We’d like to share with you some simple safety tips to have in mind when putting your baby to sleep for nights and naps. Many of them have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS*.
- Put your baby to sleep on his back
- Keep your baby’s face clear of coverings
- Do not leave loose bedding, pillows, or stuffed toys in the crib
- Do not over-clothe your baby, avoid overheating
- Use a safety-certified crib (JPMA certified)
- Have a firm crib mattress
- Don’t let your baby fall asleep on the sofa, or untied on a swing/ bouncy seat
- Maintain an appropriate temperature on your baby’s room (68 – 72 F)
- Improve the ventilation in your baby’s room
- Avoid exposing your baby to tobacco smoke
- Offer your baby a pacifier (under 12 months old)
Educate babysitters, day-care providers, grandparents, and everyone who cares for your baby about SIDS risk and the importance of observing the advice offered here.
* SIDS: Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected, sudden death of a child under age 1 in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death. There are no symptoms. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants 1 month to 1 year old. Though SIDS remains unpredictable, you can help reduce your infant’s risk.
Baby sleep and travel is the number one question we received during holidays and vacations. Will travel ruin my baby’s sleep habits? Will he/she be able to maintain the schedule? Should we maintain the schedule or just let him/her ‘run wild’? How do we adjust the schedules when there’s a time difference? How do we handle his/her jet lag? Could you share some tips about baby and toddler sleep and travel?… These are only a few of the questions we received, so I’m going to try to answer all of them in this post.
- Try to book an overnight flight, as it will be easier to get your child to sleep on the plane.
- Definitely keep your schedule (at local time)! You can move it 1-2 hours up or down, but you should maintain your routines and structure while on vacation. For example, if you’re traveling to Southern Europe from the States, and your baby’s schedule in the States is 6am to 6pm; you might be able to move him to 7am-7pm or even 8am to 8pm.
- The first day at your destination, try to get as much sunlight as possible, as it will help your baby’s body set into the new time zone easier and faster.
- During the day, try to keep your child entertained and active. Exercise and play will wear him out and leave him ready for a good night sleep.
- Do the naps! Do not think that skipping the nap will help your baby sleep better and faster at night. That’s a common misconception, as they will get to their bedtime overtired and it will take them longer to fall asleep.
- During naps and night, make sure your baby’s room is dark; and continue doing your naptime and bedtime routines.
- Try to ‘recreate’ your child’s current enviroment as much as possible: blackout shades, favourite blanket, same pajamas, nightlight…
- Do not introduce bad habits or poor sleep associations. Do not rock your baby to sleep, let him play longer than normal, let him sleep on your bed, let him watch TV before bedtime… do not create bad habits that you do not allow at home, and that you will have to take away once your return.
- Feed your child at the usual mealtimes. Try to choose healthy, filling options, junk foods will only make the problem worse.
- Expect that it will take your baby between 2-5 days to adjust to the new time zone, especially if there’s more than 4 hours difference. Plan your stay and return accordingly.
- The adjustment on your return will be harder than on your way to your destination.
- Keep your calm, stay possitive and consistent and have plan beforehand. You should decide on your schedule (local time) and how you’re going to help your baby adjust to the new time zone, BEFORE leaving.
We hope this information was useful, and we wish you a great family vacation!
Formal sleep training should not happen before your baby is 4 months old, in fact, the ideal time is between 4 and 6 months old.
However, there are many things you can do to ease your sleep training process or to avoid it completely by developing certain routines, even before sleep training can take place, while your baby is younger than 4 months old:
- Early Bedtime: pick a time, between 5:30pm and 7:00pm, that you will consider bedtime. From that time on, keep you baby in the nursery, with the lights down, no noises, no playing, just soothing activities or sleeping. You want to teach your child the difference between day and night as soon as possible, and you want her to learn that night is a time to relax and sleep.
- Bedtime Routine: develop a consistent bedtime routine that involves soothing and calming activities. Remember to keep it short and to be consistent with it. Your baby will associate this routine leads to night time sleep.
- Drowsy but Awake: try to put your baby down on her crib when she’s drowsy but awake. Avoid letting her fall asleep in your arms or while nursing.
- No ‘External’ Soothers: try to keep the external input that your baby gets to fall asleep to a minimum. The goal is to help your baby learn to sleep on her own, and fall back asleep on her own if she wakes up in the middle of the night. So, try not to make her dependant on things/rituals she won’t be able to have without your help. Try to avoid mobiles, pacifiers, rocking, bouncing, bottle/breast… unless it’s bsolutely necessary.
- Know your Baby: keep a log of your baby’s feeding times, bowel movements, sleeping times and mood. The goal is for you to understand your baby’s biorythm, and to learn to identify your baby’s clues. This will be unvaluable information that you’ll use during the sleep training process.
- Consistent Schedule: This is a hard one, especially at the begining; but try to be somewhat consistent with your baby’s schedule, it’s particularly important to help her develop consistent waking time, bedtime and feeding times.
- Let your Baby Sleep: It sounds simple, but it usually isn’t so. Newborns need to sleep many hours a day, sometimes as much as 20. Do not feel obligated to have your baby awake because you have visitors, do not disturb your baby’s sleep because you have company, do not try to keep your baby awake so you can play with her a little longer. Babies need sleep to develop and grow properly, let it happen from the begining.
If you follow these routines from the begining, your sleep training process will much easier whenever it takes place.
“Children thrive on schedules”
That’s not just a statement or our opinion, it’s a fact! Children do develop better, grow better, behave better… when they know what to expect from their days, when a routine (this doesn’t mean it has to be boring!) is in place for them to follow. Additionally, once they have a set schedule, parents will be able to better plan and organize their day and will be able to get more things done for themselves.
Here are some tips on how to get your baby/child on a schedule:
- Know that each baby/child is different. There are basic principles that work with every child (ie. children thrive on schedules). However, each child is different and what might work for one, might not work for other. Parenting should be somehow customized and adapted to every child.
- Start as soon as possible. Once you get home from the hospital with your baby take the time to study his clues. At the very beginning, you’ll notice that your baby spends his day sleeping, feeding, peeing and pooping, and back again to sleeping, feeding… During the first week, you can start noticing when and how often your baby needs to be fed, needs to sleep, needs a diaper change… Once you have a rough idea, you can define a first schedule that’d work for you and your baby.
- Set a bedtime. According to most sleep experts an early bedtime is essential. Make sure you set a bedtime and stick to it. Regardless of whether your child is already sleep trained or not, is still feeding over the night or not, you should have a time in mind at which ‘night’ starts for your little one.
- Bedtime routine. We can’t emphasises how important this is. The bedtime routine can be however you want it to be, as long as it is relatively short, consistent every night, includes a wind down time and shows your child that the night is here and it’s time to sleep. Your children should understand the difference between day and night as soon as possible, and your bedtime routine is essential to achieve this.
- Be flexible. Realize that your baby will change enormously over the first months of his life, so your initial schedule will evolve into a new schedule within the first month, then again after another month and so on. This is due to several factors: (1) Babies soon begin to stay awake longer, (2) the amount of their feedings will increase, as the number of feedings decreases, (3) some feedings will be dropped, (4) sleep training will take place (sleeping through the night will come), (5) new foods will be introduced… Between 6 and 12 months it should be much more stable, and the changes to it would be minor (ie. pushing bedtime 15 minutes early).
- Be consistent. Once you decide on a schedule, or any other parenting issue, be consistent, don’t doubt yourself and keep at it.
- Keep track. You don’t need to write everything that goes on with your child, but it’d certainly will help you to take notes about feedings, sleeping patterns, bowel movements, behavior changes…
- Seek help if you need it. This issue will probably need a post on its own. Parents are not used to ask for advice or help, even when we are drowning, exhausted and at our wits ends. If you feel overwhelmed, or feel like nothing is working, seek help! Join support groups, read books, meet other parents, hire a sitter, ask a family member of friend to come help, hire a parenting coach or sleep consultant, talk to your pediatrician… Do whatever you need to do to feel that you’re in control again and that you are being the parent that you’ve always wanted to be, raising a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child.
The result of implementing a good schedule that works for you and your child will be a more peaceful, less chaotic and more harmonious home; where your children and you will be able to thrive as individuals and as members of a family unit.