I hope that title didn't scare you off because I don't mean to say that naps inherently suck. Naps are fantastic! Even as adults, a nap can be absolutely therapeutic, both mentally and physically. And babies and toddlers need naps in order to keep themselves happy and thriving.
But when you first start teaching your little one the glorious skill of falling asleep independently, you're likely to notice that they manage to get the hang of nighttime sleep pretty quickly. However, when it comes time for daytime sleep, things can get a whole lot more difficult.
Out of all the babies I've worked with, around 90% of them have had trouble with naptime. They have a harder time actually getting to sleep, or they tend to wake up after their first sleep cycle (usually around 45 minutes) and struggle to get back to sleep again afterwards.
And as any parent knows, when your baby doesn't get a good daytime nap, that sucks.
They wake up grouchy and fussy until they go down for another nap. So you end up having to soothe and settle them instead of attending to all of the other vital parenting tasks that you could have focused on if they had managed to get a full 2-3 hour daytime snooze.
So yeah, it's not like the actual naps suck, but I'm sure you'll agree that putting your baby down for a nap, tiptoeing out of the room, closing the door oh-so-gently, and then getting two steps into the other room, then hearing them start to stir and cry, that right there, that really sucks.
So let's look at some of the reasons why naptime tends to suck. First of all...
Daylight sucks -
Our bodies are naturally tuned into a 24-hour rhythm, and there's an actual physiological reason for that. Sunlight, or any "blue" or short wavelength light, like that from a phone or TV screen, stimulates cortisol production. Cortisol, being a stimulant, is a real detriment to getting settled and getting to sleep, so getting your baby away from any blue light sources at least an hour before naptime can help alleviate the problem.
That's not always feasible, obviously. If your little one is under 6 weeks old, their ideal awake time is only 45 minutes to an hour. You can't keep them indoors and away from screens all the time, but try to keep their daylight and screen exposure closer to the time after they wake up and keep it down as much as possible when they're getting ready for their next nap.
And invest in some quality blackout curtains for their bedroom. I can't tell you how great of an investment good blackout curtains are. Keeping your baby's bedroom dark is a massive help in ensuring long, high-quality naps.
Lack of melatonin sucks -
The yin to cortisol's yang; melatonin is the hormone that helps our bodies wind down and get ready for sleep. Unfortunately, melatonin production doesn't fully kick in until nighttime for most people, including babies. That means that the body's natural "sleep pressure" isn't nearly as strong during the day as it is at night, which can hinder your little one's ability to fall asleep quickly at naptime and to stay asleep for long stretches.
So we need to find other ways to build up that sleep pressure. Getting your baby outdoors shortly after they wake up is a great way to do that. True, sunlight stimulates cortisol production, but it also pumps up melatonin production in the evening, which will help baby get a good night's sleep. The better your baby sleeps at night, the easier it will be for them to sleep during the day.
And whenever possible, physical activity is a great way to promote better naps. However, your little one likes to move around; get them moving as much as possible. Try to schedule physical activities in the earlier parts of awake time rather than just before naptime. If your toddler's just finished tearing around the yard for half an hour and they try to go straight down for a nap, they're likely still going to be too fired up to get right to sleep.
FOMO sucks -
Nobody likes to stop doing something they love just so they can go to sleep, and babies are no different. If your child's in the middle of a killer game of hide and seek or riveted to the latest episode of Superhero Kindergarten, being told it's time for a nap is likely to trigger a protest. And just in case you haven't noticed, when kids protest, they tend to do it with some… enthusiasm...
Again, timing is everything here, so try to keep the exciting activities to the earlier end of awake time. Once nap time starts approaching, stick to more soothing activities like singing, stories, cuddles, or whatever they enjoy doing that's low-energy. 15-minutes of wind-down time before a nap can help immensely, but the crucial thing to avoid is sparking a tantrum by taking away something they're super engaged in.
Noise sucks -
This may come as a shock, but loud noises and sleep don't go well together. Garbage trucks, sirens, birds, dogs, and the Amazon delivery driver who can't read a "Do NOT Ring Doorbell!!!!" sign, can all disturb your baby's nap. What's worse, when they get woken up after a short nap, they've relieved some of that sleep pressure we worked so hard to build while they were awake, and that's going to make it even harder for them to get back to sleep.
It may seem counterintuitive, but one of my favourite solutions to environmental noise is… well, more environmental noise. White noise machines, which I'm assuming every parent on earth is familiar with. But they do provide cover for sudden, unexpected noises, which are the ones that tend to wake your baby up.
Just remember to keep an eye on the volume level. White noise machines can get ridiculously loud, and babies are not recommended to be exposed to noise over 60 dB for extended periods. Hearing loss sucks too.
Make no mistake, all of these recommendations can help, but they're nothing compared to the improvement you'll see in your baby's naps if they learn to fall asleep independently. More than anything else, that's the key to getting your baby sleeping through the night and taking long, restful naps during the day, so if your little one's still relying on things like feeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, or sleeping on top of you in order to take a daytime nap, that sucks more than anything. It's the single most important issue to tackle before worrying about anything else.
Unsure how to help your baby learn these elusive, independent sleep skills I speak of? I can help with that!
How? Book a free chat with me, and I can help you get to the bottom of your child's sleep difficulties and explain how I can change your family into a well-rested one.
Erin Neri - Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Owner of To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting since 2016.
Make Sleep a Priority in 2023
Happy 2023, everybody! It’s a whole new year full of potential and opportunities!
If you’re like me, when the calendar flips over, you set some lofty new goals to improve your quality of life.
Get more exercise, eat healthier, land a new job, save some money, and spend more time with family; there’s no shortage of resolutions we can make to make ourselves and our families happier and healthier. Creating a “New Year’s resolution” has been around for hundreds of years.
Sadly, around 88% of people seem to fall short of their resolution goals, but I have a great strategy to help you join the happy minority who set their intentions on January 1st and succeed.
How? Well, you probably won’t be too surprised to hear that it involves sleep. (Surprise!) But don’t get the wrong idea! I’m looking at four of the most common, non-sleep-related new year’s resolutions and explaining how a good night’s sleep can scientifically maximize your chances of achieving each of them.
So check it out! Here they are, along with the percentage of people who swear they’re going to achieve it on an average New Year’s Eve.
Lose Weight - 40%
If you’re not getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night, it might be affecting your ability to lose weight.
That may seem a little counterintuitive to some people. After all, the more time we spend awake and active, the more calories we burn, right?
The problem is that sleep plays a crucial role in moderating two vital hormones called ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin sends hunger signals to your brain, and leptin does the opposite, signalling fullness and suppressing hunger.
A 2004 study found that ghrelin levels were almost 15% higher in people who didn’t get enough sleep, and leptin levels were 15.5% lower, causing them to feel hungry more often. So if you’re determined to lose weight this year, getting enough sleep can go a long way to helping you reach that goal.
Get more exercise - 52%
Getting in shape is always an admirable goal. Getting your heart rate up, staying active, improving flexibility, and building strength are all excellent ways to help you stay healthy and feel your best.
But if you’re not getting the sleep you need, getting motivated to hit the gym or go for a run can be a much more significant challenge than it needs to be. You’re likely to get tired out faster and not see the results as quickly as you would if you’re regularly enjoying a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is the body’s regeneration phase, so even if you work out vigorously during the day, your muscles won’t regenerate bigger and stronger if you don’t get the recommended amount of sleep at night. Or, as the gym fanatics would put it, “You ain’t gonna see those gains, bro!”
In short, getting the biggest return on the effort you put into your workout requires a good night’s sleep. Seeing those results is an excellent way to stay motivated.
Spend more time with family - 37%
We’re all looking to make the most of our time, but we also obviously have responsibilities that must be attended to. Whether you’re working a 9-5 job, running a small business, or a stay-at-home mom, by the time you’ve tackled everything that needs to be done in a day, there’s hardly any time to just get together as a family and enjoy each other’s company.
We can’t increase the number of hours in a day, but we can increase our productivity, freeing up time to do the things we love, and to do so, all you need to do is get to bed on time.
According to Dr. Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program, “Many people believe that in order to get more done, they need to sacrifice sleep.” However, this study shows that, quite to the contrary, poor sleep is associated with lower productivity in general, and specifically across a wide range of areas.”
So, simply put, even though you may be getting to bed earlier, that extra sleep will increase your productivity to the point where you’ll actually have more time during the day to spend doing the things you love.
Eat Healthier - 50%
Check this out. A 2013 study found that sleep deprivation led to significantly higher cravings for foods high in fat and/or sugar.
You can check out the article for all the science-y stuff, but I’ll let the study’s authors explain it in layperson’s terms.
“What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified.
These results shed light on how the brain becomes impaired by sleep deprivation, leading to the selection of more unhealthy foods and, ultimately, higher rates of obesity.”
So, getting enough sleep can actually make it easier for you to eat right. How great is that!?
And there you have it, people. If you want to set yourself up for some new year’s resolution success, there’s one habit you can focus on that’ll make all the others much easier to achieve. Get to bed on time, turn off those screens at least an hour before you hit the hay, leave your phone in the living room, and take the time to wind down before bed.
And if you’re not sleeping well because your little one is waking up at night, we should talk! Solving your baby’s sleep issues is the first step to solving your own, and I’ve helped hundreds of families do exactly that.
Book your Free 20 Minute Sleep Evaluation now.
Erin Neri - Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Owner of To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting since 2016.
The holidays are almost upon us, and I absolutely love this time of year!
Why? More than anything, it’s the opportunity to reconnect with the special people in our lives who we might not have seen in a while. Of course, everything about the holidays is special to me, but the people are what really get me excited.
Friends, family, neighbours, and acquaintances take this occasion to visit one another in person, which I’m sure we can all agree is more valuable to us this time after the pandemic caused so many missed opportunities to reconnect.
For many of you, this may be the first time your friends and family members get to meet your new baby, which is such a magical moment for everyone involved. Babies bring us together in an extraordinary way.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a grinch here, but if you’ve been working hard to teach your baby some independent sleep skills and they’re finally sleeping through the night, I just want to warn you that even though this is a wonderful time to celebrate and spend time with the people you love, it’s also an absolute minefield of potential sleep sabotage.
I’m going to single out grandparents here because they’re the most likely to be staying with you and the most likely to take liberties with your rules around your little one, but the same strategies apply to anyone who might be nudging you to ease up on bedtime and naps so they can visit with your baby.
Common examples of this “nudging” include…
All of these things are said with the best intentions, of course. Grandparents are usually more than willing to get up and tend to their grandkids. You can’t really fault people for wanting to spend time with your adorable babies, can you?
Intentions aside, though, sticking to your guns when people ask you to push back your little one’s bedtime can be tough, but I assure you, it’s necessary.
One late night is often enough to leave your baby overtired, making it tough to get them to sleep, causing less restful sleep when they eventually do go down, and often resulting in nighttime and early wakeups, all of which leaves your baby tired and irritable the next day.
And whose problem is it then? Well, yours, obviously. The first thing most people do when a baby starts to cry is hand them back over to their parents, thinking they know how to get them settled. Then the bad night’s sleep leads to a tough day of naps, leading to another rough night, and here we go again, just in time for the holidays.
I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but things can get out of hand pretty quickly, so today, I wanted to give you some tips for politely but firmly putting your foot down when your houseguests ask you to hold off on putting your baby to bed.
Be confident in your decision.
Remind yourself of what you and your baby were going through when they weren’t sleeping well, and ask yourself if you can go through it again, especially during the holidays. Remember that you’re doing the right thing for everyone involved, and that’s never selfish.
Explain the situation.
If people understand the struggle, you’ve undertaken to get your baby sleeping well. They’ll be much more likely to accept it when you insist on strict bedtime and nap schedules. So let your guests know that you’re right about teaching your baby some sleep skills and that they’ll need to go to bed at specific times, with no exceptions.
Highlight the rewards.
This is really the best method I’ve found for appeasing houseguests who don’t know the value of sleep. When they’re pushing for you to let baby, say, skip a nap, ask them, “Would you rather spend three hours with a crying baby or two hours with a happy one?”
After all, it’s tough to bond with a baby when they’re fussing and irritable, so remind Grandma and Grandpa that it’s a choice between forming those cherished memories of their grandchild laughing and cooing in their arms or significantly more forgettable ones of them fussing, screaming, and reaching for their parents because they’re tired and miserable.
Take deep breaths.
I know that sounds facile, but deep breathing really is an effective method of calming your brain and body down in moments when, let’s say, just as an example, your mother-in-law goes to “check” on your baby after they’ve been napping for 15 minutes and then emerges from their room holding a tired, bleary-eyed baby in their arms, claiming that baby was already awake when they walked in. Y’know. Just hypothetically. Not like your mother-in-law would dream of doing such a thing.
Take a few deep breaths, seriously. Before you say anything, just smile, breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth, and remember that they’re just head-over-heels in love with their grandchild and didn’t do it to overrule or defy you. Give it a minute, and once you’ve cooled off a bit, calmly tell her that you’d like to see if baby can get a slightly longer nap and take her back to her crib.
Be the Boss.
Above all, remember, this is your child, and you know what’s best for them, so don’t let other people’s suggestions or experiences influence your judgment. You may hear things like, “We always let our little guy stay up late on Christmas Eve so he’d sleep late on Christmas morning,” or “You’ve got to make exceptions during the holidays.”
None of those people know your baby like you do, so all of their opinions combined don’t hold a candle to your knowledge and proficiency in this arena. You don’t need to be a tyrant, but you should never forget that you’re in charge because you’re the expert! So rock that title and do what you know is right.
The great news is, this is usually a one-time ordeal because once your family and friends see how well your little one sleeps, they quickly learn to appreciate why you take it so seriously.
After experiencing first-hand how delightful it is to be around a well-rested baby, they won’t be asking questions when they come back next year. Instead, they’ll just enjoy the experience and quietly marvel at how awesome you are at raising kids.
So happy holidays, everybody! Have fun, enjoy the season, and sleep well!
Erin Neri - Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Owner of To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting since 2016.
How to deal with Fear of the dark!
It’s 2:00 AM, you’re sleeping peacefully in your bed, and you suddenly wake up; not entirely sure why, but as you start to gain awareness of your surroundings. You become aware, to your horror, that there’s someone in the room with you! You hear the sound of their voice, and they whisper those four words that chill every parent to the bone.
“Mom, I can’t sleep.”
Fear of the dark usually starts to show up around the 2 to 3-year mark. As preschoolers’ minds mature, their memory gets longer, and their imagination develops. They’ve almost certainly taken a spill on the playground or had some kind of traumatic incident by this point, so they’re aware there are things out there that can hurt them.
They’ve also probably seen a few movies or been read a few books that touch on a couple of spooky or eerie elements, even if they’re geared towards children. Where the Wild Things Are, for all of its charm, gave me a serious case of the willies when I was a preschooler.
As adults, we’re experienced enough to recognize that the dark isn’t inherently dangerous (although if your preschooler tends to leave Legos lying around, you might argue to the contrary.) But for preschoolers, there’s no history to draw on to assure them they’re safe and secure after the lights go out.
So my first and most important piece of advice when you’re addressing your little one’s fear of the dark is this…
Don’t slough it off.
Fear of the dark can be a tricky landscape to navigate. On the one hand, we absolutely want to show empathy and understanding when something frightens our kids. But, on the other, we don’t want to add fuel to the fire.
This is why I’m not a big fan of “monster repellent” or nightly closet checks.
Consider this scenario: You’re concerned, rationally or not, that there’s an intruder in your house. You mention it to your spouse, who hands you a can of pepper spray and, looks around the room, says, “Nope, I don’t see anyone. Anyways, I’m headed out for the night! Have a good sleep!”
I mean, you might not file for divorce on the spot, but you’d consider it, right?
So when we tell our kids, “Nope! No monsters here! Not that I noticed, anyway, so you’re all good,” it’s not nearly as soothing as you might think.
It’s easy to see how they could interpret that as, “Yeah, there’s absolutely such a thing as monsters, they’re scary as hell, and they do tend to live in kids’ closets, but I don’t see one in there at the moment, so... y’know. Sleep tight!
So that covers what I consider to be the wrong way to handle the situation.
How about some advice on the right way to handle the situation?
As I said earlier, dismissing your little one’s fears as irrational or unfounded isn’t all that helpful, so ask some questions when they express a fear of the dark. Digging into their concerns is beneficial in a couple of ways.
First, it lets them know you’re taking them seriously, which is very reassuring.
Second, it also helps you to assess what it is about the darkness that frightens them and allows you to address it.
For example, if they tell you they’re seeing things moving around their room, it might be caused by shadows. Headlights from cars driving by can often shine enough light through curtains or blinds to throw shadows across the room. Coupled with a preschooler’s imagination, that can create some seriously intimidating scenes. In that situation, a nightlight or blackout blinds can be a quick, effective solution.
Tip: Go for Both! They both have multiple benefits when it comes to preschoolers sleeping habits.
If you’re going to use a nightlight, make sure it’s a warm colour. Blue lights may look soothing, but they stimulate cortisol production, which is the last thing we want at bedtime.
Getting a device like the Hatch Baby Rest can help your preschoolers sleep in multiple ways. Setting the night light to a dim red colour can help with melatonin production, soothe some of these new night time fears and the Hatch can be used as a time-to-wake-up device (plus as a white noise machine which I always recommend).
Blackout curtains also have multiple benefits when it comes to sleep strategies. The darker the room the better it is for your child's sleep. Try SleepOut Blackout Curtains; they are made of material that completely blacks out the light, it also helps to eliminate environmental noise from outside, and they help to regulate the temperature in your kiddos’ room. They are a phenomenal product! Use the code ToTheMoonSleep10 for a discount on your purchase.
You're going to have to dig for information.
Now, that’s a bit of a Utopian scenario. As you’re likely already aware, getting a clear, concise answer from a preschooler about anything is tricky. To a preschooler, “Paw Patrol” is a reasonable answer to “What do you want for lunch?” So you’ll likely have to work with slightly more obscure information, but we’re showing concern, which goes a long way here.
For many preschoolers, bedtime is the only time of the day when they’re left alone. They’re either playing with friends, hanging close to their parents, or being supervised in some way, shape, or form by a grown-up.
Bedtime is also the only time they’re exposed to darkness, so you can see how the two things together could easily cause some anxiety.
Spend some time together in the dark.
So the obvious (and super fun!) way to ease some of that apprehension is to spend some time together in the dark. Reading books under a blanket with a dim flashlight is a great activity.
Some hide and seek with the lights out is tons of fun as well, just as long as you clear any tripping hazards out of the area you’re going to be playing in. (It doesn’t have to be pitch black. We just want to get some positive associations with low-light situations.)
Shadow puppets are a great time, even though I’m personally terrible at them. Hide-and-Clap is a classic, but if you’ve ever seen The Conjuring, you’ll know why it might leave you with nightmares as opposed to your preschooler.
A quick Google search will load you up with dozens of ideas, so pick two or three that you think your child will like, then let them choose one.
This isn’t likely to be an overnight fix!
But stay respectful, calm, and consistent. After your little one’s fears have been addressed and they’ve learned that the darkness is more fun than frightening, you’ll start seeing more consolidated sleep and fewer visits in the middle of the night.
One last little tip, turning down the lights gradually as your little one’s bedtime approaches is an excellent way to ease them into a dark setting and also helps to stimulate melatonin production, which will help them get to sleep easier.
Two birds, one stone.
Parenting level: Master.
What's with False Starts?
I’m guessing we all know what I’m referring to here and that I’m not using industry jargon when I refer to a “False Start,” but just in case, let’s define it before we go any further.
Unless you’re very lucky, I mean exceptionally lucky, you’ve experienced one of the false starts firsthand. You put your little one down for the night. They close their eyes, nod off, and then wake up again in about 20-30 minutes. So that specific situation is what we’re referring to here.
The reason it’s essential to distinguish between this scenario and the regular old “nighttime wake up” is because different things cause them and therefore have different solutions.
A nighttime wake-up is similar, obviously, but occurs after baby’s been asleep for at least an hour or so.
Nighttime wake-ups are usually the result of either hunger or a baby’s inability to string their sleep cycles together. Suppose your baby’s over six months of age and had a full feed before bed.
In that case, hunger likely isn’t the culprit. Suppose they’re unable to string their sleep cycles together, well. In that case, that’s another conversation altogether and a great reason to hire a pediatric sleep consultant. *Wink wink*
But false starts, as I mentioned, are a different animal and can often be solved relatively easily. So the first step, as with any problem, is to identify the cause, and when it comes to false starts, here are the three usual suspects.
What are the causes of false starts?
If your baby’s uncomfortable, there’s a good chance they won’t sleep well, as is the case with anybody of any age. Teething, gas, reflux, or even being too warm or too cool can cause babies to wake up quickly after they first settle. You can likely find temporary or permanent remedies to the first three by talking to your pediatrician.
As for the temperature issue, I have a really handy guide to dressing your baby appropriately for different temperature nurseries that I’d be delighted to share with you. Just fire me an email, and I’ll send it your way, free of charge.
2. Lack of Pressure
There are two things that help us fall asleep. One is our circadian rhythm, which signals our brain to start producing melatonin when it gets dark. And homeostatic sleep drive, which is the body’s natural urge to sleep as we spend time awake, exert ourselves physically, heal from sickness or injury, or experience exciting or stressful situations.
Given how quickly they’re developing, babies’ homeostatic sleep drive builds up much quicker than in the average adult. (A big part of why they need so much daytime sleep.) But as they get older, that pressure accumulation starts to slow down and requires more time awake between naps to build up to the point where they can fall asleep and stay asleep at bedtime.
If your baby takes a long time to fall asleep when you first put them down for the night and seems active and happy during that time, low sleep pressure could likely be the cause. It may be time to either drop a nap or reschedule their naps to allow that pressure to build up appropriately before bed.
This is where things can get a little challenging because, contrary to popular belief, over-tiredness doesn’t look like a more intense version of regular tiredness. Instead, over-tiredness causes cortisol secretion at the time when we want it the least and actually causes babies to get quite energetic, making it difficult for them to get to sleep. So, in this case, you might want to move bedtime up by 20-30 minutes.
And that’s the rub because, as you might already have noticed, we’re now dealing with the same symptoms we had in the earlier scenario. Instead of baby not getting enough awake time before bed, they’ve actually had too much.
So two completely opposite causes result in very similar symptoms but require opposite solutions, which makes it challenging to know which course of action to take to remedy the situation.
How do you know which scenario you're dealing with?
So, how do you know which scenario you’re dealing with and implement the proper fix? Well, I have a great little scheduling table that I’d be happy to share with you (once again, just send me an email), or you could try the trial-and-error approach.
If you do, though, I strongly suggest you start by moving bedtime up. Overtiredness is a vicious cycle once it takes hold. Baby doesn’t sleep well, which results in short, fitful naps the next day, which leads to insufficient sleep at night, and on and on it goes. So it’s much safer to move bedtime earlier and see if that solves the problem.
Hopefully, one of these solutions takes care of your little one’s false starts. But if the problem persists, it might be time to consider some one-on-one help from a pediatric sleep consultant, and it just so happens that I know a great one living in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada. :)
Book Your Free 20-Minute Sleep Evaluation to chat with me more about what's happening with your little one's sleep and I can explain how I can help and which program is best suited for your family.
Erin Neri - Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Owner of To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting since 2016.
Daycare & sleep Training?
The biggest challenge you’ll face when you’re teaching your baby those precious independent sleep skills is the minute you put them in someone else’s hands for the day.
Combining sleep training and daycare can be challenging, I won’t lie to you. You’ve powered through some hard nights and refused to give in when your baby tested your willpower. But, now that everything’s finally running smoothly, you need to put your trust in someone else to keep things in order.
Personally, when I faced this situation for the first time, I felt like my head and my heart was going to explode. I had spent so many sleepless nights, hours reading sleep stuff that didn’t work, and cried so many tears of frustration, and I was terrified they were going to screw it up. I was going to have to start all over again.
All this hard work and determination to get my little one to sleep independently? Entrusted to someone, I don’t even know? Not on your life.
But here’s the good news. This is absolutely achievable. Sending your little one to daycare will not sabotage their sleep so long as you take the time to work with your daycare provider.
I’ve got some great tips to help you do that in a way that will make this as easy and conflict-free as possible.
So... first of all, have you already decided on your daycare provider? If not, then keep reading. If so, you can skip down to the next section.
Choosing a Daycare Provider
Here are a few sleep-centred things to keep in mind when deciding on a daycare provider. None of these are deal-breakers; they’re just a few things to consider.
Ask them what their approach is to naps.
Do they put kids down at a specific time?
Do they allow individual nap times, or is it all kids together for a specified duration?
Ask to see where they’ll be sleeping.
Is it a fully-lit room with several other kids or a semi-private space where they can keep things dark?
Can you bring your own white noise machine? It can be super helpful to provide the same white noise machine that baby’s accustomed to at home.
My favourite white noise machines are made by YogaSleep. They are made using sleep science and have been around for a long time. They have a smaller travel version that may be perfect to send to daycare with your baby.
Can you bring one of your child's sleep sacks from home? Having that familiar smell of her sleeping environment and that cozy feeling from her own bed can bring a lot of comfort your baby when it comes to nap time at daycare.
My favourite Sleep Sacks are made by Woolino. They are made from a special wool that allows your baby or toddler to use the same sleep sack all-year-round. They come in various patterns and sizes that will grow with your baby. Use the LINK and the code TOTHEMOONANDBACK10 to get a discount off your purchase.
Is your daycare team capable of accommodating specific requests regarding baby’s naps?
i.e. Will they allow your baby to cry for a few minutes, will they hold off on offering sleep props if you ask them to?
Communicating with baby’s caregiver
So, once you’ve decided on a daycare provider, or if you already have your little one in a place you’re happy with, what can we do to ensure everybody’s pulling in the same direction on this sleep issue?
Let them know how long you’re comfortable with baby fussing. Most care providers will default to a no-crying approach unless instructed otherwise.
Ask them to avoid sleep props.
Be specific about what you consider a sleep prop. For example, ask that they refrain from using pacifiers, rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, or whatever you’ve established as methods to get baby sleeping that you think they might become dependent on.
Be respectful of their limitations.
Daycare providers look after a lot of kids at once and are often required to follow some overarching safety rules, so don’t be surprised if they can’t accommodate every request you throw their way. Keeping an eye on several little ones at the same time usually means no white noise machines and no dark rooms. However, it doesn't hurt to ask for these things to be implemented as there are benefits for all the children involved.
Above all, maintain open communication. Let your daycare provider know you’ve been working on your baby’s sleep issues and where you’re at with the process. Remember that they want your little one to sleep well almost as much as you do. A well-rested baby who goes down for naps without much fuss is a daycare provider’s dream come true.
A few random tips
Regardless of the particulars of your baby’s situation with their sleep in their home away from home, here are a few tips that are likely to come in handy...
If you haven’t started sleep training yet, start on a Friday night or whatever day is farthest away from their next day of daycare. The first couple of nights are usually a bit of a roller coaster, and baby’s likely to be a little out of sorts for the first 48 hours.
It’s best to get at least three or four nights in before going to daycare. However, if there’s a care provider who can help you out for a day or two, consider asking them to sit in for the Monday and Tuesday, so baby’s had a good amount of time to get accustomed to their new sleeping arrangement.
Don’t “ease baby in” to their new situation.
Once you’re ready to start sending baby to daycare, start off with the same schedule you want to end up at. If they’ll be going every weekday, send them every weekday right off the jump. Please don’t send them for a day the first week, two days the next, and so on. They’ll adjust quicker and easier if you get them used to their new schedule right away.
Babies are usually capable of distinguishing between different environments.
Habits they learn at daycare won’t necessarily transfer over to sleep in the home, so if your daycare provider allows them a pacifier or rocks to sleep, don’t worry too much about it. Baby should still be able to understand that it’s not the same when they’re at home.
However, it can make the whole process a whole lot easier on everyone if things are as consistent as possible between all of your baby's sleep situations. There is less likely to be any confusion if the expectations are the same both at home and at daycare.
Different schedules at home and daycare are OK.
In the same vein as the last point, it’s not the end of the world if their nap schedule at daycare doesn’t sync up with the one they have at home. But, again, it’s a definite bonus if you can make it work, but it’s not essential.
You will want to follow your baby's awake windows as closely as possible as much as possible while they are at home. Nap times may vary a little between home and daycare but you should aim to maintain your bedtime schedule as close to the same awake windows every night as you can. Keeping that last awake window before bedtime the same each night is going to help to make sure baby isn't overtired for bedtime.
If baby starts falling asleep on the ride home, try to keep them awake. Putting them to bed early is better than offering a catnap after 4:00 PM. If baby does fall asleep, wake them up when you get home and let them get some more awake time before bed.
All in all, there’s no reason why daycare and sleep training can’t work together.
Just keep in mind that your daycare providers are your allies in this mission. They have a vested interest in your little one being as happy and well-rested as possible, and they obviously want to keep baby’s parents happy too.
Maintain open lines of dialog, be respectful and patient, and accept that they can’t always tailor things to each child as much as they would like.
Keep up your bedtime routine, stick to your schedule as closely as possible, keep baby away from those sleep props, and things will fall into place, I assure you.
Happy Sleeping, Erin
Erin Neri - Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Owner of To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting since 2016.
It's time to “fall back” the clocks!!
This can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because with this,
comes an adjustment that does not happen immediately.
This is because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning and that is why people usually can see a greater effect on children when the time changes.
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?
I get it. I really do. After all, I’m a mom too.
The absolutely uncontrollable and primal impulse to stay close to your baby is so deeply rooted in our DNA that it’s almost frightening sometimes. I’m sure evolutionary defensive instincts are what’s at play in this phenomenon. But it feels more like love to me. I just love this little human to the point where I want to be in contact with them 24/7, 365.
And hey, baby doesn’t seem to mind, and there’s just something so beautiful, so maternal, about sleeping next to your baby that it almost seems crazy not to.
Or at least that’s how some of us felt until the first week or two of co-sleeping. Then it was more like, “Listen, I love you; you love me; that’s established. But I can’t sleep next to someone who hasn’t yet figured out the etiquette involved in sleeping next to another person. And jamming your thumb in my eye at 3:30 A.M. is just simply outside of the lines.”
I have spoken to plenty of parents who co-sleep and who swear by it. Some of them even have more than one kid sleeping in bed with them.
Power to them. If they enjoy it and they’re doing it *safely, I say co-sleep your heart out.
But I’ve spoken to more than a few parents who are big on co-sleeping but are still being woken up by feet in their face or thumbs in their eyes several times a night and want to know if sleep training will get their little ones to stop squirming or waking up fifteen times a night to nurse. Which, for the record, your eighteen-month-old does not need to do.
I really wish I had a more satisfying answer for those parents because, as I say, I sympathize entirely. I understand wanting those two best-case scenarios to live in harmony.
Sleep next to your baby but have them not wake you up repeatedly through the night. That would be magical, no question.
Unfortunately, it’s not really all that likely for a couple of reasons.
One, toddlers are often very animated sleepers. It’s just a fact. They twist and turn and readjust themselves a thousand times a night and often end up entirely on the other side of a queen-sized bed with their feet towards the headboard.
Two, your baby thinks you’re just the greatest. When they wake up in the night and see you lying next to them, they get excited. They want you to interact with them, so they try to engage with you. Unfortunately, since they’re still unaware of societal norms, they don’t know enough to lie on your shoulder and quietly whisper, “Are you awake?” So instead, they do it by jamming their finger in your ear or slapping you on the forehead. It’s not polite, but man, it’s effective!
So why can’t sleep training alleviate this?
Simply put, because it’s not a sedative. Sleep training is all about teaching your baby the skills to fall back to sleep on their own when they wake up in the night. That’s a slight simplification, but at its core, that’s what we’re doing.
We’re not doing anything that will get your baby to fall into stage 3 sleep and stay there for a solid 11 hours. That’s a job for Ambien, and there are obvious reasons why we’re not going down that road.
So while it’s possible that you could see some success in your child’s sleep habits by teaching them independent sleep skills, you’re not likely to see the same kind of results you will if you get them sleeping in their own bed, in their own room, without any distractions.
Leery about giving up the snuggles
For those who are leery about giving up those magical cuddles in your bed, I have a suggestion that has helped my own family and many of those I’ve worked with. Set aside fifteen or twenty minutes every morning after your kids are out of bed and well-rested, and bring them into your bed.
Cuddle them, play with them, sing some songs, play-wrestle, whatever their hearts desire. You can both still enjoy the closeness and familial bond that comes with sharing a bed without creating any associations that might mess with their ability to get to sleep at night and without waking each other up.
If you’ve already been co-sleeping for quite a while and have decided it’s time to reclaim your bedroom, but your little one has other ideas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ve worked with families to get them through this exact scenario with tremendous success, and I can help yours too.
Book Your Free 20-minute Sleep Evaluation and let's get your family sleeping.
*Always follow all *Safe Baby Sleep Guidelines.
Erin Neri - Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Owner of To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting since 2016.
Certified Integrative Feeding Specialist
As of October 2022, I have completed a new certification called the Integrative Feeding Specialist Course. This means that I am now a Certified Integrative Feeding Specialist, on top of being a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant!
This comprehensive educational program is designed especially for sleep consultants to expand their breastfeeding knowledge. It is the first program of its kind to combine breastfeeding knowledge & sleep dynamics!
As a Certified Integrative Feeding Specialist and Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant:
Not ready to wean? You don't have to! We can find the right solutions for your baby, whatever your goals may be.
Many parents believe that getting a good night's sleep simply isn’t possible for them until their baby is weaned. As a Certified Integrative Feeding Specialist and Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, I can assure you that it is entirely possible for the two to coexist.
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To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting
Providing families the tools & support they need to get their little ones sleeping through the night and napping like champs! Everyone has more fun when they are well rested!
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