Will a soother help your baby sleep?

freeimage-5736861-highSoothers are a big topic when it comes to babies and sleep. Sometimes soothers are your best friend. When you are driving and your baby is screaming, a soother will help. When you don’t want everyone staring at you in a restaurant because your baby is crying, a soother will help. There are so many times when a soother will help, including when your baby is trying to fall asleep. The problem with soothers and sleep is that, although a soother will help your baby fall asleep, it will also cause your baby to wake up more frequently during the night and is one of the biggest contributors to short naps.  What happens is that a soother very easily becomes a sleep “prop”. Any time you use a prop to get your baby to sleep, your baby will need that prop each time he wakes in order to get back to sleep.  Many parents report to me that they are up every hour putting the soother back into their baby’s mouth. So, while a soother seems gentle because there is not really any crying involved, it is interrupting your baby’s ability to have consolidated sleep.  This means that your baby is always sleeping in a lighter state and not getting that deep, sound sleep that is restful.  This can lead to a baby that is cranky, fussy and always looking for the soother throughout the day.

If you would like your baby to sleep well throughout the night, avoid using the soother as a means to get him to sleep.  Try some shushing, touch or singing instead if your baby needs help calming.  By breaking, or avoiding, association between the soother and sleep, you will find that your baby sleeps longer and more soundly during the night.

Need help removing your baby’s soother? Contact me at leslie@akissgoodnight.ca to find out more about how I can help.


How to Provide Your Little One a Great Sleep Environment

Healthy sleep habits for your little one are extremely important for their overall health and well being. Developing healthy sleep skills can begin at any time, but the earlier the better. Even a newborn needs a good sleep environment in order to have a good, long sleep each night and for naps.  Having the ideal sleep environment will make it easier for your child to fall asleep independently and stay asleep longer (which we all want!).  Here are my top tips for creating the perfect sleep environment for your baby.

1. A bare crib is best.

Mobiles, toys and even blankets can make it difficult for your baby to fall asleep.  When there are lots of exciting and stimulating things to look at, why fall asleep? This is a child’s version of having a TV in your bedroom! The extra items can be too distracting, but can also be very unsafe. Health Canada recommends using only a firm mattress with a fitted sheet as bumper pads, pillows and quilts can increase the risk of suffocation.  Most children don’t need a pillow until close to 2 years old and a sleep sack can be used instead of a blanker. A “lovey” is fine to place in the crib with your baby once they are at least 6 months oldhcdcdgfl..,, just be sure it is not big enough to cover the baby’s face and that it doesn’t have small pieces that could come off if the baby chews on it.

2. The temperature of the room does matter!

Did you know that most children prefer to sleep in a room that is on the cool side rather than warm? Studies have shown that sleeping in a room that is too warm can actually be detrimental to infant sleep. Parents often think that a  warm room will help their baby fall asleep or will ensure that they stay warm throughout the night, but it actually tends to make it much harder for babies to fall asleep.  As well, it is also suggested that it may be unsafe for babies as warm temperatures can increase the risk for SIDS. I recommend to all of my clients to make sure that the temperature of their little one’s room is between 18 and 21 degrees Celcius. The clothing your little one wears to bed is also important.  Generally, a baby should only need one layer more than an adult, so there is no need for too many layers or blankets.  During the colder months, it’s a great idea to use a sleep sack instead of a blanket (if your baby likes them) so that you don’t have to worry about blankets falling off. Remember cool and comfy, not warm and stuffy.

3. Darkness REALLY helps.

A very dark room is ideal for all sleep, daytime naps included. Light is an extremely powerful tool to our bodies. As sunlight hits our skin and is absorbed, our bodies naturally release chemicals that send us the cue that it is time to be awake. The more light you can block from your baby’s room the better.  Just as light cues us to wake, darkness cues us that it’s time to sleep, so having a dark room will signal your baby that it’s still time to sleep if they wake in the night or early in the morning. If you have an older child that is afraid of the dark, a dim night light can be used.  Keep in mind, babies are not afraid of the dark, so don’t worry when keeping their room completely dark. A dark room = sweet dreams for little ones.

4. White noise can help with early mornings.

Using white noise in your baby or toddler’s room can help them sleep longer and more soundly by blocking out environmental noise. You would be surprised at how the slightest outside noise can arouse a baby in a light sleep state, particularly early in the morning. When using white noise, be sure that it is truly white noise, meaning that it is a static sound. Ocean waves or rain sounds can get louder and then quieter, which can interrupt your baby’s sleep and become a prop. White noise should never be a prop, it should only be used to buffer other sounds that could wake your baby.  White noise is also a great tool if you like to travel or if your baby naps in different environments (eg. grandmas house, daycare etc). It will provide a consistent, quiet environment for your baby’s sleep. If you are investing in a white noise machine, don’t bother with all the bells and whistles. The most simple machine is all you need.

Creating a dark, quiet, peaceful space will help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. If you find that your baby is having trouble sleeping, look around their room and see if there are changes you can make to their sleep environment. Sometimes the simplest changes have the biggest impact.



Avoiding Christmas Meltdowns

With All I Know About Children’s Sleep, I Still Feel Powerless Against the Elf on the Shelf!

I feel the same way about the advent calendar causing my 4.5 year old to wake up early with excitement!  During the holidays, we all bend our rules just a little because it is such a fun and exciting time of year.  I’m definitely guilty of this because I really love the Christmas season, so I thought I’d put together some tips for ways to have a really fun holiday AND avoiding serious meltdowns!

Make sure the get as much sleep as possible: You know my first tip has to be about sleep!! If your child is getting up a little too early (like mine), try to put them to bed 15-20 minutes early every few days to avoid overtiredness.  With Christmas parties and family coming to visit, this can be hard, so do it whenever you can.  If you know you are going to have a late night, allow your child to nap (if they are no longer napping on a regular basis) so that they aren’t cranky during your outing. Several days in a row of early mornings and late bedtimes can cause negative, unwanted behaviors in your child.

Prepare your kids: Talk to them about what to expect when you go out.  If you are going to see Santa, do they know that there may be a long line up or that they will have to sit on his knee?  It’s hard for kids to wait, especially when they are excited, so make a game plan before you go. Also, let them know about crowds in the mall or at an event you may be attending. Children who are sensitive or shy may become overwhelmed by large crowds, especially if it comes as a surprise. No matter what the event, if you prepare your children, it will be much easier.

Bring snacks: Your kids will inevitable get hungry (probably 2 minutes before it’s your turn to see Santa) and you don’t want them to fall apart because they are hungry.  Hunger can cause children to have meltdowns and act out, which is the last thing you want to happen when you are trying to do something fun and special together.  Bringing snacks along can help you easily avoid this, plus this way you don’t always have to spend your money on junk food from the mall.

Be sure you have realistic expectations: As parents we have these great ideas of how things will work out, and our kids don’t always agree.  You may get your little ones dressed up to see Santa, wait in line and then they scream when they see Santa or refuse to get their pic taken.  Or maybe you take your kids over to their grandma’s house for dinner and they won’t eat or sit quietly at the table.  It is important to be ready for these things so that you don’t get disappointed and end up frustrated with your kids. Try to go with the flow. If your little one cries on Santa’s lap, there’s always next year!

Overscheduling and rushing is just as stressful for our kids as it is for us. Taking a more relaxed approach to the holidays will help you and your children enjoy the time together without all the stress.

If you’d like to get your little one sleeping well during this Christmas holiday, you can take advantage of my Christmas offer and get 15% off the price of a full consultation booked prior to December 20th, 2013.

To take advantage of this offer call me at 604 984 0116 or email leslie@akissgoodnight.ca

What is a “Sleep Prop”?


You may have heard the term “sleep prop” and wondered what it means.

Well, props are likely things you are currently using to get your little one to sleep each night and for naps. Sleep props can be anything or anyone that your baby  uses to fall asleep. Here is a list of the most common props:

  • nursing or bottle feeding
  • soothers
  • rocking/bouncing
  • swings
  • driving
  • carriers
  • bringing baby into your bed

If They Work, What’s the Problem?

The problem is that props only work for a short time and then they actually cause your little one to wake up.  For example, you may be able to pop a soother in your baby’s mouth and she will drift off to sleep quickly and easily. However, when the soother falls out, she will wake up and need you to put the soother back into her mouth.  The same goes for any prop. The longer you use a prop, the more your child will need it.  If you take a prop like rocking for example, in the past you may have rocked your baby for 10 minutes and he would fall asleep. Then you started having to rock him for 20 min, then 30, sometimes up to an hour and then he wakes up right when you put him in the crib! Not only that, each time your baby wakes in the night, he will need you to come back in and rock him as he has learned that rocking is the way to fall asleep.  While props seem great at first, they end up creating more work for you (and your baby) in the long run as your baby will never learn to sleep all night if he or she is using a prop AND the props usually stop working!

There is Good News

If you find that your baby has become dependent on a prop and it is no longer working or is working less often, then your baby is telling you that she is ready to start learning to sleep independently. You can avoid feeling frustrated about endlessly rocking your baby or feeding her every single hour if you allow your baby to fall asleep without these props.  This certainly will take some work as your baby will initially be confused and not understand what to do when you put her in the crib.  Try using other soothing techniques such as tummy rubs or bum pats to help your little one stay calm when trying to fall asleep without their favourite prop. It will likely take several days for your baby to get used to the new sleep routine, but if you stick with it, your baby will learn to sleep without the prop, which will allow her to sleep longer and more soundly.

If you think your baby is dependent on a prop and would like help teaching him or her to sleep without it, please contact me at 604.984.0116 or leslie@akissgoodnight.ca.

Why Having a “Lovey” Will Help Your Child Sleep Better


It’s very common to hear that your baby should sleep in a bare crib.

Bumpers, toys and big blankets can be unsafe and are not recommended by Health Canada. Aside of safety, things like mobiles, lights or too many toys can distract your baby and make it difficult for him or her to fall asleep. However, having one small “lovey” in your baby’s crib, can really help improve their sleep because it will become a security object that your child can cuddle up to in the night.

How Does it Help?

When your child attaches to a lovey, it helps them feel safe and provides comfort.  When they wake in the night, they can simply grab a hold of it and cuddle it to help them fall back asleep on their own…without calling out for you! It is a great tool to use to help your child learn to self-soothe, especially if your child is learning to sleep without you in the room (or even in their bed).

Choosing the Right Lovey is Important

If your child is not already using a lovey and you would like to introduce one, choose something that is small, safe and quiet.  You want to be sure that the item can not cover your baby’s face or that it doesn’t have small pieces that can get into your baby’s mouth. When a baby uses a lovey, they often like to rub their faces into it, suck or chew on it or put it on their face, so it’s important to make sure that there aren’t pieces that could be bitten off if your baby puts it in his or her mouth.  Also, choose something without lights and sounds that could distract or even wake your baby up if they roll onto it.  Once you have chosen an object, place it in your baby’s crib for all sleep situatuions. At first you may feel that he or she is not interested in the object, but if you keep it in the crib eventually your baby will attach to it.

Once Your Baby Attaches to the Lovey

Once you have found the right item for your baby, you can use it in new sleep situations such as daycare or a sleepover at grandma and grandpa’s house. Your baby will associate the lovey with sleep and comfort and will fall asleep much more easily in new environments. It’s also a great thing to bring along if you like to travel and your baby will be sleeping in different rooms and/or a different crib or bed. When you take it with you, be sure NOT to wash it! Although you may think it’s stinky, it smells like your baby’s crib and that smell is familiar and comforting.  Finally, if you find something that your baby loves to sleep with, be sure to buy a second one just in case it ever gets lost.

If you have questions about choosing the right lovey for your child or any questions regarding your child’s sleep, please contact me at leslie@akissgoodnight.ca

Split the Difference to “Fall Back” smoothly for Daylight savings

On Sunday November 3rd, we will be setting our clocks back one hour.

“Falling back” is great because we get that extra hour of sleep. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so easy with little ones! Over the last few days, I’ve had several clients contacting me asking me the best way to handle the time change so that they can keep their children on track with the great sleep habits they’ve already developed. Although it can take up to a week for your child to fully adjust to the time change, the process is quite simple. You just have to “split the difference”. Here’s how to do it…

Don’t worry about the clocks on Saturday night

Just start with your child’s first nap on Sunday and adjust the time by 30 minutes. If for example your little one usually takes a morning nap at 9:30, you will adjust this to 9:00 am (which will FEEL like 10 am to your child) for the first 3 days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push to keep your child awake for an extra 30 minutes, but not so much that it will cause much damage to his or her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap. You may find that you need to use a lot of distraction at this time to carry your child through to the next nap time.

Gradually roll back

At bedtime, if your child usually goes to bed at 7 PM, I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 PM for the first 3 days following the time change (This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child). It will take about a week for your child’s body to adjust to the time change.

On the 4th day, you can now move in line with the new time, so your baby or child will be back to taking naps and going to bed at their usual time.

While your child is adjusting to the new time, it’s common to have early morning wake ups for the first few days. Here are some great ways to tackle those early mornings:

For Toddlers

If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minute numerals, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. I would just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30, it reads 7:00 and I would let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that by the end of the week, they would be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time. If you are already using a Gro Clock (or something similar), you can set the clock to the exact time you would like them to get up.

For Babies

If you have a baby, you will need to gently help them adjust. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6 a.m. is okay now. If your child normally wakes at 7:00am, but is now up at 6:00, wait ten minutes before getting your child up on the first day, and then twenty minutes the following day, then wait until 6:30 the third day. By the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.

Above all, stay consistent.

Remember that this adjustment will take time. If you stay consistent and allow your child’s body to adjust slowly, you will be back on track in about one week.

The ‘Crying it Out’ Question

A little note about the “crying” question.

Since people always ask me about whether the Sleep Sense™ Method involves “crying it out,” I think it’s something that deserves to be addressed here.

Crying is your child’s way of protesting change, and you can expect that making changes to their sleep habits will result in some protest. That’s why I’m always sure to tell parents that my program will most likely involve at least some amount of protest on the child’s part.

Please understand that I will never ask you to leave your child to cry alone, nor will I ask you to ignore their cries. The reason that the Sleep Sense™ Method is so effective is that it lets you develop a plan that you feel comfortable with, based on what you know about your child.

If you have any questions at all about the philosophy behind the Sleep Sense™ Method, please don’t hesitate to ask! I can be reached by email at leslie@akissgoodnight.ca.  or by telephone at +1.604.984.0116

Dealing with Sleep and Daylight Savings – It’s time to “fall back”!

Dealing  with Sleep and Daylight Savings

 It’s time to “fall back”.  We will be setting our clocks back one hour on Sunday November 4th.  As adults, we love “falling back” because we get an extra hour of sleep.  However, our little ones don’t feel the same! If your baby or child normally wakes up at 7 am, he or she will now be up at 6 am and no one wants to get up any earlier.  Here are some great tips on how to help your child adjust to the time change and get back to his or her normal schedule. 

When dealing with the time change, the best way to handle it is to “split the difference”.

If for example your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30, you will adjust this to 9:00 am for the 3 days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to his or her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap.

Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7 PM, I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 PM for the first 3 days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.

If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minute numerals, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. I would just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30, it reads 7:00 and I would let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that by the end of the week, they would be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time.

If you are dealing with a baby, you cannot do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6 a.m. is okay now. So if she normally wakes at 7:00am, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait till ten minutes after on the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 6:30 the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.

On the 4th night, just get in line with the new time. So your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm, and adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.

If you have any questions about how to make this adjustment, please email me at leslie@akissgoodnight.ca.

Sleep Well,