Contest available only to residents of Canada.
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:
- 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:
|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.|
I’m regularly asked about how to contend with children’s fears, especially this time of year when Halloween decorations, creepy costumes and scary stories are making their way into your child’s daily experience.
“I’m afraid of the monsters under my bed” is the most common complaint I hear from families with preschoolers and beyond. Monsters, or other fears, can cause delays at bedtime, but more often lead to night wakings and difficulty falling back asleep.
Well intending parents might use a “monster spray,” “no monsters allowed” signage or even do a magic spell to exterminate the monsters. Think twice about using that approach. When we validate monsters, we acknowledge they exist. Children deserve honesty, especially from their parents. Validate the fear, but not the existence of fictitious creatures.
Avoid teasing or using language like “big boys aren’t afraid” or “only babies get scared.” Feelings are always legitimate, especially feelings of fear. Older toddlers and preschoolers are developing vibrant and vivid imaginations. Acknowledge their fears by using language like “I can see you are scared.”
Additional strategies for contending with monsters under the bed include:
- As part of the bedtime routine, look through closets and under beds together. Make the experience a fun one with a flashlight your child can use.
- If there’s anything like a bed skirt, remove it. At least for now. Having a visual of the space will give them more confidence.
- For a child that is showing fears of not just their bed, but their room, make sure to spend some positive time together in their room, playing. Bring a special toy or activity you can do together. Keep the experience positive.
- Night lights can help, but can build shadows too. Bright night lights can limit melatonin production which can make sleep more restless and minds more anxious. Sometimes a dim light in a hallway outside their rooms, with a door ajar, is a “less scary” bet.
- Tell your child you will check on them when they’re asleep. It’s a reminder that you’re always close and checking on them, even when they don’t think you are.
- Eliminate screen time (including television, tablets and game devices) especially it’s late in the day. 3 year olds are highly imaginative. Even benign programming can have their imaginations running away.
- Cut out any books that might be “scary”. You’re probably not doing a lot of “scary” anyway, but I have lots of families put away “Where the Wild Things Are” and similar books when contending with fears of monsters.
- If they’re having bad dreams that they can articulate (this is often for kids who are more 4+ and have a better understanding of the concept of dreams), talk about the dream and how they can “re-imagine” their dream to have a positive outcome.
- Discuss it matter of factly (away from bedtime) and see if you can get to the source.
One last suggestion: Feelings of nervousness and anxiety are normal feelings for children to encounter. Aim to have your reaction be calm and reassuring. Use of the word ‘scared’ often elicits a strong reaction from parents. Don’t give fears more power by reacting strongly, or encourage regular use of the word “scared” to gain benefits that delay bedtime.
About the author:
|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 really excited when she’s hired by a sleepy family.|
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.
8 – 16 Weeks
What happens next? Will it always be like this? Those unpredictable, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants first couple months? Very fortunately, no! There are some important milestones to look for that let parents and care providers know that their child is ready to become a more organized sleeper. . .
At around 6-8 weeks, you’re going to start noticing some changes in your baby. Sleep is starting to get more organized, and they’re moving away from those random days and nights. Here are some things to be on the watch for:
1) Smiles: Parents have a long couple months of thankless work. You’re on call 24-7 to ensure your little person is fed, cleaned, loved and content, leaving you depleted of energy and strength. It blows my mind that right when you need them the most, they first appear. Smiles mean your baby recognizes you and can communicate their happiness to see you. Those first smiles are beautiful and heart melting, and now you know that it’s also a sign that they’re getting more mature and so will their sleep patterns.
2) Witching Hour: You might not know what a “witching” hour is, but if you’ve been around a newborn, you’ll probably experience it if you haven’t already. As babies become more mature, they typically have an extremely difficult part of the day. That time is usually in the early evening. It’s not a pleasant time – for you or your child. There’s likely to be a lot of fussiness, and again, adopt a “whatever it takes” attitude to get through it. The silver lining is that it’s a sign of a maturing newborn, who will be ready for more organized sleep soon.
3) Organized Days/Nights: When the day and night sleep become more organized, this means that they are starting to spend more wakeful hours in the day and more time sleeping at night. This is often coupled with more eating during the day, and less feeding throughout the night.
4) Longer Sleep Periods: Often their longest sleep is at night, perhaps even 4-6 continuous hours.
So what does this all mean when we see these signs coming together in our child? We can see that our baby is ready to socialize, which means they’re ready to follow cues and make connections. Fortunately, this is a real opportunity for parents to start helping their child build a healthy foundation for sleep.
1) Consistent Place to Sleep: This is a really good time to introduce them, if you haven’t already, to their crib. Have their sleep environment be a calm, soothing place where they can relax, read stories, sing songs, have a feed. Try to reduce your use of “sleep props’ – like car rides, bouncy seats, strolling, swings, soothers, nursing, etc… Remember that a long term goal of a competent sleeper is to have your child sleep comfortably in their crib. You’re setting them up for success by introducing it early. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing up to 1 year. Canadian Pediatric Society and the National Health Service in the UK recommends room-sharing for the first 6 months (see Canada’s Caring for Kids and the UK’s NHS).
2) Sleepy Cues – About 45 minutes into wakeful time, you might notice your baby zoning out, rubbing their ears, rubbing their eyes, turn their head from side to side, yawning, or becoming fussy. Generally, you’re trying to see if you’re baby is starting to get tired and might possibly be beginning to put themselves to sleep. Your job is to watch for these cues, (or whatever sleepy cues your baby may display), when they are getting tired. When you do notice them, this is your opportunity to take baby to their consistent sleeping place. They might put themselves to sleep, or they might need you to go through a bit of a soothing routine….
3) Soothing Routine – If you haven’t already, start working on an ENJOYABLE and peaceful routine to follow before each sleep time. Naptime and bedtimes are likely to have a similar routine. Cuddling, nursing/feeding, stories, lullabies – anything you and your child find relaxing. You might not be able to complete the routine if your child is obviously ready to go down for a sleep, so don’t feel obligated to go through the whole thing. Keep in mind, that your routine is something you’re likely to adapt and evolve as your child becomes older, but it should be a pleasant time for both of you. Visit this post for more soothing routine inspiration.
We don’t have any strict rules at this age, and there’s still not a lot of structure from day to day. This age is a phase for parents to be respectful of their baby’s high sleep needs, to practice identifying sleepy cues and develop their soothing routine. Optimizing conditions for sleep in the early stages can set your child up for successful sleep habits as they become older.
Newborn Sleep – ages 0 – 8 weeks(ish)
I run a weekly Q+A session over on my Facebook page. I call it Terrific Talk Tuesdays, but really, it’s a virtual sleep clinic. Sleepy parents ask, I answer.
An interesting question came up this week during Terrific Talk Tuesday:
We have a new baby on the way, and I’m wondering what advice you have to set the baby up to be a successful sleeper. In other words, if you could do it all over again, what strategies would you implement right from the beginning?
I try to answer these questions quickly, given the bit of information I’m given, I’m providing the bit of information I feel will be helpful. Often, my quick answers don’t do the questions justice. But I feel this was a great question to elaborate on. In fact, this is the first installment of an Infant Sleep Series.
Are we really equipped for what we’re getting into? When we’re expecting, we read the books. We buy cute little outfits and decorate cute little nurseries. We get weekly updates from Baby Center so we know the size of our baby, relative to a fruit or vegetable. We might see Snooki’s or Jessica Simpson’s Twitter feeds and have an idea of what to expect with a newborn, but are we really prepared for what to expect, after we’re expecting?
I know I wasn’t prepared for the depth and breadth of my exhaustion when we had our son. While there are a lot of things I wish I knew then that I know now, the top of that long list is knowledge about sleep. As a new parent, you’re going to get tired. But there are things you can do in the early stages to create healthy sleep habits.
Newborns typically do a few things. They eat, and they sleep . . . oh, and they cry too. Their sleep needs are as high as 20 hours per day. You can expect most of that sleep will come in the form of long and short naps. Remember newborns have TINY tummies and will need to feed often. What often drives their waking cycles is the need to eat.
That means that sleep can be erratic. You might look for patterns, but you’ll be hard pressed to find any. So take sleep when it comes. That may mean your baby sleeps more in the day than in the night in the beginning.
What should I do?
Here’s some suggestions to help you cope:
1) Whatever it takes – This is your new motto. Embrace it. Keep your baby as well rested as possible. You may need to help your baby to sleep. Don’t worry about spoiling your baby or forming any “bad habits” (like nursing/feeding to sleep). It’s too early for habits to stick and it’s really too early for patterns and biological rhythms to emerge.
2) Take care of yourself – Ensure you’re eating well, drinking lots and sleeping as well as possible. Only if you’re taking care of yourself can you take care of the new life in your hands. This means protecting your sleep too. Split “shifts” with your partner if possible, and/or enlist the help of willing and capable grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends.
3) Enjoy your baby – Be responsive to their cries, you’re not going to spoil them or get them into any bad habits at this point. Marvel at the miracle your baby is. Get to know each other. You’re in this for the long haul, so you might as well be friends.
Stay tuned for next week as we look beyond, into the 8-16 week old range.
The shelves are stocked with back to school gear. Clothing, shoes, backpacks, lunch bags, binders, pens, pencils, and the list goes on. But, one of the best back to school tools a parent can provide their child is completely free – a healthy sleep.
A good night’s rest has been shown to improve mood, attention, focus and overall academic performance.
Back to School Sleep Tips
These tips are for parents and caregivers to help your child move on from those lazy summer days and get prepared for school.
Start Early – Most kids adopt later sleep schedules in the summer. But late nights and sleep ins don’t make the grade in September. Begin adjusting your child’s bedtime about 1-2 weeks before school begins. This is how long it takes for our biological sleep rhythms to adjust to their new time. Phase in the new bedtime and wake times; 15 minutes per day offers a gentle transition. You may find you need to enforce the same transition on the other end of their night with enforcing an earlier wake-up time.
Consistency – Don’t forgo healthy sleep habits and abandon schedules on weekends. With younger children, more consistency will be necessary, but older children might have a “weekend” bedtime that applies to Friday and Saturday nights. Do your best to avoid extremes: late nights or late morning sleep-ins.
Avoid Caffeine – Sodas, energy drinks, coffee (even coffee flavoured items like ice cream) have high amounts of caffeine. Intake of these should be avoided, especially after noon.
Wind Down – Exercise and socializing should be part of every child’s healthy day, but try to avoid both of those activities as bedtime draws near. Follow an age appropriate soothing routine.
Goodnight iPad! – Turn off the television, iPad, computer, phones or any other electronic devices at least ½ hour before bedtime, ideally 2 hours prior to bedtime. Blue light from these devices can limit melatonin production, which limits the onset and restful quality of sleep.
While following these tips will be helpful, it’s still important to watch for signs of tiredness or sleep debt.
Watch for signs of Tiredness
Be mindful of the following as your child starts their academic year:
Wake Time Battles – Trouble waking in the mornings, more than 3 days per week, means more your child needs MORE sleep. Make bedtime earlier or evaluate other circumstances which may be affecting sleep (night wakings, long latency to sleep, loud/excessive snoring, etc…)
Seek input – Check in with teachers to ensure your child is alert during class. If your child is showing signs of sleepiness, take steps to improve sleep quantity.
With healthy sleep habits, your child will be feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a new school year. Get out on the right foot with sleep habits. Establishing healthy sleep now is easier than breaking any bad habits later on.