Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Best Sleep Coaching Tips

I come across these issues very often in my practice so thought I would share them with you.  Once you are ready to start sleeping coaching, following these top tips will help you achieve success and get the much needed sleep for you and your lil one.

Top tip #1 – Bedtime is the easiest time to learn independent sleep.


When you have a sleep plan in place and you are ready to begin teaching your lil one the skill of independent sleep – Start At Bedtime (the easiest time for your lil one to learn the new skill).

I have had many parents tell me ‘we tried that awake thing at a nap once and it didn’t work’ or ‘I tried that in in the middle of the night and it didn’t work’.  These parents all started at the most difficult time to teach this lifelong skill.

Bedtime is also the time when you will be able to make better decisions. If bedtime is all you can handle right now, it’s ok to focus your efforts at this time for now.  Once you get it right at bedtime, you will have the confidence to address the other times, like night waking and naps.

Have a nice relaxing structured bedtime routine and put your child into their bed while still awake.  Then use your chosen sleep coaching method to help your child learn to fall asleep in their sleeping space.  This is how, over time, your child will learn to put himself to sleep without your assistance.

Top tip #2 – Bedtime and night waking – 2 different skills!


Learning to go to sleep at bedtime without a negative sleep association is one skill. Learning to go back to sleep after a partial arousal during night-time is another skill.

I have many parents tell me ‘he can fall asleep at bedtime that is a breeze, he just won’t stay sleep’.  I come across many children who can fall asleep independently at bedtime but need assistance during the night.  This child hasn’t learned both pieces that are needed to sleep independently throughout the night.

Once your child has mastered bedtime self soothing, your child’s night waking will likely decrease – but not all of the night wakings will go away.  With consistency you can help your child learn to go back to sleep in the middle of the night without your assistance.

You mastered bedtime, now you use your sleep coaching method to help your lil one learn to go back to sleep in the night … when your child wakes in the middle of the night, do a quick crib side check to make sure all is well and stick with it until he falls asleep.  You will do this for each waking until 6am.

Top tip #3 – Nobody sleeps through the night!


The term sleeping through the night is very misleading … everyone wakes in the middle of the night.  We all pass through sleep cycles during the night – we switch from REM to non-REM and the change in our brain activity wakes us up a little bit.

This is called a partial arousal.  We also have complete arousals, which wake you up a bit more and they occur every 3-4hrs in the night.

If your lil one is rocked, nursed, bottled, or held until all the way asleep or very drowsy at bedtime then they will need you to come back and help them again at each arousal during the night.

What I frequently see parents do is:
1)   Confuse the partial arousal (or brain wake up) with a hunger wake up.  Your child may not have been hungry at all, but most will be happy to have a lil warm milk with mom and now you have reinforced the suck to sleep association.

Ask your pediatrician how many hours your child can go without a feed at night.

2)   Rush in at the first peep and don’t give the child a chance to get themselves back to sleep, especially considering that you now know they are really just shifting sleep cycles.  Often they are not completely awake.

3)   Come in to help the child, even when not in distress or crying.  It is common for children to wake, cry out then go quiet or babble or moan until they drift back to sleep.  If you rush in you are interfering with the child’s ability to learn how to put them self back to sleep after an arousal.

I hope you have found these sleep tips helpful and that your lil one is on the way to independent and better sleeping very soon!

By: Michelle S. Donaghy

photo credit: emerille via photopin cc

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Time Change - Fall Back

Summer is over and we are in the midst of the fall time change. Sunday, Nov 1st at 2:00 AM.

Spring forward...Fall back....


I love fall! Cooler weather, leaves changing colors, holidays around the corner and I get an extra hour of sleep. As a parent, I dread my kids waking up too early and having to adjust their sleep patterns. Do you?

If so, here are some options to help you and your family through the transition when we set our clocks backwards 1 hour on November 1st.

Gradual Approach: 


The gradual approach is usually recommend for younger children (3 and under) or those who do not adjust well to rapid changes in their schedules.

Start the week before the time change and slowly shift your baby's sleep schedule later.  For example: move bedtime, morning wake up time and nap times later by 10-15 minutes.

Keep moving the entire schedule later every few days but ensure your child doesn't get overtired.  By the time Sunday comes, your child's schedule will be based on the new time.  You will have gently shifted the circadian rhythm which regulates your child's sleeping patterns.

Rapid Approach: 


For the rapid approach, put your child to bed at their normal bedtime on Saturday, the ideal bedtime for most children is between 7-8 pm.

Your child will likely wake up at their normal time (6-7am), but the clock will say (5-6 am).  Your brain will say uck!  Go ahead and get them up, they don’t know about daylight savings time, but you can keep it low key for 30-60 minutes until you are ready to start your day.

If your child is less than 3 years old and still naps then stretch him as close as you can to his normal 1st nap time (using the current clock).  Water play, a stroll outside (don't let them fall asleep in the stroller) or getting outside is a great wake to keep any kiddo awake!

If you think your child can’t make it a full hour later, split the difference pushing the morning nap later by 30 min.  If that is too much, push the 1st nap later 15-20 mins and continue to do so every 3 days until the new time is reached.  The rest of the schedule will naturally be later if you follow this sleep tip.

Early Rising Tips:


The next few mornings, they may wake up a little early, but don’t let them start the day before 6:00 am (new clock).  You may need to review my blog on Early Rising if you have issues with waking up too early in the mornings or if your child is waking before 6:00 am.

Daylight Savings Tips:


On Sunday, follow your usual schedule as close as possible.  Move meals, the rest of his naps(s) and bedtime using the new clock time.

Ensure that your child is well-rested during this transition period and if needed, putting them to bed 15-30 minutes earlier for a few days is okay.

If your child had too late of a bedtime before the fall time change, here is your chance to move it earlier without too much fuss.  So, if your lil one's nite-nite time was too late, don’t move it later!

It may take everyone a few days to adjust but it should not take more than a week to adjust your child's sleep patterns to the new time.

Written By: Michelle S. Donaghy

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Is My Toddler Ready to Drop to One Nap?

Knowing when it’s time for your baby to make a change in his or her sleep cycle is
no easy task. As much as you want to feel confident, skimming down on their daytime sleep before they are ready can have a backlash effect on the quality of rest for both of you. 


Most all children will go through a yucky phase where one nap is not enough, but two naps too many.  This is completely normal and it can take 2-4 weeks to completely make the transition to the one nap schedule.
 
I do not recommend dropping a nap until your child is sleeping a solid 11-12 hours at night without interruption.  Work on correcting the night sleep first if that is the case.

So how’s a mom to know when is the best time to drop from 2 naps, down to 1?


Here are some general guidelines I recommend you follow to know if your toddler is ready:
  • If your little one is between 15-18 months, you’re at the ideal age range. Trying to drop a nap from a younger child or before your toddler is ready may cause night waking and an overtired, unhappy baby (and Mommy) during the day. 
  • If your child consistently, refuses their morning nap or takes so long to fall asleep in the morning that it interferes with the afternoon nap and/or bedtime.
  • If your toddler will sleep for their morning nap but refuses the afternoon nap.

Most of my clients contact me when their toddler, who was taking 2 great naps each day, starts to refuse one or both of their naps as described above.  Their child was taking 2 nice naps - 1 1/2 hrs each and the naps were spaced between 3-4 hrs apart.  

Note: See my awake windows blog for more tips on ensuring your child's schedule is age appropriate.  

The nap refusals are one of the first signs that a child is ready for a schedule change.  If the napping struggles are occurring for 7-10 days straight, you should start the transition to the one nap.

The goal is to drop the morning nap and keep the afternoon nap.  If your child is not sleeping for the morning nap, move on to step 2.  

Step One


Step one in the process of dropping the morning nap is to begin shortening the first nap by waking up your child.  If your child is sleeping for more than 1 ½ hours in the morning, start shaving away at the morning nap by waking them up at the 1 1/2 hour mark.  Wait for a couple days to see if they will now start sleeping for the afternoon nap.  

No luck?  Next try waking them up after 1 ¼ hrs, repeat the waiting as above.  If no luck, keep shaving away at the morning nap in 15min increments until you get to a 30 min morning nap and the afternoon nap comes back.

If your child is still refusing the afternoon nap it is time to shift to the one nap. 

Note: During this process, bring the time for the start of the afternoon nap up earlier so the awake window between naps remain 3-4hrs.

Step Two


To move to a one nap schedule, start to gradually push the one nap later.  Ideally start the one nap at 11:00 am and get to this time as fast as possible.   Hold at this time for a few days.  Then push the nap later to 11:30 am for a few days, then noon, then 12:30 pm.  Some children will adjust quickly and others you may need to move gradually. 

The goal is that your toddlers nap starts between 12:30 and 1:00 pm and your child sleeps for 2 to 2 ½ hours.

Other tips

  • If your child sleeps for less than 2 hours and wakes tired, try to help them resettle and go back to sleep for a longer nap.  During this transition, you may need to use your back up tricks and get in more day sleep with a nap extension eg: going back to sleep or a short 30-45 min. catnap later in the day with a car or stroller ride.  But this should be a temporary plan and only until your child starts to sleep longer for their one nap.
  • Don't let your child sleep later than 4:00 - 4:30 pm in order to preserve bedtime, which at this age should be between 7:00 and 8:00 pm.
  • During this transition period, you may have to move bedtime up earlier to 6:30 or 7:00 pm  to prevent your little one from being overtired.
  • It is also okay if some days your toddler needs the 2 naps but others just the one.   If this does happen be sure to limit the morning nap to 45 min.
  • If your little one is in preschool try to offer the afternoon nap at home at the same time it is offered at school, as long as the school schedule starts nap between 12:00 and 1:00 pm.

Sleep is as much an art as it is a science, so it’s nothing to be tackled with force or timelines. The best way at handling your child’s growth is by making it as customized to their level of progress and comfort, no matter what the obstacle.  

It’s amazing how much our children can teach us without even saying a word.

Sweet Dreams!



Written By: Michelle Donaghy

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What is Drowsy but Awake?

Many families are confused by the term drowsy but awake - what does it look like and how awake should their child should be at bedtime.  So let's break it down starting with why your child should be 'relaxed but awake' when they go down for all sleep. 

Why is it so important for your child to be awake when they go down for sleep? 



As you've heard me mention in previous blogs, sleep is learned in stages (click here for more information on that topic) and bedtime is the easiest time to learn how to put yourself to sleep independently.  Therefore, it is a critical first piece of the sleep puzzle if you want your child to be able to fall back asleep during the middle of the night and stay asleep through the early morning hours.

What does drowsy but awake I look like?


Your lil one should be relaxed, have a full belly, a dry diaper, be warm and loved but awake.  This means:
  • their eyes are open
  • they have not fallen asleep with a bottle or nursing
  • they are not 'almost asleep' and they know you are putting them into bed for sleep.
It is also very important that they are nearing the end of their awake window (click here for more information on awake windows) but it has not gone over the time. If they are overtired, you will get lots struggle and crying as they will be too tired to fall asleep easily.   Also, you don't want them so overtired that they crash out at bedtime and there was not even an opportunity for sleep learning. 

MSD Sleep Tip-  it should take your child at least 5 minutes to fall asleep and it could take as long as 20 minutes. If it takes less than 5 minutes, they were too tired , over their sleep window or too drowsy.  Once independent sleeping skills are established they are happy to play in their crib or sleeping space during this time.


The chart below is my scale for drowsy but awake.  Your child should be at a 5 or 6 on the scale when they are being put into their sleeping space.   


How to begin?

Step one, to helping your child learn to fall asleep from a drowsy but awake state is to change your routine.  If you're currently feeding to sleep, move the pre-bedtime feed to the beginning of the routine and feed with the lights on.  We don't want to send the message that we go to sleep eating and get drowsy in the dark.  You should have about 10 to 15 minutes between the end of feeding and putting your child into bed.

Fill that extra time with lots of closeness and low activities such as reading books, singing or walking around the darkened room.  Just make sure you're not cuddling, rocking or singing your lil one to sleep!


Following these tips and steps above are the beginnings of learning independent sleeping skills and a better night's sleep for everyone in your family.

Sweet Dreams!

Written by: Michelle S. Donaghy

Friday, April 3, 2015

Making Sleep a Priority

Is sleep a priority in your home?


"Is my child getting enough sleep"?  A common question my clients ask me.  To be honest it's a question I ask myself often, as sleep is a very big priority in our home.  Not just for my children, but for all of us.  How much sleep everyone in the family is getting, is important for the health and well-being of every member of your family.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has recently updated their recommendations on how much sleep each age should be getting.  But before we look at those I would like you to think about these questions to know if your child is truly getting enough sleep.

Does your child fall asleep every time you are in the car?
Does your child seem fussy, whining, extra clingy or have more emotional meltdowns during the day?
Does your child seem ready for bed much earlier then usual bedtime, most days?
Does your child often wake before 6:00 a.m. and wake up crying?

If your answer was yes, then your child may not  be getting enough sleep either during the day or for their nighttime requirement.


New Sleep Recommendations and Guidelines


Recently, the NSF, released a report recommending a wider range for appropriate sleep across all ages.  This recommendation was based on scientifically rigorous recommendations on how much sleep each age range should be getting on a daily basis.  Have a look at the range to make sure your family is getting enough sleep on a daily basis.


NSF'S New Recommended Hours


Here are the up-to-date recommendations from the National Sleep Foundations:

  • Newborns (0-3 months ): Sleep range is 14-17 hours each day (was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range is 12-15 hours (was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range is 11-14 hours (was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range is 10-13 hours (was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range is 9-11 hours (was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range is 8-10 hours (8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new category)
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours  (new category).



Sleep Tips


Everyone needs sufficient sleep and our child depend on us to ensure they have the optimal sleep environment, an age appropriate day time sleep schedule along with the independent sleep skills to ensure proper development.

We should all stop doing tasks when our bedtime arrives, rather than making sleep wait until other tasks are finished. I know I am guilty of that some days!  Sleep affects our mood, energy and health, and should be made a priority for every member of the family.

Here are some tips for ensuring everybody has healthy and relaxing sleep:

Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends.
Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
Exercise daily and ensure your child is exposed to sunlight each day.
Evaluate your bedroom for ideal temperature, sound and light.  A dimly lit room is best before bed.
Turn off all electronics 60 minutes before bedtime.


Assess if Your Family is Getting Enough?


Pay attention to your own sleeping habits and you may want to keep a sleep journal for you or your child.  Then, experiment with different sleeping times if needed - an earlier bedtime or a slightly later bedtime to see if you feel better or if your child's(ren's) behavior is improved or if they seem more rested.  This will help you determine where on the range is the right amount of sleep that is best for you/your child(ren).

Sweet Dreams!

Written by: Michelle S. Donaghy


Photo Credit: National Sleep Foundation

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Spring is upon us and so is Daylight Saving Time

This Sunday, March 8 we “spring forward”!  


Be sure to turn your clocks ahead 1 hour before you go to bed on Saturday night.  If you/your child (ren) typically wake at 6am, then they will likely wake 7am.  If you like this change then YEA!  Keep naps and bedtime on the new schedule (1hr later). 

To protect this new schedule and time make sure you use continuous white noise for all sleep periods and keep the room really, really dark.  You won’t achieve this without black out curtains or shades.

If the new time doesn’t work for you, below are some options to help your family adjust:

Gradually adjust:


This is ideal for children under 2 or those who don’t do well with big changes.  Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every night this week.  Each day, wake up your child 15 minutes earlier in the morning.  If napping, put her down 15 minutes earlier for each nap. 

Continue to adjust the schedule earlier in 15 minute increments (wake up, naptimes, meal times and bedtime) until you get to your goal according to the new clock time.
         

Adjusting all at once:


On Sunday, schedule your day (wake up, meals, naps and bedtime) on the new clock time.  But don’t start your day any earlier than 6am on the new clock time (it will feel like 5am)!

If you think the one-hour adjustment is too much for your child, split the difference and put her to bed at 7:30 p.m. (new time) starting Sunday night and for a few days.  Then shift bedtime earlier to 7:00 p.m.  Don't forget to adjust your entire schedule eg: earlier wake up time, nap time(s) and meal times.

The biggest challenge will be to help your child get to the new (later) bedtime without being overtired! That means you have to make naps a priority. Watch her sleep windows (look at my blog on the ideal schedule for by age), have a comforting pre-nap routine and get her down for nap time.

Don’t forget an early enough bedtime!  For most children that is between 7 – 8 PM.

The adjustment to the new clock can take a few days, but it seldom takes more than a week!

Sweet Dreams!

Written by: Michelle Donaghy

PS: Ensure your child is going to bed awake, relaxed but awake.  On a scale of 1 to 10 and 10 is fast asleep your child should be at a 5 when they get into bed.   It should take them at least 5 minutes to put themselves to sleep.  If it takes less, your child was to sleepy and it is likely the cause of your night waking and also your early rising sleep issues (see my blog on early rising issues).

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Independent Sleep is Learned in Stages

Once you and your child are ready to start sleep coaching, knowing how sleep is learned will help you achieve success and get the much needed sleep for you and your lil one.

Bedtime is the easiest time to learn independent sleep!


When you are ready to begin teaching your lil one the skill of independent sleep - start at bedtime (the easiest time for your lil one to learn the new skill).  6-8 months is a great age to begin sleep coaching, if you haven't already taught your child to fall asleep independently.  If your child is older, don't worry it's never too late to work on this life long skill.

I have many parents tell me ‘we tried that awake thing at a nap once and it didn’t work’ or ‘I tried that in the middle of the night’.  These parents all started at the most difficult time to teach this important skill.

Independent sleeping skills are learned in stages:

  • stage 1-  bedtime
  • stage 2 - middle of the night
  • stage 3 - early morning 
  • stage 4 - nap time/day sleep. 
Bedtime is also the time when you will be able to make better decisions and be consistent with your plan.  If bedtime coaching is all you can handle right now, it’s okay to focus your effort there.  Once your lil one is falling asleep independently at bedtime, you will have the confidence to address night waking.

Having a relaxing and consistent bedtime routine that you do every night before
bed will help cue the brain and your child that sleep is coming.  Your routine could be bath, lotion, massage, pajamas, pre-bedtime feed (if age appropriate), brush teeth, followed by reading a book or a song.  Then lights out and put your child into their bed relaxed but awake.  If needed, write your routine down and share it with all who care for your child.  For an older child a chart with pictures can be helpful and will involve them in the process which will help make them more willing to participate.

Bedtime and middle of the night, 2 different skills!


Learning to go to sleep at bedtime without a sleep crutch (any service that you provide to or for your child) is one skill. Learning to go back to sleep after a partial arousal (see below) during the middle of the night is another skill.

I have parents tell me ‘he can fall asleep at bedtime independently, that is not the problem, he just won’t stay sleep and wakes up every 2 hours’.  I come across many children who can fall asleep independently at bedtime but still require assistance to get back to sleep during the night.  The reason is, they have not mastered the next stage in sleep learning.

Once your child can put herself to sleep at bedtime from an awake state, you may see their night waking decrease - but it is not likely that all of the night wakings will go away unless you remove the assistance or service you give them during the night.  

Ask your child's pediatrician how many hours your child can go without a feed at night.  If they do need to eat in the night, factor in that feeding.  Then for all other waking’s use your sleep coaching method to help your child learn to go back to sleep at each night time waking. 

No one sleeps through the night!


The phase sleeping through the night is very misleading … everyone wakes in the middle of the night.  We all pass through sleep cycles during the night - we switch from REM to non-REM and the change in our brain activity wakes us up a little bit.  These are called partial arousals.  We also have complete arousals, which wake you up a bit more and they occur about 3-4 hrs. during the night.
 
If your lil one was rocked, nursed, bottled, or held to sleep at bedtime then they will need you to come back and help them again at each arousal.

What I frequently see parents do is confuse the partial arousal (or brain wake up) with a hunger wake up.  If your child is over 6 months of age, she may not have been hungry at all.  Most children will be happy to have a lil warm milk and a bit of snuggle in the middle of the night. But you have reinforced the waking.  


Don't rush in at the first peep, give your child a chance to get back to sleep on her own.  Especially now that you now know they are really just shifting sleep cycles.  Often they are not completely awake.

It is common for children to wake, cry out then go quiet or babble or moan until they drift back to sleep.  If you rush in you are interfering with the child’s ability to learn how to put herself back to sleep after an arousal.

If you take this knowledge of how independent sleep is learned in stages, you will be much better equipped to help your child learn to sleep through the night and get the quality sleep you both need!

I wish you and your family sweet dreams!

Written by: Michelle S. Donaghy

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Common Sleep Mistakes ... and how to avoid them

We are parents, not perfect - I love that saying from a TV network.  I wanted to share with you four common sleep mistakes many parents make that will definitely affect your child's sleep and their ability to sleep through the night.  I see these mistakes over and over when I work with families one on one, so I thought I would share them with you along with tips on how to avoid them so that your child is set up for a better nights sleep.

Four common sleep mistakes and how to avoid them:


1. Putting children to bed too late!


Set a regular bedtime (and, if appropriate, nap times) that you stick to. 

Don't wait until your child is rubbing his eyes, yawning, or whining — that's probably too late. Put him to bed earlier. Even 15 to 20 minutes of extra sleep can make a difference.  

NOTE: If you need help with finding appropriate nap times and creating an age appropriate schedule click here.

While every child is different, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says that:


  • infants and toddlers typically need up to 12 hours of sleep during the night
  • preschoolers need 10-13 hours once they drop daytime naps
  • school age children should get between 9-11 hours at night.


Figure out what time they need to be up in the morning and count backwards by how many hours of night sleep they require.  If your child needs 11 hours of night sleep and they wake most mornings at 7am or need to be up by 7am, then they should be asleep by 8pm.

For the first 5 years, bedtime will likely be between 7-8pm.

2. Relying on motion


A common mistake is relying on motion for naps or night sleep - if a child over 6 months of age is always sleeping in motion — in strollers or cars — he probably doesn't get the deep, more restorative sleep they need due to the stimulation of motion.
 
Use motion for calming, not sleep - once your child has fallen asleep, turn off the swing and park the stroller.

NOTE:  If you need help with getting your child to sleep at nap time click here.

3. Over stimulation at sleep time


Take the crib mobile out of the crib during sleep times.  All those bright lights, sounds and toys are too much stimulation when it is time to drift off to dreamland.  It may keep your baby awake instead.  

I am not in favor of the projectors with the star lights and such, as for a child with sleep issues they are usually too distracting.

For older children - do you really want a TV or computer in your child's bedroom?  Even kids who fall asleep with a favorite DVD on are probably losing a half hour or so of precious shut-eye — a loss that can affect their mood and behavior during the daytime — and it's easier to keep the electronics out of the bedroom than negotiate the issue every night.  NSF recommends no screen time (of any kind) at least 1 hour before bed for children and adults.

4.  Skipping the bedtime routine


Have a comforting bedtime ritual.  Regardless of your child's age, a bedtime ritual or a predictable series of steps will help him wind down from the day.  It will also be a cue that sleep is coming and will be helpful to get those drowsy hormones flowing which will aid in drifting off to sleep.

For a younger child, a simple routine might be: diaper change, PJs, darken the room, turn on the white noise, and a few cuddles - then into bed.  Ideally relaxed but still awake.  With older children, the routine might be a bath, PJS, reading books, singing songs or saying a prayer, hugs and then into bed awake.

You can create your own ritual.  Most important is that you have consistent activities that happen in the same space, in the same order, at roughly the same time every night.

Occasionally, if you are short on time you can reduce your pre-sleep routine to the last couple of steps, so that your child is comforted with the familiarity that sleep is coming - one night of a shortened routine for a well-rested child should not make too much of a difference.

Children who are well-rested bounce back from an occasional late night, skipped or shorten nap much better that children who are always overtired.

Sweet Dreams!

Written by: Michelle S. Donaghy



Thursday, January 1, 2015

5 (more) Sleep myths that can effect your lil ones sleep

Sleep Myth #6: Every time my baby wakes overnight, s/he must be hungry - FALSE!

Babies who wake during the first few months are more likely waking from hunger, but older babies (over 4-6 months) who wake frequently (every 1-2 hours), may not be waking from hunger. Ask yourself whether your baby can be soothed in other ways. Also, ask yourself whether your baby is going to sleep from an awake state at bedtime (without being nursed or rocked).  This is the first step to longer stretches at night.  *Discuss with your baby's doctor how many night feeds they need in that 10-12 hour stretch at night.  

Sleep Myth #7:  If your child wakes before 6:00 am, put him/her to bed later - FALSE! 


Often, putting your child to bed later makes them rise earlier.  Review my blog on Early Rising, look at the four causes of early rising to see if you can identify why your child is waking so early in the morning.


Sleep Myth #8:  If you keep your child up all day, they will sleep better at night - FALSE!


Children who nap well during the day, at age appropriate times, actually fall asleep more easily and sleep better at night. Children who are over-tired are more likely to have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night. So, if your child is having sleep difficulties, consider whether s/he is napping at the correct time or needs more day sleep! You may also review my blog on Schedules, Naps and Awake Windows  to check the age appropriate schedule for your child.

Sleep Myth #9:  TV before bed helps calm them down/get them sleepy - FALSE!


According to the National Sleep Foundation, researchers caution that use of any electronic devices within one hour of bedtime are harmful to the sleep-onset process because the artificial light can suppress our body’s natural release of melatonin, the hormone that helps signal our body to fall asleep.  

Sleep Myth #10:  My toddler won’t nap – s/he just doesn't need it! - FALSE!


Many toddlers go through phases when they resist napping, or skip naps some days of the week. Most toddlers need a nap until they are at least 3+ years old. Consistency in enforcing nap time, ensuring that your toddler knows how to put himself/herself to sleep and making sure you are putting your toddler down for his/her nap at the 'right' time can help ensure successful nap practices.  

Sleep Myth #11:  Gifted children don’t need as much sleep as other children - FALSE!


It is true that many gifted children have difficulty shutting down and getting enough sleep, but the studies actually show that children who get more sleep during their toddler years (and beyond) do better in school – they have higher grades and better math and language skills.  

Sleep Myth #12:  My toddler doesn't seem sleepy or tired, so s/he must be well-rested -  FALSE!


Children are different from adults, and may even seem energetic or hyper when they are over-tired. Many children who are over-tired exhibit attention and behavior problems, or may simply be difficult or cranky in the afternoons. Look at these others signs that your toddler may be overtired and if so, try an early bedtime and age appropriate day sleep.  

Other signs of an over-tired toddler - does he/she: 
Always fall asleep in the car?  
Fall asleep shortly after rising in the morning?  
Crash much earlier than their usual bedtime?  


I wish you and your family sweet dreams!

Written by: Michelle Donaghy


This blog is 2 of 2 in a Sleep Myths series, if you wish to view part 1: Sleep Myths 1-5

Photo credit: Facebook.com/MSDBabySleepCoach - photo contest submission 
Photo credit: MSD Baby Sleep Coach - Client photo, published with permission