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.)

3-4 Months Old:  Catnaps that last 30-45 minutes are NORMAL and common at this age due to neurological developments & advancements.  Your baby still needs to be taking at least 3-4 naps during this time, about 1.5-2 hours apart especially if the naps are all 45 minutes or less.  Bedtime might be moving up earlier at this age also if you haven't already begun shifting your little one.

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.)  Catnaps or naps that last less than 45 minutes are less common after 5 months of age, leading to lengthy and deeper naps- woo hoo!

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 Sleep when you're Pregnant: Tips on Pregnancy & Maternity sleep that every adult could use!

Heartburn.  Insomnia. Having to use the bathroom multiples times a night.  Just plain uncomfortable. 

Sound familiar?

If you've been pregnant, or are currently pregnant, this one's for you!  Our guest author today is Jenny Silverstone, blogger from MomLovesBest, and she is sharing her top tips for sleeping while you're pregnant, and how to minimize the side affects above (because you have enough of those already!).  With a lack of caffeine, coupled with any anxiety about Motherhood, great sleep can be difficult when you have a bun in the oven.  Even after you give birth, there are still some ways we'll share below on how to sleep through the night again!

 Photography by  Raven Vasquez Photography

Everyone needs sleep — without it, our moods, concentration, and health all plummet. But when you’re pregnant, you need your rest more than ever. You’re growing a new life inside you and that’s physically and emotionally draining.

But when you’re sleeping for two, does that mean you actually need twice as much as sleep as usual? How would you ever get anything done?

Some professionals recommend women get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night during pregnancy. Even then, some women won’t feel like this is nearly enough.  A study has shown moms who were pregnant with their first child and who slept less than 6 hours a night had a risk 4.5 times higher of having a C-section when compared with women who slept 7 hours or more (source). The women who slept less also had longer labors.

Pregnancy can negatively affect your sleep in multiple ways:

  • Worries can keep you up at night.
  • Morning sickness can make you miss out on shut-eye.
  • The frequent urge to pee can interrupt sleep.
  • It can be difficult to find a comfortable position.
  • In later pregnancy, back and pelvic pain can keep you up.
  • You might wake yourself up by snoring because some women begin to snore during pregnancy because of weight gain.
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The Benefits of Sleep and Rest During Pregnancy

Although it can be a challenge getting good sleep while pregnant, the benefits are big if you can manage it. Here are some of the benefits you’ll see:

  • It can reduce stress: You’re going to have stress in spades as an expectant mother. You’re going to have a lot to juggle — aches, worries, doctor’s appointments, preparing for your baby and more. Sleep will help you relax and feel calmer.
  • It can help your baby gain the proper amount of weight: Moms who had less sleep when they were pregnant — both in terms of quality and quantity — tended to have babies with lower birth weights. While you don’t want to set a world’s record for the heaviest baby, you also want to make sure it’s at a healthy weight.
  • It may help you obtain a full-term delivery: When a woman isn’t getting enough sleep, she tends to have increased inflammatory responses that can lead to preterm birth. Making sleep a priority can be enough to calm or avoid that inflammatory response to begin with.
  • You’ll have less depression: The link between lack of sleep and insomnia is strong — whether you’re pregnant or not (source). But add your changing lifestyle and body to the concerns about your baby’s health and depression can easily creep in if you’re feeling overtired.
  • A healthier immune system: A good night’s sleep can give your immune system a boost. That can help moms-to-be fight off any viruses or bacteria they are exposed to (source). The ability to fight off illnesses is going to keep both you and your baby healthier during your pregnancy.
  • You’ll have less pressure on your cervix: During pregnancy, the cervix stays closed so your baby stays in. Relaxing and resting will help your cervix stay in place.
  • There will be better circulation of blood to the uterus: More blood to the uterus means a better supply of oxygen and nutrients to your baby.
  • It helps fight high blood pressure: High blood pressure can strike during any pregnancy, and because the consequences can be severe, you have to take it seriously. One of the most common orders a doctor will give a woman who has high blood pressure is bed rest. That’s because resting helps ease the pressure from the heart.
  • You’ll have more energy: You’ll likely feel tired during pregnancy — it’s bound to happen at some point. But you don’t have to feel exhausted for the full nine months. With enough sleep you might find, especially during the second trimester, that you feel downright energetic.
  • It may help keep placenta previa at bay: Placenta previa is when the placenta blocks part of the uterus, which is a dangerous situation for both a mother and her baby (source). To combat this condition, your doctor will order plenty of rest for you.
Whitney Pregnancy Sleep

Here are my Top 10 Tips for Great Pregnancy Sleep While You're Pregnant:

1. Create a Solid Nighttime Routine

When your baby is born you’ll understand the power of a good nighttime routine for your child — it can be soothing and can signal to their body and mind that it’s time to sleep. A nighttime routine is good for you as well.  Your nighttime routine might be taking a warm shower to relax your muscles and ease tension, sipping on a cup of tea, and having a snack while you let your mind unwind with your favorite television show.

2. Activities That Can Help You Fall Asleep Faster

The key to picking an activity that will help you fall asleep is to not make it super exciting. You don’t want to watch a movie you’ve been dying to see for months.  You should find something that might naturally be snooze-inducing, like reading some boring scientific journals or watching an old black and white movie you don’t think will hold your interest.  Another thing you could do is take a warm shower while you’re listening to relaxing music.

3. Try These Foods and Drinks To Help You Sleep Better

When looking for a way to sleep better, don’t ignore your food and drink choices. Some act like a magic sleeping potion. And when you eat several for dinner before bed, it’s even better.

Here are some great choices:

  • Kiwis.
  • Soy products.
  • Beans.
  • Artichokes.
  • Tart cherry juice, and as a side perk, it can be great at relieving aches and pains — runners use it for that purpose.
  • Whole grains.
  • Yogurt.
  • Kale.
  • Bananas.
  • Warm milk.

4. Avoid or Cut Back On These Things

There are certain things you should stay away from if you’re trying to fall peacefully to sleep at bedtime:

  • Fluids: Too many drinks in the hour or two before bed will have you racing to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Unless you relish the idea of taking more night time bathroom breaks than your grandma, limit the after-dinner drinks and try to get most of your hydration during the day and early evening.
  • Electronic devices:  Electronics are too stimulating for many people. Whether you’re playing that hard-to-reach level of Candy Crush or you’re catching up on your work emails, it’s too easy to get sucked into electronic devices and all the drama that can come with them.
  • Napping while pregnant: Naps are a great idea for pregnant women because they can help make up for some of the sleep they don’t get at night. But the key to napping is to not let it work against your night sleep schedule.  The last thing you want to do is nap so long you suffer from insomnia at night. So if you’re taking an afternoon nap, you should keep it short enough it won’t interfere with your bedtime.  Even when you’re napping in the morning, shorter might be better. A 20-minute nap is enough to recharge your batteries without making you feel overtired (source). But if you’ve had a few terrible nights of sleep in a row, you may want to pencil in a longer nap during the morning if you can. It should still be far enough away from your bedtime that it won’t sabotage your upcoming night of sleep.

5. Consider Aromatherapy

Sometimes smells are enough to help you relax and put you in the mood for sleep. There are different methods of getting your aromatherapy fix.

  • Candles.
  • Ultrasonic diffusers.
  • Fresh flowers
  • Essential oils.

But if you opt for essential oils, remember there is a long list of ones you should stay away from. And you should never use any essential oils in the first trimester when a baby is developing all of its critical organs (source).

Also, before you use aromatherapy, you should consider any potential health risks associated with it. Some medical professionals say candles, aerosols, plug-in air fresheners, and gels may contain chemicals that can be harmful to people.

But there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to sound the alarm yet. And if you do use candles or other aromatherapy methods, you might just want to crack a window to be on the safe side (source).

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6. Get a Bedtime Massage

Nothing can feel as good on tired, sore muscles as a massage. And the best kind of massage is one you don’t have to pay for.  If you can talk your partner into giving you a rubdown each night, you’ll feel much more relaxed and sleepy. With some shea butter, you’ll almost be able to close your eyes and picture you’re at a spa.  Here are some great areas to focus on:

  • Belly, but make sure to use a gentle touch.
  • Head.
  • Lower back.
  • Shoulders.
  • Feet.
  • Lower legs.

7. Use Pregnancy Pillows

Pregnancy pillows are oversized pillows made to be used by pregnant women who are looking for a more comfortable position.  There is a wide variety of pillows shapes — U-shape, total body pillows, inflatable pillows, and wedges.

Here is what each one can do:

  • Total body pillows: These are best for when you have a large number of aches and pains spread throughout your body.
  • U-shaped: These are good for back sleepers who are trying to learn to sleep on their sides. They can prop you up on your side.
  • Inflatable pillows: This is the biggest pillow you can find and stomach sleepers seem to love this kind.
  • Wedges: When you don’t want to share your bed with a big pillow, but you need some extra support for your belly or your back, you can opt for a wedge.
  • C-shaped: If you don’t have as much room in your bed, you can go with this shape. This kind is best for plus-size women (source).

Pregnancy pillows can help you find a comfortable position so you can sleep peacefully throughout the night with less tossing and turning.  If you’re using a wedge, get in your desired position and place it wherever you need support. If you’re using a bigger pillow, it might be easiest to put the pillow in place and then climb onto it, adjusting it as you figure out which position feels best.  You can wrap it around your head and neck, legs, and belly however it feels best.

8. Make Your Bedroom More Conducive For Sleeping

If your bedroom is a place that feels relaxing to you, you might be better able to sleep there.Here are some ideas to help you turn your room into a place that will lull you to sleep.

  • Find the right temperature: You’ll sleep better in a cooler room. Consider turning your thermostat down to 68 degrees or lower.
  • Keep the lights down: Put up blinds or shades over your windows to block out any street lights or the sun in the morning.
  • Consider white noise: Sometimes white noise, like from a fan, can be enough to relax you into going to sleep. If you love the sound of the ocean, consider a machine that makes wave sounds.
  • Get comfy sheets and blankets: Pregnancy is a great time to upgrade to that thread count you’ve always wanted for sheets. With all you’re going through, you deserve a little pampering.

9. Wear a Belly Band

Some women swear by the comfort a belly band provides. It can help with pelvic, hip, and back pain.  Some Mamas-to-be like to sleep with it, but others feel that’s too much and would rather sleep without it. By controlling your pain throughout the day — a belly band can help you sleep at night even if you don’t wear it at bedtime. It will help keep your daily aches and pains at bay.  If you don’t like wearing it at bed, find your most comfortable pajamas and slip between the sheets.

10. Apps to Help You Sleep Better

Sleep apps can play relaxing sounds or music when you sleep. Others can track and analyze your sleep patterns.  There are even adult coloring book apps meant to help you fight your anxiety so you can sleep.  The sky’s the limit when it comes to apps — you can find ones that use hypnotherapy and meditation recordings.

Some of my personal favorite free sleep apps are:


You can find more of Jenny's incredible parenting tips and baby advice on MomLovesBest.com !

Early Risers: Babies and Toddlers that wake up WAY too early and how to fix it!

If I wanted a 5am wakeup call every morning, I'd buy an alarm clock.   

Does this sound like your reality? Your baby, your toddler, or BOTH children up at the crack of dawn, either bouncing off your bed or screaming over the monitor to be picked up out of the crib...EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING.  Between 6-8am is an age-appropriate wake time for children, but what about those that wake before 6am ready for the day?  Defined as "Early Rising", these morning larks continuously rise with the sun, regardless of their bedtime.  When my daughter was an Infant, I was greeted DAILY with a 5:30am wakeup, regardless of what time she went to bed that night. I would think "Whhhhhyyyyyyy is she already awake?!  I swear she went to bed later than normal!" I was so over it, but wasn't sure exactly what was causing it! 

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TOP Reasons your Babe Might be Waking Up too Early for the Day

1. It's BRIGHT. You need a nearly pitch-black room at 5am still when the summer sun starts to rise. Wood blinds and/or blackout shades often aren't enough, so I suggest window covers to achieve this (see example on my website under Sleep Must Haves.)  In my daughter's case, the MINUTE I put up this shade, she began sleeping in until 7am.  Guess that morning light was her signal that it was time to wake up, due to the fact she wasn't yet old enough to understand a clock!
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2. The last "Wake window" of your child's day is too long. For napping toddlers, this is 6 hours or less; any longer is a recipe for meltdowns. For help with schedules ages 0-4, download the Sleep and Feeding Schedules Guide; it'll save your life.
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3. Bedtime is TOO EARLY or TOO LATE. This goes for all children, napping or not. A bedtime before 7pm could cause even the best sleeper to be up for the day at 5am depending on nap lengths.  On the flip side, pushing back their bedtime in hopes that "they might sleep in" often backfires or results in night wakings, and children will typically continue to wake before 6am regardless.

Ok, check.  But now how do I fix it?  Ready for Baby to begin sleeping in?  Here are my TOP TIPS TO SHIFT "EARLY RISERS":

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Tip #1: Create & maintain a sleep log.  Why is this important? In order to understand how many hours your child needs to sleep in a 24-hour period, you're going to need to calculate that average over 3-4 weekdays (weekends are usually so busy that it can be difficult to gauge an average).  Depending on your child's age, they need anywhere from 10 to 18 hours of sleep per day, so it's important to know where they fall in that range.

Tip #2: Invest in some blackout shades and white noise.  These are two of the TOP ITEMS I suggest to all my clients.  Black outs block out unwanted light which can accidentally signal the body's internal clock that it's "daytime", and white noise blocks out unsolicited noise (garbage trucks, Dad leaving for work, the dog barking, me tripping over the baby gate while I'm sneaking downstairs for coffee).  This custom black out shade is under $50 and can easily be taken off during the day, and it's much easier than tin foiling up that window.  The white noise we are currently using here in our home is from Hatch, called The Rest, which is a 3-in-1 machine that not only creates the perfect white noise, but doubles as a night light and Ok-to-Wake clock which is vital for healthy toddler sleep habits.

Tip #3: Create or tweak your schedule.  Missing naps, short naps, bedtimes too late, bedtimes too early, or having unrealistic expectations ALL cause early wakings.  If your 2-year old is going to bed at 6pm (this age group sleeps 10-12 hours on average at night) and is waking at 5am- that's 11 hours i.e pretty textbook!!  If this is you, your bedtime needs to move back.  When it comes to missing sleep (vacation, overstimulation, poor napping), an overtired child has a harder time going to sleep AND staying asleep, and thus this causes early rising.

Tip #4: Ready & Get Set. Now you understand Little Jack needs 11 hours of sleep per night and you understand what the best time for bed is (if he sleeps 11 hours and you want him up at 7am, then 8pm is your new bedtime), you have your tin foiled window & radio all set, and you've figured out an age-appropriate schedule (don't have a schedule? Grab a Custom Schedule here for your baby or toddler to begin using today!), I want you to START USING THEM for at least a full week.  Yes, a full week. I never said this was going to be easy, but you have to make the changes before you want perfection.  Child sleep is rarely a "sprint", always a marathon.

Tip #5: AND GO!  Using the example child above, you will now not allow baby to get up for the day for at least 10-11 hours after bedtime.  This means you'll start treating that 5am wakeup call like a night waking.  This can either be a brief visit in the dark, laying on the floor in the dark room with your child pretending to sleep (BORING is key if you choose to interact) or you can watch over the monitor.  Do NOT get them up for the day, whatever you do.  THIS WILL TAKE A WEEK or so, just like a time change, it takes TIME to shift a little one's internal rhythm.

Is all of this information blowing your Mommy mind?  

My business is JUDGEMENT FREE, so please let me know if I can help you sort through this via the Mini Consultation.  Drop me an email, or Contact Us here for more information about how we can work together and create a bedtime, sleep-inducing room, schedule & shifting program for your little!

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The Dock A Tot: A Sleep Consultant's Review & Moving to the Toddler Bed

Named as one of the TOP baby registry items in 2017, we couldn't be happier to announce that Sleep & the City is NOW a DockaTot sleep expert!

Best known for encouraging longer naps and sleeping through the night, we couldn't be happier or more honored to be named as a Top Sleep Expert by Dockatot!  The Dockatot is a portable option for travelers, a safe spot to allow baby to explore a new toy, and a wonderful solution for keeping a child's sleeping environment consistent.  Available in two sizes, the Deluxe for Infants and the Grand for Toddlers, in a variety of prints that will easily be the envy of your friends and match any nursery decor idea (also has removable covers that can easily be switched out when passing down to a new baby!)

Read our review below on the Dockatot Grand (ages 9+ months) and check back for our Newborn review coming soon!  Questions about whether or not this product is right for your family?  Shoot us an email, or check out the Dockatot Website here and use code DOCKCANDY10 at checkout for $10 off!

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 I N 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!

Baby and Toddler Nap Transitions: When and How to Drop a Nap

NAP JAIL.  It’s a real thing, and often times, you won’t understand the meaning unless you’re a Mom or Dad living through it.  Nap Jail as I call it, refers to the time(s) of day where you are locked down in your home, unable to leave due to your baby or toddler’s nap time.  In the beginning of your little one’s life, you’re quite literally in nap jail all day!  The good news: all these naps won’t last forever, and wake windows will increase with age, which means it could be time for you to begin thinking about introducing an older age-appropriate schedule that includes less naps.  But when do you know that your baby is ready?  How long should each of these naps be in length?  And how exactly do you go about changing up your child’s schedule so gently that it doesn’t affect their night sleep?  Let’s discuss by starting with the younger babes below.

nap transitions for baby and toddler sleep

Let’s start with the necessary number of naps by age for children under 12 months of age: 

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These are the desirable nap totals per day by age for children 5-12 months. Under 5 months of age, naps are incredibly inconsistent in time and length, therefore only striving to meet napping totals is recommended.  Between the ages of 6-9 months is when you’ll want to drop down from three naps to two naps, timing them about 3-3.5 hours apart from one another.  You start the transition by simply increasing the time spent awake between sleeps, beginning with stretching baby’s wake window by 30 minutes each time for a week, then another 30 minutes the following week until you’ve met the goal of 3-3.5 hours apart.  

You’ll know that baby is ready to drop a nap once you see the following signs for at least three days per week, three weeks in a row: 

  • Baby refusing the first nap of the day, or playing/fussing the entire time
  • Baby refusing the last nap of the day, playing/fussing the entire time
  • A nap that was consistently long in length drops to 30 minutes or less

Once baby is between 15-18 months, he or she is ready for the biggest step of all: the one-nap schedule!  On a one-nap schedule, your toddler should be achieving about one to two hours of napping per day. Once your child is showing the signs above of needing to drop one of the two naps, it’s time to begin thinking about lengthening your wake windows once again, this time to five to six hours between sleeps.  This is a large leap from the time between naps that they are used to having, so you’ll want to take it slow.  Here are the steps you’ll take to successfully drop down to one nap:

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  • Make sure your child has a consistent schedule before you attempt to drop down to one nap.  This means you’ll be attempting to encourage a nap every 3-3.5 hours for at least a week before you introduce a one-nap schedule.
  • Starting with the morning wake window, you’ll want to slowly increase this wake window to four hours before offering a nap.
  • After the end of the one nap, aim for bedtime to occur about five to six hours after waking from the nap itself.
  • You’ll want your child to nap for at least 45 minutes, but no more than 2 hours.  If baby only sleeps 45 minutes the first few times you attempt the one-nap schedule, move bedtime up earlier that night by thirty minutes.
  • If baby naps more than 2 hours, wake him or her up and aim for bedtime to occur five hours after waking from the nap, or the max wake window suggested for this age (6 hours).
  • After your child is able to sleep one hour or more on a consistent basis, you can increase the time spent awake in the morning before naps to 5-6 hours from waking.

Here is an example of a transitional schedule for a toddler waking at 7am, followed by a “one-nap” schedule that you will introduce after the nap has once again lengthened:

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The first three weeks that you attempt a one-nap schedule, expect short naps, this is extremely common!  Stay patient and celebrate the small wins, and make sure that you praise and reassure your child.

 Photo cred: @littlemissleighton

Photo cred: @littlemissleighton

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).

¥ Swaddle (0-6 months) for nighttime and nap times as needed 

¥ Comfy outfits for nap time

¥ White noise is continuously running; a one with low rumbling is best

¥ Room is completely dark for naps & nighttime (nightlight over 2+ years ok)

¥ Understand the Wake windows by age and know how to respond to night wakings accurately

¥ 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)

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Recommended by MovingBabies

Pacifier Weaning: When is the Best Age to Wean or Take Away the Pacifier from Baby or Toddler?

The pacifier (or dummy) is a wonderful soothing tool for Newborns under 3 months, who come into this world with a need and strong instinct to suck.  In fact, many children grow to love their pacifier for years to come!  By the time baby reaches 8 months, with a little practice, many have the ability to replace the binky themselves, woohoo!!  However, if you have found yourself re-plugging baby's pacifier all night long, it may be time to rethink your soothing strategy.

When you or your child is finally ready to drop the pacifier, what are the best methods to gently wean a baby or toddler? And when is the best time? And how exactly do you even begin?? Let's dive into the world of pacifier weaning.....

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AGE MATTERS:  The best possible age to wean from the pacifier is follows:  Between 4-6 months, and after 2.5 years of age.  Between the ages of 6M-2.5YRS, there are extreme spikes in separation anxiety, stranger danger, and developmental leaps.  Taking away a primary comfort item during this time is not only traumatic for the baby, but could also lead to the baby wanting something in it's place to soothe him or her back to sleep between every sleep cycle, which repeats every 45 minutes.  However, if you're still willing to go for it, see the next step below which is good for pacifier weaning at any age.

ENCOURAGE AN ALTERNATIVE: A lovey, a small silky blanket (like this one), or a small stuffed animal to squeeze at night can be encouraged during the DAY in place of the binky to transfer their attachment to.  To encourage the bond, bring the new lovey on car rides, place in child's hands during cartoons/storytime, and incorporate the new "friend" in silly games like peek-a-boo games in the child's room or wearing it on your head and ask your child to "help you find it". Make sure the lovey has no small parts like button eyes or any potential choking hazards. 

SLOW & STEADY: To gradually wean a 4-6 month old off the pacifier, start by introducing about 5 minutes of rocking into your naptime and bedtime routines after the feed, allowing baby to suck on the pacifier.  When baby is about a 9-9.5 on the drowsy scale, slowly inch it out with your pinky finger.  If baby's eyes pop open and they look around, go ahead and pop it back in, keep rocking, and try again in a few minutes.  This can also be done if baby is already in the crib, and almost asleep.  Give it a week or so, practice makes perfect!

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LIMIT TO NAPS & NIGHT:  To begin, start by limiting pacifier usage to the crib for naps and nights (another great way to encourage sleep!) If your toddler throws a fit or needs calming during the day, encourage your little to take a breather in another room, give him some additional one-on-one time, or find his new lovey or security (from above) to calm down with.

PACI-FREE TIME: If limiting to naps/night is too much of a step for your paci-loving toddler, try instead to limit it's usage throughout the day to 30 minutes for 2-3 days, then 45 minutes and so on.  This can also work the other way, allowing the child to have binky back after 30 minutes, then 45 minutes and so on.  Make it fun and encourage good behavior!

GOSSIP:  Let your child overhear you "raving" on the phone/to his animals/older sibling/parent about how your toddler went all morning without the pacifier. Reassurance and PRAISE for the older toddlers is a must!

DISCUSS: Sit down with your child and discuss together when to give up the binky.  This could be a special day, like the weekend or an upcoming birthday, and reward them with a special trip somewhere they enjoy, or that toy they've seen (over and over and OVER- or is it just me that sees it this many times?!) on the Disney Channel commercials.

READ ABOUT IT: Invest in some tried n' true pacifier weaning books to enjoy with your child at night for about a week before you attempt to remove it completely.  This book has rave reviews on Amazon by parents whom have sworn by it!

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Lots of love, reassurance, and positivity will ease your child through the transition.  some toddlers may regress; it's ok to "call it" and try again another week. 

 Contact us here if you'd like some further assistance on this topic, we are always here to help, make your life easier, and toast our wine glasses to your successes! xo

Daylight Savings 2018: How to "Spring Forward" your Baby and Toddler's Nights, Naps, including Schedule and Early Rising

Daylight Savings 2018: How to "Spring Forward" your Baby and Toddler's Nights, Naps, including Schedule and Early Rising

As a special Thank You to all of my dedicated readers, I'm sharing my super easy (& super secret) Spring Forward Daylight Savings sleep tips today in this post so you can enjoy your summer alongside me!  Wake up- this is parenthood- don't all good things come to an end?! Guess what- this one doesn't have to.  Read more to find out how you can use this time change to your parenting advantage!

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Top 5 Mistakes that New Moms Make: How to Prioritize Sleep, Nutrition, and "Me Time"

Get pregnant, check.  Have a beautiful, healthy baby, check.  Read the manual the hospital sends home with you after baby is born...wait, you didn't get one either? 

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Of course becoming a Mom is a big learning curve for most of us, and I was no exception.  After years of raising my own children, my nieces, and helping out friends & clients, I wanted to compile a quick list of items that I personally felt that I could have done better in hindsight.  As a new or seasoned Mom, you're only required to do your best, but hopefully you can skip a few of these mistakes below when it comes time to make a decision about your baby, lifestyle or routines at home.  In the comments, let me know what you think?  Do you agree?    

Mistake #1: (Incorrectly) Bed-sharing

  The very first 4 weeks of life, both of my children slept swaddled up between my husband and I, within 12 inches of our faces, so in the event the baby should stop breathing (I still worry about this even to this day!), we could easily be woken up and tend to the baby quickly.  I remember waking one night to see that one of my pillows was only inches from my newborn's face- and that was the last night she slept between us.  Although bedsharing is commonly practiced in many parts of the world, especially with breastfeeding mothers, the AAP actually does not recommend bedsharing at all.  Recent studies have shown that most bed-sharing deaths occur when an adult that is under the influence of drugs, alcohol or is a moderate smoker, all ways to sleep heavier and deeper (thus not waking up if baby is in distress).  I believe you should be able to make your own informed decision here, so if you do consider this, here are some pointers:

  • Sleep with the spring mattress on the floor (no box spring), no pillows and no blankets/comforters.  Parents should wear additional layers to stay warm.
  • Consider investing in a safe sleeping area for baby between or next to the adult, such as the one DockaTot provides (also great to combat separation anxiety and lengthen naps!)  Visit our "Sleep Must Haves" tab for more information on this Babylist 2017 winning product
  • Do not sleep together with baby if you are a smoker, or smoked during pregnancy, or under the influence of any OTC or illegal drugs
  • Offer a separate sleeping area for older siblings, such as next to the mattress on the floor in a larger Dockatot (the Grand)
  • Do not swaddle a bedsharing baby, this may cause overheating.
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Mistake #2: Keeping Baby up during the day to help him/her sleep better at night

Guys, even my pediatrician recommended this little ugly and WRONG piece of new Mom advice.  When I asked at my son's 4-week appointment the common "How can I get him to sleep longer stretches at night" question, my pediatrician (who above all else was fabulous btw) answered, "Do whatever you can to engage him during the day!"  LIttle did I know that a Newborn's circadian rhythm develops in approximately 6-8 weeks, meaning it'll take a little over 1-2 months for your baby to switch their nights to their days and sleep longer at night.  So there I was, keeping my poor crying son up for hours at a time, and feeling absolutely defeated when this tiny overtired child would only nap for 20 minutes at a time.  SLEEP BEGETS SLEEP, meaning the more rested a baby is, the better he or she will sleep.  Once I was able to figure out that a child of his age should only be awake in between naps for about 90 minutes or less, he started sleeping through the night by 10 weeks!

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Mistake #3: Mama Isolation or "The Newborn Fog"

Admit it, you were, or are, a much less devoted friend to your group of girlfriends now then before baby was born.  And you should be by all means; children are work, but GREAT work, and sometimes (ok, always) that means social obligations fall to the side.  However, this can leave a New Mom or newly-stay-at-home-Mom feeling alone.  Not feeling like you can leave a breastfeeding baby for a quick break, or connect with other Moms going through the same things you are, can feel overwhelming and frustrating at times.  The good news: This Newborn Fog we all experience won't last for long.  The bad news: if you don't take time for yourself and reach out to others going through the same experiences, you might find yourself feeling way too lonely- or isolated- and bring on those baby blues.  Try finding a local MOPS group (2 hours of morning chats with other Mother's of preschool children/babies & listening to hand-picked speakers- and most have daycares for free!), or search for a Moms group with your city name within Facebook like "Los Angeles Moms Club"- there are TONS of other women dying to meet each and chat about that gross yellow poop and exchange babysitter information.  Don't be afraid to reach out, trust me you'll be SO glad you did!

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Mistake #4: Pacifying my Baby to sleep every single time

Breastfeeding was LOVE for me the day I latched my daughter for the first time and got the thumbs up from the hospital nurse.  She had a terrific latch, and was on her way to be an excellent feeder.  This was unchartered territory for me, as my first child was a formula-fed child  from Day One after a semi-traumatic emergency cesarean.  I embraced feeding her, and felt proud and formed a deep connection with her knowing that I was her primary source of nutrition, I was the one still keeping this tiny human alive who was sleeping 3-4 hours at night by one month old...until she became sick a month later, causing night wakings every 2 hours.  I was desperate for sleep, crying alongside her many nights.  I tried something one of my friend's had mentioned, "Just put a boob in her mouth to get her back to sleep".  So I tried this new idea...and it worked, she fell asleep so quickly!  But as the nights went on, she went from waking every 2 hours, to every 45 minutes. She didn't need a feed every 45 minutes, as I confirmed with my doctor, hallelujah! This tiny baby could no longer fall asleep without a breast in her mouth.  Now clearly if you've followed along with me for a while now you know what I did next (as she was too tiny to formally sleep train), and I can tell you I didn't stop feeding her at night.  But I did stop feeding/pacifying her at EVERY waking, and instead offered an alternative form of soothing like rocking, swaying, singing, etc. After a few more weeks, she was sleeping 4-8 hour stretches at night!

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Mistake #5: Comparing your Baby's Sleep to Others, Including a Sibling

"My 6-week old son naps for 6 hours a day, he's amazing, I get so much done!" or "My daughter slept through the night by 4 weeks, I don't know what the big deal is?" are examples of the conversations I've overheard in Facebook groups and Mommy playdates.  Comparison when it comes to sleep will do you no good, take it from me.  As parent's, we often try to focus on our child's accomplishments instead of the downfalls, and usually what you're reading on Facebook has some truth to it, but it's not all rainbows there either all the time.  I often also receive emails from parents frustrated with a 2nd or 3rd child's sleep habits, mentioning that they never had a problem with their previous child.  I am here to tell you, that while we are all for the majority "wired the same" when it comes to sleep, that all children are different with different temperments.  Yep, you can raise your first and second baby exactly the same, and one will nap better, and one will always sleep in later, and one will never wet the bed or experience nightly terrors.  So here's my PSA: Just don't worry about others, and do the best you know how to do.

What was one of the mistakes, or learning curves that you can look back on and wish you knew before you had a baby?  Do you agree with the above?  What was your experience as a new Mom like?  Comment below and let's chat!

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How to Dress Baby for Sleep: Safe Clothing & Bedding Suggestions for every season- with TealBee Organics

How to Dress Baby for Sleep: Safe Clothing & Bedding Suggestions for every season- with TealBee Organics

Baby has finally arrived, and it’s the first night home from the hospital- but what should your baby wear to sleep at night? And what about your older toddler?  Hi, I’m Lauren, certified Sleep Specialist with Sleep and the City, and I’m talking today about how to dress your child comfortably at night during any season (and at any age!) and provide the optimal environment for quality sleep.  Throughout my post today I’ll also include some of my favorite examples of clothing and bedding from TealBee.com, so let’s dive in!

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

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?" These are two questions I receive almost weekly in my Inbox, as this Baby "Must Have" is on the top of most Mama's list of "Wants".  After some extensive research, a little contemplation and my toddler expressing interest about moving into a toddler bed, I finally decided to try the Dock for myself.

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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!

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

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! 

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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). 

  JENNY LIND TODDLER BED  FROM PROJECT NURSERY

JENNY LIND TODDLER BED FROM PROJECT NURSERY

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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