February 1, 2016
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.



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.


[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.

November 25, 2015
Nap Transitions: Part 2

The transition from 3 down to 2 naps isn’t such a big deal. 2 down to 1 and 1 down to 0 – those transitions are beasts. I always encourage parents to protect those naps for as long as they can and transition only when absolutely necessary. Ensuring you’ve done everything to can to prolong their 2 nap per day schedule will lead to an easier transition. We want to be 100% ready for these transitions.

The transition from 2 to 1 nap per day is likely to be around 15 months of age. Although there’s lots of variation – some showing signs of readiness for transition as early as before their 1st birthday, while others are willing to hold onto their second nap until closer to 18 months.

Protect Two Naps

Pull out all the stops to preserve that 2 nap per day schedule:

Have you….

  • capped their morning nap?
  • nudged the timing apart as much as possible (while still being respectful of circadian rhythms)?
  • nudged bedtime slightly later?
  • Ensured your child is having active days, with at least 30 minutes outdoors? (Ontario Day Nurseries Act recommends up to 2 hours of outdoor play for children 6 and under)

Readiness for One Nap

STILL not making this 2 nap per day schedule work? Readiness to transitioning from 2 down to 1 nap per day means:

  • At least 1 year old – Although I think children can show some signs that make it appear like they’re close to dropping a nap, that’s rarely the case before their 12 months old. It’s likely any disruptions you see around this age are related to developmental milestones (hello standing! walking! running!).
  • Sleeping well at night – We don’t remove naps hoping to compensate for poor quality and quantity of night sleep. It’s likely that children having disrupted sleep needs MORE, not less sleep.
  • Walking – Kids become MUCH more physically fatigued when they start walking and running around. You’re going to want to have 2 naps in your routine when those little legs start moving.
  • Consistently missing one of their naps – In spite of doing everything above, is your child still not napping for both naps consistently? Don’t be too quick to pull it. A missed nap occasionally happens with older babies/almost toddlers. If your child misses it consistently for 10 days in a row, then it’s time to think about dropping it.

One Nap Schedule

You’ve done your homework, aimed to preserve 2 naps and your toddler meets all the criteria?  Sigh, you’re moving to one nap per day.   This means your child will likely need a nap around midday. For kiddos that LOVED their morning nap, push out the timing (9:30, 10AM, 10:30, etc).  Effectively their morning nap becomes their midday nap. For kiddos that were rejecting their morning nap, they should find this transition a bit easier and will nap around midday.

I’ve reminded you of this before (and I’ll probably remind you again): sleep needs DO NOT change, just because of a nap transition. Just the ALLOCATION of the sleep is adjusting. The total quantity of sleep in a 24 hour period should remain similar in either a one nap/day or two nap/day schedule.

How did your nap transition go at this age?



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 feels excited and honoured when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
October 18, 2012

Go the F* to Sleep didn’t become a number 1 bestseller because all of our kids are sleeping through the night and taking long restful naps.  This book offers an honest and cheeky look at the frustration and desperation EVERY parent has experienced at one time or another: your baby can’t or won’t sleep and you find yourself swearing under your breath.  You know they’re tired.  But what’s keeping them up?

Here are some of the reasons why your child may still be awake:

Sleep Environment – A child’s bedroom can make or break their ability to drift off to sleep.  Whatever place you do choose for your child to sleep, be consistent. Encourage soothing and restfulness by having a dark, quiet space.  Limit the intrusion of sunlight with blackout curtains or blinds.  We love these inexpensive, easy blackout shades from the Home Depot.

Overtired – Wrangling an overtired child into bed is an uphill battle.  There is a point where children who are overtired can appear to be wired or hyper.  Aim to get them in bed drowsy but before overtiredness sets in.  Be respectful of your child’s limits.

Under-tired – If a child has rested too long during the day or has not slept at biologically appropriate times, your child simply may not be ready to rest.  Help them be successful at transitioning to sleep by winding down and offering a soothing bedtime routine, like stories, snuggles and lullabies.

Jobs – We all have our jobs to do.  So do our children.  A baby might have a job to call for you to see if you’ll come put her soother back in her mouth.  A toddler might need to check if you’re still lying next to him like you were when he fell asleep.  A preschooler might believe there are monsters under his bed and need your magic spells to eradicate them.  Do your best to ensure sleep is the only job your child has.

Skills – Remember that falling asleep is a learned skill.  This is another situation where practice makes perfect diabetes drugs.  Your child might not always be good at falling asleep independently.  Offer assistance and support to help them gradually develop their abilities.  Teaching a child to fall asleep independently is a skill that will last a lifetime.  Your child will learn to trust themselves, develop self-confidence and believe “I am capable.”

Having awareness and avoiding these situations will help create ideal circumstances for your child to have calm naps and peaceful nights; no cussing necessary.

September 5, 2012


Quiet Time Activities

Just a baking tray and magnets from the dollar store. We had number magnets. Letter magnets or pretty much any other magnets you can find would work too. There are even some downloadable activities to print and put on your trays here and here.

I set this up on an easel for her for a couple reasons:

1) It’s just easier for her to manipulate when she’s standing and facing her task.

2) Her room is small. She often ends up hanging out on her bed. Which isn’t a huge deal, but keeping the bed just for sleeping is consistent with what I suggest when I’m consulting with families.

Wander over to Pinterest for more Terrific Quiet Time inspiration.