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.
This week deals with making travel less stressful. Traveling during naptimes or in the evening while your child is sleeping is also a good idea. Whether on a plane or in the car, if they're awake, make sure you keep them busy! Toys, books and snacks can keep kids busy and occupied.
Here are some helpful ideas for snacks from Brittnay Sharman, at thenutbutterhub.com and she shares her idea for great snacks to have during your travels.
Healthy Snacks For For A Road Trip With Kids
When we're heading off a long trip with our kids, snacks are an essential item! Unfortunately, convenient snacks for kids are often pretty unhealthy, not to mention expensive. Keeping our small kids occupied in the back seat can be challenging at the best of times, without constant cries of “I’m hungry!” resonating around the car (which can drive anyone crazy!).
You can also have a go at making it yourself, which is a great option if you’re on a budget. Here are some great ideas:
Popcorn--Popcorn is a great healthy snack and it comes in all sorts of flavours. Buy a big bag and split it up into snack-size portions in boxes or sandwich bags. We find it can get a little messy, but at least it’s dry and not too difficult to vacuum up!
Cottage Cheese & Blueberry Wraps--This one might sound a bit out there, but all our friends' kids along with our kids loooooove this combo! It's a perfect way to get the kids to have a balanced meal with carbohydrates & protein. The cottage cheese ensures you don’t have any runaway blueberries to fish out from under the seat.
Granola Bars--Making your own granola bars is a great option for a no-mess and healthier snack. Store bought cereal and granola bars are often packed with sugar, glucose syrup and additives which aren’t good for anyone!Making your own can be a fun exercise to do with the kids as well (and maybe tire them out before you get on the road). You can pack them with your kids’ favourite things and they don’t have to be too difficult either. We have a few favourites are blueberry vanilla & greek yogurt as well as double chocolate peanut butter. These recipes are healthy not to mentions delicious (we usually save a few for ourselves)
Cereals--Make a great snack for long car journeys. There are lots of healthier options such as wholegrain cereals, cereals with much less or no added sugar and ones without artificial flavourings. Pop a handful in a sandwich bag or snack box for long journeys to soothe those hunger pangs – if you don’t usually have cereal as a snack, your kids might even be occupied at the novelty for a while!
Jerky is perfect for on the go snacking. It doesn’t require any chilling or heating and its practically impossible to make a mess with it (well my kids manage to make a mess with anything and everything)! The only problem with pre-packaged jerky is that it can be extremely high in sodium. Try making your own bacon jerky, it’s super simple and last for months. The kids won’t be able to tell the difference!
Dried Fruit-- Dried fruit can be a great healthy snack for kids; it looks different and tastes different to its fresh counterpart. It’s also much less messy than fresh fruit, as there’s no juice to be squirted over the back seat and no messy hands wiped on clothes. Banana chips, dried apple rings and dried apricots are some of the favourites. You can grab these in health food shops super easily and lots of supermarkets do a good range.
It can seem like a daunting task when it comes to staying healthy on the road with small kids, but with these ideas, it should be a little easier!
And when the snacks are all done, make sure your child has plenty of toys to play with!
Hopefully while you're traveling, your child gets a lot of sleep. During travel, rules around sleep are so much more flexible. Stay tuned for next week's blog of Traveling with Kids part 2: Making Sure Your Child Sleeps Well at Grandmas.
For more sleep tips, visit www.sleepsolutionsbychristine.com
Time to Fall Back and Say Goodbye to Daylight Savings Time
According to the calendar, this weekend we’re supposed to get an extra hour of sleep as daylight savings time ends…tell that to our kids!
It’s not my favorite time of year because so many already sleep deprived parents now have children waking earlier than normal and they’re getting even less sleep than before. Children tend to wake up around the same time each day, so even adding another hour doesn’t make them sleep later and frankly, parents get anxious as the time change date gets closer. My best advice for parents to help their children adjust to the time change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time to gradually change their bedtime and naps (if they still do) over the course of a week to get them “back” to the new time. Here are a few tips to help you all adjust, starting this weekend.
Saturday night: Do nothing! Leave your clocks alone. Enjoy your evening and get some sleep that night.
Sunday morning: Have a relaxing family breakfast and then go around the house and change any clocks that haven’t changed already. No, I don’t know how to change the time on your oven…that would require a whole separate post.
How do you do it?
Infants - If you have a baby with a predictable bedtime and naps (usually over 6 months old), move bedtime 15 minutes later every 1-2 nights until you reach the normal time again. For example, if baby’s normal bedtime is 7pm, put baby to bed at 6:15 p.m on Sunday night, Monday night at 6:30 p.m., and so on. On the 4th night (Wednesday 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. For example, 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 thing for the afternoon nap.
If their bedtime and nap-times are not predictable (0–6 months old) 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. With more hours of darkness, it helps make this transition a little easier on them. If your child wakes up too early, help your child to learn it isn’t time to get up by keeping him or her in their crib in the dark room until normal wake time.
Toddlers- If you have a toddler (12 months and older), put your child to bed 30 minutes earlier than your old bedtime on Sunday. For example, if your child’s normal bedtime is 7:00 p.m., you would put them down at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night (Wednesday), put your child to bed at 7:00 p.m.
For naps, put your child to bed for the 1st nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if your child naps usually at 9:30 a.m. put him/her down at 9:00 a.m. You would do the same with the afternoon nap if your child takes an afternoon nap.
School Age Children- If you have a child that no longer takes a nap, simply put them to bed 30 minutes earlier than their normal bedtime on Sunday night. Do this for 3 nights, then on the 4th night put your child to bed at the normal time, 7:00 p.m. or whatever is the normal bedtime for your child.
Note for Toddlers/School-aged children: If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock (Here’s my favorite) to know when it’s time to get out of bed, set the clock 30 minutes ahead on Sunday. 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) and then after 1-2 weeks, change the clock to read the correct time. This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 a.m. time in 1-2 weeks.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, but this is to be expected and your child might seem tired earlier in the evening. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time. Some children can take a little longer, but be patient and consistent with your schedule. Hang in there, parents!
Christine Stevens is the owner of Sleep Solutions by Christine. Have questions about your child’s sleep, want to know about different methods to help your child fall asleep easily or how to end bedtime battles with your child? She offers a free 15-minute call with her to learn more about her sleep services and talk about your situation. Contact her today and be sleeping all night soon!
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!
Her eyes opened wide and she quickly ran straight back to me, yelling “MOMMY!” Besides giving her a big hug and redirecting her attention to the cute Disney princess dresses, my next thought went to wondering if she’d have a nightmare later that night. And that I wouldn’t be letting her go in that section of the store again…
Did she have a nightmare that night?
No. But the next night she did about something completely unrelated. She came into our room about 2:00am and said she’d had a bad dream.
What happened next?
When I talk with moms about their children’s sleep issues, I often hear the terms nightmares and night terrors to describe the same incident. Their child wakes in the middle of the night, a little scared and a bit of crying, but nonetheless upsetting for the child. The parents do comfort the child and everyone goes back to sleep. Since the two terms are often confused, I wanted to clear things up a bit.
Night terrors and nightmares are two different things.
Night terrors, although rare, tend to happen when we’re in really deep sleep vs nightmares happening during active, or Rapid Eye Movement (REM), sleep. During night terrors, children will tend to scream out and the event can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Night terrors tend to happen earlier in the night around midnight and may include sleepwalking.
Night terrors can be scary to watch but if you try to talk to your child, their reply might be just babbling or incoherent talk because they aren’t really awake. If you find that your child is having a night terror, stay calm and keep them safe, such as keeping them from falling out of bed. Most likely, your child won’t remember the event after they wake up.
If you are seeing a pattern of night terrors, it’s best to mention it to your pediatrician or family doctor to be on the safe side.
Nightmares (aka. bad dreams), on the other hand, are completely different and happen when we’re in REM sleep, which is where we normally dream. Like all dreams, some are happier than others. Nightmares tend to happen later in sleep cycle, usually in the early morning hours.
Children can sometimes recall some or most of details of the dream. If your child has had a nightmare, it’s best to be supportive and reassure them that dreams are normal. It’s simply their brains processing information. Try to help them think of something more positive as they go back to sleep. Make them feel safe; tuck them back in and go back to bed yourself.
Parents often want to ‘help’ more and decide to bring their child to their bed or sleep in the child’s bed. One night is ok, but if you find that your child keeps coming in to your room night after night wanting to sleep in bed with you, you might have a pattern on your hands. Before long you may find your child figures out they’ll get to sleep with you if they have a nightmare every night, so don’t let that habit start.
One way to help prevent nightmares is to make sure your child isn’t overtired and has a regular sleep schedule. Ensure your child is getting enough sleep at night and if they’re still napping, getting a solid nap during the day. If you’re noticing more nightmares happening at night, an earlier bedtime might be in order so your child gets more sleep.
So did my daughter have a nightmare? Yes. She said something about the scary gummy bears, most likely referring to the trailer for the new Goosebumps movie. I tucked her back in, gave her a kiss and she went right back to sleep in her bed. I too went back to sleep. Guess I’ll be watching the commercials a bit closer during her TV time for a few weeks.
How do you get your child back to sleep after a nightmare? Tell me in the comments below!
If you have other sleep related questions, let's chat!
Toddlers are fascinating creatures, aren’t they? Watching them develop into thinking, creative little people is such a fascinating time, and one that parents often wish would last a little longer. Of course, they usually wish that after baby’s grown out of the toddler stage, because along with that creativity and new found intelligence, we usually see a lot of boundary-testing, which can be a frustrating experience.
Have you ever negotiated with your toddler at bedtime?
When I have my consultations with the parents of a toddler, there’s usually some kind of amusing story surrounding bedtime. They tell me, sometimes a little embarrassed, about how their sweet little one gets 3 or 4 stories a night, changes PJs twice, then asks for a glass of milk that they’ll only drink a few sips of, then say goodnight in a very specific, drawn-out way, the endless night wake ups and the back and forth to get them asleep again…and finally, the parents looking at each other wondering how on earth they got to this point.
And it always happens the same way... a little bit at a time.
Toddlers love to test boundaries, and they know that the one thing you want from them at bedtime is for them to go to sleep, so they’ll use that to their advantage. I know it sounds a little diabolical, but it’s their way of seeing where your boundaries lie and how much authority they actually have.
So one night they ask for a glass of milk, and the parents think, “What’s the harm?” The next night, they ask for a glass of milk and an extra story. A week later, they want a glass of milk, an extra story, and three hugs and two goodnight kisses. Little by little, these crazy bedtime routines get established, all according to what the toddler wants.
So there’s a simple solution to this issue:
That’s it. It’s that simple. I won’t kid you, sticking to the rules can be a challenge, because they’re going to ask, test and complain, but if you stick to your guns, they’ll understand sooner rather than later that the bedtime routine is not up for negotiation.
Despite the fact that your child might not agree, toddlers take a great amount of comfort in knowing that you, the parent, are firmly in charge and are confident in your decisions. It gives them a sense of security. If you start allowing them to make the decisions, they actually start to feel like they’re in charge, and it becomes a slippery slope of request after request, and the next thing you know it’s been 2 hours to get your child to bed.
Additionally, a predictable, repetitive bedtime routine actually helps you all sleep better. It signals the brain to start secreting melatonin and signals the body to start relaxing muscles in preparation for a restful, relaxing snooze.
And, finally, you’ll never have to explain to your friends how you have to have to make your little guy pancakes at 10pm in order for him to go to bed.
So if your toddler or child is constantly pushing bedtime, running through the house and you have to spend hours getting them to bed or back to sleep in the middle of the night, give me a call. I’ll show you how to end bedtime battles and give you your evenings back. Schedule a Free Sleep Evaluation and let's chat about your situation. I'm happy to help in any way I can to get you and your child sleeping all night!
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:
Is it teething?
Have you ever heard the story of Catherine O'Leary's Cow?
Back in 1871, the Chicago Tribune reported that the cause of the great Chicago Fire was a cow, Catherine O’Leary’s cow to be precise, kicking over a lantern in the barn while it was being milked.
Unfortunately, the Tribune admitted later on that it had completely fabricated the story, but that didn’t stop people from blaming Catherine and her cow from being widely blamed for one of the greatest disasters in US history.
What’s this got to do with teething, you ask?
Nothing really, except that they’re both victims of some unnecessary scapegoating.
Teething gets blamed for just about every ailment imaginable when it comes to babies. Baby’s got a fever? Probably because she’s teething. Baby’s crying more than normal? I bet it’s sore gums from those teeth coming in. Baby’s got runny poop for a couple of days? Yep, mostly blamed on teething.
Now, all of those things are potentially the result of a tooth coming in, that’s true. But most parents are too quick to blame teething for any and all deviations from the norm as soon as they notice that first tooth appearing below the gum line.
And this is especially true when it comes to sleep.
As parents, we do everything in our power to alleviate discomfort in our babies, and that’s a good thing, obviously. But the natural reaction when baby starts crying in the night is to go in and do whatever we can to soothe them, which can lead to baby being unable to get to sleep without that comfort.
So let’s say your baby has been sleeping great for a couple of weeks, everything’s going well, and then suddenly, you start to see a regression. Baby is suddenly waking up crying two or three times a night. Naturally, you’re going to look for a reason why they’re slipping back into old habits. And if there’s a tooth coming in, that provides a quick and easy answer.
And, of course, it’s not fair to leave baby to cry if they’re actually in pain and not just looking for Mommy to come nurse them back to sleep, so you give in and decide you’ll get back to working to help baby sleep all night once this whole teething thing is over with.
Cut to a year later, and baby is still getting rocked or soothed to sleep every time they wake up, because Hey! there’s probably a tooth coming in!
So... just a couple of things to bear in mind before you give up on your sleep routine due to incoming choppers.
First of all, teething symptoms last for around eight days, so if you’re looking at two weeks of baby crying through the night, it’s either due to some other ailment, or baby has created an association that will bring his favorite person into the room, and she’ll be helping him get back to sleep.
Second, teething symptoms are not nearly as uncomfortable as parents typically imagine they are. We hear about teeth “breaking” or “erupting” through the gums, which conjures up some cringe-worthy images, but nature is not nearly so heartless in this instance. Baby’s gums move out of the way to allow for incoming teeth.
Long story short, according to many experts, teething doesn’t cause a significant amount of pain.
So, once again, I’m not suggesting that you should ignore the teething thing altogether. Just bear in mind that new teeth are not the villain they’re often made out to be. And remember, baby’s going to be a lot happier while going through the process if he’s getting full nights of uninterrupted sleep.
The same thing goes for his parents.
If you’re not sure if it’s teething or you’ve gotten yourself into a bit of a sticky situation and don’t know how to fix it, I’m happy to chat with you. Contact me today and we’ll schedule a free, 15 minute call to chat.
I’m here to make a confession. Yes, I’m a sleep coach but I too have rough nights of sleep.
It doesn’t happen often but I know how you feel. It’s 3am and you’re staring at the clock. You have a few hours before you have to get up for work and you’re worried how you’ll get through the day on so little sleep. You feel like your nights are on repeat…falling asleep but not staying asleep. Or you’re the opposite…you lay in bed and can’t seem to fall asleep no matter what you do.
So what can you do to make your nights more restful? Do these 4 things to help you drift off to sleep faster and feel more rested in the morning.
A few months ago, I was contacted by a mom of a 1-year old boy from Maryland was keeping his parents
awake all night. She told me that every night; she had to CLIMB into her son’s crib at bedtime to cuddle
with him until he fell asleep, then would slowly climb her way out of the crib, hoping he wouldn’t wake
up. This had been going on for months and she was exhausted.
A few days later, I was contacted her friend, who had a 2 year old little boy, telling me that her son was
keeping she and her husband up all night; he wasn’t staying in his crib and the whole family was
suffering because of his nighttime crib jumping. She’d heard from her friend about working with me and
decided she needed my help as well.
Both moms thought they’d tried everything and just wanted to get some sleep.
Their goals were the same…they needed sleep and so did their little ones.
We started out by talking about the boys’ sleep environment and how inviting their rooms were for
sleep. We made sure each room was as dark as possible, using blackout curtains. We made sure each
crib was safe and lowered as far to the floor as each would go to prevent falls. We also made sure to use
white noise machines to help drown out the noise from the rest of the house.
Since each boy had a different situation and amount of sleep needed, each had his own custom sleep
plan for the parents to follow. The parents got to choose which method they wanted, based on their
parenting style, to help their son sleep through the night and get on a good nap schedule.
During each family’s consultation, we talked about things that were going well with their current
situation and areas, such as naptimes and length, that needed to be improvement. We talked about
bedtime routines, when to put the boys to bed, how to handle getting the boys to sleep and how to
handle night wakings. We streamlined each boys’ bedtime routine to around 30 minutes and how to
keep bedtimes early (about 7:30/8pm). Finally we made sure each boy was getting a good nap during
the day and at the right time to balance out their day so they weren’t tired at bedtime.
Within 1 week, much to the surprise of both moms (and the Dads), both boys were putting themselves
to sleep, sleeping through the night and were no longer giving their parents nighttime shenanigans. I
was there to support them throughout the entire process and I’m happy to report that both boys are
still sleeping like angels, months later.
If you’re ready to stop the nighttime shenanigans and get your baby or child sleeping through the night,
schedule a free call with me today to learn how you can get your child sleeping, just like these moms
I often get asked by parents about my recommendations for my favorite sleep things items that are out there on the market to help children sleep at night, so I thought I’d share the Sleep Solutions by Christine list of the best items out there I’ve found.
There are plenty of lists out there telling you about the hottest baby items to help your child sleep. According to one list, all the items related to sleep totaled more than $3000! The thing is… do you know anyone who’s used them or recommended them? Are they even safe to use? I have you covered! And I wouldn’t recommend anything that I wouldn’t use with my own child or one of my clients.
My list of favorite sleep items for your child
Used all over by parents, hospitals and daycares to give babies warmth as well as a safe sleep environment, it’s a must-have for all babies under the age of 12 months. Get the one that allows baby’s arms out and free to move so they can self soothe by sucking on their hands or be able to roll if they want to. This simple piece of clothing can be easily be used as part of your bedtime routine or whenever baby sleeps to provide warmth and a snuggly feeling. Available in sizes to fit toddlers as well, they can also help keep a toddler from climbing out of the crib!
Got another child running through the house, pets that can’t seem to stop running through the house or creaky floors? A white noise machine is a great way to drown out the noise. The best one stays at a stays on all night and at a constant sound. My fav, the Marpac Dohm white noise sound machine, is simple, portable (we take it everywhere) and the noise level can be easily adjusted to whatever level you need. Be sure to keep it low enough that you can talk over it and place it in between the noise you want to drown out (such as the hallway) and the baby to act as a simple noise barrier.
Struggling with early wakeups and toddlers running through the house at 2:00am thinking it’s time to get up for the day? I recommend the Ok to Wake! color changing clock for toddlers. Even when she was in the crib, we used a clock with our daughter at 18 months to get her used to the idea that when the clock turns green, it’s ok to get up for the day. The clock is a visual reminder to toddlers for wake up time before they can tell the time. I’ve tried a few clocks and this one was by far the easiest to program. It’s so easy to set the clock and the desired wakeup time (usually 7:00am). Use it as part of a reward and consequence system to teach your child when to stay in bed and sleep and when it’s time to get up for the day.
Traveling anytime soon? You need the Gro Company Gro-Anywhere Blinds. While most hotels have good blackout curtains, what about Grandma’s house? These portable and adjustable blackout curtains can be attached to any window using suction cups to darken a room, whether it already has curtains or a cute little valence that does nothing other than dress up the window. A must if you’re going on the road this summer.
The Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator. When you have a sick baby or child, you want nothing more than to make them as comfortable as possible. This product is amazing to say the least. Compared to the silly bulb syringe that you get from the hospital, this actually sucks out the mucus from your baby’s nose. No, you won’t actually suck it into your own mouth, since there’s a handy little filter at the top of the tube so you don’t inhale green gooey-ness. It’s the best way I’ve found to clear a little one’s nasal passage.
If you add these few items to your registry or pick them up the next time you’re on Amazon, you won’t be disappointed. You can literally spend thousands of dollars on items your local baby store will tell you that will help your baby sleep. Don’t waste your money (especially on moving bassinets, which I’ll cover in another blog post) because working with a sleep consultant is WAY cheaper and lasts beyond the first few months.
Have questions about your child’s lovey or other sleep related questions? Schedule a free call with me to begin your journey to a better night's sleep!
As your baby gets older, one of the biggest questions parents have is when is their child is ready for a toddler or ‘big kid’ bed. You may be expecting another child, your child is trying to climb out of the crib or just does not seem to ‘like’ the crib anymore. Here are some tips to tell if your child is ready to move out of the crib.
Ask yourself why you’re considering a move out of the crib. If you are expecting another child and you need the crib but your older child is sleeping well, then purchase another crib. Do not change a great sleeping situation if you do not have to. If your child is climbing or attempting to climb out of the crib, make sure the crib is lowered as far as possible. If your child can still get out of the crib, it’s time for a big kid bed.
If you think your child just does not like the bed, take a look at what is going on leading up to bedtime. Is your child getting too excited during play or is your toddler just testing the waters to see if he/she can push bedtime? Make sure you know that if you put your child in a big kid bed that they understand they need to stay in bed all night.
If your child is old enough to ask for a new bed or wants to be like their friend with the big kid bed, it’s probably time to move out of the crib.
Overall, it’s best to wait until your child is closer to 3 years old before switching to a big kid bed. Children younger than 2.5-3 years old may not grasp the concept of staying in bed all night and decide to use their new found freedom to run the house at 3am. Your child has to be ready for a different bed, not you, in order to be successful.
Check out my favorite things!