What is THE WITCHING HOUR? Tips to Avoid & When it will End for your Baby

When we say "It's 5 o' clock somewhere", we are generally speaking about having a glass of wine at the end of the day......kicking up our feet (ok, briefly anyways)....and relaxing a little bit when Daddy comes home after work to help shoulder the parenting load.  But your newborn has a different idea, and terrible, scary, idea: to cry or scream NON-STOP......starting in the evening.....all the way until BEDTIME.  Keep that wine bottle opener handy, because you'll need it to get through what is commonly referred to as "THE WITCHING HOUR" during these first few months of life.  Let's make your evenings a little less "Witchy" and dive into why it happens, how to avoid the Witching Hour, and when the Witching Hour will finally come to an end.

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The good news?  They have automatic wine bottle openers these days.  Better news? The Witching Hour doesn't last forever, usually ending around the 4 month mark.  The bad news?  When an Infant is increasingly fussy in the late afternoon/evening, they aren't able to settle easily, causing short or missed naps.  These "disaster" naps turn normally calm babies into overtired, overstimulated babies, and with the added stress hormone from lack of age-appropriate sleep, you've got a full meltdown-mode newborn on your hands.  

Here's a few reasons WHY most doctors believe the Witching Hour occurs:

  • Baby is overtired: Depending on the child's age, baby needs anywhere from 4-7 hours per day of napping under 4 months old.  If the nap needs aren't met for the day by the early afternoon, or the wake window is too large, your little bundle of joy will take a turn for the worse.
  • Baby is overstimulated: Gone are the days when baby was a month old and could physically shut down or "habituate" to block out overstimulation when family visits or during a birthday party at a loud restaurant.  When babies are no longer able to habituate, baby becomes overstimulated very easily.
  • Baby has tummy/gas/digestion issues: Dietary and medical issues such as reflux, silent reflux & GERD, especially when undiagnosed, can make baby wail for hours in the evening. Gas bubbles can also cause major discomfort, causing the child to writher & squirm (and cry), so make sure baby is burped after every feeding, and you pay attention to your own diet when breastfeeding to see if there is anything that triggers increased lengths of crying.
  • Baby wants/needs to cluster feed:  If you look at your own body's rhythms, the end of the afternoon is a natural time to have low energy, and babies often look to soothe themselves during these times.  Children often feel the most safe or soothed feeding with Mom, or "tanking up."

Here's a few ways to get through the Witching Hour, or at least handle it without cracking an entire case of wine:

  • Be realistic about having a newborn. You have a baby.  You won't be able to come home and lay motionless on the couch anymore until bedtime.  You might not even eat your dinner until it's cold for a few months.  Remind yourself that this is TEMPORARY, and one day, your hands will be empty.  Embrace the crazy, and prepare for the worst to happen every single night until baby is at least 4 months old (so you have some "good days" when baby only cries temporarily).
  • Allow baby to have a carrier nap.  Now listen, I'm all about a consistent nap place, but when you have a newborn it's vital to grab an evening nap before bedtime, and most babies will LOVE a chance to nap close to Mom.  Our favorite carrier for both our children was the 360 Degree (front face & back face) Original Ergo carrier (click here for exact one), it sits on your hips perfectly and doesn't kill your back!  Plus this carrier can hold children from infant up to 2 years old!
  • If breastfeeding, review your diet: Lactose? Caffeine?  Spicy foods?  All have been known to be culprits of upset tummies in breastfed children.
  • Cluster feed/Comfort Feed: Some babies simply want to be held, and shown that everything is ok in the crazy evening hustle of homework, dinner, laundry & The Bachelor handing out the final rose.  Cluster feeding may even get you a few hours of sleep at night!
  • Protect the nap schedule.  Visit our naps post here for a guide on how many hours per day your babe should be napping, and rock/walk/bounce/wear your child to squeeze in any missed time before you attempt bedtime for the night.
  • Take a walk.  With or without baby, some children do best in the evenings when exposed to natural light, fresh air, and the motion of a good walk.  I found this method to be most effective in my family (when it wasn't freezing outside) and gave me a chance to catch up on my day with my husband.

Remember, the Witching Hour in babies does NOT last forever, even if it can seem like forever when you're going through it.  Email us or Contact Us to talk about how we can help you get the age-appropriate napping schedule, or more ways to help soothe a fussy baby.  And cheers ;)

Can my children share a room? What age can Baby share a room with my toddler?

I get this question a lot for various reasons: smaller spaces, wanting a playroom, vacationing, or just parents wanting a guest room or office.  The simple answer: any age, but I recommend waiting until the youngest is at LEAST 2.5 years old (sleep regressions before then happen almost every 6 months, yikes.)

If you decide to go for it, here are some great tips I can give to make this process go smoothly for those parents out there dreading the idea (or those lucky enough to be expecting twins!) and still want their babies, toddlers, twins, or older kids to sleep through the night!

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#1: Always put the youngest child to bed first. Generally your youngest will naturally have an earlier bedtime due to their biological sleep needs, so begin there.  I always recommend that a child's bedtime routine end in their room (reading a story, etc.).  While you are putting down your youngest, hopefully Dad is home to play with your oldest or he/she can understand that you'll be absent for a few minutes (a cartoon is my last resort!) and doesn't come barging in the room.  Afterwards, make sure to carve a little downtime for your older child as well.

#2: When sleep training one child but not the other, separate.  I see this a lot with twins- one is a great sleeper while the other has some issues getting (and staying) asleep.  For this situation I recommend that you temporarily separate the kids while you sleep train so the "sound sleeper" isn't bothered during the process.  Once you feel as though the kids are ready to be in the same room, move them back together.

#3: Manage your expectations.  Sharing a room is EXCITING!!  Even with the best sleepers, prepare yourself for a few nights of giggles and play.  Toddlers love a good reason to combat sleep, right? If you need to step in if things get too rowdy, go ahead, but explain to the older one that this isn't a time to encourage hide-and-go-seek.

#4: Will baby wake up my older child?  Yes, probably.  And I'm not talking about small noises here but the "super-loud" crying type of noise.  My advice here would be to wait until you really know your baby is in need of assistance (depending on age) and first assure the eldest child that everything is alright and "to go back to sleep"- and THEN tend to the younger upset child.  I've taken my baby out in the hallway on vacations (while sharing a hotel room) to calm her down and tip toe back in to lay her down after she's calmed down, minding the sleeping toddler whom had already fallen back asleep.

#5: Sleeping in the same bed?  Sometimes.   It's important while I advise my clients to keep the crib as long as possible for young babies & toddlers, if you would like your 18+ month old to share a bed with their older brother/sister, that's ok!  If your oldest is fine with the idea, I've found that generally children love the idea of sleeping together in one bed at night.  Some parents even claim this decreases sibling rivalry and fighting.  They may also bed-hop if you have two beds in the room- and eventually with age will settle in their own respectable beds. 

As always I’m here to help and please don’t hesitate to contact me and we can chat more in length about the best solution for your individual child that fits within your family’s values.  Remember that healthy sleep=happy family! 

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Naps B R E A K D O W N: How Many Naps Should my Baby Take (and When to Drop a Nap!)

How many naps does my baby and/or toddler need?  How long should they be? (Bookmark or PIN this page, trust me you’re going to want to come back!)  Let’s make your life just a little easier- grab a glass of Pinot and digest this nap breakdown from birth to 3 years old.

Naps will forever in my heart be a love-hate relationship.  While I LOVE getting a much-needed break to clean my house (orrrr catch up on Real Housewives & the Bachelor), sometimes I loathe not being able to attend a social function or leaving the beach early because I have to check into “napjail”.  However, consistency with naps is extremely important, and without it all sorts of things can fall out of whack: meltdowns in Target, endless crying, naptime battles, and sleeping the car for 2 minutes (and having to forgo your DVR date with the Bachelor because it’s given them enough juice to last another hour, ugh.)

Let’s start with the newborns. Although 0-3 month old infants are notorious for falling asleep on the job (i.e. breastfeeding) or in the car/stroller/swing, they should be napping every 60-90 minutes from the last time they woke up.  YES- EVERY 1.5 HOURS max that sweet little newborn needs a snooze.  This can work itself out to be about 4-5 naps throughout the day, and at this age they can virtually sleep anywhere, but it’s still a fantastic idea to get a least one of these naps in the crib if possible.  (Tips on newborn naps & crib transitioning can be found in our Newborn Sleep Survival Guide here.)

4-6 Months Old:  You've made past the first 3 months hooray!  Beginning on Month 4, your baby will pass through the dreaded 4-month regression, so taking naps at this age is particulary difficult for some families (help on getting through the regression, click here!)  Depending on the length of the naps, these babes can take 3-4 naps a day, with the last catnap taking place between 5-6pm.  I like to work towards 3 naps at this age with my clients, only because the 3rd nap is dropped within a few months.  Ideally, you’ll want to shoot for 3-5 hours of daytime sleep, with the first & second nap averaging at least an hour, and the catnap about 45 minutes.  If your baby isn't already sleeping in his crib for all naps, this is the ideal age to begin the transition. (*Note the AAP recommends room sharing for at least 6-12 months, so use your Mommy discretion here.)

6-9 Months Old:  This is the age you can FINALLY abide by a clock schedule, making your day more predictable. (For help on creating a schedule, click here).  The 3rd catnap should begin to disappear- this is where you’ll notice your little one increasingly has trouble going down (or falling asleep at all) for this last powernap.  Once you notice this happening over a course of 2 weeks, go ahead and gradually increase his wake windows to at least 3 hours and drop that last nap.  Over this transition, some days he/she will need 3 naps, some days only 2, but the transition only lasts about 2 weeks.  Don’t forget when naps are dropped, you’ll want to move up bedtime by 30 minutes for at least the first week or you’ll have major bedtime battles.  Overall whether it’s 2 or 3 naps, your child needs about 3 hours of daytime sleep.

9-12 Months Old:  Only two naps remain, averaging 45-90 minutes each.  Both naps should be in the crib, or begin doing so ASAP.

12-15 Months Old:  The majority of daycares will push children to one nap, but if you can hold off or at least give your child the chance to nap twice still on the weekends or after a big day, go ahead and do so.  This is the age most children will have those meltdowns in the Target dollar aisle, because parents mistakenly drop the second nap a little bit too early.  Mom tip: Always bring a snack as backup for a fussy toddler regardless.  (For help on creating a schedule, click here).

15-18 Months Old: The 2nd nap is beginning to disappear similar to how the catnap did when your babe was 6-9 months old (I know, I blacked out everything that happened in infancy already too).  You’ll notice over two weeks that the naps will become shorter, or your baby won’t be able to fall asleep easily.  You’ll want to slowly transition in 30 minute increments to eventually get to a 12pm or 1pm naptime.  This one nap should last 2-3 hours.

18 Months Old-3 Years Old: One nap remains, usually from 1-3pm in the afternoon.  After the 3rd birthday you will sadly notice this nap begin to disappear as well.  I recommend if your child stays at home to enforce “quiet time” in those hours still in their room with quiet activities, or you risk them accidentally passing out in the car coming home from dinner or having a complete meltdown by dinnertime.  (For help on creating a schedule, click here).

In the end, always be sure to use my “Sleep and the City” rules for successful sleep shaping:

  • The same sleeping environment is encouraged ( meaning one place over and over, or to start, at least one nap in the desired sleep place per day).  We LOVE the Dock-a-Tot Grand for my toddlers to achieve this no matter where we are! USE CODE 10EXIT for $10 off now! ;)
  • Swaddle (0-6 months) for nighttime and nap times as needed; we love how easy this is with the Ollie Swaddle and this link will get you 10% off ;)
  • Comfy outfits for nap time (who wants to sleep in tight pants or a dress?!)  We love pajamas from Finn & Emma, which are 100% organic and wonderful for sensitive skin.
  • White noise is continuously running; a one with low rumbling is best like our fave from Hatch Baby
  • Room is completely dark for naps & nighttime (nightlight over 2+ years ok)
  • Understand the Wake windows by age (For help on creating a schedule, click here).
  • Pause before rushing in to see if child can resettle on their own first if nap is less than 45 minutes
  • Feed upon WAKING from sleep, not before (bedtime is the exception)

For more professional Baby & Toddler Sleep Ideas and Help, visit sleepandthecity.com/instanthelp

 As always, contact me if you need any help and I'll be glad to take a look at your situation and recommend some great fixes that fit your lifestyle and child's temperament.  Have a great day everyone! ~Lauren

HOW TO SWADDLE YOUR BABY

I am a HUGE believer of swaddling newborn babes.  When done correctly, swaddling can help your baby sleep better, soothe a fussy baby and reduce SIDS risk.  And when paired with a consistent sleeping area and white noise, you're well on your way to establishing healthy sleep habits.

Many infants will fuss, squirm or hysterically cry while a frustrated parent attempts to go though the steps of swaddling that they learned in the hospital, giving up and determining that their child "hates the swaddle".  Newborn infants however don't immediately realize that they are moments away from womb-like bliss.  Using a simple swaddling solution (like the one above that we love from Ollie World) is key for any sleep-deprived parent desperate for a few more hours of sleep at 3am.  If you simply need a hospital refresher course, you've come to the right place.  

Let's brew some coffee together and walk through my TWO favorite ways to swaddle:

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The "Traditional" Swaddle Technique:  

Before I had my first baby, I soaked up every minute of my newborn hospital classes and paid extra close attention to everything the doctor, the nurses, the pediatricians, EVERYONE had to say on how to raise a child.  Then I had my son, and combined with an emergency cesarean and sleep deprivation, I couldn't even remember "Step One" of the hospital technique.  So let's break it down here using the "DUDU" Method coined by Dr. Harvey Karp's method, author of Happiest Baby on the Block:

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This is a great way to traditionally swaddle your baby, called the "DUDU" because of the Down-Up-Down-Up motions.

Swaddle Prep (START): Place the blanket on your bed like a diamond.  Fold the top corner down a bit and place baby's neck at the top, as seen in the first picture above on the left.  

Step One (DOWN): Hold baby's right arm straight down at his or her side.  Bring the blanket down and tuck it under baby's back.  Grab the blanket by the unwrapped shoulder and tug it SNUG.  Don't be surprised if your baby fusses even louder when you are going through these motions, they don't realize they're just seconds away from baby bliss!

Step Two (UP):  Hold baby's left arm straight at the side.  Bring the bottom point of the blanket straight up and place it on the shoulder.  Tuck the rest of the blanket under the whole left arm.

Step Three: (DOWN): Grab the blanket a few inches from baby's left shoulder and pull it down......just a little.  Hold that small fold of blanket pressed against baby's chest like you are holding down a ribbon to make a bow.

Step Four: (UP): Phew!  You're almost there!  Grab the last free corner.  Pull it straight out (to remove any slack) and then in one smooth motion bring it up and across baby's waist.  Wrap it snugly around the body like a belt, to hold baby's arms down firmly.  Soothe baby using your own techniques or using the 5 S's.

Step Five: DOWN that glass of wine, you did it!!! (Ok that's not a REAL Dudu-swaddle step but it feels so right to include it here).

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The "Easy" Swaddle Technique using the Ollie Swaddle:

Did I mention I was sleep deprived?  Did I also mention I could barely keep an eye open to attempt a 2am swaddle-ing with a large square blanket? Enter my favorite every-parent-can-do swaddle product from Ollie World, it's a true lifesaver!  This one-size-fits-all swaddle can also convert to a "under the armpits" swaddle version once baby begins to roll over around 4 months old.

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All it takes is THREE EASY STEPS:

Step One: Tuck the right non-velcro side of the Ollie under baby, just below the top of baby's shoulder.  Make sure baby's arms are down before crossing swaddle over baby; this is the step where most babies can be fussy but keep up the good work, you're almost done!

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Step Two: Secure the left side of the swaddle using the hook & loop closure.

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Step Three: Pull fabric through elastic loop to close the bottom (and pull back out to do midnight diaper changes, YES!!!)

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Step Four: Soothe baby! Wasn't that so simple?

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For a video of "how-to" swaddle, visit Ollie's website here for a visual step by step as well as a transitioning video once the swaddle is no longer needed.  Sleep & the City founder Lauren Olson is a trained & certified Happiest Baby on the Block Sleep Educator.

 

WHEN to Expect Your Baby To: Sleep Through the Night, Drop the Swaddle, Night Wean and More!

“When can my baby sleep through the night?   When can I stop swaddling? and “ When can I drop the dream feed?” are some of the first questions as a Mom that I found asking myself (and Googling for hours).  With so much conflicting information and advice from my friends and the Internet, I decided to really dedicate myself to learning as much about infant sleep as possible. Knowing what to expect and about WHEN to expect it made me feel just a little less crazy in the Motherhood department! 

Let’s take a peek at the sleep milestones for the first year......

When will my Baby to Sleep Through the Night?

This is the TOP reason why you’re reading this post, am I right?  This answer is dependent on what you consider “sleeping through the night.”  A newborn will need up to 8 weeks to switch their internal clocks from Night to Day, and feedings will occur every 1-3 hours.  By month two, a healthy full-term baby is capable of 4-6 hour stretches at night, and by month three, some parents will see that stretch to 6-8 hours.  At month four, that will stretch to 8+ hours for some children, and 10+ hours after the fourth month regression subsides.  These are best case scenarios!  If your child hasn't accomplished these stretches yet, have patience.  If your baby has gone longer, you're one of the lucky parents!  Some children just pick it up sooner, especially those without pre-existing sleep crutches such as “needing to nurse to sleep” or always having something in their mouths to doze off.  Comparing yourself to others will only frustrate you, so always team up with your doctor to see what your particular child is capable of.  Expectations: Anywhere from 3-9 months.

 

When to Drop all Baby Night Feedings or Night Wean?

Information that you read online pertaining to this varies WIDELY.  This is completely dependent on your child’s age, weight, growth chart, and how many calories they are consuming during the day.  A 6-month old baby for example whom wakes up 3 times a night for a full 10 minute feed each time is NOT capable of cold-turkey night weaning.  Always work with your doctor and review your child’s growth chart if you need assistance with this.  Once you have the green light from your doctor or lactation consultant to stretch out feedings at night, give it a shot for at least a week.  I’ve seen children as young as 3 months sleep 12 hours without a feed, and children as old as 12 months still receive a dream feed, so take it at your own pace. Of course I always recommend keeping a dream feed for at least 7 months to keep a happy, healthy and fed baby, and most doctors will agree that by 9 months, baby should be able to sleep all night (11+ hours) without a feed.  Expectations: Anywhere from 5-12 months.

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When to Drop the Swaddle?

The quick & easy answer: When baby begins to roll from back to front.  This can happen anywhere between 2-6 months depending on your child’s development, and I recommend slowly reducing the swaddle by one or both arms out for a few nights, followed by a sleep sack.  By the time baby reaches 3 months of age, the Moro Reflex (that makes them feel as though they are falling) will begin to subside and baby can sleep much more soundly without his or her arms bundled up.  Expectations: Anywhere between 3-6 months.

 

When to Drop the Evening Catnap?

Parents often tell me that the evening catnap is the most difficult and frustrating part of their day, so it’s no surprise to me that this is a common question I receive in my business.  On average, babies whom are at least 6 months are able to drop down to two naps per day, and some take a little longer, depending mostly on how long they nap and how well they are sleeping at night.  You’ll know your baby is ready to drop the 3rd catnap when he or she plays or fusses the entire time, or sleeps less than 30 minutes for 3 days a week, for 3 weeks in a row.  Need a schedule?  Download our sleep survival guide titled "Simple Sleep & Feeding Schedules"- this wlil save your sanity for $20. Expectations: Anywhere between 6-9 months.

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And Finally……The End of the Sleep Regressions?

(in Year One)

Ahhhh the Sleep Regressions.  You’ll experience a total of THREE sleep regressions before your child’s first birthday, and some affect children more than others.  Sleep regressions at ages 4, 8, & 12 months old are usually a result of a cognitive explosion in baby’s brain (becoming smarter & more aware!) or a gross motor development.  The 4-month regression usually affects all children, while the 8 & 12 month can sneak by sometimes completely unnoticed.  It’s important when passing through these regressions that you are consistent, and try not to over intervene.  Always give baby a chance to resettle themselves first, and stick with your routines.  Expectations: After 2+ years

 

“So how do I help baby reach these milestones without regressing?”

Option 1: Keep it simple and contact me at Hello@SleepandtheCity.com.  We can help you through these milestones & any regressions that may result quickly and identify any underlying causes that could be hindering your success. 

Option 2: Ride it out and stay consistent in your response, and respond age-appropriately.  And then drop us a line if it all goes south.  You can also visit our Sleep Survival Guides page for some great information to use at your disposal on your own time at home.

In the end, always be sure to use my “Sleep and the City” rules for successful sleep shaping:

  • The same sleeping environment is encouraged ( meaning one place over and over, or to start, at least one nap in the desired sleep place per day).  We LOVE the Dock-a-Tot Grand for my toddlers to achieve this no matter where we are!
  • Swaddle (0-6 months) for nighttime and nap times as needed; we love how easy this is with the Ollie Swaddle and this link will get you 10% off ;)
  • Comfy outfits for nap time (who wants to sleep in tight pants or a dress?!)  We love pajamas from Finn & Emma, which are 100% organic and wonderful for sensitive skin.
  • White noise is continuously running; a one with low rumbling is best like our fave from Hatch Baby
  • Room is completely dark for naps & nighttime (nightlight over 2+ years ok)
  • Understand the Wake windows by age (download at www.sleepandthecity.com)
  • Pause before rushing in to see if child can resettle on their own first if nap is less than 45 minutes
  • Feed upon WAKING from sleep, not before (bedtime is the exception)

For more professional Baby & Toddler Sleep Ideas and Help, visit sleepandthecity.com/instanthelp

Lauren Olson, Certified Child Sleep Specialist at home with her two children

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Daylight Savings: What Spring Forward means for your Baby and Toddler's Schedule and Early Rising

I LOVE the Spring forward time change.  Summer nights, sunny mornings, and because even though my children are technically waking up at the same time after, it FEELS like I'm kicking a$$ at this Mom thing when they sleep in "an hour later"......temporarily.  Don't all good things come to an end? Guess what- this one doesn't :)  I'm sharing my super easy & super secret Spring Forward Daylight savings sleep tips in this post, all for the price of just having you as a reader (Yes, you can buy me a drink later!)

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Ok let's start with: The "After" Schedule

I have a good friend nearby who always "conveniently" travels for work whenever there is a minor sleep issue or time change happening in her house, and we joke that it isn't accidental that she leaves her husband to deal with it.  Last year, same time change, she left for a 3 day work trip the night before the switch.  Hubby was happy his little angel slept in an extra hour that sunny Sunday morning, but horrified when his "easy-to-bed" daughter screamed for a full hour after lights out night after night.  Was he doing something differently than Mom?  Was she just being difficult?  Or maybe she was hungry?  A suddenly, when his wife returned home three nights later, it was as if nothing was different (which made him crazy, he swore it was two nights of misery!)

Here's what happened.

Every child has a night here or there where they test the waters with your authority, super common.  More than two nights in a row has me a lot more suspicious!  Although the sweet toddler below was used to getting up at 7am (which was now 8am), Daddy tried to put her down for bed at her NORMAL bedtime of 8pm (which, YUP, was actually 7pm prior to the change, a whole hour earlier than normal).  Bingo!

 Confused?  Me too.  

Here is a sample before & after one-nap (15mos+) schedule:

CURRENT:

Wake at 7am

Nap 1pm

Bedtime at 8pm

*They will wake up an hour later on Sunday (which really isn’t an hour later but looks like it, make sense?*

AFTER DAYLIGHT SAVINGS:

Wake at 8am

Nap at 2pm

Bedtime at 9pm

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NOW you have to ask yourself:  SLEEP IN......OR GO TO BED EARLY? (Buzzkill: You can't have both when you have kids.)  But you now have the option to choose (Pop, Fizz, Clink!).

If you chose Sleep In: You'll have to now stick to the "After" schedule religiously.  

If you chose Go to Bed Early:  You'll have to slowly work back to your "Current" or "Before" schedule by putting your child down for nap 30 minutes later, and down for bedtime 30 minutes later for at least 5-7 days.  If you're using the "after" schedule to achieve this, then naptime would be 1:30pm, and 8:30pm bedtime.  After a full week, move nap back to your "before time" and bedtime back to your "before bedtime" and your child should begin waking at the normal time again.

If you want your child to sleep past 5am, you NEED a blackout shade.  The sun rises on East-facing windows, signally your child's internal clock that it's time to get up!  Ain't nobody got time for waking up that early.  Here is our favorite, fool-proof window cover that works better that tin foil, and comes on & off a whole heck of a lot easier (for under $50!  Totally worth the extra zzz's.) 

In the end, always be sure to use my “Sleep and the City” rules for successful sleep shaping:

  • The same sleeping environment is encouraged ( meaning one place over and over, or to start, at least one nap in the desired sleep place per day).  We LOVE the Dock-a-Tot Grand for my toddlers to achieve this no matter where we are! USE CODE 10EXIT for $10 off now! ;)
  • Swaddle (0-6 months) for nighttime and nap times as needed; we love how easy this is with the Ollie Swaddle and this link will get you 10% off ;)
  • Comfy outfits for nap time (who wants to sleep in tight pants or a dress?!)  We love pajamas from Finn & Emma, which are 100% organic and wonderful for sensitive skin.
  • White noise is continuously running; a one with low rumbling is best like our fave from Hatch Baby
  • Room is completely dark for naps & nighttime (nightlight over 2+ years ok)
  • Understand the Wake windows by age (For help on creating a schedule, click here).
  • Pause before rushing in to see if child can resettle on their own first if nap is less than 45 minutes
  • Feed upon WAKING from sleep, not before (bedtime is the exception)

For more professional Baby & Toddler Sleep Ideas and Help, visit sleepandthecity.com/instanthelp

 As always, contact me if you need any help and I'll be glad to take a look at your situation and recommend some great fixes that fit your lifestyle and child's temperament.  Have a great day everyone!

 Sleep is possible, let's do this!

 

The Dock A Tot: A Sleep Consultant's Review & The Toddler Bed Transition

"How do you feel about the Dock-A-Tot?"  and "Do you think I should order the Dock-A-Tot for my child?" are two questions I receive almost weekly in my inbox.  After some extensive research, a little contemplation and my oldest child expressing interest about moving into a toddler bed, I finally decided to try the Dock for myself.

My 3-year old son, whom still sleeps in a crib, recently expressed some interest in moving to "big boy bed" (aka toddler bed), which is great, however he is a MOVER AND SHAKER at night, constantly rolling around, and waking up in all different positions and directions at night.  When traveling with my son, he sleeps on the floor in the same room as us, and we've found him under the bed, or halfway through the door completely asleep.  I heard about a company called Dock a Tot from a good friend, and as mentioned I have received dozens of curious client emails regarding the Dock.  The concept sounds fabulous, and keeping a consistent sleep environment when moving a child around from room to room (or moving into a new bed or house) is so crucial if you wish to keep healthy sleep habits.  

The company has two sizes, the "Deluxe" for ages 0-9 months, and a larger size "The Grand" that fits 9-36 month children. I wanted to order the Toddler-size for my son's transition from the crib to the toddler bed, so I teamed up with Dock-A-Tot and within a week our new Dock was at my front door step.  After my kids initially fought over it, lounged in it, and even pretended it was a boat (who doesn't love a game of Hot Lava?!), my toddler son was finally able to attempt sleeping with it for his first big night in his "big boy bed".

PAJAMAS / GRAND DOCK-A-TOT IN PRISTINE WHITE

PAJAMAS / GRAND DOCK-A-TOT IN PRISTINE WHITE

HE. LOVED. IT.  Which means I automatically loved it, right?  Well not so fast; my children tend to like something for it's newness and then lose interest later on.  But not his Dock- it's been nearly a week now, and he refuses to sleep without it, yells at his baby Sister when she even thinks about "pretending to sleep in it", and even drags the entire thing down a flight of stairs when I'm not looking to lounge in it while drinking his milk and enjoying his early morning cartoons!  Soon he'll be playing tug-of-war with another lady: his baby cousin, Olivia.  While on Auntie Duty, I was able to answer client emails, do my dishes, feed my two toddlers AND bake cookies while 5-month old Olivia was safely playing in Jack's Dock. 

Here's why I am in love with the Dock:

  • PERFECT solution for the crib-to- toddler bed transitioning.  A big new bed can be a scary place without the safety of your crib slats surrounding you when you're a young child, and the Dock can help provide some of that lost comfort in a small child's surroundings.  This cozy sleep solution can assist children in feeling secure & safe, while serving as a consistent sleeping environment while transitioning to their own room or a toddler bed.  Consistency in where a child sleeps is KEY to nap lengthening and uninterrupted sleep at night! (*it's also important to note that the smaller version, the Deluxe for 0-9mos old is not intended for use in cribs or bassinets for safety reasons, only for supervised napping and playtime).
  • It has big, thick breathable sides to keep children (like mine) from constantly rolling out of their toddler beds.
  • It's eco-friendly.  This is a big one that we don't often think about, but most children's mattresses are made with harsh chemicals and need to be covered with an allergy cover.  Unlike a mattress, Dock-a-Tot is hypo-allergenic & Oeko-Tex Certified (meaning free from harmful chemicals and only using fabrics/fibers made without scary pesticides).   
  • It's PORTABLE.  Making life & nighttime SO. MUCH. EASIER. when we travel overnight to Grandma's or on a mini vacation to the beach house or mountain.  Also the perfect solution if your child needs a safe area to be set down in, or if he or she naps in a separate room.
  • It's washable.  Yes, even though my children wear Pull-Ups at night, they still leak from time-to-time (anyone have any good overnight suggestions?!)  Thankfully you just slide the cover right off, and throw it in the washer, and tumble dry.  Easy to put back on, nothing like the crazy acrobatics you endure while changing a crib sheet.
  • It fits a standard size crib.  We started by first taking off one side of my son's convertible crib before turning it completely into a toddler bed with a full-size mattress, and the Dock fit the crib, and was easily put on top of his big mattress with no problem.
  • They have changeable covers.  So if you're handing down a Dock to a younger sibling, you can easily purchase a fun new print.  It's all about matching the decor, right??
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Shhhh....for SATC readers only......Click here to receive $10 off your first Dock-A-Tot using code DOCKCANDY10 or 15% off your $50+ Finn & Emma Organic Pajamas!

What is your experience with the Dock-a-Tot?  Did you notice a difference once you purchased one?  Are you still on the fence?  Contact us here or Visit our other "Sleep Must Haves" and help your baby start sleeping better tonight!

Our Top 10 Toddler Sleep Tips: Solutions to Sleep Problems Ages 2-5

Some can use the toilet (win!).  Some can climb into their own highchairs (nice!).  Most can misbehave (enter palm-in-face emoji here).  All have sleep issues, at least once (cue the groan from parents across the world).  Yes, even the BEST toddler nappers and night sleepers can experience temporary sleep problems from time to time.  Toddler sleep regressions, nightmares, bedtime battles (not to mention, when should they go to bed anyways??), moving to a toddler bed, or introducing a new sibling to the family can all cause night disturbances.  I'll keep it quick, I know your child-free time is precious ;)

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1.  Keep that nap!  So many parents are quick to think, "My child is having more trouble going down for naps, I bet if I drop the nap completely this will work out better in the end."  Perhaps you're right.  Or perhaps you will have a young toddler on a warpath by dinnertime.  Toddlers nap begin to gradually disappear around age 3, over a period of weeks (not a couple days), where naps can become shorter or the child plays the entire time.  Always encourage a quiet time until school age.  Even us adults need some down time after a busy morning.

2.  Beware of Bargaining.  I once read that bargaining is a toddler's currency.  They have nothing else to offer, but to ask for just one more book, one more hug, one more bathroom break.  Occasionally, this is fine, but it's important to stay consistent, and go back to the basics should it spiral out of control.

3.  Nightmares.  As a working-at-home Mom of two, no one understands putting on a quick cartoon more than me while you hustle through a 2-minute shower.  I get it.  Make sure you're monitoring what your children are watching when you're not watching closely, or what the younger sibling is watching WITH the older child.  Imagination in play peaks at age 3, which also means children have the ability to now dream "in sequence", making dreams much more vivid (or terrifying).  

4.  Toddler Rooms: Keep the room around 70 degrees, with white noise playing continuously and limited access to toys to encourage play. This is a room to sleep, not play until midnight.

5.  Nighttime Wakings: Occasionally your toddler will experience one, for a multitude of reasons.  It's best to reassure, stay in your toddler's room, and encourage him or her back to sleep, using as little intervention as possible.

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6.   Pull ups at night are OK!  Many parents will ask me, "What should I do if my toddler wets the bed" or "What should I say if he leaves the room at night to use the bathroom?"  It's perfectly acceptable to allow a pull-up until age 5, when a child's bladder completely matures.  Due to our body's biology, your child should not experience a BM diaper late at night, unless they are experiencing some tummy troubles from dinner of course.  

7.   Moving to a toddler bed is exciting, yet tricky.  This is a VERY exciting time for a young child, so expect some slight regressions at bedtime or in the middle of the night.  Lots of praise for those kiddos that stay (and sleep) in their big kid bed at night!  Purchasing a DockaTot could ease the transition as well, especially for those children that move a lot at night, roll out of the toddler bed, or whom enjoy feeling more safe & secure.

8.  Yes, the "Ok to Wake" color clocks work.  BUY ONE.  (Here's our favorite.)

9.  Rewards are ok and don't have to be grand.  I have my clients take their children to Starbucks for a hot chocolate, or pick a small prize from the Target dollar aisle.  It doesn't have to be a big reward, but if it's worth rewarding (sleeping all night in their room, etc.) then go for it! 

10.  Keep realistic expectations.  These are children, not robots, and not everything will go perfectly or smoothly the first time.  Even as adults we wake up at night, and can't seem to shut our brains off, so give your toddler some slack.  Always reassure, encourage, and take their feelings into consideration.

11.  Keep plenty of wine handy.  (OK, this wasn't a REAL step, but hey, I'm a realistic Mom! ;)

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How To Move Your Baby to a Crib & Toddler into a Big-Kid Bed: The Smooth Transition Guide to Crib, Toddler Bed & Room Acclimation

These are questions I receive over and over in my Inbox & through Facebook; all parents wondering how and when they can move their new infant to the crib, his or her own room, or if a toddler whom has been escaping the crib is ready for a big-kid bed (or when the appropriate time would be to move them into one!)  If you’re ready this, you are not alone- at some point we are all ready to have our rooms back, or finally put up that crib on Craigslist for some extra cash, right?? 

Keep in mind that I always recommend crib acclimation in conjunction with a customized sleep behavioral method (sleep training), so if your child isn’t already sleeping all night contact me here to find out more about accomplishing this first. 

So let’s break it down by age:

Newborns 0-3 Months: I would agree with the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) here and recommend all newborns co-sleep NEXT to their parent’s bed for the first three months, or at the very least in the same room.  If your newborn is especially noisy, some white noise such a fan can help you sleep while baby is sleeping (ha…ha….what’s sleep with a newborn?)  Some couples, especially those on their 2nd+ kid, choose to sleep baby in their crib from Night #1, but I’m guessing if you’re ready this particular paragraph that’s not the case (it’s hard work navigating down a dark hallway every 2-3 hours am I right?)  So there you have it, co-sleeping at this age, especially for BFing Mommas, is your answer.

Infants and Toddlers Moving to a Crib/Their Own Room:  Starting from 4 months old and up, your child now has the increased ability to self-soothe, and our good friend Melatonin secretes quite regularly now, giving your child the ability to sleep longer stretches at night.  For these reasons, 4 months is the age I recommend moving baby into their nursery, or the room you’d like them to be sleeping indefinitely.  Really think to yourself if you want that sweet noisy angel sleeping in your room when they are 2, 3, 5 years old…..if this isn’t your ideal of paradise, the younger the better to move them to their own room.  So if you’re ready to make the switch, know that infants under 1 year of age usually get used to their rooms at night in 2-3 days, and toddlers over 1 year of age take a little longer (around 7-14 days).  Remind yourself that with change comes protest, and consistency is what will prevail to your preferred outcome.  Below are three steps on how to make it happen:

1)      If your child is under 2 years old, expect some protesting the first few nights.  Therefore begin your bedtime routine about 30 minutes earlier and make sure it’s calm, soothing one where your child is drowsyand ready for sleep.

2)      If your child is over 2 years old, expect some additional manipulation tactics the first couple of weeks.  This could come in the form of “needing one more hug” or crying or the worst- your child coming to find you (aack!).   My rule for this is ONE more drink/hug- not two, not 10.  Keep your bedtime routine super consistent.  Do not engage in additional questions or arguing.  I encourage loveys/favorite blankets at this age, and nightlight that they can quietly look at books with if they aren’t ready to close their eyes just yet.  If they leave the room, silently return them to their room as many time as it takes.  Don’t give in, you can do iiiiiiittttt!

3)      End your bedtime routine in child’s room.  This means pajamas, last bottle (children under 1 only, move last milk/feed to before teeth brushing in toddlers), story time, prayers- all take place now in the nursery or child’s bedroom. 

o   For the quickest results: Lay child in crib drowsy but awake (about a 9 on a scale from 1-10 using soothing techniques or wind down routines for older ones), and provide a lovey that the child can hold.  Say “Goodnight my love” or “It’s time for sleep, I love you…” quietly and leave the room.  If crying ensues (this crying is product of change, usually not because they are in pain or scared), go ahead and wait at least 15 minutes before quickly checking on child with minimal interaction, using only your words from above as reassurance.  Do not pick child up, and only go in to lay down a standing/sitting toddler ONCE.  Loveys & pacifiers can also be replaced if child has thrown it overboard.  Leave again and try not to visit again for another 20 minutes and so on.  If your child has been sleeping through the night already, this process should go fairly smoothly, but know that the first few nights will be the toughest.  It’s always the darkest before the dawn, folks.

o   For the gentle-approach: Lay child in crib drowsy but awake, and provide a lovey that the child can hold.  Say “Goodnight my love” or “It’s time for sleep, I love you…” quietly and stay in the room until child falls asleep.  If crying ensues, go ahead and pick up child to calm them down only ONCE, and sit beside crib using soothing methods such a humming a song or repeating your words above.  Know that your presence alone may be stimulating, so if your child is noticeably more upset with you being in the room, then try the tips above for quicker results.  Every 2-3 nights, repeat process above but move 3-4 feet farther from the crib/bed until you are no longer in sight.  Expect every time you do move, for child to be somewhat upset, but remind yourself that this type of protesting is a product of change, and you’re allowing it, not making it happen (similar to allowing them to cry in a car seat, of course you’re not going to hold them on your lap and drive around instead.)

4)      “What if my child wakes up randomly in the middle of night and cries out for me?”  Super common, and very likely, so prepare yourself.  I advise my clients to wait at least 10 minutes (NOT 9 minutes and 59 seconds, 10.) before checking on child, and make sure you have a video monitor where you can reassure that nothing is really wrong.  If crying lasts over 10 minutes, go ahead and use either the “quick approach” or “gentle approach” above.  If baby has a BM diaper, go ahead and change him or her in the room with minimal lighting, placing them back down once they are clean (wet diapers can usually wait). 

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Toddlers moving to a Big-Kid Toddler Bed

Also a super common questions out there!  I recommend that toddlers stay in their cribs until at least age 3, or until they actively (or successfully) attempting to escape the crib, which poses a danger threat.  As for potty breaks, children’s bladders do not fully mature until age 5, so let them know that using a pull-up at night or diaper is perfectly fine (we tell our son it keeps his “booty warm at night”- works like a charm).   Keeping the diaper/pull up on a night will also prevent bed wetting at 3am- and if you find yourself in this situation, double up on sheets and mattress pads so you can pull off the top layer and avoid changing the entire bed half awake.  When your toddler is finally able to move into their own bed, talk about it and let them know the change is coming- children are creatures of habit and structure, they like to know what’s coming next- and how wonderful their new “big-kid” will be and how happy YOU will be that they are now in one.  Most children actually transition fairly well, and you can also invest in side rails, lay pillows on the floor surrounding the bed in case of a midnight fall, or install a baby gate on the doorway to prevent wandering around the house at night if you are worried.

Remember when it comes to the idea sleep environment for our littles, keep those temps 68-72 degrees, have white noise going all night along, and dark dark DARK for infants (I use this custom sized black out shade in my own house, under $50!) , nightlights ok for toddlers.  Good luck everyone, and as always, contact me if you or someone you know may need a little bit of help in the child sleep department. Have a great day and thanks for visiting!

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