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, MD explains that “Every night and at every nap, sleep recharges the brain’s battery.”  Although the body is physically resting during sleep, the brain is quite active. In fact, sleep is when the brain is processing new information, storing new memories and making new connections.  According to Zero to Three, “A newborn’s brain is about 25% of its approximate adult weight. But by age 3, it has grown dramatically by producing billions of cells and hundreds of trillions of connections, or synapses, between these cells.” From birth on, a baby is constantly receiving, processing and storing new information about his world.  A child’s brain needs to make connections in order to process everything new that he hears, sees, smells, tastes, touches and experiences. This mentally and physically exhausting work is why newborns sleep more than they are awake and why young children need so much more sleep than adults. According to the National Sleep Foundation, infants need 15-18 hours of sleep per day. Toddlers continue to need a fair amount of sleep (12-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period). Not only does a child need to get an adequate number of hours of sleep, it is best if the child’s sleep is in sync with her biological rhythms in environment that promotes quality, restorative sleep. The quantity and quality of sleep are key elements to having restorative sleep to promote healthy development.

Here’s the problem:

As a society, American adults do not value sleep. To many adults sleep is viewed as a luxury or as a waste of time.  According to a 2014 Poll by the National Sleep Foundation, Americans are busier and more connected than ever. In fact, American adults are sleeping less since 1942 according to a Gallup poll conducted in 2013. Although 8-9 hours of sleep are recommended for adults, 40% of American adults get less than 7 hours of sleep. If adults are not making enough time to get adequate sleep for themselves, how can they make enough time for their children to get the numerous hours of sleep each day? When children do not receive healthy, restorative sleep daily, sleep difficulties arise including night waking , early rising, night terror and difficulty falling asleep.

When parents learn about the number of naps, hours of night time sleep and sleep schedule necessary to combat sleep deprivation in their family, I often hear, “How can I have a life?”  Frequently, naptimes tend to fall at the same time as family gatherings and bedtimes are needed just as the dinner party is getting started. Baby’s recommended bedtime is often the same time as the time parents come home from work. In addition, sleeping on the go, such as in the car, is not conducive to healthy sleep habits. Providing a consistent time and space to sleep can be very disruptive and inconvenient to a busy family that needs to work, run errands and get other children to after school activities. We want it all – the ability to work, take care of life, attend fun events and parties and have a child that sleeps well. Although this is ideal, it is impossible to have it all. As a family you must decide what is most important.

What’s a parent to do?

1. Educate yourself on the importance of sleep. One of the first things you worry about as a new parent is if your baby will be a good sleeper. You hear the horror stories of other people’s babies that woke up all night, every night and fear that you may never get a good night of sleep again. But why do you want your child to sleep in the first place? Most of us want our baby to sleep so that we feel rested the next day.  It’s true, sleep deprivation does affect a person’s alertness, but sleep affects us, especially young children in many more ways than this.

Sleep affects:

  • Learning and Memory:  Organizational, planning, memory, multitasking, problem solving, reading and math skills are all affected by the quality of a person’s sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause forgetfulness and confusion. Research has shown that children who sleep less have lower grades, lower IQ scores and poorer reading abilities, especially children experiencing sleep difficulties over long periods of time.
  • Speech and Language: Sleep deprivation impairs the ability to comprehend language, formulate sentences and recall words.
  • Motor coordination: A person that is sleep deprived can have decreased hand-eye coordination, be off balance, clumsy, can have a slower reaction time and be more accident prone. Infants are often slower to achieve their motor milestones.
  • Mood and Social-Emotional Well Being: Sleep deprivation can cause hyperactivity, irritability, greater difficulty coping and self-regulating, and increased anxiety. In 2013, a Vanderbilt study found that after improving sleep habits of children with autism spectrum disorders, these children experienced less anxiety, increased attention and decreased repetitive behaviors.
  • Health: Poor sleep decreases the body’s ability to fight off infection. Studies have also linked poor sleep with weight gain.

 

Now that you know that keeping your baby up late at night to play with her or offering your child naps on- the-go instead of in a dark, quiet place is likely interfering with her development, will you continue to do so? If you begin to think of sleep as essential as food for your child’s growth and development instead of just something that the body does to rest, then you may begin to value it and protect it. Would you ever think of offering your child sweet treats as meals regularly to refuel his body? If not, then why offer him “junk sleep” daily to recharge his brain?

2.  Make a Commitment:  It is not an easy task to establish and maintain healthy sleep habits. Develop a plan on your own using books as a guide, or hire a professional, such as a certified sleep consultant to help you create a plan. Whatever you choose as a plan, you need to stick to it in order to achieve your goals. Be sure that all members of the household are committed to making this change. Having a consistent approach is essential. This process can take several weeks to establish- be patient.

3. Get creative: In order to work around your child’s sleep schedule and their need for sleep, you will have to get creative with fitting in other parts of your “life.” Plan to run errand between naps. Pack a picnic lunch for the park so you can stay later before a nap. Bring two cars to a party so some of the family can go on time and the adult with the sleeping child can arrive later after the nap. Ask childcare provider’s to put your child in pajamas or feed him dinner so you can have some playtime after work without keeping him up too late. Once you have well established, healthy sleep habits, you will be able to stray from the schedule occasionally for special occasions or holidays. If you keep your child rested, your special times together will be more enjoyable for everyone.

4. Commend Yourself:  By understanding and providing healthy sleep for your child, you are giving your child the gift of sleep and allowing her to be her best. This gift will last a lifetime and will benefit the entire family.

REFERENCES

Bergin, Christi A, and David A. Bergin. “Sleep: The E-ZZZ Intervention.” Educational Leadership. Dec. 2009. Web. 14 Oct. 2014. <http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/dec09/vol67/num04/Sleep@_The_E-ZZZ_Intervention.aspx>.

Boerner, Craig. “Sleep education helps families of children with autism.” Vanderbilt University. 12 Web. 1 Sept. 2013. <http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2013/09/sleep-education-helps-families-of-children-with-autism/>.

“Brain Development.” Zero to Three. Web. 14 Oct. 2014. <http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/brain-development/>.

“In U.S., 40% Get Less Than Recommended Amount of Sleep.” Gallup Well Being. 19 Dec. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2014. <http://www.gallup.com/poll/166553/less-recommended-amount-sleep.aspx>.

“Obesity and Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation. Web. 14 Oct. 2014. <http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/obesity-and-sleep>.

“Sleep in America Poll 2014:Sleep in the Modern Family .” National Sleep Foundation. Web. 14 Oct. 2014. <sleepfoundation.org/sleep-polls-data/sleep-in-america-poll/2014-sleep-in-the-modern-family/>.

Weissbluth, Marc. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Children. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2003. Print.

Liberty Mahon, MS is a certified Special Education teacher and a certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant trained through the Family Sleep Institute. She has worked with young children in the Greater Danbury area for the past 13 years.She is a co-creator of the Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support Program. CTS Sleep Support offers a variety of consultation packages including in-person, phone, Skype/Face Time and e-mail consultations. Her services include a personalized plan and her support as she helps you to help your child learn to sleep better. Please go to www.childrenssleepsupport.com for more information or email her at liberty@childrenssleep.com.  You can also follow Children’s Therapy Sleep Support Program on Facebook.

Surviving Daylight Savings with Your Young Child

by Liberty Mahon, MS of Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support

As“fall back” approaches, we, as adults, may be excited about the idea of an extra hour of sleep, but unfortunately as parents, we realize that this has the potential to wreak havoc on our child’s sleep! Here are a few tips to help you to adjust your little one’s internal sleep clock:

  1. Stick to your usual schedule. You will adjust everything in your daily life such as your work schedule, meal times, play times, and quiet times to the time change. Your child’s sleep schedule is no different. If nap time was at 9am before DLS then it is still 9am after DLS. The same goes for bedtime.
  2. Enjoy the great outdoors. Exposure to natural light will help reset the body’s biological rhythms to the time change. While the weather is still warm, enjoy the playground or go for a walk in the stroller.
  3. Have a sleep routine.  Sleep routines before saying “good night” such a calm bath, pajamas and a few stories or some milk, a gentle massage and a soft lullaby are cues to children that it is time to get ready to sleep. These cues help children to prepare themselves to sleep.
  4. Delay your response to the early wake-up call.  It is likely that in the first couple of days your child may wake at his usual wake-up time (if it was 6am, now it is 5am). To help him adjust, give him a little time before going in to his room to get him up for the day. Try to keep him in his bed to as close to the new wake-up time as possible.  If you do get him up, keep light dim and activities calm until you get to the new desired wake-up time.
  5. Keep your child well rested. Make an effort to keep to your schedule and give your child the time and place to sleep.  If her sleep is thrown off schedule, or naps are shortened, put her to bed earlier to avoid an overtired state. Bedtimes are usually between 6-8pm, but can be as early as 5pm if extra sleep is needed.Just as you it may take you, as an adult, a few days to adjust to the time changes, you can expect that it will take a few days for your child’s sleep to regulate as his internal clock resets. A consistent and patient approach is your key to success.Liberty Mahon, MS is a certified Early Childhood Special Education teacher and a certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant trained through the Family Sleep Institute. She is a co-creator of the Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support Program. CTS Sleep Support offers a variety of consultation packages including in-person, phone, Skype/Face Time and e-mail consultations. Her services include a personalized plan and her support as she helps you to help your child learn to sleep better. Please go to www.childrenssleepsupport.com for more information or email her at liberty@childrenssleep.com.  You can also follow Children’s Therapy Sleep Support Program on Facebook.

Improving Your Child’s Sleep: Do It Yourself or Professional Help?

By Liberty Mahon,MS of Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support Program

Have you ever tried a Do-It -Yourself project, whether it be a repair to your car, a home improvement project or a “small” malfunction with your computer and learned the hard way that sometimes DIY projects are not as easy or as cost effective as it may seem. Sure, you may start off by reading some books or watching a YouTube video excited and ready to conquer the problem and before you know it you’ve spent a fortune on materials that you thought would work but didn’t, you are completely frustrated, and your situation is far from improved! In the end, what do you do? You decide to call in professional help because you are at your wits end and you just need the problem to be fixed. Helping your child learn to sleep better can be this type of project.

So many of us parents struggle with our child’s sleep troubles and are left exhausted and in dire need of answers. What do we do?… Usually, we take on fixing the sleep problem just like a DIY project – we talk with friends and family, we consult with our pediatrician, we Google web pages to gain insight, we buy sound machines, snuggly toys, fancy light nights, etc., we get every book we can find off of Amazon.com. If we even attempt to read one of those books about improving sleep, we immediately look at the length of the book, think “I don’t have the time or energy to read this” and jump to the chapter related to your child’s age, skipping all the background and foundational information. We try a strategy.. or two… or three and just come to the conclusion that we are doomed to a lifetime of sleepless nights because none of them seem to work! We begin to wonder…how important is sleep anyway?

The simple answer…VERY IMPORTANT! Many adults view sleep as a luxury, but in fact it is as essential to us as the food we eat. While we sleep, our brains are not resting, they are actively processing information and making new connections. Sleep affects our mood, attention, memory and our ability to learn. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation has significant effects on a person’s cognitive abilities. Now think about a child’s brain as a little sponge soaking up the world around him. Sleep is even more critical for the that young developing brain. Dr. Weissbluth’s studies on sleep and children showed that infants that slept well were better able to learn from their environment because they were better able to focus their attention of the world around them. More recent studies have shown that young children with chronic sleep problems are more likely to require special education by age 8 and are at risk for long term developmental deficits (Bonuck 2012). If sleep is so important, why is fixing my child’s sleep difficulties such a hard DIY project?

As exhausted parents, we cannot even begin to make sense of the conflicting information given from all the sources as we are not thinking clearly due to our own lack of sleep. It is difficult to create a plan and have the energy to carry it through. We also do not have the time and energy to gather all the necessary information needed to fix the problem. The truth is, there are many components in establishing healthy sleep habits for your child such as environment, routine, schedule and behavior. Many parents focus on the behavioral or sleep training component. When the all the components are not in place, the sleep training method alone often is not successful and parents are left at their wits end, frustrated and even more exhausted. Parents might feel like it is time to call in professional help, but why is hiring a consultant any different?

By hiring a sleep consultant, such as myself, you have a professional sleep expert to take all the guess work out of this problem. After taking some time to get to know your family’s situation, she will create a personal, easy to follow, comprehensive sleep plan that incorporates all the essential components to healthy and restorative sleep. Most importantly you will be supported along the way as she will educate you about the importance of sleep and teach you how to build and maintain healthy sleep habits. A sleep consultant can also help new or expectant parents teach healthy sleep habits from the start to prevent the bedtime battles and naptime nightmares. So although hiring a sleep consultant may be more costly compared to DIY, think of it as giving your child the gift of healthy sleep for a lifetime.

Liberty Mahon, MS is an certified Early Childhood Special Education teacher and a certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant trained through the Family Sleep Institute. She is a co-creator of the Children’s Therapy Services Sleep Support Program. CTS Sleep Support offers a variety of consultation packages including in-person, phone, Skype/Face Time and e-mail consultations. Her services include a personalized plan and her support as she helps you to help your child learn to sleep better. Please go to www.childrenssleepsupport.com for more information or email her at liberty@childrenssleep.com.

 

AAP Guidelines for Safe Sleep Environment

AAP Guidelines for Safe Sleep Environment
(as taken from www.healthychildren.org, referencing AAP)

 

Many infants die during sleep from unsafe sleep environments. Some of these deaths are from entrapment, suffocation, and strangulation. Some infants die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, there are ways for parents to keep their sleeping baby safe.

Read on for more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how parents can create a safe sleep environment for their babies. This information should also be shared with anyone who cares for babies, including grandparents, family, friends, babysitters, and child care centers.

Note: These recommendations are for healthy babies up to 1 year of age. A very small number of babies with certain medical conditions may need to be placed to sleep on their stomachs. Your baby’s doctor can tell you what is best for your baby.

 

What you can do

  • Place your baby to sleep on his back for every sleep. Babies up to 1 year of age should always be placed on their backs to sleep during naps and at night. However, if your baby has rolled from his back to his side or stomach on his own, he can be left in that position if he is already able to roll from tummy to back and back to tummy. If your baby falls asleep in a car safety seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or infant sling he should be moved to a firm sleep surface as soon as possible.
  • Place your baby to sleep on a firm sleep surface. The crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard should meet current safety standards. Check to make sure the product has not been recalled. Do not use a crib that is broken or missing parts, or has drop-side rails. Cover the mattress that comes with the product with a fitted sheet. Do not put blankets or pillows between the mattress and the fitted sheet. Never put your baby to sleep on a chair, sofa, water bed, cushion, or sheepskin. For more information about crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site at www.cpsc.gov.
  • Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the crib. Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bumper pads, and stuffed toys can cause your baby to suffocate. Note: Research has not shown us when it’s 100% safe to have these objects in the crib; however, most experts agree that after 12 months of age these objects pose little risk to healthy babies.
  • Place your baby to sleep in the same room where you sleep but not the same bed. Keep the crib or bassinet within an arm’s reach of your bed. You can easily watch or breastfeed your baby by having your baby nearby. Babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents are at risk of SIDS, suffocation, or strangulation. Parents can roll onto babies during sleep or babies can get tangled in the sheets or blankets.
  • Breastfeed as much and for as long as you can. Studies show that breastfeeding your baby can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Schedule and go to all well-child visits. Your baby will receive important immunizations. Recent evidence suggests that immunizations may have a protective effect against SIDS.
  • Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke. If you smoke, try to quit. However, until you can quit, keep your car and home smoke-free. Don’t smoke inside your home or car and don’t smoke anywhere near your baby, even if you are outside.
  • Do not let your baby get too hot. Keep the room where your baby sleeps at a comfortable temperature. In general, dress your baby in no more than one extra layer than you would wear. Your baby may be too hot if she is sweating or if her chest feels hot. If you are worried that your baby is cold, infant sleep clothing designed to keep babies warm without the risk of covering their heads can be used.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. This helps to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier. This usually takes 3 to 4 weeks. It’s OK if your baby doesn’t want to use a pacifier. You can try offering a pacifier again, but some babies don’t like to use pacifiers. If your baby takes the pacifier and it falls out after he falls asleep, you don’t have to put it back in.
  • Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Home cardiorespiratory monitors can be helpful for babies with breathing or heart problems but they have not been found to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Do not use products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. Products such as wedges, positioners, special mattresses, and specialized sleep surfaces have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. In addition, some infants have suffocated while using these products.

What expectant moms can do

  • Schedule and go to all prenatal doctor visits.
  • Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs while pregnant and after birth. Stay away from smokers and places where people smoke.

Remember Tummy Time

Give your baby plenty of “tummy time” when she is awake. This will help strengthen neck muscles and avoid flat spots on the head. Always stay with your baby during tummy time and make sure she is awake.

 

Ages and Stages

Newborn – 8 weeks

  • Sleep is sporadic and unpredictable
  • There is nothing we can do to manipulate their sleep, but keep the baby as rested as possible.
  • At 6-8 weeks, when you see  a social smile, begin laying the foundation for healthy sleep habits.
  • Estimated total sleep: 15-18 hours

2-4 months

  • Babies are becoming more social  and will begin to have difficulty falling asleep unassisted.
  • Take around 4-6 naps a day
  •  Wake periods are about 45 min -2 hours – watch for sleepy cues
  • Estimated total sleep: 15-18 hours

4-7 months

  • Developed biological sleep rhythms – watch the clock
  • Naps 2-3 times daily
  • Perfect time to begin sleep training
  • Estimated sleep:  11-12 plus 3 naps

 

8-15 months

  • Naps 2 times daily
  • Estimated sleep:  11-12 hours plus 2 naps

 

15-18 months

  • Transitions from 2 to 1 nap daily
  • Estimated Sleep: 11-12 plus 1-2 naps

 

3-4 years

  • Transition to no nap, but may need an occasional nap
  • Transition from crib to bed around 3 years
  • May have bad dreams/fears as imagination develops
  • Estimated Sleep: 11-12 plus 0-1 nap

 

School  Age

  • Estimated sleep: 10-12 hours