July 20, 2016
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Considering sleep training?  Maybe you’re reading this post because you’re overwhelmed by all of the advice or resources out there. Or perhaps you’ve read all about preparing for sleep training, but now you need to select the right sleep training method for your family. This is a primer on picking that ‘right’ method… while that definition of right’  is interpreted by the parents.  There is no one-size-fits-all, it’s all about what works best for you and your family.

I’m overviewing four of my favourite, go-to sleep training methods. There are more sleep training methods out there. Don’t see those other methods here?  I don’t recommend them.  They don’t work, or at least not on a timeline my clients and I feel is reasonable.
Sleep Training Methods

Pick Up/Put Down

This method is exactly how it sounds. When your baby cries, you have liberty to pick up baby, get him or her calm and settled, and then place baby back in the crib.

When is this sleep training method best?

Pick Up/Put Down works best with babies aged 4-6 months. For older babies or children it can be confusing or too stimulating, or those older babies can hold onto you during the pick up. That means the putting down isn’t very soothing or straightforward.

 

Fading Out

Also called the “shuffle” or “chair method” or “camping out.” In this method, a parent is offering their support in their child’s room. Gradually, we move a parent away, lessening their support while simultaneously, building the child’s independence.

When is this sleep training method best?

Fading Out works really well with older babies, right up to school aged children. Since it’s a more gradual, gentle approach, we have to concede that the results may be more gradual as well.

 

Check and Console

Also called “Ferber Method” or “Ferberizing” or “Graduated Checks” or “Graduated Extinction” this sleep training method involves checking at increasing intervals (1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, etc) as he’s learning to settle.

When is this sleep training method best?

It can be very effective, but hard to do. These checks can benefit the parent more than they benefit the child. It can also be a difficult method to use for children who are no longer in a crib.

 

Extinction

Also known as “cry it out” (CIO) this is often what parents think of when hearing the term “sleep training.” This “extinction” word is never a favourite, but it’s actually a psychological term. Effectively it means that ignoring an undesired behaviour will cause that behaviour to diminish and eventually, becomes extinct. This method involves closing the door and not returning until a scheduled feeding or morning.

When is this sleep training method best?

Although it can be very effective, clear and quick, this is almost never the first choice for my families. It’s a great last resort for those who have tried everything else and for those families who have a high level of exhaustion who were looking for results yesterday.

 

 

Whatever method you decide to use, they can all work effectively if you can be consistent. Consider your child’s temperament, their age/stage as well as your overall level of fatigue. The most important question to ask yourself: what can you be consistent with? If you’re going to bail on extinction after 1 hour, it’s not the right method for you.

Remember that none of these will work if you’ve ignoring great timing, ideal environments or age appropriate soothing routines. Choosing the right method is a small piece of the larger puzzle.  We need all the pieces together to create sleep success.

xxoo

Krista

About the author:

KristaGuenther Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific.  Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 4 years, she still gets excited when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
April 25, 2016
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Common Causes of Childhood Insomnia

If you’re perusing this website, it’s likely that you’re already aware of just how important sleep is for your child [1]. If your child can’t sleep, it’s as distressing for you as it is for them. Insomnia is horrible at any age [2] – there’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture – but it is particularly horrible for children, who need plenty of sleep to help their brains learn and develop properly. However, if your child is struggling with insomnia, don’t panic. There’s usually a perfectly simple and easily rectifiable reason for their disturbed sleep. Here are a few common causes of childhood insomnia:

Changes In Circadian Rhythms

Our sleep patterns are governed by our circadian rhythms. Our circadian rhythms are our ‘body clock’, releasing hormones to make us wake up, get hungry, get sleepy and so on at certain times, in response to certain stimuli. Thing is, our body clocks aren’t set in stone. They can be thrown out of whack by various different influences. For example, our circadian rhythms evolved to judge waking and sleeping times according to the prevalence of daylight. When bright, ‘blue’ morning light seeps through your bedroom curtains, your eyes detect it through your eyelids and, even though you’re sleeping, your brain will start to produce serotonin – a chemical which wakes you up. However, artificial sources of ‘blue light’ will have the same kind of effect. Children who play on their mobile devices before bed are drenching their eyes in the ‘blue light’ which emanates from phones. This is in turn encouraging their brains to produce serotonin (despite how tired it ostensibly is), which then keeps them awake long into the night [3]. Changes in routine can also disturb your circadian rhythms. New mealtimes, new waking times, new bedtimes – all of these will confuse your child’s circadian rhythms, and perhaps disrupt their sleep. It’s this kind of profound routine change which gives recovering addicts and jet-lagged people insomnia [4]. But don’t worry. Our circadian rhythms, while easily confused, are pretty adaptable. With consistency, they’ll soon start going with the flow, and healthy sleep will follow.

Dietary Issues

Good, healthy meals eaten at fixed intervals are one of the best ways to promote healthy sleep in your children. Conversely, an unhealthy diet eaten at random times is likely to impede their sleep. Too much sugar, caffeine, and fat in the diet generally (but particularly before bed) is likely to at the very least give your child disturbed sleep, if not keep them awake altogether. Sugar is particularly bad for sleep, as blood-sugar imbalances are something to which the body responds in an urgent manner, going so far as to wake you up when it feels the need to alert you of a sugar ‘crash’ or a sugar ‘high’ [5]. Often these ‘highs’ and ‘crashes’ are artificial, brought on by too much processed sugar, but it’s still not great for a healthy sleep cycle. To keep your child snoozing as they should, make sure that they get a healthy diet.

Stress

Sad to say, our children do get stressed and anxious [6]. We all know that worrying is particularly effective at keeping us awake, and that our brains seem to delight in running all of our worries past us just as we’re trying to get to sleep. However, stress also disrupts sleep on a more insidious level. The chemical and physiological processes of stress are designed to keep us alert in order to combat the ‘danger’ we’re ostensibly stressed about. This makes sleep much harder to achieve. If we do manage to sleep when we’re stressed, it’s likely to be a light sleep, which doesn’t really regenerate us in the way that it should. If your child is experiencing unexplained insomnia, before rushing to the doctor, try some gentle investigation into sources of stress within their life.

Citations

[1] BBC, “Sleep matters”

[2] Seth Maxon, “How Sleep Deprivation Decays the Mind and Body”, The Atlantic, Dec 2013

[3] Mercola, “Sleep and Technology Don’t Mix: Why You Need to Set an Electronic Curfew”, Jun 2014

[4] Rita Milios, “Can’t Sleep? Non-Pharmaceutical Options for Treating Insomnia During Recovery”, Recovery.org, Apr 2015

[5] Donielle Wilson, “How Blood Sugar Levels Affect Your Sleep”, Doctor Doni, Dec 2014

[6] APA, “APA Stress Survey: Children are more stressed than parents realize”, Nov 2009

About the Author: Mel Rivers now works as an independent freelancer, before she did this she had a varied career in the health care sector. Prior to working in this sphere, she’d battled her own issues with addiction, and used her experiences to help deal with other people who were struggling, during the course of her day job. She works from home now, after becoming a mom to two girls.

March 24, 2016
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Read THIS before you sleep trainI’m fortunate to work with the families who seek me out.  If you’re looking to hire a sleep coach, it’s probably because you’ve already chatted with your sister, mother, friends, Google and possibly even strangers on the internet, in search of sleep solutions.  The families who ultimately hire me are ready and highly committed to see change.

If you’re considering sleep training, whether on your own or with a sleep coach, this is the kind of thing you want to do once, do right and never have to worry about again.  After working with hundreds of families over the years, these are some of my top considerations before proceeding with sleep training.

  • Give it time – Poor sleep habits did not develop overnight.  It’s not reasonable to expect a complete change in habits in a single night. Give sleep training a fair shot before evaluating success or failure.
  • Commit and be consistent – There is no “kinda sleep train.”  You’re in or your out. If you have an awareness that you can’t commit, you’re not ready or it doesn’t feel like the right move, that’s ok too. Don’t embark upon sleep training until you’re absolutely ready.
  • Be healthy – Illness can limit sleep quality. An underlying health issue (something more acute, like colds, flu or ear infections) warrants holding off on sleep training until baby is well. More complex chronic issues like allergies, digestive issues or even heart conditions, could warrant some special instructions from your child’s paediatrician. Check with your doctor before beginning.
  • Set age appropriate goals – Goals are an important way to measure success. A four month old who sleeps through the night without feeds or a 4 year old with a nap and an early bedtime might not be appropriate. Understand what a reasonable quantity and allocation of sleep should look like for each age.
  • The small stuff IS the big stuff – I’ll let you in on a little secret… sleep training ISN’T about crying it out or what sleep training method you choose. Great routines, awesome timing, an ideal environments – these are what can make or break your success.
  • Right method for your family – Choose a strategy you can be consistent with. It doesn’t have to be cry it out. If you can’t follow through, it’s not the right method.
  • Have a plan – Discuss bedtime, night waking and nap time scenarios with your partner, consider options, agree to a plan and then follow through.  Sleep sabotaging decisions are made at 2AM when fatigue and emotion takes over.  Stick to the plan!
  • Engage all care providers – The more consistency you can offer, the more likely you’ll achieve success. Child care provider(s) can help in working towards those goals.
  • Support network – Maybe this means you and your partner, maybe this means putting a good friend or relative on standby, maybe this means hiring a sleep coach. If sleep training were easy, we’d all have sleeping babies, I wouldn’t have a job and you wouldn’t be reading this post. You’ll need a support network in place. Friends or family who are not supportive can and should be avoided.

Alright parents, what’s your best advice to share with other families?

xxoo

Krista

About the author:

KristaGuenther Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific.  Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 4 years, she still gets excited when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
February 1, 2016
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Bedtime Battles

Toddler trouble? Preschooler problems? Maybe bedtimes mean full blown tantrums at your house? Or perhaps bedtimes are just a little more stressful than you’d like them to be?

Bedtimes can be better. With a few simple changes, you can make bedtime a more positive experience for your family.

Make Bedtime Battles a thing of the past

Take the battle out of bedtime

  1. Fill that attention basket – Every child has their own “attention basket” which needs to be filled at the conclusion of the day. If positive attention isn’t available or if the basket is not full, attention seeking will continue, even if it means filling their basket with negative attention.  The solution? Fill those baskets: approximately 15 minutes of dedicated parent and child time per day will do the trick. Find something special you and your child like to do together. It can be reading, playing a game, crafting, puzzling, colouring, etc…
  2. Routine Chart – Take the power out of bedtime routines. You’re not the boss dictating the flow of a routine. The child is not the boss either. Allow a chart to be a boss. This is not a reward based chart.  Check out a sample for you to download here (colourable! or make your own with your child!). Your child can follow the chart and tell you what comes next, allowing them to feel in control.Routine Chart Download
  3. Cut the tech – Turn off the television, tablets, computers and smartphones, at least 2 hours before bedtime. We know screens limit melatonin production. That means it’s harder to fall asleep if you’ve been using technology before bed. Quite simply, screens limit sleep from a behavioural and biological perspective¹,². Make a media plan with your family. Use a tool like OurPact to manage devices.  Make bedrooms a no tech zone.
  4. Consistency – If bedtime is 7:30PM Sunday, 8PM on Tuesday and 9PM on Saturday; that’s a loose definition of bedtime. Add in a child who is aware of the clock, and you’ll be in negotiations around bed timing because, well, bedtime seems negotiable. Select an age appropriate bedtime, based on sleep needs. Children need a regular amount of sleep on weekdays and weekends, therefore, a regular bedtime. Respect your child’s need for sleep.
  5. Choices, choices, choices – Offer choices to give a sense of power, all day long, but especially at bedtime. Ensure options are age appropriate; instead of “What would you like to wear to bed?” use “Would you like your car pyjamas or your baseball pyjamas?” Not “What would you like for a bedtime snack?” but “Would you like blueberry or strawberry yogurt?” Handing over power in situations that matter less means compliance in situations that matter more.
  6. Mind the message – Is “go to bed” or “go to your room” a punishment? If sleep has a bad rap in your home, consider yourself sleep’s newest marketing manager. Make bedtime a positive time of day, with routines your family looks forward to. Talk about the benefits of sleep for mind and body (“Sleep helps us grow strong and be smart”, “We can do so many fun things when we’ve had a good sleep”, “When we’re tired, we all feel yucky”).  Keep bedrooms a positive space.

xxoo

Krista

About the author:

KristaGuenther Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific.  Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 4 years, she still gets excited when she’s hired by a sleepy family.

References

[1] Thompson, D. A., & Christakis, D. (2005). The association between television viewing and irregular sleep schedules among children less than 3 years of age. Pediatrics, 116(10), 851-856.

[2] Barlett, N.D., Gentile, D.A., Barlett, C.P., Eisenmann, J.C., et al. (2012). Sleep as a mediator of screen time effects on children’s health outcomes. Journal of Children and Media, 6(1), 37-50.

December 14, 2015
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#sleeperific12daysofChristmas WINNERSHO HO HO MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I hope you all enjoyed my 12 Days of Christmas as much as I did. This was my way of saying a HUGE thank you for being a part of my following and helping me do what I love….I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for YOU!  Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!

As promised, here is the list of winners from my 1st annual 12 Days of Christmas….

Day 1 Bugaloo Baby Snack Bags:
Tami_18

Day 2 Teeny Tiny Bakery Cookie Set:
Steph Wagler

Day 3 WeeUrban Sleep Bag:
Lindsay Slouthhouber

Day 4 Herschel Supply Co Backpack:
Laura Clancy

Day 5 BetterLetters Poster:
Katelyn Thom

Day 6 Sleeperific 4th Trimester Sleep Consultation:
Rachael Angelo

Day 7 Bravado Nursing Tank:
Laura Joelle

Day 8 Lulujo Swaddle Blankets:
Jenny J Clarkson

Day 9 Applecheeks Learning Pants:
Kelly D

Day 10 Bambino Land Organic Crib Sheet:
Heather

Day 11 TeethingBling Bracelet and Necklace Set:
Shannon Seko

Day 12 Brag About It Gift Certificate:
Stacey Beattie

I will be emailing you all individually (please check your junk mail).  If you don’t reply within 48 hours then a new contestant will be chosen.

Already looking forward to next year!!!

HO HO HO

xxoo
Krista

December 12, 2015
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12 Days of Christmas from Sleeperific - Day 12$100(CAD) Gift Certificate from Brag About It

SOOOO excited about this one.  This giveaway is just for the Mamas!

Owner Melissa is a Mama, just like you and I, but she also happens to be über talented making stunning, meaningful hand-stamped jewellery.  You have $100 to spend on ANYTHING in her store.  Go on, just check out her Etsy shop and try to pick just one thing…

Enter below from now until December 12.

Winners will be announced here on December 14th, 2015.

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Missed our previous Days of Christmas Giveaway?

Visit Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5, Day 6Day 7Day 8Day 9, Day 10 and Day 11 to enter while you can!

December 11, 2015
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sleep coach

Teething Necklace & Bracelet Set from Bambino Land

I wasn’t aware of these fabulous necklaces and bracelets, until I was gifted one from a client.  What a genius product!  These are great bracelets and necklaces for Mama to wear, but teething-baby friendly.  These products are an entirely safe way to soothe and entertain that child who wants to put everything in their mouth.

We also love Teething Bling, because it was started by a Mum, just like us. They support organizations like Dress for Success and is environmentally and responsibly made without PVCs or phthalates.

Enter below from now until December 12.

Winners will be announced here on December 14th, 2015.

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Missed our previous Days of Christmas Giveaway?

Visit Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5, Day 6Day 7Day 8Day 9 and Day 10 to enter while you can!

December 10, 2015
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12 Days of Christmas by Sleeperific - Day 10Organic Crib Sheet from Bambino Land

Love these sweet, colourful sheets from Bambino Land.  Manufactured with organic cotton, and responsibly made in Asia, these sheets are a perfect addition to your nursery. Check out the Bambino Land product line for more great options for your bambino!

Enter below from now until December 12.

Winners will be announced here on December 14th, 2015.

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Missed our previous Days of Christmas Giveaway?

Visit Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7Day 8 and Day 9 to enter while you can!  

December 9, 2015
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sleep coachLearning Pants from AppleCheeks

So excited about this new product from AppleCheeks!  Famous for their high quality cloth diapers, AppleCheeks has recently added Learning Pants to their product line.  These brand new Learning Pants come in 3 sizes (small, medium and large, which should cover your potty learner from a size 2 to a size 6).  They’re ADORABLE, not to mention a environmental and economically responsible way to potty train.  Bonus that they feel and look like real underwear – so if your child is truly ready for potty learning, these are going to get them to independent pottying faster!  Responsibly made in Canada, AppleCheeks also supports the David Suzuki Foundation with a portion of their profits!

Enter below from now until December 12.

Winners will be announced here on December 14th, 2015.

Contest available only to residents of Canada.

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Missed our previous Days of Christmas Giveaway?

Visit Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5 Day 6Day 7 and Day 8 to enter while you can!

December 8, 2015
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sleep consultant

Swaddle Blankets from Lulujo Baby

Cute, soft and strong!  We loved these blankets for more than just swaddling… an ad hoc blanket for privacy, shade or even spit up management.  Almost 5 years later, my son still sleeps with his swaddling blanket from when he was a newborn.  We love this Canadian company!

Enter below from now until December 12.

Winners will be announced here on December 14th, 2015.

Contest available only to residents of Canada.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Missed our previous Days of Christmas Giveaway?

Visit Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 to enter while you can!)