Monday, December 4, 2017

Article featured in: VoyageLA Magazine – LA's Most Inspiring Stories

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle S. Donaghy.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

I live in Orange County with my husband of 18 years, my two girls, ages 13 and 9 and our three large dogs.
My formal education is in psychology and social work, specializing in families and children. At that time, I didn’t know that a sleep coach existed nor what was an essential oil. After graduate school I worked for a small to medium size software company and during the 10 years I was employed in the corporate world, I was fortunate to work in marketing, recruitment, special projects and right hand to the company CEO. It was a wonderful learning experience to work alongside the head of the company as she grew her small business to a successful medium business with a culture that was focused on sound principles. She was an early mentor!
I was blessed to be able to work from home for a majority of the time and when my first child was born, I had it all planned out – I would work when she slept. Those hopes were quickly squashed as she was not a good sleeper as newborn. The only parenting book I had read, at that time, was of the methodology that stated to teach your child to sleep – you put them in their crib at sleep times, walk away and eventually they will stop crying.
The Psychologist and Social Worker in me knew there had to be a better option. As a new mother, I was not comfortable with that method. I set upon a quest to read every sleep book I could get my hands on. My research discovered that there were many gentle options to help teach a child independent sleep skills. I quickly became obsessed with understanding infant sleep patterns.
I stumbled upon a volunteer led parenting sleep forum where I could get help for our sleep struggles. Our sleep issues were soon resolved with a gentle sleep coaching method with help from other parents at the sleep forum. I was asked to be a moderator of this site and moved into to helping other struggling parents. I spent over a year as a moderator helping hundreds of families with sleep issues, scheduling difficulties and night feeding dilemmas. I enjoyed this work very much and I was very good at it, it was as if I had a natural instinct on what the problem was and how to fix it.
In 2008, shortly after our second daughter was born I was laid off from my role at the software company. A few months after that, I stumbled upon a new training program that was being launched where I could be certificated as a Gentle Sleep Coach, specializing in infants and children. I knew without a doubt that I had to do it! I was one of the first 50 to graduate from the program which included over 95 hours of basic training and to date I have over several 100 hours of advanced and continuing education.
I started my practice in late 2008.
In 2012, I began incorporating the use of doTERRA essential oils for health care and well-being into my practice. My family had amazing results from using essential oils for our health care needs and it was a natural progression to share my knowledge with my clients. I now lead a large team of women who want to work from home so they can be with their family and have a passion for helping others to take charge of their health and that of their loved ones.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?

It has not been an easy road! Starting a private practice from the ground up is never easy. In the early years, gaining new clients and marketing was a struggle. I used every marketing strategy I learned during my time in the corporate workforce to get my name out to potential clients. I offered free talks, partnered with any business whose main clientele was mothers of young children, offered group workshops, I even did ‘groupon’ type marketing.
My practice and reputation grew quickly. Clients began telling their sleepless friends about ‘their sleep coach’.  Then a different struggle arose. My business doubled in one year! The following year, it doubled again. My business was growing so fast, that it was very difficult to balance the needs of my clients, my team and my family.
It was very important to me to be present for my children. It was something my mother was not able to do when I was a young child as she worked full time. I wanted to be at all my children’s activities and school events. Owning your own business and being a full-time work at home Mom is like a juggling act. To fit it all in, you are working every spare moment and multi-tasking all the time.
I still struggle with balancing my sleep clients, mentoring my growing team and making sure I am available for my husband and my two girls – not to mention some self-care for me! Some days I feel like I have it all. Other days I feel like I have failed at everything or at the very least let one or two balls drop!

Please tell us about MSD Baby Sleep Coach.

MSD Baby Sleep Coach is my company and ‘M.S.D.’ are my initials, but MSD also stands for Making Sweet Dreams. When my children were very little, I always ended their bedtime routine and tuck in by saying “sweet dreams”. The company name represents both my name and my girls.
My focus is dedicated to helping families with young children learn independent sleeping skills through education, encouragement and support. Every family and child has a unique situation and there is not a one size fits all approach. I take great care in customizing every family’s sleep plan and offer extensive support until their desired goals are reached.

My specialty is in the gentle sleep coaching method. The Gentle Sleep Coach ® approach is a gentler alternative for families who emotionally or philosophically resist letting their babies cry it out alone. With this method the parent stays with their child during the sleep coaching process and it allows them to offer reassurance while the child learns this new skill. This supports the development of a secure attachment between parent and child.
I am proud to say I have helped several hundred families with life changing results as a sleep coach and as an essential oil coach. I am also very fortunate and proud that many Pediatrician’s in my area, refer their sleepless and tired parents to me. The knowledge that they trust me with their patient’s, means a great deal to me. A very famous Pediatrician who has a family practice in South Orange County and has written several books on attachment called me one day, out of the blue, to interview me! Note: he has asked that I don’t name him. I must have passed his test, as I am currently the only sleep coach he has ever referred his patient’s to.
As an essential oil coach, I am very proud to have reached the leadership rank of Silver and along with my team have helped hundreds of families and individuals take charge of their health care with dramatic results in a holistic way.
A funny story is that I was also the Sleep Coach to a reality TV celebrity and our coaching sessions were an episode which aired on CMT.

Tell us something your proud of and what sets you apart?

I have been asked to write sleep related articles and have been published numerous times in parenting magazines. I have written for Parenting OC Magazine and OC Family Magazine.
I also speak regularly around Southern California as a keynote speaker to mother’s groups, so I can share with them my sleep knowledge and offer them advice that will give them more peace in their homes.

I believe what sets me apart is my approach with my clients. I start with their goals, dig deep into all the causes that have led them onto the sleepless path that they are currently on.

Then together, we develop a plan that they are confident in, one they can follow through with and one that will lead them to their goals. I look at the family unit and if even one member of the family unit is not functioning to its fullest, either from lack of sleep or health issues, the entire family is affected.

Sleep is so important for our mind, body and spirit. As parents, if we don’t get enough sleep it hinders our ability to be fully present for our children. When children do not get healthy, quality, and age appropriate sleep we see it affect their mood, their ability to learn and take in their environment.

Another factor that sets me apart is my holistic approach and inclusion of essentials oils into the protocol or plan I develop for each family, which is aimed at improving not only sleep but the overall health and well-being of the entire family.

A sleep plan must include independent sleep learning for the child, this is a key factor, but a sleep plan that includes essential oils is an amazing strategy, that will help everyone in the family!

Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help.

My biggest cheerleader has been my husband. In 2008 when I learned of the new training program, I knew in my heart and soul that this is what all my life experiences had lead me to. I discussed with my husband the fees for the training and without skipping a beat he gave me his full support. His only request of me, was to “make back the money for the training, at a minimum”. I achieved that goal within months of starting my practice. Ever since he has been by my biggest supporter. In the early days he cheered with me upon obtaining each new client, he listens when I need to talk about a rough day and he still wants to know when I am writing my book (that is on the bucket list).

In 2014, I felt it was time to re-brand my company.   I hired a branding and consulting company to guide me through this process. They have continued as my business and marketing manager which has helped guide me and my business to the next level.

I also have two mentors, a mother and daughter team. Both have been by my side, guiding me and supporting me through all the ups and downs in life and in business. They have been a great inspiration.

My clients also play a big role as my cheerleaders. They give me amazing reviews on yelp and when I read the comments it makes my heart swell! To hear them say, for example: ‘Michelle is a saint’ – ‘One of the most valuable investments we have made’ – ‘Our family has found peace’ – ‘Michelle is godsend’. 

This feedback makes me feel so humbled and it gets me through the tough days, the tough cases and reminds me of two things that are very important to me.

The first is, I have been granted a very special gift and it must be shared.

The second, I do make a difference in this big world in my very own small way! Also reminds me every day, that my life and work has great purpose.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Early Rising

Early Rising – 

The most common question I get asked about, second only to night waking!

Waking before 6am is too early for everyone and it throws off your child’s entire daytime schedule.  


In some cases, the early rising has an easy fix – maybe it is too light in the room at the wee hours.  Possibly the birdies are singing their songs at your child’s window.  These issues can be fixed with room darkening shades or black out curtains.  Ideally the room should be as dark at 6am as it is at 9pm.  A white noise machine in your child’s room is a simple solution to the external noises.

Sleep Learning

But it usually isn’t so easy!  When your child stirs, go to her quickly and try to get her back to sleep before she screams herself awake.  Try to soothe her back to sleep while still in her crib, without picking her up.  If she doesn’t go back to sleep again, and she likely won’t at first, do not turn on the lights or get her out of the crib until 6am.  If you do, the early rising will continue and possibly the waking will get earlier and earlier.

If she hasn’t gone back to sleep after a bit of reassurance from you – then either stay in her room and have minimal interaction (sit in the chair with your eyes closed) or if you being there encourages her to be more awake you can leave the room and check on her at intervals that you feel comfortable with (every 10 or 15mins perhaps).   When it is finally 6am, leave the room (if you haven’t already) and  come back after a minute, to start your morning routine.  Be dramatic and emphasize that it is morning time.

Toddler Sleep Clock

If your child is over 2yo you could get a children’s alarm clock.  There are several types available – sun/moon, bunny sleeping/bunny awake, light changes colors …  at the time you set it to change.  The clock my girls have in their room turns green at the time I have set for them.  Our sleep manners include ‘do not get out of bed before your clock turns green’.  If you are not 200% consistent with the clock then your child will not take it seriously either.  Like above, you go to them quickly when they wake and say:  ‘sweetie, your clock isn’t green it’s not morning/wakie time’.  

Napping with an early riser can be tricky as too early of a morning nap can ingrain the early rising!  If she is over 6mo the recommendation is no morning nap before 8am.   If she is over 9mo, no morning nap before 9am.  If she is on 1 nap, no nap before 12noon.  Otherwise she will be overtired at bedtime and the cycle continues.

Here are the four causes of Early Rising:

1) Too late of a bedtime - for the 1st 5 years of a child's life bedtime is usually between 7-8pm!

2) Not enough napping - too late of a bedtime and skipped or short naps will create, early rising, more night waking, poor quality of sleep and an overtired, fussy child. Well napped children sleep better at night too! Not logical but sooo true.

3) Too long between end of afternoon nap and bedtime - in order to catch the 7-8pm bedtime, you need to monitor how long of a sleep window there is between the end of afternoon/last nap and bedtime. There are general guidelines that are appropriate for most children. Under 6 months of age the last nap should end about 4.30/5pm. From 6-9 months most still need that short catnap before bed and can usually handle a 2-3hr window to bedtime. From 9 to 18 months (if sleeping through the night and napping well) most can handle a 4hr window to bedtime. From 2 yrs. we usually recommend that the nap end by 3-3.30 to preserve bedtime.

4) Going to bed too drowsy - if they can't put themselves to sleep without help at bedtime, the easiest time of the day for independent sleep ... how are they going to be able to put themselves back to sleep without your help at 4am (the hardest time of the day)? Start by teaching independent sleep at bedtime.

You must be 100% consistent in your response with your early bird  ... as early rising takes weeks of consistency and patience for the behavior to change.

If you have been 100% consistent in your response and are doing everything above correctly, then I would look at a medical reason for the rising. Sleep apnea is frequently overlooked in children and can cause a very stubborn early waking.  Speak to your child’s doctor if you suspect any medical reasons for the waking.

I wish you and your family sweet dreams and later mornings!

Written By: Michelle S. Donaghy

Photo Credit: Classic Kids Photography Newport Beach, By: Jenn

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Schedules, Naps and Awake Windows ...

Everything you wanted to know about your baby and/or your toddler's day!

When thinking of our babies sleeping, their nighttime sleep is usually where most parents emphasize. Research does tell us that difficulties with night sleep has the largest negative impact on your family. Day sleep however, is also important, as sleep begets sleep! But there is a lot to know. I hope the information below is helpful so you can make the most out of their day and of course their daytime sleep.

Nap Averages

Some babies sleep more and some less but they are pretty consistent based on their age and how much they will sleep during the day. You can use this information to plan your day and also know if their day sleep is on track.

Newborn to 5 Months

Don’t worry about having a rigid schedule at this stage. Some newborns need a lot of sleep, others are not so good at napping yet. What is most important at this age is to put them down for a nap frequently during the day (every 60-120 mins, see below for more precise numbers). It’s common for them to have 4 to 5 naps throughout the day and the length of the nap will vary greatly for newborns.

6 to 8 Months

At this age, your baby will benefit from at least 3+ hours of total nap time, spread throughout the day. Try a morning, afternoon, and late afternoon catnap. If they nap well, they might only take 2 longer naps as they approach 8-9 months.

9 to 12 Months

From 9 to 12 months, you can expect your baby to sleep about 3 hours during the day, spread across 2 naps as she will likely drop the late afternoon catnap. You might also see the morning nap shorten and the afternoon nap lengthen. Start the afternoon nap about three hours after the morning nap.

13 to 18 Months

At this age, expect to see your child sleep about 2 1/2 hours of total nap time, spread across 2 naps. Do not let them get rid of their morning nap too soon. Most children don't drop to one nap until around 15-18 months. If you find your child is refusing the afternoon nap, it is likely that they slept too long in the morning. It is okay to wake them up from the morning nap after 1 to 1 1/2 hours if it helps them be tired enough to take that afternoon nap.

When they do switch to the 1 nap, the nap should start between 12-1PM depending on their age and when they wake in the morning.

MSD Sleep Tip:  click on this link to view our blog - "Is my toddler ready to drop to one nap?"

18 to 24+ Months

After 18 months, your child will likely be ready for one afternoon nap lasting about 2-2 1/2 hours and ideally nap time should start about 1pm or just after lunch time.

2+ years and beyond

At this age, expect your toddler's day sleep to start to decrease to 1 1/2 to 2 hours total. They are getting ready to make a steady shift towards ending naps altogether, which is common around 3 and 4 year old.

Nevertheless, you always want to make nap time or at the very least 'quiet time' an option for them. See more on quiet time below.

“Windows” of Wakefulness

These “windows” are basically periods in which you can expect your child to be awake between his or her naps. Start your timer from when they wake up from one sleep period to when they fall asleep for another sleep period eg: nap or bedtime. 

I find that awake windows or sleep windows are like magic, as when you get them right your child can fall asleep much easier as they are not 'undertired' nor 'overtired' - both of which can affect nap time.

0-3-months: 1-2 hour window of wakefulness
4-6-months: 2-2.5 hours
6-9-months: 2-3 hours
9-12-months: 2.5-4 hours
12-18-months: 3-4.5 hours
18-24-months: 5-6 hours
2-year-old: 5-6.5 hours
3-year-old: 6-7 hours
4-5-year-old: 7-8 hours, if still napping

Keep in mind that these hours refer to children who are sleeping throughout the night.

MSD Sleep Tip: download a chart of the awake windows for your reference guide. download awake windows chart

Less is not Always More

For a baby over 6 months, don’t be fooled by short naps or a ‘disaster nap’ which is typically defined as any nap that is shorter than 45 minutes. It’s more than likely that your baby may wake up cranky or drowsy from this type of nap. These shorter naps are usually caused by too short / too long of a sleep window, lack of independent sleeping skills or perhaps as a response to a developmental milestone that is happening.  

If that is the case try your best to get them back to sleep after a disaster nap, with either soothing them back to sleep or leaving them to see if they can resettle on their own.  If the short naps continue it is time to look at all the variables.


Consistency is your best friend. We parents can sometimes forget the factors that set naps and night sleep apart: noise level, too much daylight, etc.  Don't forget that naps are the hardest time to put yourself to sleep. 

If your child is a champ at hiding their sleep cues, try taking them to a dark room near when you think it's nap time, sometimes that will bring out the tired signs you were looking for to know when is the best time to put them down for sleep. You want to stay consistent in order to make their nap time the most effective.

I wish you and your family sweet dreams and sweeter mornings!

Written By: Michelle S. Donaghy

Photo credit: Classic Kids Photography

Friday, September 8, 2017

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Back to School Survival Guide

Article featured in:

Parenting OC Magazine – Back to School Survival Guide

Back to School Sleep Tips 

The summer months are for enjoying longer days, family fun and later bedtimes.  Now it’s time to focus on getting your child’s sleep on track so they are well rested for school.

Here are my back to school sleep tips to prepare for those early mornings and earlier bedtimes.

Ideal bedtime

In order to know your child’s ideal bedtime, you first need to know how much night time sleep they need.  Children need more sleep than most parents realize.  Sleep deprivation is linked to poor learning and memory.

The National Sleep Foundation recommendations the following:
Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours

The next step is to figure out the time your child has to wake up, to be at school on time.  Let’s assume your 6 year old needs to get up by 6:00 a.m. to be at school at 8:00 a.m.  This means your child must be in bed asleep by 9:00 p.m. to get the minimum requirement of 9 hours.  If your 6 year old shows that she is better rested with 11 hours, she will need to be asleep by 7:00 p.m.

Shift Bedtime and Routines

About 2 weeks before school begins, gradually shift bedtime up earlier by 30 minutes.  If your child has been going to bed at 9:30 p.m. and school bedtime needs to be 8:00 p.m. – this would be your plan for a 6-13 year old that needs 10 hours of night sleep:

-Nights 1-4: new bedtime 9:00 p.m. and wake up time 7:00 a.m.
-Nights 5-9: 8:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
-Night 10-14: 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

You can also adjust for the earlier bedtime every 1 or 2 days.

There is also the “cold turkey” approach.  In this method, start your bedtime routine much earlier and ensure your child is in bed at the “new” bedtime needed for school.  You would also wake up your child at the “new” time needed on the school schedule.  This would work for those who don’t have time to gradually shift.

With either approach, the plan would be the same for preschoolers, school-aged and teens heading back into a school schedule.


All children thrive on routines.  A bedtime (and morning) routine will likely be different for a preschooler versus a teenager.  Regardless, having a flexible routine, that includes 3-5 consistent steps, before bedtime will help with the transition to bed. 

During the back to school transition, it is imperative that your child start their bedtime routine earlier, so they are asleep at the new bedtime.

Improving Sleep

Turn off all electronics (TV/Cellphone/Tablet) 1 hour before bed. For tweens/teens, I recommend no phones in the bedroom after bedtime.

For preschoolers, stick to a consistent routine and sleep schedule, even on the weekends.  For school aged children/teens, a slightly later bedtime on the weekend is okay.

As with all parenting consistency and patience is the key to healthy sleep.

Written By: Michelle S. Donaghy
Article featured in Parenting OC Magazine – Back to School Survival GuideAugust 2015

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sleep and doTERRA Essential Oils for Children

As some of you may know I love doTERRA essential oils and I recently achieved a huge goal that I set for myself and achieved the rank of Silver.

I  fell in love with doTERRA just over 4 years ago when I discovered the powerful ways in which doTERRA essential oils could support my desire to take charge of my family's health in a more natural way.   It was a logical transition to then share my love of doTERRA with my clients.

When tired families find me, sleep is usually their number one concern.  When the topic of essential oils and sleep is discussed, I always point out that essential oils can help the body and mind relax but they do not replace a child learning independent sleeping skills.  Most children over the age of 6 months are ready and able to learn the skill of independent sleep.

If your new to doTERRA and essential oils maybe you have concerns about the safety of essential oils for children, how to use them and which oils are best for aiding in a most restful sleep.

doTERRA Essential Oils 

doTERRA provides the most effective and safe essential oils in the world so that you and your family can feel confident using them.  Below I am going to share with you the proper dilution techniques and how to use essential oils on babies and children, along with which essential oils are wonderful for relaxing the mind and body for sleep.

Dilution of essential oils for children

Childrens’ skin is different from adult skin; it’s thinner and generally more sensitive. Even though most oils tend to be non-irritating on the skin, it’s a great idea to dilute essential oil in a good carrier  (lotion, coconut oil or fractionated coconut oil) before applying to children. You’ll still get the same benefits of the essential oil—you’re just adding extra moisture to their delicate skin.

doTERRA does offer pre-diluted essential oils with the doTERRA Touch and doTERRA Emotional Aromatherapy Touch lines.  They are pre-diluted for you, less messy and super easy to use on the go.

It’s always advisable to use several small doses throughout the day rather than a single large dose. Start with 1–2 drops (diluted) and it can be repeated every 4–6 hours, as needed to a maximum of 3-12 drops in a 24 hour period.   Below is a recommended ideal amounts.

How to use aromatically

Studies have shown that essential oils can promote emotions and feelings that help contribute to a good night’s rest when used aromatically and you don’t have to worry about skin reactions.

Inhaled oils have long been studied for their ability to enhance relaxation, which is what we are looking for near a child’s sleep time.  Diffusing is one of the simplest methods for using essential oils aromatically.  

However, if you don’t have a diffuser you can achieve the same benefits by simply placing a few drops of essential oil in the palm of your hand and having your child breathe it in while holding your hands cupped gently near their nose and mouth.

Another very simple way is to mix oils in a spray bottle with water and mist over a child’s pillow or the bed sheets.

How to use and where to use topically?

For an infant or young baby, the bottom of the feet is a great place to apply essential oils topically, as the skin is thickest on the sole of the foot. You can also add to a lotion and give a body massage.  

Once you are done, it is advisable to cover baby with footed clothing to avoid the baby from touching the oils or lotions and getting into the sensitive areas such as the eyes or ears.  These area are to be avoided along with any areas with broken or damaged skin.

For a toddler, older child or a child you know does not have skin sensitive you can apply to the neck, chest, abdomen, spine, arms, legs and bottom of the feet.

Other great and effective method is to add a few drops of oil to a warm bath with Epson salt or bath gel base for dispersing oils.

Oils for sleep

So which oils promote the deep feelings of calmness so important for improving your child’s sleep routine?

Lavender is a highly researched essential oil for this purpose. Studies have shown that inhaling Lavender essential oil before bedtime can improve sleep.  It can also be applied topically to promote relaxation.

Blends are my favorite as they combine oils to create a product that lessens feelings of tension, calms emotions, and leaves a peaceful feeling.  Wonderful blends for children and sleep include doTERRA Peace Reassuring Blend, doTERRA Serenity Restful Blend and doTERRA Balance Grounding Blend. 

Since there are many essential oils that work well alone and together to calm, so experiment to see which ones your child responses to. 

It’s okay to layer, meaning apply one oil after another on the skin.   It’s fun to make blends of your own, in a roller bottle with fractionated coconut oil.   Also experiment with your own diffuser blends and mixing your own favorites to discover a blend you and your child prefer.

The following single essential oils have been shown to have aromas that promote deep feelings of relaxation and peace: Lavender, Cedarwood, Ho Wood, Ylang Ylang, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Vetiver, Hawaiian Sandalwood, Spikenard and Bergamot.

Try one or a few and see what’s your favorite.

General Safety Guidelines

When used as directed, essential oils can be enjoyed by the entire family. However, it is always recommended to consult with your child’s health care provider for any specific needs or questions.

In conclusion, doTERRA essential oils are safe for use in children, but remember to follow these general safety guidelines:  

  • Keep in mind safe amount-per-day guidelines.
  • Avoid direct oil administration into the nose and ears, and around the eyes.  
  • When applying oils topically, it is a good practice to use with heavier dilutions for younger or smaller children and those with sensitive skin.  
  • Keep your essential oils stored out of reach of little children to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Storage should also be away from excessive heat and light, as these can change the properties of the oils dramatically.  
  • Teach your older children to ask for help with oil usage.

May your home be filled with safe, healthy habits of daily essential oil use.

Written By: Michelle S. Donaghy 


Friday, May 5, 2017

Night Feed Dilemmas

How to End Night Feeds

Your baby is over 6 months, growing well and you have received the go ahead from your child’s doctor that they do not need to eat during the night – great!  But now that you and your baby are ready, how do go about this daunting task?

It is helpful to create a nighttime weaning plan so that you know exactly what to do and you’re not trying to make decisions at 2:00 am when your not thinking clearly.

If your plan is to stop feeding altogether at night, you may want to consider these options below depending on if you are bottle or breast feeding.

“Cold turkey”

Which means that you do not feed at all during the night.  You may respond to your child’s night awakenings but not with feedings.  This is typically the hardest for baby’s as they still wake hungry until their body adapts.  So not my first choice unless we are talking about a toddler or pre-schooler.

“Reduction Bottles”

With this method you have two options. 

Option 1: Reduce the ounces of each bottle, at one time, until you get to 2 oz, then you stop that bottle until you end all feeds.  You have gradually reduced the total amount of calories your child takes in at night, so that hopefully they tolerate the change a bit easier.  This method is great for a child that wakes on a fairly regular night schedule and drinks a fairly consistent amount at each night feed.

Example: Sue takes 2 x 4 oz bottle at night.

Sue’s Reduction Plan
Bottle 1
Bottle 2
Night 1
Night 2
Night 3
Night 4
Night 5
Night 6

Option 2: Reduce the total intake at night to just one feeding for 3 nights.  For three nights, feed one bottle (offer the typical amount of ounces that the child would take during the day) and then no feeding on the fourth night and beyond.  This method is great for a child that wakes sporadically at night and doesn’t eat a consistent amount each night.

Example: Joey takes 4 oz bottle during the day, but doesn’t take a consistent amount of bottles at night.

Joey Reduction Plan
Night 1
Night 2
Night 3
Night 4

“Reduction Breast Feeding”

If breastfeeding you can use one of the options and schedules outlined above, but with breastfeeding you gradually shorten each feeding session.  You may find this difficult, as you must watch the clock and be disciplined in the middle of the night.  One alternative is to switch to bottle feeding at night and use the reduction method above.

Example: Maddie wakes at 1am for a feed.  She typically nurses for 10min at this one waking.  Mom would time the feed and unlatch Maddie on the schedule below.

Maddie Reduction Plan 
Breast Feeding Minutes
Night 1
Night 2
Night 3
Night 4
Night 5

“Get the other parent involved”

This method can work well for breastfeeding Moms and also once you have stopped the feedings from any of the methods.  Your child will be comforted back to sleep but without feeding.

4 Things That Will Make You Successful

1) Ensure your child goes into their sleeping space at bedtime relaxed but awake, you must not feed to sleep at bedtime if you want your child to sleep through the night.

2) Consistency - You must respond the same way, to each night waking except when feeding (depending on the choice above). This consistency will help the baby adjust.

3) Patience - This is a learning process, not an event. We all know learning something new is hard and takes time so patience is key. Give your child at least two weeks to adjust to the new plan.

4) United Front - Mom and Dad have to be on the same page and respond the same way to each night waking or your baby will be confused by the different responses or inconsistency.

Sweet Dreams!

Written by: Michelle S. Donaghy

Saturday, April 1, 2017

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