Terrific Quiet Time

Quiet Time Activities | When Kids Grow Out of Naps

Floor Roadways

It’s no secret I love quiet time once those munchkins move beyond their need for naps. Masking tape, a toy vehicle or two and a few minutes is all you need to pull this together. After turning his bedroom into a racetrack with his parking garage, my 3 year old requested that I “never take it off!”

Choose the low tack tape at the paint store if you think you might leave it set up for a few days… trust me.

Resource: Check out my Quiet Time board on Pinterest for plenty more activities for encouraging independent play.

xxoo Krista

Is your baby tired?

One of the first things I try to assess when I work with a new family is the child’s fatigue level. How much sleep does that child need? These are some of the aspects of sleep I look at to determine if that child is well rested, or if he/she could be logging a few more hours of zzzs. Primarily, I ask about two things that parents can typically give me an indication of:

Quantity of Sleep – In a 24 hour period, how many of those are spent asleep? Approximately 90% of babies and children will fall into these ranges. About 5% of kids need more, about 5% of kids need less sleep than what is indicated. It’s not going to fit each and every child, but ranges of “normal” are helpful.

Quality of Sleep – Is the baby or child having long, restful stretches (depending on the age, this may still include wakings for feedings) and regular/predictable naps? We all know that a night of broken sleep is not nearly as restful as a night of consolidated sleep. Without longer, consolidated stretches of sleep, it’s unlikely that child can be well rested.

Some other “fatigue symptoms” to consider include the following list. It’s not necessarily just one factor to consider, but the combination of all of these together:

signs of tiredness
1) Falling asleep in their car seat or stroller, even when it’s not around nap/bedtime or on the shortest trips.
2) Waking from naps or in the morning grumpy.
3) Difficulty waking the child in the morning.
4) Early morning risings (generally before 5:30AM) or possibly other night wakings which aren’t related to hunger.
5) “Tired but wired” behaviour. The child appeared drowsy earlier, but as the day or evening wears on, the child is energetic, having trouble settling, lying quietly for their nap or bedtime (think along the lines of a second wind).
and
6) Fussiness/clingy, general mood decline, especially in the late afternoon or early evening.

If you feel any your children (or you!) aren’t getting adequate rest, consider what you can do to start getting more sleep into your families daily routines. Fatigue and exhaustion doesn’t need to be a way of life for your child or your family.

The Big Kid Bed

CribClimbing

You’re thinking about transitioning your toddler from a crib to a bed.  But you’re not sure if you should?  And if you do, you’re wondering the best way to go about it?

Ask yourself a few questions:

1) Is my child maximizing the weight limit on their crib?
2) Is my child climbing out of the crib, in spite of having the mattress in the lowest position?
3) Is my child pottying at night?

If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, it might be time to consider the big move outside of the four barriers which keep your child contained during their sleep!

The first suggestion: keep them in their cribs as long as possible. 3 years old is actually a very appropriate age for a transition to a bed. Why? They’re just older and better able to understand instruction, rules and cooperation. Sometimes the transition involves a lot of cooperation! As well, that child will have more enthusiasm for growing up and being a big kid by then. The transition can be a lot more seamless when the child is completely on board.

Here’s some of top tips for planning a seamless shift from crib to bed:

Plan Your Approach: Some kids transition quickly and easily. They’ll see the bed one day and will be able to have a great sleep in it right away. Some will need a big lead up time of weeks or even months before they’ll feel comfortable. Consider the disposition of your child and how quickly they adapt to change and gauge your approach from there.  Focus on building enthusiasm and keeping the experience positive.

Role Models: Older family members or friend’s children who’ve already made the transition are excellent role models. Introduce the idea of a big bed and how “you’ll get to sleep in a bed like this too when you get bigger!”. From there, you’ve planted the idea and can continue to cultivate the thoughts of growing out of the crib and graduating to a bigger bed.

Sleep Manners: This might be a good time to introduce any “sleep manners” you might have.  Manners are like rules, but with a more encouraging tone. Keep them positive too by emphasizing what your child can do versus what she can’t do: Don’t get out of bed versus lying in bed quietly until we fall asleep.

Age appropriate choices: Kids are enthusiastic when they get to be part of the decision making. Involve them in selecting a bed, mattress and/or bedding/linens. Being part of the choices helps them feel grown up and in control.  This doesn’t mean letting them loose at PBK and telling them to pick out whatever they want.  It means narrowing it down to a couple choices you could live with and having them select from there.

Safety First: You’ll need to be extra diligent about any hazards in their room. Hanging cords from blinds, window guards (or locked windows), covered outlets, shelving/furniture secured to the walls, remove hazards from closets, etc… They will be able to easily get out of bed and inevitably they will explore. Make sure they’re safe.

Keep your baby monitor. I also suggest locking your exterior doors too, just in case you’ve got a mini Houdini.

Depending on the size of the bed you’re introducing, you might need bed rails if your child moves a lot during their sleep. You can always eliminate those at a later date.

What to Expect: The biggest issue I see with kids who transition to a bed: children who can get out of bed any time they like, and do. Some children wouldn’t even consider getting out of bed (thank your lucky stars if this is your child!). But some can and will give you countless curtain calls. Kindly and firmly remind them of their manners by and lead your child back to bed. Every. Single. Time.  It should improve quickly and the novelty of getting out of bed independently will begin to wear off.

Above all other things, be consistent. As I’m sure you’ve experienced: if you bend the rules, so will they.

Post Partum Depression

Postnatal Depression

More than just the baby blues

I recently took part in a Continuing Education course on Postpartum Depression (also known as PPD or postnatal depression). This is a topic very near and dear to my heart.  I have friends who’ve experienced PPD and even friends who’s families have been torn apart because of a more extreme postpartum mood disorder, called postpartum psychosis.

We’re supposed to be thrilled and elated about the new addition to our family.  We all have expectations, from within and from those around us. But what if you’re not able to meet those expectations?

Postpartum depression is the most common side-effect of bearing a child1.  It effects 10-20% of new mothers and you’re more likely to incur PPD again if you’ve experienced with previous births2.

Postpartum Depression involves a major depressive episode with onset within four weeks postpartum.  Clinicians diagnose PPD with the following: within a two week period, a new Mama will experience five of the following symptoms: depressed mood; change in appetite, eating habits or weight; sleep disturbance; lethargic or agitated motor activity; extreme fatigue; worthlessness or inappropriate guilt; impaired concentration; thoughts of death and a general inability to experience happiness or pleasure (anhedonia)2.

The Baby Blues is a more brief experience, typically peaking 3-5 days postpartum and lasts less than two weeks. It’s actually more related to the tremendous hormonal fluctuations which come with giving birth2.

Some factors which may increase a mother’s risk for Postpartum Depression include2:

– Lack of sleep
– History of mood disorder
– Family history of mood disorder, through first or even second degree relative
– Social isolation
– Depression or anxiety during pregnancy
– Unsupportive spouse
– Marital difficulties
– Temperamental baby
– History of early loss, trauma, abuse in family of origin (can result in poor coping skills)
– Obstetrical complications
– Unplanned or undesired pregnancy
– Additional stress
– Perfectionist tendencies, struggle for excellence, fear of failure

Maybe you’ve felt the effects of PPD, maybe you know some one who has. Open the dialog and remove the stigma surrounding mental health. Asking for help can feel like a weakness, but sometimes asking for help is the greatest act of strength. No one is going to think you’re crazy or you’re a bad Mama. Trust me when I say the expense of not doing anything about depression is far greater than the time and money you will invest to better yourself and your family. We all know that Mama is often the glue holding families together. A happy, thriving parent means a happy, thriving family.

There’s help out there and let’s support and encourage our friends and family to take care or ourselves and take care of each other. Let’s look out for one another. We’re all in this together.

Resources:

Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) :self scoring tool for persons ‘at risk’ of PPD

USA: Postpartum Support International

Canada: Canadian Mental Health Association

Canada, AB & BC: Postpartum Depression Awareness Project Ltd

UK: PNI (Postnatal Illness) ORG UK

Katherine Stone’s Blog: Postpartum Progress

Sources

1) Wisner, K.L, B.L. Parry, C.M. Piontek, Postpartum Depression. New England Journal of Medicine. vol. 347, No 3, July 18, 2002, 194-199.

2) Stearn, S., Presentation: Postpartum Depression and Other Postpartum Mood Disorders.