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.

Make Ahead Breakfast

BreakfastMuesliWe like eating well at our house. Delicious food and pleasant mealtimes are events to look forward to.  My friends and family know I love me a good breakfast.  Even more so, I love me a good breakfast that allows me to linger in bed just a couple minutes longer, but will still be ready when we are.

This is one of our family favourites this time of year.  It’s easy, quick, loved by the littles and we hope you’ll give it a try!

Breakfast Muesli a la Sleeperific

3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1 ½ cups plain yogurt*
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup milk**
1-2 tbsp honey
1 apple, grated (you can peel it, we don’t)
4 cups of fresh berries of your choice; diced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries

– In a large bowl, combine oats, yogurt, orange juice, milk, honey and grated apple.
– Gently fold in fresh fruit, cover and refrigerate overnight.
– Optional: serve with crunchy granola, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, etc…

* If you choose a sweetened yogurt, you can skip the honey.  We’ve tried dairy, goat, coconut and almond yogurt.  They’re all great!  The vegan yogurts tend to be thicker, so you may need to offset by adding more milk.
** We’ve tried dairy, goat, coconut and almond milk, and they’ve all worked out just fine!

Massage for Soothing

MassageforRelaxation

Baby & Child Massage for better sleep

When many people think of the ultimate in relaxation, they think massage.  It calms the body, mind and muscles, and often promotes sleep.  That is why infant massage is becoming more and more popular amongst new parents.  Massage has been used for years to help with colic or to get rid of the pesky gas, but recent studies have shown that regular massage for infants can promote better sleep in babies, and in return, their sleep deprived parents.

A recent study from the Warwick Medical School and the Institute of Education of Warwick, found that infants who received massage cried less and had a decrease in stress hormones such as cortisol, which resulted in better sleep. One Study also stated that massage could also affect the release of melatonin, aiding in infant sleep patterns.

Massaging an infant or toddler,  to help with sleep,  may be different than treating them for colic, gas, or reflux.  Massage before sleep is made part of the bed time routine. Although routines vary from family to family, according to Infant Massage USA, “children who were given daily massages for 15 minutes before going to bed, showed fewer sleep delayed behaviours and had a shorter latency to sleep onset, and as a result, were more awake, alert and active during the day.BabyMassage

To perform a massage to help promote sleep, keep baby in a warm, dimly lit room.  Many  like to use soft relaxing music.  Massage strokes should be preformed in a slow, rhythmical pattern, with full hand contact in a gentle but firm pressure. Lotion or oil can be used, or techniques can be done dry, over clothing. Keeping with a similar pattern can help relax baby and indicate bed time.

Massage therapy follows guiding principals. These help aid blood flow in the correct direction to help with circulation. Starting with the legs, then arms, head, back and tummy allows you to cover all areas, but brings the circulation back to the heart at the centre of the body, and therefore, leaves the child feeling a sense of overall relaxation. Maintaining eye contact and talking to baby in a soft, soothing voice helps build communication, trust, and bonds. It helps to become a wonderful part of the routine, really helping baby feel that this is a wonderful one on one moment with mom or dad.  When working on the limbs, again begin closest to the body, working your way out to the tips of the fingers or toes, and back up to the body.  Since their limbs are small, you can use your whole hand.  When you reach smaller parts, such as hands or feet,  you can simply use your fingers or thumbs to gently knead. When working on the tummy or back, you can use a variety of techniques with either the whole hand or just the finger tips.  When working on the face,  light pressure with finger tips is all you need.  Now, most babies will not let you get through a full body massage the first time,if ever, and that is fine.  Watching baby and following their cues is important.

Touch is a very powerful tool for a parent to use.  Infant massage can help develop that tool for both parent and baby, and also helps create wonderful memories to last a life time.

AmberParkinsonAmber is a  Registered Massage Therapist, the owner of Amber Parkinson Massage and one of Durham Regions leading prenatal massage therapists. She provides massage therapy services to the whole family, working with men, women and children of all ages, from infants to the elderly. Amber tailors each treatment to  the abilities, and needs of each individual client. She specialize in prenatal and postpartum massage. You can follow Amber on Facebook and Twitter. Amber lives in Ajax, Ontario with her husband, daughter and dog.