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Sep 12 2011

Maybe It’s Time To Stop Stressing Out Your Kids

By at 10:15 am

Calm, cool, and relaxed are not the words usually used to describe parents.

Batya Sherizen, our resident baby sleep coach, just published an article on Kveller about stressing out your baby. As a sleep consultant, she tries to help all sorts of parents help their children to fall asleep. But if the parent is too tense, it doesn’t always work. Batya writes,

This mom, for example, was fully committed to the program we outlined, but she was just too anxious to allow her baby to respond naturally. Her intense frustration rubbed off on her baby, hampering the learning process.

It made me wonder–what else do we do that stresses out our kids? When my daughter purposefully threw her toys on the floor today, over and over again, until I gave her a time-out (and another and another), did she sense the stress in my voice? (Probably.) But what can I do to lessen that stress? How can I calm myself so I can calm her?

Batya suggests yoga, deep breathing, or even meditations on your mp3 player. My mom would recommend acupuncture. Personally, I’m a fan of massage (though I get them way too infrequently).

What do you do to lessen your stress level so you can stay calm around your kids?

Sep 1 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: The Wandering 2.5-Year-Old

By at 4:37 pm

"But Mommy, I don't wanna sleep!"

Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com.

Dear Batya,

My 2.5-year-old daughter gets up at least 4 times a night and comes to our room. I can usually get her back to sleep quickly, but I can’t get her to stay asleep or at least in her room if she wakes up!

Dear Iris,

With a 2.5 year old, it’s probably more of a discipline issue than a physical sleep dependency problem. I would assume she’s in a bed, not a crib, if she’s so easily popping out at night to visit you. In such a case I’d say your best option is to lay down the law and let her know that night time means she stays in her bed, just like you stay in your bed! If she fights you for bedtime as well, then you just have to teach her how to stay in her bed and not come out. I’m personally not a fan of baby gates, as it in essence just makes the whole room a crib and can have many safety hazards involved.

Therefore, I would do the following: One night place a chair next to her bed for bedtime, and remain there until she falls asleep. When she wakes at night and comes to you, go back and put her in her bed, while you remain in that chair until she falls asleep. As the days progress place the chair further and further away until you’re out of the room completely. This will teach her to stay in her bed while still ensuring she feels secure enough and knows that you are there to help her. I’d estimate it taking about 1.5-2 weeks. CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY!

Contact Batya and mention you saw her on Kveller for a free phone consultation! www.BatyatheBabyCoach.com

Aug 29 2011

The Missed Nap

By at 2:20 pm

Yeah, this happens a lot these days.

The importance of napping to toddlers is well-documented. It gives their growing bodies a rest and chance to recharge. And that’s pretty much why naps are important to parents, too. Not naps for parents. Naps for their toddlers. When the kids sleep, we get a chance to rest and recharge, too. I learned this the hard way today when my toddler, Ellie, decided not to nap.

You know the saying you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone? I didn’t realize just how much I depend on her naps. It’s my two hours of the day to check e-mail, write, conduct interviews, clean the house and stay seated in a comfortable chair for more than 30 seconds at a stretch. And today my 120 minutes of no-toddler time were spent listening to said toddler talk, cry, talk, cry, talk in the monitor. No amount of soothing, rocking, tickling or pathetic begging (from me; hers eventually made me crack) made a dent.

I’ll probably never know what caused her sleeplessness today. She should have been good and tired out after running around an outdoor playground all morning at a preschool meet-and-greet ahead of the start of the school year. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 8 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: The Baby Who Keeps Waking Up

By at 1:26 pm

When those eyes won't shut, it's time for some expert advice from Batya.

Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com.

Dear Batya,

Oy…where do I start? My 7 month old has never slept well. I put him down drowsy but awake for his naps and he will fall asleep but will generally only go up to an hour…is there a way to extend at least one of those naps to 2 hours?

Our biggest problem is at night. He has yet to go more than a 4 1/2 hour stretch…What can I do to get him to at least do an 8 hour stretch?

-Kellie Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 1 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: Night Terrors and More

By at 11:20 am

When the kids are waking up every night and need your help to get back to sleep... it's time to call Batya!Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com.

Dear Batya,
My 5-year-old slept pretty well as a baby but around the time he turned 3 1/2 he started coming into my bed in the middle of the night. It started occasionally, sometimes preceded by a night terror. It has since become a nightly event. We have tried making him a bed on the floor next to mine but he needs to feel a body next to him. Sometimes he says it is because he is scared of an intruder, but not always. His doctors have told me both to try the walk back method (Supernanny) or that he needs to be in my bed and I should just let him. I am not sure which way to go. As a baby, I let him cry it out since I believed that he needed to learn to self-soothe. I have done that with each of my kids with good results. I just wonder if at this age it is a different story. I need my sleep but don’t want him to suffer. Any advice?

-Aliza

Hi Aliza,

A 5-year-old coming out of his bed is definitely something that needs to be addressed (especially since you are not enjoying these midnight cuddle sessions!) Assuming that he is not truly frightened at night, I would do things on an incentive basis in attempts to change his habits. Buy him a very special treat, toy or something that you know he’d love. Show it to him before bed and tell him that if he doesn’t come out of his bed the whole night then you will give it to him in the morning. Be sure to clearly define the rules though: if he has to go to the bathroom he can come out, or if he has a scary dream he can come out and you’ll calm him and put him back in his bed, etc. For a week or even two I would offer him this special incentive every night before bedtime to help encourage him to want to stay in his own bed. After that point, you can gradually phase it out or move to a weekly prize instead of a daily one. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 26 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: Does Cosleeping Mean No Sleeping?

By at 10:17 am

When you're so tired you can't see straight... call Batya!

Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com.

Dear Batya,

My son is 13 months old. We co-sleep. We usually go to bed anywhere from 10-11 pm depending on what time my husband has gotten home. I usually nurse my son to sleep and then he gets between 2-3 am to nurse and then 5-6 am to nurse and then he gets up for the day anywhere from 7-8:30 am. I’m exhausted and would really like to get more than 3-4 hrs of uninterrupted sleep a night. He naps twice a day usually for an hour between 10-11 am and for another hour or so between 4-5 pm. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jordana

Dear Jordana,

It sounds like he is already on a consistent routine during the day – which is great! His main issue here is his sleep dependency issue in the nights. Co-sleeping has many advantages, but it can also be extremely difficult to teach a baby not to nurse so frequently when he is pressed up right against you all night. Assuming you want  to continue co-sleeping and that you’re ready to make a commitment for 2-3 weeks of improving his sleep, I would do the following:

1) Ensure that his bedtime is at a time where he is not overtired, as 9-11 pm at night can be very difficult for such a little one. Over tiredness can cause frequent night wakings so it’s crucial that his bedtime is at an early, predictable time.

2) Next, you need to teach him how to fall asleep without nursing. Nurse him until he is calm and relaxed, but not fully asleep. From there cuddle him/hold him tightly until he is asleep but don’t give into nursing him.

3) Any time he wakes at night repeat the process of nursing him until he’s calm, then hugging/holding him to sleep.

As the days progress you will see that he will gradually become accustomed to falling asleep without nursing. From there you can decide if you’d like to continue cuddling him to sleep or use other tactics. Good luck!

Contact Batya and mention you saw her on Kveller for a free phone consultation! www.BatyatheBabyCoach.com

Jul 21 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: The Early Riser

By at 4:05 pm

Awake, not asleep? Email Batya for help

Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com.

Dear Batya,

No matter what time I put my 19 month old to sleep he wakes at the same time. Bedtime is between 7pm- 7:30pm (usually right at 7pm on the dot) and he wakes up between 5am and 6am (usually closer to 5am!). He naps once a day at 12pm (sleeps just over an hour, and then comes to bed with me and sleeps a bit more- up to an hour). Mornings he is exhausted; always lying around on the couch or floor if I don’t get him out and keep him busy. I have tried not responding until 6am but that usually means I hear him crying on and off until I give in at 6. How can I get him to sleep the 11-12 hours he so desperately needs?

Dear Chana,

Your toddler seems to be suffering from a common case of early-rising here.  Don’t worry, though, it’s not usually a complicated issue to fix – it just takes a lot of consistency and perseverance on your part. Tiredness upon waking in the morning, though, is not always the best determining factor if a baby/child is well-rested or not. Some children wake up ready to start their day refreshed and exhilarated, while it takes others much longer to “wake up.” That said, it would seem that 10 hours of sleep is not enough for him. On average, a 19-month-old needs one nap, approximately 1-2 hours in length – which is what he’s getting.  The issue with his nap seems to be the same recurring theme that you’re facing when he wakes in the morning:  he’s able to settle to sleep easily, but once he wakes up and is exhausted, can’t resettle and needs a lot of intervention on your part to help aid him back to sleep (which is what you currently do for his naps).

I would first suggest not waiting too long to put him down for a nap. If he’s conking out in seconds at 12 pm, he probably needs to go down a bit earlier. When you put a toddler to sleep when he is too overtired, he doesn’t actually wind down for sleep on his own – he is simply falling asleep the second his head hits the pillow. After he then completes a sleep cycle, he is unable to settle himself back to sleep because he never really calmed down in the first place. Experiment with timing, but if he’s waking as early as 5 am, a nap around 11/11:30 would be more appropriate.

Readjusting internal clocks takes time, so I would tackle that issue first for at least a week or two until you start seeing improvement in his naps.

After that, you’ll be able to approach his early rising. Children who are overtired don’t sleep well, but at the same time 10 hours of sleep may simply be the amount he needs.  You’ll need to experiment a bit, but he will fall under one of two categories: either an earlier bedtime, where he is more rested, will help him transition back to sleep in those early hours which will in turn prove your theory that he needs more sleep. Or on the contrary, you may need to continue readjusting his internal clock, gradually (by 15 minute intervals or so) pushing his bedtime later and later until it’s closer to 7:45.  It will take a good 6-8 weeks before he’ll begin sleeping later in the morning, but if you’re willing to work and stay consistent you will see his body slowly begin to adjust.

Jul 12 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: Getting the Twins to Sleep

By at 9:52 am

Why sleep when we can play with each other?

Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com

Dear Batya,

My husband and I have almost-10-month-old twins. They wake up repeatedly during the night. Often it’s easy to soothe them back to sleep. But sometimes one (or both) of them is just wide awake at 4am and it’s really hard to get them back to sleep. They start off the night around 8:30pm in their cribs. If someone wakes up before we are in bed, we rock him or her back to sleep and put them back in the crib. If they wake up after we are in bed, we just bring them into bed with us (we have a king size bed for this purpose). That used to solve the problem and they slept solidly the rest of the night. But more and more they are waking up even once they are in bed with us. I don’t know why and I don’t know how to get them back to sleep. We are not willing to let them cry (beyond a little kvetching), so that is off the table as a strategy.

Dear Ana,

Sounds like you have a tag team over there! It seems they are both waking so frequently at night due to the fact that they simply don’t know how to settle themselves to sleep. You can never spoil a baby, and all you can do is love them to pieces, but when push comes to shove they need to learn how to self-soothe in order for them to improve in their sleep habits.

You need to first ensure they’re not overtired by bedtime, and on a decent routine during the day that allows you to predict when their bodies are actually regulated to sleeping for the night.  Below is a sample schedule that may help you:

7:00 – Wake and Breast milk or Formula
9:00 – Breakfast
10:00 or 10:30 – Morning Nap (at least 1 hour)
11:00 – Breast milk or Formula plus snack
1:00 – Lunch
2:00 or 2:30 – Early Afternoon Nap (at least 1 hour)
3:00 – Breast milk or Formula plus snack
5:00 – Dinner
6:15 – Begin bedtime routine, including Breast milk or Formula
7:00 –Bedtime (aim to have them both asleep by this time)

After ensuring their bodies are regulated, you can then move onto actually TEACHING them how to sleep. When working with multiples, it’s best if you can separate them so they don’t wake each other up. After a few weeks of their sleep improving, you can then move them back into the same room and allow them to get used to each other again.

Place each one in their crib/room at bedtime. Sit there with them for as long as it takes for them to fall asleep. They see you, hear you, and can even touch you to know that you’re there, but give them the secure, loving, but firm message that they need to learn to sleep on their own. Some protesting will be involved, but they will never feel alone or abandoned because you are right there with them! After 3-5 days, you can slowly become less involved in helping them fall asleep until you’re able to simply kiss and cuddle them, put them in their cribs, do your routine, and leave the room to let them drift off on their own.  It’ll probably take about 2 weeks of hard work…but it’ll be worth it!

Jul 11 2011

Ask Bubbe: Why is My Toddler Sleeping with Me?

By at 11:29 am

Dear Bubbe,

I have a 21-month old daughter. She is usually a great sleeper at night. Though lately she’s been waking up in the middle of the night and wanting to get into bed with us. It started when she was sick so we acquiesced. Though now she’s all better and she’s still getting up! We let her cry one night for an hour and in the end she still came into bed with us. Help!

Debbie

Dear Debbie,

OK, re: the sleeping–I probably won’t be telling you anything you don’t know here. I assume that she has her own room and won’t be disturbing other siblings? And that she has had a regular bedtime, around 7 pm, and has been asleep until this waking.

First principles:  this is a behaviour which you wish to change. It takes up to 2 weeks to extinguish and reset behaviours, and consistency is the key.

So when Cuddles comes to your room and climbs into your bed (and I imagine, starts to kick you both out of bed as all toddlers do), soothe her, hug her, and IMMEDIATELY return her to her crib or bed. If she cries, think about what she wants: Grade A treatment, i.e.  in this case, to return to your bed. You should not offer her nothing at all and leave her to cry in the dark, feeling abandoned. You should offer her Grade B treatment. Cuddle her, soothe her, explain to her that you love her but she has to stay in her bed, and then put her back to bed and leave the room, saying, “See you in the morning!” Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 5 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: The Napless 2-Year-Old

By at 10:09 am

What, your toddler doesn't go to sleep with a smile on her face? Talk to Batya.

Sleep. It’s the problem that plagues all parents. We’re not getting enough of it because our children aren’t getting enough of it. Help is on its way! Israeli sleep coach Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com.

Dear Batya,

Our 2-year-old seems to be in the phase where she is having difficulties falling asleep at night when she naps during the day. We tried taking away her naps completely, but after four days- she was exhausted and had caught a cold. The only benefit was she went to bed at 7 and slept until the next morning. Now, she naps, goes to bed most nights at 9:30 p.m. and still wakes up at 6:30 a.m. It just doesn’t seem like  enough sleep for a little one. Or for our little one. We would appreciate an earlier bed time so that she is better rested, but she just won’t fall asleep. I’m starting to believe 2-year-olds don’t sleep. Any thoughts?

Dear Gaela,

Each child is different in her own individual way, and especially in her sleep needs.  There are children who stop taking naps as early as 2 years of age and some who still need one at 4 years old.  Statistically, however, most children stop napping in the afternoon at around 2½-3 years old. A telltale sign that a child is ready to give up naps is when she starts sleeping less at night—which is precisely what is happening with her.  Instead of eliminating her nap cold turkey, however, I would recommend readjusting her sleep cycle by simply decreasing the amount of sleep she gets during the day.  If, for example, her nap is normally 2 hours, try shortening it to 1 hour or 1.5 hours.  By doing this, the lost sleep from the day will transfer to the night, and she will begin fighting bedtime less and sleeping longer.

Additionally, early rising with toddlers is most commonly caused by over-tiredness, so you should definitely aim for an earlier bedtime. Generally, most children her age need approximately 4-5 hours between waking from the nap and bedtime itself so ensure you space it out correctly.

Stick with these two ideas for at least week and then readjust accordingly – but don’t rush her and ensure that you follow her cues…you can most definitely get her back on track!

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