As a children's sleep coach, I understand the struggles that exhausted parents face when it comes to establishing healthy sleep habits for their little ones. One common dilemma many parents encounter is knowing when and how to take away the pacifier. While the pacifier can be a comforting tool for infants, there comes a time when it's essential to help your baby wean off it. In this blog post, we'll explore the signs that indicate it's time to say goodbye to the paci (binky, soother, etc) and offer some practical tips for a smooth transition.
If you have a baby under 6 months of age, pacifiers are great tools and have been shown to help reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
How to Know When to Ditch the Binky
1. Age and Teeth Development: Pediatric dentists recommend discontinuing pacifier use by the age of 2 to avoid potential dental issues. If your child's teeth are starting to come in, it's a good indicator that it might be time to start the weaning process.
2. Speech Development: Long-term pacifier use can impact speech development in children. If you notice your child is having difficulty articulating certain sounds or forming words, it may be linked to pacifier use. Weaning off the pacifier can positively contribute to language development.
3. Dependency: If your child relies on the pacifier to fall asleep or soothe themselves throughout the day, it might be a sign of dependency. Weaning can help promote self-soothing skills, fostering independence and longer nights of sleep without having to pop it back in multiple times throughout the night.
Tips for a Smooth Transition
1. Gradual Reduction or Cold Turkey: Consider a gradual approach by limiting pacifier use to specific times, such as naps and bedtime. Over time, decrease its presence until it's eventually phased out. Cold turkey, which works much faster is just that. Stop all pacifier use and get rid of them!
2. Introduce Comfort Alternatives: Help your child find comfort in other ways. Provide a special blanket or stuffed animal (over 12 months of age) that can become a new source of comfort during sleep or times of stress.
3. Create a Fun Ritual: Turning the weaning process into a positive experience can make it more enjoyable for your child. Create a fun "goodbye pacifier" ritual, perhaps involving a special ceremony or letting them choose a replacement comfort item.
4. Consistency is Key: Consistency is crucial during the weaning process. Ensure that all caregivers are on the same page and follow the established plan to avoid confusion for the child.
Weaning your baby off the pacifier is a significant milestone that can contribute to their overall well-being and development. By recognizing the signs that it's time to take away the pacifier and implementing these practical tips for a smooth transition, you can help your child sleep more soundly and through the night. Remember, patience, comfort and consistency are key as you navigate through this change of your child’s life.
If you need help pinpointing why your baby or child isn’t sleeping, set up a free call with us and we’ll help!
Having a child can be a pretty jarring experience. From pregnancy, to labor, to life with a new little human; realizing that you are responsible for another little life is a huge reality check. We make sacrifices for our children daily out of love and sometimes necessity. But having a child does not mean that mom and/or dad need to forget about their own needs. Parenthood is like a game where you need to find the perfect combo to meet everyone's needs sufficiently, including your own. Sleep is a huge necessity for parents! All humans need sleep to function and a lack of sleep can seriously impact your mood, ability to care for your family, and your overall well being. Having your child sleep in your bed may greatly impact the amount and the quality of sleep you are getting. What do you do when your child wants to sleep in your bed?
Set a hard boundary.
This can be a tough thing to do but parenting is, quite frankly, not easy. The best thing you can do for yourself and your child if you do not want them sleeping in your bed is to simply not let them. Of course, I know this may result in tantrums and loss of sleep for the family at first. But holding this boundary will show your child that you value good sleep for everyone in the family and you prioritize taking care of yourself (which will teach them to prioritize their own needs in the future!).
If you’ve decided that you no longer want your child in your bed with you, I suggest having an honest, open mindset. Accept that this transition may be hard for a while but will be worth it in the long run once everyone is sleeping well in their own space. During the day, offer your child lots of snuggles and physical affection so they can still feel close to you. Sleeping in their own bed takes away the feeling of physical closeness they enjoyed when co-sleeping with you. As you transition your child to their own bed, stay with them in their room and comfort them. This will help them to not feel completely abandoned. As time goes on, your child will get used to being in their bed by themselves. You can decide how long to stay in the room. Try making a routine of reading them a story before leaving or set a limit for how long you will be in their room. For the first night it may be necessary to stay until they fall asleep. Figure out what works best for both you and your child, but continue to hold firm to the fact that their bed is where they are expected to sleep.
If you’re trying to transition your child out of your bed and having difficulty, book a 15 minute discovery call with me and we can troubleshoot together!
Things to do when your kid won't let you out of the room.
Here’s the scenario: you’ve all had a long day, you’re tired and you’re totally ready for your toddler to go to bed for the night. You do the bath, the PJs, brush teeth (maybe), read a story, sing a quick song, pick a new stuffed animal…then you go to put your toddler into their crib and your sweet child stands there and screams at the top of their lungs!
It might catch you off guard. It might be something new. You’ve entered a new phase of growth. I promise it’s normal for a toddler to scream and protest at bedtime.
Why does my toddler scream?
Here's what's going on: Your toddler is learning! Toddlers are learning how to do things, how to get things and what's expected of them. They want to have all the independence in the world, but have no idea what to do with it. For instance, your toddler wants to run free in a parking lot filled with cars...do you let him? Of course not! Your little one likely doesn't understand cause and effect...the same thing goes for bedtime when your toddler would rather be playing and having a good time with you than go to bed!
What do you do when your toddler screams at bedtime?
As parents, it's up to us to set limits.
We can fall all too easily into the trap of letting our child run the home. I mean, they are incredibly needy and can’t do much for themselves right? But as parents, we know what is best for our child (aka they need to sleep to function…) and we have our own sleep needs as well. Setting limits helps us to meet our own needs in addition to the needs of our child when they can’t meet those needs (or even recognize them) themselves.
So how do we set these limits?
It can become a bit of a dance, but it all starts with a firm, predictable routine. Each night, do the same routine so it is clear to your child that bedtime is approaching and they will be sleeping soon. Taking a bath, getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, etc. are some things that can be a part of your routine.
Here’s where the fun comes in! Since toddlers are discovering their independence, they are likely to want to gain control of every situation they can, which can be a part of the reason why they are struggling with bedtime. The key to dodging big power struggles is to give your child bit-sized bits of control throughout the evening. What do I mean? Consider this. Your child cannot choose whether or not they want to go to bed, but they can choose if they want the red blanket or the green one. See what I mean? If your child is given the chance to make age-appropriate decisions, they will feel more in control. Let them choose the bedtime story or the song you sing to them. Allow them some independence in the smaller things while standing firm in the big picture.
Once your child feels like they have some control, it will be easier to enforce the limits you’ve set surrounding bedtime. One of these limits should be a specific set bedtime, and can also include expectations such as reading only one story, singing just one song, etc. Being firm but gentle with your child will send the message that this is a solid rule that they are expected to follow. Of course, with each child and situation, it’s important to use your own judgment. Come up with a plan. Predict what may happen before it occurs and plan out your responses. What will you say if your child cries for you to stay with them? Maybe you settle them in and tell them you’ll check in on them in 10 minutes. Maybe you remind them of what a great day they had and encourage them to think about what to do tomorrow. Maybe you let them cry for a little bit to show them you mean business before checking in on them again. Whatever you choose to do, make the expectations clear. And remember that it is only a season and you won’t be dealing with this forever!
Have you ever been trapped by an overtired toddler? Are you stuck in a rut and can’t figure out what to do next? Schedule a free call with me and I’ll help you troubleshoot!
The holidays are fast approaching and many of us are making plans to get on the road to visit family and friends.
And if you've never traveled with your child or your last trip made you feel like you'd rather have stayed home, I have something for you!
For the next 3 weeks, I'll be sharing tips about traveling with kids, how to sleep well and make travel less stressful...
Walking through a large store last weekend with my daughter, she asked to go through the Halloween section. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised but also excited that she’s starting to enjoy one of my favorite holidays! We turned down the aisle and she ran right past the candy, the girly costumes, the silly masks… then stopped cold in her tracks in the face of a creepy looking clown thing that you hang up on your front porch to greet trick or treaters. The look on her face said it all… Yikes!
In this exclusive online webinar, you will learn my 5 Simple Solutions to Help Your Baby Sleep. This is perfect for you if you spend night after night dreading bedtime, feel frustrated that your child wakes so quickly after you get them into their crib and worry that your child will never sleep through the night.
You will learn:
I often meet parents who say their child doesn't nap and it's one of the major reasons that nighttime sleep doesn't go well either. Ensuring your child is getting enough age-appropriate daytime sleep is a key component of good nighttime sleep... so how do you know?
First, newborns up to 3 months of age should be taking 4-5 naps per day, babies 3-6 months 3-4 naps, babies 6-11 months 2-3 naps and babies 12 months and older usually take 1 nap per day. Naps should be around an hour in length.
The clocks changed Sunday morning…now what
First, don’t panic! The end of Daylight Savings time can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because they start waking up way too early! Adjustment takes about 1-2 weeks on average because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning.
However, there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother. My recommendation is to leave your clocks alone Saturday night. Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time. How does that work?
For babies less than 6 months old, if their bedtime and naptimes are not predictable, simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone and use their wake time window (awake time between sleep periods) as your guide.
Infants (ages 0-12 mos): If bedtime is normally 7:00 p.m. move bedtime 15 minutes later each night until you reach the normal time again. So the first night you would put him down at 6:15 p.m., the second night 6:30 p.m., and so on. On the fourth night you should be back to 7:00 p.m. Do the same thing for naps. Start 45 minutes earlier than normal and move them 15 minutes later each day. So if morning nap is at 9:00 a.m. normally, start with 8:15 a.m. on Sunday, 8:30 a.m. on Monday, 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday and then 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Do the same for the afternoon nap.
For toddlers/school aged children (ages 12 mos and up) On Sunday, the first day of the time change, put your child down for his first nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. If baby usually naps at 9:30 a.m., put him down at 9:00 a.m. do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap. For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00 p.m., you would put him down at 6:30 p.m. Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00 p.m. and on 5th day move naptimes back to normal time. So if your child naps at 9:30 a.m, put him down at 9:30 a.m. and so on with the rest of the day.
A great thing about this time change is that there are more hours of darkness which helps make this transition a little easier. If your child wakes up too early, walk them back to their room and tell them it’s not time to get up yet. If your child wakes up too early and is in a crib, be sure to help his body understand it isn’t morning time by keeping him in his crib in the dark room until normal wake time.
Note for Toddlers/School-aged children: If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock to know when their “morning time” has arrived, set the clock one half hour ahead of the new time so that it reads 7:00 a.m. at the new time of 6:30 a.m. Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 according to the clock but it will be 6:30 a.m., new time). This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 a.m. time after about one or two weeks.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially they might seem tired earlier. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, some children it can take up to a month. Be patient and stay very consistent, it will happen.
How much sleep does your child need for optimal health? Check out the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
When you’re considering where your baby should sleep, the obvious answer is ‘a crib’. What you put in that crib important…and I’m not just talking about the baby.
Baby stores, social media and online decorating boards show beautiful huge cribs with lots of bedding, stuffed animals and fluffy-ness all over. While it’s really cute, are those beautifully decorated cribs the safest place to put baby? When my husband and I were shopping for our daughter’s crib, there was a crib in the store decked out in all white with cushy bumpers, a sparkly mobile and soft sheets. My first thought was…what if she spits up? Who wants to try and clean spit up out of white sheets? Not only that, but the crib bumpers were nearly 6 inches thick!
Babies move, even the little ones just a few weeks old. They squirm and wiggle all over the crib so you want to create the safest place for them to sleep. Yes, they need to sleep in a crib or bassinette…not in your bed on the soft mattress, not on the couch or a comfy chair. Don’t use positioners either. If your crib height is adjustable, start it at the highest position, but as soon as baby starts to push him/herself up on her hands, lower the crib mattress height.
Bare is best when it comes to decorating cribs. Cribs should have a firm mattress, with a waterproof cover and a single sheet. Bumpers can become suffocation hazards. Also, don’t put mobiles, toys, stuffed animals, projectors or mirrors in their cribs. Not only can the toys become hazards, but we want baby’s crib to be a place for sleep…not playtime.
Dress baby in one piece pajamas to sleep and make sure nothing covers baby’s head. If you feel like they need to stay warmer, use a wearable blanket, such as a sleep sack. Do not use loose blankets.
Lastly, baby should be put to sleep on his/her back. It may not be the way that you were put to sleep or what you hear from your mom but since the Safe to Sleep campaign (formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign) was implemented, SIDS deaths are down 50%. Once baby is old enough to roll, it’s ok to let them.
Making sure that your baby has a safe sleep environment is important, not only for parents, but also for all caregivers. Make sure you communicate to anyone who cares for baby about these safe sleeping practices.