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SEPARATION ANXIETY DISORDER

SEPARATION ANXIETY DISORDER

It’s normal for babies young children to not want to stray too far from their parents. We are animals after all and survival instincts tell our young that too much time or distance between them and us is a risky thing. For this reason, ‘separation anxiety’ and ‘stranger anxiety’ that infants and young children experience is thought to be hard-wired. That said, the intensity of this ‘normal anxiety’ differs depending on the child’s temperament and on how responsive their caregivers have been to their need for comfort and closeness.

Separation Anxiety Disorder is different. It often occurs later, causes more distress and impacts upon the child’s functioning. The anxiety is simply too much, so that instead of serving to protect the child, it upsets and impairs and is therefore considered a disorder.

Separation Anxiety Disorder is defined as developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from main caregivers, with three or more of this list occurring:

  • recurrent excessive distress when separated from home or main caregivers is anticipated
  • persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm coming to, main caregivers
  • persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a main caregiver (e.g. getting lost or being kidnapped)
  • persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of these separation fears
  • persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major caregivers at home or in other settings
  • persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a main caregiver or to sleep away from home
  • repeated nightmares involving separation themes
  • repeated complaints of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea, vomiting etc. when separated from a main caregiver occurs or is anticipated

These symptoms need to last for four weeks or more in a child or young adolescent and cause significant distress and impairment of functioning to be considered a disorder.

Separation anxiety disorder occurs in approximately 4% of children, affecting girls and boys equally. While it can have its onset earlier, it seems to be most common in 7-8 year olds.

So why are some kids affected by Separation Anxiety Disorder? Like most mental health issues, the causes are many and varied and often it’s the contribution of several of these that’s responsible. Genetic vulnerability to anxiety, shy inhibited temperament, a recent death in the family, parental divorce, or illness in either parent or child are all factors which might contribute. Children are also very good at picking up on their parent’s cues. As a result, sometimes a child perceives (rightly or wrongly) that their parent needs them to stay close. This might be due to the parent’s own anxiety, due to their desire for the child’s company or assistance, or due to a parent’s ‘need to be needed’.

Just as the causes vary, so does the presentation of separation anxiety disorder. School refusal, reluctance to go to school camps or to friends’ houses without a parent, nightmares, insisting on sharing their parent’s bed or following family members around the house are all examples of how Separation Anxiety Disorder might present. Some children will become tearful when separated from their parent while others will tantrum, become distracted, nervous or aggressive. Parents can often feel frustrated and burnt out. It can feel hard to get the balance right between providing comfort and closeness while also promoting independence and a sense of competence.

There are a number of different tools that can help if Separation Anxiety Disorder is affecting sleep. Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz have a range of affordable sleep consultation packages to help in this area and can be viewed at www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/. Sleepy Starz also sell a revolutionary sleep training clock called the Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock which can also be a comforting aspect to the bedroom at night for children suffering from this disorder. The clock can be viewed at www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-clock/

TODDLER FOOD FUSSINESS AND TIPS

TODDLER FOOD FUSSINESS AND TIPS

Food fussiness in toddlers is common yet can be very frustrating for the parent. You spend countless hours trying to come up with healthy yet tasty recipes that your little one will like……but they don’t! It’s often a constant battle and a will to survive when trying to feed your toddler a healthy and balanced diet. Check out some of our tips for feeding your child a healthy and interesting diet:

At Your Fingertips

Finger foods are one of the easiest ways to feed your toddler. Finger foods are great because they give your little one a choice and there is a huge range of foods to use. Sweet potato fries are healthy and delicious. Cheesy baked cauliflower sticks are easy to make with shredded cauliflower, cheese, eggs and flour. Cheese sticks, celery, carrot……the list goes on.

Fruit Friendly

A lot of fruits are full of fiber to helps your child’s digestion and fruit is often my ‘go to’ food when my child refuses to eat anything else. When food is a constant battle it becomes exhausting. When I have reached my limit in arguing with my child I turn to fruit. Whether it be some cut up apple, strawberries, banana or an orange…..I make sure to always have fruit in the house up.

Eggs

Eggs are both nutritious and versatile. From boiled eggs, to scrambled to poached to fried……eggs are an excellent source of protein and often a food of choice for little ones.

Involvement

Toddlers love exploring new things and want to be a part of it. Invest in some plastic cutlery and cook ware and get your little one involved in the kitchen. Often, children will be more inclined to eat if they are a part of the preparation process.

Make it Fun

A lot of the time, food does not look very appealing to toddlers unless it comes in the form of chips or nuggets. However, you can make a boring sandwich look appealing by cutting it into shapes for example. Or, use your finger food to make funny faces that will gain the attention of your child. Food most definitely doesn’t have to be boring!

Choices

Toddlers are known for not only their fussiness but also their stubbornness. Allow your toddler to have some control over what they eat so they feel a sense of independence. A choice of 2-3 different meal options is a great way to encourage eating.

Food fussiness in toddlers is common and normally a stage that will pass. It’s important to teach your little one healthy eating habits by eating well yourself as well offering them healthy choices.

If you are finding that your toddler’s eating habits are effecting other parts of their life such as sleep, it’s important to seek help. Go to www.sleepystarz.com for more information.

TIPS FOR TRAVELLING WITH TODDLERS

TIPS FOR TRAVELLING WITH TODDLERS

Our family loves to spend time together traveling. From a day trip to a weekend getaway, or flying across the continent to have a holiday in a different culture, we value and are grateful for this quality family time.

With that being said, traveling with toddlers can be quite a challenge at times. From jet lag to tantrums to being restricted in the activities you can do are all part of travelling with children. Check out our tips for making your family holiday special and stress free:

Take Your Time

We recently had a family holiday to Thailand. In the past when my husband and I have gone together before we had children, we packed so many things into our day. From the beach, to island tours, to partying at night….there was never a boring moment. However, with toddlers in tow things are a little different. The biggest thing we found was that we couldn’t do anywhere near as much each day. However, this was a blessing in disguise. We didn’t plan a lot of our days and were happy lounging around the pool and taking strolls into the markets.

Snacks

If travelling to a different country (especially a country like Thailand where gastro is common) you might find that your little ones don’t like the food. A good way to overcome this issue is to pack some snacks to take with you that your children like. If you don’t want to take snacks with you then visit a supermarket whilst there (or a 7-11 if visiting Thailand) and stock up on snacks to keep little tummies full. 

Be Prepared with Medications

When travelling overseas, communication with language barriers can be an issue. It’s highly recommended to be prepared with medications from home such as panadol, nurofen, thermometer as well as things like sunscreen and mosquito repellant. The other thing I don’t travel without is hydrolyte. In countries like Thailand where gastro can easily be caught, hydrolyte ensures that you can keep your little one hydrated.

Pack Plenty of Baby Wipes

No matter how old your child is I always recommend travelling with a heap of baby wipes. When out and about, public toilets are unavoidable……you gotta go when you gotto go! Carrying baby wipes ensures that hygiene is maintainable. Further to this, if you are travelling to a country where water is not recommended to drink….bathing children can become an issue for littlies who like to drink the bath water. If this is an issue for you, baby wipes are a great alternative for keeping little bodies clean.

Take a Stroller

If you are travelling with toddlers who have already mastered the skill of walking, I still recommend taking a stroller. Little legs tire easily when out and about exploring new areas. Taking a stroller ensures that you can continue your adventures whilst your little one rests.

Keep in Routine

Whilst you want to enjoy your time away and enjoy some dinners and nights out…..toddlers struggle when they get out of routine and sleep patterns can be thrown into disarray. As much as possible, try to keep your children in their normal routine. Eat early so they can still be in bed at the normal time. The Sleepy Starz Sleep Apps are fantastic travel companions. The apps are great for teaching your little one when it’s bedtime and sleep time without taking up any space. The apps are available in both the iTunes and Google Play Stores and more information can be found at www.sleepystarz.com/products/

Whilst travelling with toddlers can be challenging at times, it’s also a lot of fun so make sure you enjoy this special time together!

Work at Home Mums and Tips to Make it Work

Work at Home Mums and Tips to Make it Work

There is no doubt that mother’s have the most challenging, most rewarding, most frustrating, lowest paying but exciting jobs on the planet. Throw into the mix working from home whilst caring for your children and the word ‘chaos’ comes to mind.

I’ve been a stay at home mum since my first was born. However, I’m one of those people that need to have a project as well as the daily chores and child minding duties. From the time my first was born I’ve worked from home with little contracting positions, working from the comfort of my home on my laptop.

However in 2014, my husband and I embarked on a new journey and founded the company Sleepy Starz Pty Ltd. Our Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock had already been in the making for the 2 years leading up to the company’s creation. So, I am no stranger to working from home and yep, it’s challenging but I wouldn’t change a thing!

One of the most important things when working from home as well as caring for the children is to have flexibility. For me, this means working early in the morning, working late at night and working on weekends. It is nothing like having a structured 9-5 job where you come home and have no work on the weekends. You often do not have a quiet workspace during the daytime to complete the work you need to do on that day. But again, this is where flexibility comes into play. Working from home with children is about picking right tasks to do at certain times. For example, when the children are awake, I will choose a task where I can get interrupted and can get by without devoting my 100% attention to it. Or, I’ll do some household chores when the children are awake and playing happily and save my time when they are asleep for getting my work done. But, understand that it might not always work out the way you plan.

For me, the rewards are endless. I love being home with my children (despite the frustrations when trying to work) and seeing them play. Being able put them down for their naps, feed them their lunch and play together. For my older daughter in school, I love being able to drop everything if she needs me to pick her up from school early. The rewards are there if you are prepared to put in the hard work and frustrations of working with often no plan in place.

One of the most important things I try to practice is to put aside a certain time of day where my children have 100% of my attention to play, read, or whatever we choose. I also try to ensure that once a week we have quality family time whether it be a family bike ride, go to the park as a family, have a picnic, go the zoo….whatever, as long as we’re together!

To check out some more of my stories on life, being a mum, working from home etc, head to www.sleepystarz.com/blog-2/ and www.facebook.com/sleepystarz/

HOW THE ENVIRONMENT CAN AFFECT TODDLERS SLEEP

HOW THE ENVIRONMENT CAN AFFECT TODDLERS SLEEP

Temperament is defined as how a child naturally reacts to situations and stimuli, mood, ability to calm themselves and activity level. Many researchers believe that temperament is biological which means this is how a child is wired to be and it is not a result of the environment.

A baby’s temperament will affect which sleep training method a parent might choose to help their baby sleep better. A child’s temperament and personality will determine whether a no cry sleep training method will take 1 hour or 3 months or if choosing a cry-method is likely to work better.

From the first day after they are born the way a baby reacts to being wet, hungry or tired will be different to other babies. Where one baby might be low-key and not get very upset another baby may scream loudly in the same situation. This is also the reason why one sleep training method works well for some babies and will not work for others.

Three common temperament and personality types are listed below with a brief synopsis of how they can affect a baby’s sleep.

Intensity

A baby or toddler’s intensity is how strongly they emotionally react to something. High intensity babies react strongly and might have a louder cry. For babies who are low intensity they may not cry much at all.

If your baby is a high intensity baby, it will be hard to leave them upset for anything longer than a couple of minutes when they’re young. A high-intensity baby might get more upset when they wake up between sleep cycles and cannot go back to sleep. It may also take longer during the bedtime routine to help soothe a high intensity baby before sleep. If attempting to use a no-cry sleep training method a high intensity baby will likely still cry and it can be very hard listening to a screaming baby while trying to break sleep associations

Persistence

A baby’s persistence is how easily or difficult he can stop a task if told to and how strong-willed they are when they get their mind set on something. Persistence might reveal itself when a baby wants to nurse and they won’t take no for an answer without erupting in tears and will not settle down with any other soothing method.

How might a baby’s persistence affect her sleep? If a child is a less persistent baby it is easier to sleep train them. Typically, less persistent babies and toddlers accept no for an answer and do not stay upset very long when there are changes. Most parents will just need to commit to making changes in order for baby sleep change to happen.

If a baby is a very persistent baby it will be harder to get more co-operation out of them when they have their mind set on something. If using a no-cry sleep training method, it will likely take longer than those with less persistent babies.

Perceptiveness

A baby’s perceptiveness is how much a child notices things like people, colors, and noises. A perceptive child may forget directions or instructions given to them because something else has caught her attention. In addition they might notice many things that other people may not, such as a rock in the grass that other kids would walk past.

So many things can affect a child’s sleep. Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz offers a range of affordable sleep consultations to help babies and children achieve better sleep. Head to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/ for more information.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN MY BABY’S FIRST YEAR

WHAT TO EXPECT IN MY BABY’S FIRST YEAR

The first year of a baby’s life is very full and complete with milestones and lots of ‘firsts’. Your baby’s rate of growth, appearance and personality will all be unique to him or her and every baby will reach important milestones in their own time. As you embark on this journey with your new baby take time to enjoy their presence in your life.

Newborn Stage

You have just brought your baby home from the hospital to their newly decorated nursery and you are full of a number of different emotions. During the early weeks your little one will sleep around the clock without any routine. In this stage of their life, their body clock is not developed and they cannot distinguish between night and day. Your baby will wake to feed and let you know when they are tired. Some babies may need to be awoken to feed and this is perfectly normal.

From 1 – 3 Months

Babies will begin moving more, discovering their hands and making little sounds. They will smile now and follow the sound of your voice as you move through their room. By 3 months of age babies love looking at themselves in a mirror. Babies can now lift their heads, move from side-to-side, and focus on objects that are 8-12 away.

From 3-6 Months

This is one of the most exciting times in your baby’s growth; many changes appear in this period. At the end of the third month, your baby will be opening and closing their little hands, hold their head up with control, reach more and more for objects and imitate sounds. In the fourth month, they can usually sit up with some help.

From 6-9 Months

During this high growth period many babies say their first words. Even if they don’t yet start talking most begin enthusiastically babbling to themselves and develop a much wider range of facial expressions at this age. He or she will have developed specific cries for specific needs now and will react differently to different family members. Baby will now sit unsupported too.

From 9-10 Months

During this month babies will reach for toys, try to grab the spoon during feedings and in general, become quite a bit more active. He or she will be waving goodbye to the delight of the grandparents, will be able to pick up things and will also start to look for things that have been dropped.

From 11-12 Months

Babies are much more curious now and respond well to new sounds, colors and shapes. Story time is much appreciated and he or she will enjoy cuddling on your lap while being read to. Babies now understand and can mimic simple gestures and can say simple words.

Enjoy your little one’s first year of life as much as possible as time goes by so fast. A lot of parents of babies suffer from sleep deprivation as sleep is a skill being learnt in the first year of life. Is this is something that you are suffering from, Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz offer a range of affordable sleep consultation packages. Head to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/for more information.

OVERTIRED SIGNS

OVERTIRED SIGNS

Many parents seek help and relief for their unsettled baby who seems to cry all of the time and assume that baby colic or reflux is the problem. However, in a lot of cases, a baby is just over stimulated or overtired presenting similar signs to that of colic or reflux.

Colic is usually described as when a baby cries at least 3 times a day for 3 days in a row for 3 weeks.

Reflux is common and is where the contents of the tummy rise up and cause a burning sensation in the back of the throat without vomiting (silent reflux) or vomiting occurs with or without crying sometimes projecting across the room and all over mum and dad.

In cases where a parent comes to me complaining of their baby suffering from colic or reflux I first like to check the baby’s sleep patterns. Often, overtiredness or over stimulation is actually the cause as the symptoms are similar.

Overtired signs include but are not limited to:

  • Crying
  • Arching of the back
  • Going red in the face
  • Glazed eyes
  • Staring with a blank expression
  • Pulling of ears
  • Rubbing of eyes

Each child will display their own tired signs and it’s really helpful for a parent to try and learn what their child’s tired signs are. A lot of the time, when a baby is crying and displaying one or some of the above signs, a normal reaction from a parent is to try anything to fix the crying. The parent will hold the baby, rock the baby, pat the baby, and pick up the baby…..and so on. However, all the little baby actually wants is to be left to go to sleep. Over stimulation is easy to do as it’s a normal reaction from a parent…..to fix the cry! However, once the baby reaches the overtired stage it gets excessively difficult to get them to sleep as the body releases a chemical which fights the urge to sleep.

What parents can do to avoid getting to the overtired stage include:

  • Ensure that the baby is on an age appropriate sleep/wake routine. If the baby is a newborn and has been awake for more than 1-1.5 hours then there is a good chance that they will be tired;
  • Watch closely for the tired signs;
  • Learn what their baby’s tired signs are;
  • Put to bed without over stimulation. Sometimes a baby will need to be rocked, patted and help. But at other times, the baby may not need so much stimulation and just wants to sleep.

Parenting a young baby can be a challenging experience for a lot of parents. If you need assistance with getting your little one to achieve better sleep, head to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/

OVERVIEW OF SIDS GUIDELINES FOR BED-SHARING FAMILIES

OVERVIEW OF SIDS GUIDELINES FOR BED-SHARING FAMILIES

You have survived the 9 months of pregnancy and delivered a healthy baby. You will now spend the rest of your life protecting your new baby. I know this is a scary subject but the more you know about preventing SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) the better your chances of avoiding the tragedy. There is a danger of SIDS for all babies but the most common age of children affected by this phenomenon is 2 to 4 months old.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a mystery by definition. In recent years SIDS deaths have been reduced since the medical community began educating parents about baby sleeping safety.

A lot of families choose to bed share with their baby. This is not the safest form of sleeping but each family has the right to make the decision for themselves as to their sleeping environment. If you do choose to bed share with your little one then there are guidelines that should be followed to make the sleep environment as safe as possible.

  • Never allow smoking in the room where your baby will be sleeping. Smoking is said to increase the likelihood of SIDS.
  • Ensure the surface being slept on is firm.
  • Do not wrap/swaddle your baby.
  • Place the baby on one side of the parent – not in the middle of the parents.
  • Place baby to sleep on their back.
  • Use lightweight blankets.
  • Avoid pushing the bed up against the wall as there have been cases where a baby has become trapped between the mattress and the wall.

SIDS is a scary phenomenon and can be a cause of a lot of anxiousness in parents. Whilst we cannot get rid of the risk completely, there are things that can be done to minimize the risk. Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz offers a range of affordable sleep consultation packages. We offer supportive and non-judgmental advice to parents and families. Head to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/ for more information.

Sleeplessness and Managing as a Parent

Sleeplessness and Managing as a Parent

Sleeplessness is one of the tough sides of parenthood and no matter how excited we are to be with our children, a good sleeping routine brings a healthier and happier environment for the whole family.

It’s important that parents have reasonable expectations about sleep and what’s to come. It is almost impossible to get a newborn asleep through the night…..but this is normal and because of their need for food. Their tummies are so small that their food intake is also small meaning they need regular feedings over a 24 hour period.

However, constant waking will and does indeed affect your ability to function as a parent (and human being) and in turn affects the ability to get through the next day.

So many of us have been there…..get the baby to sleep (after hours of trying to settle them) only to have them awake again 2 hours later. It’s tough…..really tough but it’s important to remember you’re not alone.

I personally suffered post-natal depression after the birth of my first and I honestly believe that sleep deprivation had a lot to do with this. I felt like I was failing because my baby would constantly wake and then take up to 2 hours to re-settle. Even the visiting maternal health nurse had trouble settling her! What I did right in this situation was reach out for help. And, I was lucky to have a really strong support system around me to get through.

While sleep deprivation won’t lead to post natal depression in most cases, it can and it’s important to be aware of this. But, even if you are not suffering from post natal depression but are suffering from sleep deprivation then you should still ask for help. If you don’t have a partner or a parent that can help, ask a friend or reach out to a maternal health nurse.

The good news is, that babies do eventually learn to sleep…..there’s light at the end of the tunnel. It will take some babies longer than others but they do get there in the end. And, it’s funny how our bodies seem to adjust quite quickly to the change in our own sleep patterns. We eventually learn how to cope of just 4 hours of broken sleep….

However, if you feel you are suffering I cannot stress enough how important it is to reach out of help. Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz offers a range of affordable and very supportive sleep consultation packages. More information can be found at www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/

Overcoming Early Rising

Overcoming Early Rising

It’s really tough on you as a parent if you’re woken at 5am every day by your toddler, especially if you’re a working parent. Some children are naturally early risers, but it’s crucial that toddlers get enough sleep to ensure healthy growth and development.

1. Get blackout shades

It’s not easy to convince a child it’s still night-time if the sun is shining outside. That’s why blackout shades/curtains are an easy and effective way to keep your toddler asleep until later in the morning. Children are less likely to wake up if it’s dark and if they do wake up at 5am, it’s easier to get them back to sleep in a darkened room.

2. Assist your child back to sleep

I know this is a lot easier said than done…..but 5am is too early for little ones to be awake and you should try to help your child back to sleep. The reason for this is that there is a deep sleep phase (the last of the night) that occurs around this time and this phase of sleep is important to have to ensure healthy growth.

3. Ensure your child is warm enough

Early rising is a common occurrence and often, the reason is because a child is cold. Around 4-5am in the morning is the coldest part of the day. On top of this, 4-5am is also the time that our bodies reach their lowest core temperature. These two things combined can lead to early rising so make sure your toddler is warm enough.

4. Try a later bedtime

A child might be waking early because they have actually had enough sleep throughout the night. Experiment with a slightly later bedtime to see if this helps with the early waking. Be careful though, as overtiredness can cause sleep problems. Try a later bedtime in just 10 minute increments to begin with to avoid causing overtiredness.

5. Talk to your child

When your toddler wakes up, explain that it’s too early and that they need to go back to sleep. By the time a child reaches the toddler years, you can reason with them. Further, talk to them during the day about the importance of staying in bed and staying asleep. Young children cannot tell the time so using a toddler sleep training clock can be helpful. The Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock teaches the concept of time through images which the child understands. The parent can pre-set the wake up time in the clock to whatever time they desire their toddler to stay in bed until and at this time it the clock will display an image that tells the child they’re allowed to get up.

Early rising can be a difficult issue to tackle but it’s definitely possible to overcome it. For more information about the Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock go to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-clock/

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