As a sleep consultant, I get asked the same questions over and over again. In order to streamline my process, I created a list of FAQs and their answers, and I’m happy to share them here with you! I hope you find this helpful.
How to handle sickness, teething, and travel
I personally believe that it’s totally possible for your child to fall asleep independently while sick, teething, and on vacation! Don’t automatically assume just because there are a few tears that your child needs to be assisted to sleep. If your child is teething or under the weather, some Tylenol or Advil is probably not a bad idea, combined with some extra snuggles at bedtime. If you’re traveling, make sure to spend some time allowing your child to get comfortable in their new sleep space before its time for bed! Of course if your child is really struggling, and your instincts are telling you to help them along more than you typically do, then just be ready to get back on track after any illness or travel!
Any other tips for travel?
Traveling with little ones can be exhausting and stressful! It will most likely be impossible to do all naps in a crib or bed, so be flexible and allow naps to happen on the go, but try to get those naps in at the appropriate times. When it comes to sleeping in an unfamiliar environment, it always helps to pack some comfort items from home. Pack some familiar books, a sheet and sleep sack, your sound machine etc. Spend some time playing in the room in or around your child’s sleep space before bed so they are less anxious about falling asleep in a new environment. If you’re traveling to a destination with a time difference, decide whether or not you will try to get onto the local time zone or keep your child on their familiar time zone. I typically advise families to stick with their current time zone if the trip is short, but if you’re going to be away for longer than 4-5 days it makes sense to hop onto the new time zone. Lastly, lower your expectations. This stuff gets easier as your children get older!
How do I know when it’s time to drop a nap?
As a certified pediatric sleep consultant, I always advise clients and friends to hold off on dropping a nap until it’s really obviously time to do so. I’m a big believer of giving children the daytime sleep that they need. If your child is refusing a nap, consider whether you can shorten the other naps to still allow for that nap that is getting tricky before eliminating it completely. In addition to capping naps, you can also opt for a later bedtime to preserve that last nap for a while longer. Once you feel that you’ve exhausted those two options, it may be time to drop a nap. Always remember to refer to my “Sleep Chart” for guidance on how much sleep your child needs at any given age.
When should I transition my child from their crib to a bed?
This is an easy answer. Wait as long as possible! There’s absolutely no reason to rush this transition. As long as your child is happy and sleeping confidently in their crib, let them stay. Of course if your child is climbing out of the crib it’s no longer safe for them to be in there and they should be transitioned to a bed as quickly as possible.
What are best practices for transitioning from a crib to a bed?
The most important thing to do is to communicate with your child. Set up some rules and expectations for the transition so they know what to expect. Explain that it’s not safe for them to get out of bed by themselves and they should always call out for a parent if they need help. You can also introduce an “OK to wake clock” so that they are encouraged to stay in bed until a reasonable hour in the morning. Reward good behavior from the beginning to encourage continued good behavior!
We are expecting a new baby! Now that the Rock n Play is recalled, what do you recommend that we use for the earliest months?
The Rock n Play was actually never intended for safe sleep. Other items such as the Dockatot and Snuggle Me are also not intended for sleep and they should never be used for that purpose. Your infant is safest sleeping alone, on their backs and in a crib, bassinet or pack n play. If you feel that you need something that “helps” your baby to sleep in those early weeks or months, consider purchasing or renting a Snoo bassinet.
What is the best age to teach a baby to sleep independently?
At the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management we believe that you can start working on this from the very beginning. Getting your newborn onto a predictable schedule with feeds and naps is the first step. Also consider allowing your newborn to nap horizontally in their crib or bassinet whenever possible. The more practice they get during the day will set them up for success overnight. When it comes to more formal “sleep training” I think between 12-20 weeks is a great time to start!
What if I feel like I could use some professional help and support through the sleep training process?
There is absolutely no shame in wanting to seek out support. Teaching your baby or toddler to fall asleep and back to sleep independently can feel daunting and stressful. We promise that it’s never as hard as it seems, but we are here to help. If you’d like to work with Jayne directly, please head over to Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens
or if you’d like to find a CPSM graduate in your area, email Jayne at firstname.lastname@example.org
and she will connect you with a local certified sleep consultant in your area.