Every single night is the same thing.  Fussing, crying, no sleeping and frustration up the wooha.

Is there any way out of this cycle?

Yes!

Here are some steps to bedtime peace:

  1. Be consistent with your schedule
  2. Create a routine
  3. Problem solve
  4. Get dad involved
  5. Unplug

Let’s start with being consistent with your schedule:

You’ve heard it before and you may not be a schedule kind of person, but implementing this first step will make a huge difference.   Our bodies work much better when we have a solid schedule.  That means eating breakfast around the same time every morning, having a lunch about the same time each day, having a nap in the afternoon around the same time, eating dinner at night at the same time each night and going to bed the same time every night.  Wow.  That run-on sentence might sound more like a prison sentence if you aren’t used to doing the same thing at the same time day in and day out.  However, this will actually give you more freedom in the long run.

If your children know what to expect in the form of a schedule, then you won’t be chained to the bed time nightmare that you have come to know and love every night and you will actually have the freedom to spend some time with your spouse at night, have some else put your kiddos to bed or even travel without many hiccups.

Trust me on this one.

The second step is to create a routine: 

This one is similar to the first step in that you are creating structure for your children for two reasons:  1) they will know what to expect and 2) they feel more secure.

Evenings can be hard when both parents are working and everyone is tired.  It can become a habit to have the child fall asleep in a car seat or somewhere else and then just everyone passes out in front of the TV.   But bedtime routines can be simple and short.  That is best for everyone.  Start the routine at dinnertime.  Many families have a routine that is dinner> bath> pajamas >brush teeth> story >bedtime.  You can adjust this to fit your family but it is pretty simple, straightforward, short and by golly; IT WORKS!

The third step is to problem solve.

If your children are a little bit older and you are still having bedtime problems even with a routine and schedule then the next step is to problem solve. 

During dinner, talk about the fact that bedtime is a problem.  Maybe it is too long, maybe there is fussing, or maybe kids get wound up right before bed and never fall asleep; whatever it is, name the problem and start brainstorming how to solve it.

Maybe dinner needs to be moved earlier.  Maybe the kids need separate sleep spaces, maybe they need to be moved into the same room, maybe the reading time needs to be longer, maybe bath needs to be moved to the morning.  There are no bad answers.   Come up with a plan: we will do this for 2 weeks and if we don’t see an improvement then we will come back to the drawing table.

Kids will feel empowered that they were part of the process and that they were heard.  Parents will feel empowered that they don’t need to be stuck in the same rut for years.

The next step is to get dad involved with bedtime.

If your kiddo is still very little, then they will probably associate mom with food instead of sleep.  So when they need to eat, mom can go to the kiddo but if they don’t need to eat, then dad can go.  This works wonders for bedtime as well.  Mom can give the last feeding and then it is dad’s turn to actually rock the baby to sleep.  This way, your child will associate dad with sleep.  

As they get older, dad can be a part of the routine and do bath time or read a story.  However the best idea is to have dad be the last one they are with before they fall asleep.  This is great for two reasons: bonding time with dad but also there is something about dads putting kids to sleep.  There’s not enough science out there to figure out what it is, but many, many families attest to this amazing fact.

The final step to having a better bedtime is to not be in front of a screen before bed.  You may have a routine where your children get to watch a little screen time just before bed as a motivator to follow directions but this routine will actually inhibit a good bedtime. 

If you have fallen into a habit of screen time before bed, go back to the problem solving stage and talk about the problem and what some possible solutions might be.  Maybe they get an extra story if they are helpful before bed.  Or maybe they get more screen time the next day.  It will be different for every family.  

Try these steps to have a more peaceful bedtime and check out this post if your peaceful bedtime is taking 2 or 3 or 4 hours (or more!)

 

Before I traveled with young kids, I was deathly afraid of traveling with young children and couldn’t understand why anyone would do it.

I remember reading pieces like Don’t bring your child on a plane or Leave your kid at home next time

But another thing stuck with me as well.  When I was young, single and traveling the world I would see young happy children living in these amazing places that I was going to.  AND I would see families traveling with their little ones!

The two pictures didn’t mesh well in my mind- “don’t travel with kids” and “little kids are experiencing things all over the world”.

So when my boys were born, my husband and I started thinking about how we could travel around the world with our little ones.  And I’m so glad we did.  Here are 8 reasons why traveling with kids is the best:

1. You don’t always get what you want.  Yep, it sounds like a nightmare to most parents (and toddlers) that when you are traveling you don’t always get your way.  This can end up in a tantrum.  It happens.  But when you are home, you have the temptation to give in to your kiddo.  When you are traveling, and your child wants a particular snack, a different kind of wipe, a blue cup instead of a yellow cup, they have to learn how to deal with what you have.  It can be rough for a short bit, but most kids are fast learners.  Once they realize that there is no pizza hut, they get over it.  For the first week of traveling with 2 three-year olds, they didn’t eat much because all the food we had was different, but now, they will eat mostly whatever is offered to them.

2. Building awareness.  Again, this one has a learning curve and it was something that we started before we traveled and has only grown.  I’ve written about it before and believe that it is a very important topic.  It is tempting to find ways to entertain our kids when we travel but one of the huge benefits of traveling is building awareness for our world and seeing all the amazing things out there.  Children will be fascinated with what is going on outside the plane, on the road, or next to them on the bus so allow them to just watch and ask questions.

3. Trying new things. We often get into ruts and although routines are a good thing, doing something different is also a good thing.  Especially when your kids are young.  I found that as an adult with young children, I didn’t always feel like an adult.  I felt like my life revolved so much around the young kids that I always ate the same food, I would draw silly pictures and play with blocks on the floor and I just needed something else!   When we traveled, I tried new foods (and my kids did too!).  I looked for hermit crabs on the beach instead of blocks on the floor.  I heard different music and went to new places.  It was all very invigorating for me and the children.

4. Letting go of expectations.  Have you always made your child wear shoes since you know that they could step on something sharp?  Do you stress about how many vegetables your child has eaten in one day?  I’ve done all these things and more- until I traveled with my little ones.  The one expectation that I haven’t dropped- seat belts.

5. Seeing how differently other cultures raise children.  Kids menus don’t exist in many other places in the world (unless they are heavily visited by North Americans).  Children climb trees without supervision in some places.   My friend in France said that young children went to the bakery by themselves in the morning to get the family baguette.  I’m not saying that these things are better or worse, but just observing or even experiencing another way to raise children is such an eye-opening experience.

6. Getting your routine down to a science.  I talk about creating a routine all the time.  It creates structure and security for a child and improves behavior drastically.  Traveling will take your routine to the next level.  If you always read two books before bedtime, then you will use that routine to help your child fall asleep in any old place.   If you always sing the same song before nap time, then you have that amazing tool to let your child know that it is nap time even though your are 5 hours off from your regular time zone.  Having a routine in place allows you to travel with children by changing everything else- except the routine.

7. Not having to worry about school. Once your children are in first grade, it is much much much more difficult to travel.  Every school is different, but most schools require attendance and will put you in touch with the truancy officer after missing more than 10 days of school.  But this gives you a pretty big window of about 6 years to travel with your little ones.

8. Paring down and traveling light- The first time we traveled with our 1.5 year old twins, we took two carry on bags for two weeks at the beach.  Now, most travel sites will recommend planning ahead and making sure that you have everything that you need.  Those two sentences may not look synonymous but they are compatible.   See, you do need to plan ahead, and you do need to bring everything you need, but when you travel, you really get down to the questions of “what do you really need?”  Do you really need that noise maker enough to haul it around?  Are toys that important or can your children play with sticks and string?  Can you get away with not bringing the special nose cleaner outer or the spoons that your children request everyday?  When you travel, you realize what you actually need and what is truly important.

Book your ticket today!

 

 

The shift from having a social life and being flexible before you had children can be a jolt when you think about putting your baby to sleep around the same (early!!) time every night. Is it worth it? Can’t you be the cool parents who have a baby and still have a life? Well, Let’s look into this a bit more.

We know that sleep is awesome for kids and especially for parents. But we’re not always sure why or how to get there.

Sleep is key to harmony in families and a new study just found that it also affects how children function at school (even many years later).

This article in the Wall Street Journal talks about the toddler and preschool years which are often the hardest to be consistent.  But those years are when the brain is developing and enormous rates and needs the consistent sleep.


It is hard as a parent to forgo some of our old habits (happy hour, evening hikes, dinner at a friend’s house) but when we know the importance of a consistent bedtime, it will be easier to make those changes.

If you start today with a consistent bedtime, you will also see an immediate change in behavior.  Children who are tired are much more cranky, defiant and difficult than children who are less tired.  

Children who have consistent bedtimes also go to bed easier and quicker than children with an uneven routine. 

So you know that things will get easier (albeit less social) when your children go to bed almost the same time each night, but we now also know that it will help academically down the road due to healthy brain development.

So back to the new non-existent social life: it is gone forever?  No.

Once you have a consistent bedtime set up, you can stick to the schedule about 90% of the time and through fate into the wind about 10% of the time and your child will still benefit from having a consistent schedule.  This will actually make traveling easier and will make those couple of times that you are spontaneous easier because your children will just fall into your schedule whether you are on a train, in a car, on a plane or off too far. 

So how important is a consistent bedtime?  Very important!

 

I just read another article discussing co-sleeping versus sleep training and after reading the scathing comments afterwards it really feels like parenting is becoming as polarizing as politics.

There are families where co-sleeping is definitely the right decisions  and there are families where sleep training is definitely the right decision and there are even many families who have done both depending on the child or the situation.

There is only one thing that all of these families need to be thinking about with their children and that is one things is sleep associations.

So it doesn’t really matter which style you choose, just make sure that you think about what sleep associations your child is making and just be aware of how they are falling asleep.

What is a sleep association?  A sleep association is something outside of the child that helps the child fall asleep.

Common sleep associations are:

Darkened space

Rocking motion

Snuggling

Sucking

White noise

Lovey

Routine

Music

These are all things that help a child fall asleep no matter whether you are co-sleeping or sleep training.

So as your child gets older, you will want to look at what sleep associations your child relies most heavily on.

  • If your child will only fall asleep while rocking and with white noise (i.e. in the car), and you know that your child won’t be able to rock if they are in a bed or a crib, then know what white noise is a must and that you will need to add in another sleep association once you take away the rocking.
  • If your child will only fall asleep while sucking (bottle or breast) and you know that they will need to wean from the bottle or the breast soon, then you can look at other associations to replace the sucking.  Or just can introduce the pacifier or thumb-sucking to replace the other sucking.

When we talk about sleep associations, someone might interpret that having sleep associations is a negative thing.  But it isn’t.  They are essential.  They are how we learn to sleep.  So this doesn’t mean that you never nurse your child to sleep as an infant because they will always associate nursing with sleeping because that isn’t true.   Infants nurse to sleep.  And as they grow, they learn new associations.  All of these are positive things and all are used to fit the child, the family and the situation.

Speaking of situations, they change.  You may have a child who co-sleeps wonderfully with you in the family bed.  You are happy, your husband is happy and your child is happy.  However, you soon find out that you are pregnant and you realize that you will need to move your child to their own bed.   This is a common scenario and a very stress-inducing one at that.  Your child knows that snuggling with you and either breast-feeding or drinking a bottle in your bed means that it is time to sleep.  So those two sleep associations (sucking and cuddling) mean sleep.

But now you need to move your toddler into their own room.  Set up the room with new sleep associations.  Maybe get a noise machine and black out curtains.  If you have a rocker, use that in the new room.  See if your child attaches to a lovey.  All of these are possible new sleep associations that will replace the cuddling and sucking associations.  If you have the time, only remove one sleep association at a time.  So if you are breast-feeding, you can continue to do that while moving your child into their new room.  It will mean that you will need to come to the room to feed which initially be less sleep (stick to it; you can do it!!) but more sleep in the long run.  Once your little one is settled in the new room, then you will remove breastfeeding as a sleep association.  You will need to keep your little one awake and make sure they go down drowsy but awake.  Then you can be there to shush, sing, pat their tummy, etc., until they fall asleep.  Sounds easier on paper than in real life but again, this isn’t forever.

Your goal: remove sleep associations that are more work with sleep associations that are less work as the child gets older.  This is a process that you may have to do over and over.  Change is inevitable.

With each change, your child may protest and they may be tears.  But don’t fear change. It’s ok if they cry.  You will be there to support them through the change.

 

Problem solving skills are useful for a variety of reasons and can be brought out in any situation.  If bedtime isn’t working for you, your spouse, your children or your neighbor upstairs, then bring out your problem solving skills!

First: what are the steps to problem solving?

  1. Name the problem
  2. Come up with some solutions
  3. Try those solutions
  4. If they worked, you’re all good- if they didn’t work, go back to number 2

OK, so, what’s the problem?

The kids whine and keep asking for things and bedtime takes forever?  Or, they go to bed just fine but an hour or two later, they are up and in our bed and won’t fall asleep? Or, I have to lay with them for hours and hours thinking about all the work I need to do? Or just before bed they start jumping and yelling and playing and throwing things?

Let’s pick one:

The problem is that bedtime takes forever.

We start the bedtime routine at 7 and the kids are finally asleep at 9 or 10 at night.

So now let’s go to step 2: find some solutions.

First talk with your partner to see what ideas you each have and what each person is comfortable doing and then take the problem to the whole family.  If you have kids over a year or a year and a half, they can participate.  If they are younger than that, then they can’t give input but they can still hear the verdict.  An infant who is told what their bedtime routine is does better than one who has no idea.  True story.

So, the whole family is sitting around the dinner table, and you say, “We have a problem.  Bedtime isn’t working.  We need to come up with some ideas to make bedtime more enjoyable for everyone.”  Then start asking for some ideas.  No idea is a bad idea.  One idea is to move bedtime to 9 or 10 pm since I met with one sleep expert who gave out that idea and it works for some people.  Another idea is to move bedtime to 6:30 since many children get over-tired and become hyperactive just to stay awake and then they have difficultly falling asleep.  This also works well for many families.  Ask your children what they think.  Would a picture schedule help?  Would cutting out chocolate help?  Let’s try it.  What do you think about having a timer during bath time so it doesn’t go on forever?  Maybe we could all lay together in one bed and then one child switches to their own bed so that I don’t spend two hours laying in each bed every night.  Idea after idea after idea.

Then try the ideas. Not too many changes all at once.  Depending on the age of your children, you can choose one or two changes and try those for a couple weeks up to a month before revisiting and seeing if the new idea works.  

If it works, then great!  If it doesn’t work, that’s OK- back to the problem solving table!

You don’t have to be stuck in the spot that you are in.  Changes can happen and although there might be some tears with the changes, you can be there to support your children through the different routine.

Finally, set up a plan for when things don’t go the way they should.

Let’s say that you talk with your family and you make a picture schedule with dinner, bath, pajamas, brush teeth, story and bed.  Then make a plan for what happens when we get off-track.  Listen to ideas from your children.  Then add in your own idea of losing one of the stories.  “We don’t have enough time to read a book since we had a big problem when it was time to put on pajamas”.  Or maybe you have another idea when things aren’t going well.  At any rate, have a consequence for that boundary so that you can all stay on track for a reasonable bedtime.

It may take a couple of weeks for the changes to show up so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see anything right away but know that a more peaceful bedtime routine is just around the corner!

 

So hopefully, at some point you have built story time into your day or into your nighttime routine.  If not, you can start at anytime.  It felt really weird reading to my infants who couldn’t even keep their head up (why in the world would they have interest in a book that they can’t see, hear, understand?!?) But not long after that, they were looking at the pictures, and then right after that they were pointing and now they can talk for hours about each book that we read!

So- here are my top 5 tips for reading bedtime stories to toddlers:

1) Routine- Read in the same place whether it be a bed, chair, couch or book nook.  Also do the same thing before and after the book.  We would put on pajamas, brush teeth, read our book and then go to bed.  When we would be out traveling (or in our car, or on a plane) we would follow that same routine and the boys would go right to sleep no matter where we were since we had a nice routine.

2) Be OK with the same book every night for the next three years.  Not only do kids love repetition but it is imperative for their learning.   They build relationships with their books and reading through repetition.  They also learn about sounds, letters, reading, rhymes and rhythm when you read the same book over and over and over and over and over.

3) Snuggle – Be comfortable.  If your reading space isn’t comfortable and cozy then find some pillows or a place that you really look forward to every night.  If you are reading in bed and it causes you to strain your neck, then get more head support or move to a seated reading space.  If you really look forward to reading each night, then undoubtedly your kids will too.

4) Be silly– Have voices, read fast, then slow, loud then quiet.  Give the story life!

5) Extend the story – Maybe just read a couple of pages and then be open to talking about anything or everything. If they start talking, don’t shush them, follow their lead.  The goal of story time isn’t necessarily finishing the book, but it is connecting, talking, learning more about each other and the world.  The story might be about a fish going to bed and all they want to talk about are the colors of the fish, then talk about the colors.  There will be a million other nights to read about the fish’s story- let tonight be about the colors.

Enjoy reading with your kids- one of life’s simplest joys.

 

This was the exact question that I got asked yesterday and I love this question!  Unfortunately it isn’t a short yes or no answer, but there is some concrete information out there that can really help parents.  But there are also a lot of emotions out there that can really complicate this topic.

So the shortest answer?

There are two extremes:

  • Cry-it-out extinction where the parent leaves the child alone in the room for the night is on one end
  • Attending to every single whimper so that the child never cries is on the other hand.

Neither of these is recommended by a single expert.

So now for the longer answer:

Your child is going to cry at some point.  That is OK and is normal, expected, not going to cause any harm and is actually recommended with you there to support your kiddo.

You and your child are going to go through transitions as they grow.  You will eventually stop night feedings, your child may develop fears, you might return to work, your child will develop separation anxiety, your child will drop naps, your child will develop independence, and with each of these transitions, there will be some adjustment to the change.

There will be tears.

You can be there to support those tears.

You can also give some space.

So on one end of the spectrum cry-it-out might look like this:

Your 6 month old baby sleeps in a crib in another room.  You have your baby on a pretty good schedule but she is still waking every two hours at night.   You make a plan with her and your husband that you are only going to feed her two times at night.  You tell her that she can do it and that you will be there for her.   Then when she wakes when it isn’t time to feed, you or your husband are there to comfort her.  You may lie by the crib or you may rub her back for 2 minutes and then leave for 5 minutes until she stops crying.  After a couple of nights, she gets used to the new schedule and only wakes to feed twice a night. 

And on the other end of the spectrum, cry-it-out might look like this:

You share a bed with your 13 month old.  You feed her when she asks but it is getting to be too much because it is every one to two hours at night.  You would like to bring the feedings down to one or two feedings per night.  You make a plan with her and your husband that you are only going to feed her two times at night.  You tell her that she can do it and that you will be there for her.   Then when she wakes when it isn’t time to feed, you or your husband are there to comfort her.  You may sleep in another room while your husband comforts her so that she doesn’t try to get milk.  Or you may just remind her while rubbing her back or cradling her that there isn’t any food until a certain time.  There will be crying and you will be there for her and comfort her while you cut back on night feedings.   After a couple of nights, she gets used to the new schedule and only wakes to feed twice at night. 

What does the research say about cry it out?

You have probably heard that there are studies that say that cry-it-out will cause long-term damage to your child.  You may also have heard that cry-it-out is just fine for your baby.  There are actually only two heavily referenced studies on cry-it-out and both of them only give limited info on the subject.  The only thing experts truly know about this is that we don’t know enough and we could do a plethora of studies to learn more.

The cry-it-out is bad for babies study

This study was done with a group of babies in a lab and it was testing the synchronicity of the mother’s and baby’s cortisol levels when they were crying-it-out.  We don’t know much about how the babies were supported but what we do know is that after 3 nights, the mothers’ cortisol levels went down and the babies’ cortisol levels remained high.  We do know what cortisol levels are an indicator of stress and we do know what certain amounts of stress are bad.  We also know that it good when mothers are in tune with their babies.  So yes, there will be a certain amount of stress with crying-it-out.  Does it cause long-term damage?  This study doesn’t show that it does.

The cry-it-out is fine for babies study

This study was done over five years with a group of families and one group of families was given sleep training information and the other group got no additional information.  After 5 years, they couldn’t tell much of a difference in either behavior or sleep habits.  So what does this show?  Nothing really. It just says that the babies who may have been sleep trained turned out fine and that the parents who didn’t sleep train have children that sleep just fine. 

Summary:

Your babies are going to cry and that’s OK.  All babies will cry.  

You choose the level of support and when you want to make transitions.  

It isn’t recommended by anyone to leave your baby to cry for hours alone.  You baby may cry for hours, but you will be there to support them. 

If you have a child, or even just know a child, you have probably heard all of the advice for helping your child sleep.  From Ferber to bed-sharing, there is a wide spectrum of philosophies.  Your head is probably spinning from all of the information, so I’m going to break it down for you.

 

the-sleep-spectrum

The crazy thing is, that contrary to the comment sections on blog posts, your children will be just fine no matter which of these methods you choose.  It really comes down to your family and how everyone will get the best sleep.

You may have heard that having your child cry-it-out could be traumatizing for your children, but the reality is that all children cry and get upset. And as you can see in the info-graphic above, if you stop your child from nursing or sleeping with you (no matter where you fall on the spectrum), then you will illicit some tears.   It should also be known that the statement about traumatizing children is based one study that was done with a small sample and in a sleep laboratory.  There is another study that looks at children 5 years later whose parents used different cry-it-out techniques and who show “no lasting harm”.  Until many, many studies that are longitudinal and have a large sample size have been done, you can rest assured that your child will be fine if you allow them to cry it out.

That doesn’t mean that you should, though.  If if doesn’t work for you, then don’t do it.

You may have also heard that if you allow your children to nurse on demand and share a bed, then they might be smothered or they may continue nursing and bed-sharing until they are eleven years old.  The SIDS fear has been blown out of proportion because many people mistake co-sleeping for bed-sharing and they are not the same.  Very young infants are safer if they are in a bassinet or co-sleeper and not in the same bed. However, there are many studies that show the benefits of co-sleeping and bed-sharing as the infant gets older and as long as the parents follow safe guidelines.   So if you are not drinking alcohol or smoking and you are enjoying the night nursing and toddler bed-sharing, then you by all means, co-sleep and breastfeed for as long as you want.

That doesn’t mean that you should, though.  If it doesn’t work for you, then don’t do it.

The one thing that we know for sure is that sleep deprivation is a real thing and it isn’t OK.  It can cause depression, memory loss, grumpiness, the breakdown of marriage, not taking care of your self or your children among other things.  So if you are experiencing extreme sleep deprivation then you should do something!  

Here are some tips that help no matter where you find yourself on the spectrum:

1. Mom needs at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep

This is where dad or another care giver comes in.  If you are exclusively nursing, start introducing a bottle once nursing is established so that you can pump and dad can take care of feedings during those five hours.  This means that mom goes to bed when baby goes to bed and for the next 5 hours, mom sleeps in another room and has earplugs in while dad feeds, rocks, carries, soothes baby.  Once the 5 hours are up, dad has the rest of the night and mom takes over with the feedings.   

2. Routine

Once the baby is 3-4 months old, a routine can start to take shape.  Routines are really the cornerstone for good sleep habits.  With a routine, many children don’t need any sleep help, they simply fall asleep on their own due to the consistency and comfort of knowing what’s going to happen next.  Of course, many more infants, babies and toddlers need more help than just a routine.

3. The “French Pause”

This was made famous by Pamela Druckerman’s book, Bringing Up Bebe, where she talks about how the french culture always waits a minute or two before they rush to the baby’s side.   This allows the parent to determine what kind of fuss they are experiencing and often allows the child to settle themselves.  

4. Sleep associations

Newborns are always going to fall asleep nursing or drinking from the bottle so that is always everyone’s first sleep association.  But you can start to build in other sleep associations that go alongside nursing if you eventually want more independent sleeping.  White noise, music, essential oils, a special toy or lovey, or a certain kind of light are all good things to do while your child falls asleep so that you can remove one association and keep another to help them achieve independent sleep. 

5. Make sure your child doesn’t get overtired

An overtired child is a child who will never go to sleep.  They become hyperactive to keep themselves awake.  They go and go and go until they crash.  This is not a healthy situation for anyone.  Keep a lookout for signs of tiredness and use them to your advantage.  When you see yawns, droopy eyelids, decreased activity, or even some crankiness, it is time to put your child to sleep.  If you can, start the process before this happens so that once they are showing signs, you are right on schedule.

6. Have an active day and get outside

Be sure to get your children outside at least once per day.  It helps regulate their bodies and helps with night sleep.  The more active children are during the day, the better they will sleep at night.  This doesn’t necessarily mean keeping them from napping since sleep begets sleep, but it does mean to have a fun and active day!

 

 

 

I love reading about new studies and new ideas and this one is one of my favorites because it seems so obvious and yet I had never thought about it.  Last fall, the New York Times published an article that I have referred to many times about light and sleep.  

I read it the night that it came out and as we were falling asleep, my husband and I were talking about how light affects our sleep as well.  And then my husband said as he was drifting asleep, “Yep, that bright LED light in the boys room has always kept me up. I always thought it should be a more orange-ish light.”  Then he fell asleep. 

After he said that, I couldn’t sleep.  Was I unintentionally keeping my children from deep sleep by putting in a low energy LED night-light?  My mind raced forward 20 years where my children couldn’t get jobs because they didn’t do well in school because I’d put a bright night-light in their room when they were little.  So I got up and as my husband peacefully snoozed, I created an orange cover from construction paper and tape to put over the boy’s night-light.  I snuck in their room and changed their light from a bright blue light to a dimmed orange light.

The next morning and almost every morning since then, they have slept a half hour longer.  It may be in my head, but they seem better rested and happier children.

I would love to purchase the light bulb that is mentioned in the article, but since we aren’t about to buy every gadget that comes out to help kids, I have decided to try to make my own night light. 

In researching this, I read that having no night-light in the bedroom is actually the best for inducing sleep.  So if you have older children with no fears of the dark, you can slowly move the light out of the room by moving it to plugs that are further away and then covering the light with more and more paper until it is dark.  Then have a light in the hallway for night wakings.

But if you have a younger child or a child who is afraid of the dark, then try some different ways to make the light dimmer and more orange.  And if you have the extra cash and want to see how well the advertised bulb works, then I’d love to hear how it works! 

 

bedtime

After the bath has been taken, the pajamas are on, the milk has been drunk, the book has been read, it is time to put dad in charge.  

It doesn’t matter who is in charge of the rest of the bedtime routine, just make sure that dad has the kiddos last.  Dad is the one who puts them in their crib.  Dad is the one who snuggles one last time.  Dad is the one who closes the door.

There isn’t an exact science behind this as far as I know, it just works.  There are a lot of sleep books that say that dads are the best for putting kids to bed.  Nobody knows why, but there are some good theories out there.

  • Dads are often better at just “getting things done.”  I don’t know if it goes back to caveman days when the men had one thing to do- hunt- and they did it well, while women are constantly multitasking.
  • Dads don’t have as much of the “emotional side” that moms tend to have which may keep moms from setting limits at bedtime.
  • Dads don’t smell like mom.  Seriously.  This is the number one reason why dads should put their kids to bed.  Moms smell like milk, snuggles, etc., which make children want “more, more, more”.  Dads don’t have that smell and therefore don’t have the association with wanting more milk, snuggles or whatever is keeping your kiddo awake.
  • Dads don’t often get this time with their kiddos so it is great for bonding.

Try it tonight.  For some reason, with mom, the goodnights drag on forever, or the little one won’t stop crying.  With mom you might hear,  “just one more, just one more…”  But with dad, it is much shorter and sweeter.

Try it.  You won’t believe it until you try it.  You don’t even have to coach him on what you do (because what he does is what works!)  Just let everyone know the new plan (kiddos too!  Keep them in the loop!) and put dad in charge of bedtime tonight.