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Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene

‘Hygiene’ can relate to a lot of different things, including sleep!

The term ‘sleep hygiene’, termed by psychologists and doctors refers to the onset of sleep and sleep disturbances and they suggest that there are a number of things we can do to prevent their occurrence.

In adults, ‘sleep hygiene’ can be improved, leading to a shorter time to fall asleep and less night waking by doing these things:

  • Keep the bed as a place for sleeping only;
  • Try not to nap during the day. If you do have to nap, keep it under an hour and before 3pm;
  • Create consistent rituals/routines to let you body know that it’s almost sleep time;
  • Have a warm bath or shower (but be careful not to raise your body temperature too much);
  • Avoid having a phone or clock right next to your bed;
  • Eat a nutritious and balanced diet;
  • Use aids to block out noise such as earplugs or a ceiling fan;
  • Ensure the room isn’t too hot and keep warm with blankets;
  • If you are having trouble sleeping, don’t cancel your plans for the following day as it teaches your body to fear losing sleep;
  • Do not consume caffeine or nicotine at least 1 hour before sleep;
  • Avoid vigorous exercise before bed, as this raises the body temperature

For toddlers, falling asleep and staying asleep (AKA ‘sleep hygiene’) can be improved by:

  • Restricting TV and games one hour before bedtime;
  • No TV in the toddler’s bedroom;
  • Monitor and restrict mobile phone use before bed and in bed. This also applies to co-sleeping families;
  • Do not allow the toddler to consume foods or drinks high in caffeine, sugar or spice 3-4 hours before bed;
  • Ensure that there is a relaxing and consistent bedtime routine in place;
  • Restrict vigorous exercise or games one hour before bed;
  • Ensure the toddler has finished their dinner 2-3 hours before bed to allow for digestion (warm milk and some snacks are okay);
  • Use a sleep diary to track what works and what doesn’t work;
  • Talk to your toddler about the importance of sleep and when bedtime is nearing close;
  • Use a toddler sleep training clock such as the Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock to engage your toddler in the bedtime process and keep them in bed throughout the night. (More information on the clock can be found at www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-clock).

‘Sleep hygiene’ for babies can be improved by:

  • Ensuring that your baby is not engaged in stimulating activities before bed;
  • Using the bed for sleep only (no playing etc);
  • Ensure that the baby has not consumed any caffeine (including through breast milk) before bed;
  • Have a consistent and positive bedtime routine in place.

Whilst the above recommendations do not guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep, they can definitely foster not only the onset of sleep but also the sleep quality throughout the night.

Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz offers affordable sleep consultation packages to help both toddlers and babies gain better sleep. We offer help for all sleep related issues and our consultations are conducted in a supportive and non-judgmental manner. Head to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting to view the sleep consultation packages.

BRUXISM AND HOW IT CAN AFFECT SLEEP

BRUXISM AND HOW IT CAN AFFECT SLEEP

Bruxism (also known as teeth grinding) while sleeping is a disorder that can be disturbing and concerning to the people around you. People who experience this disorder may not even know that they are grinding their teeth but it’s the spouse who hears it or the parents of the child doing it.

Although bruxism most often occurs during sleep, it can also occur during the daytime for some people. It can be disturbing for parents if they find your children experiencing bruxism. This disorder actually affects children moreso than adults and it may be alarming to find your child clenching or grinding their teeth during sleep.

Aside from being disturbing, the habit of grinding and clenching your teeth during sleep can also cause dental problems which in turn can lead to headaches and pain after waking up. In severe cases of bruxism jaw problems can occur so it’s important to seek medical advice if you are concerned that your child is suffering from a severe case of bruxism.

Before discussing some helpful tips on stopping teeth grinding, it is important to firstly understand some of the causes of this habit. Although the exact causes have not yet been specifically determined, there are possible causes that are associated with bruxism including stress and anxiety. This disorder is also seen to be common with individuals who are aggressive and hyperactive, as well as those full of frustrations and reserved emotions or anger.

Aside from these psychological factors, the physical causes of bruxism can include misaligned teeth or some bite problems. It can also be a side effect to certain medications. In the case of children, growing teeth and jaws may also lead to teeth grinding at night.

Tips on stopping teeth grinding while sleeping depend largely on what is causing the bruxism. If the case if found to be due to stress and anxiety, it’s important to find solutions on managing these issues. Meditation, deep breathing, releasing the anger safely and positive and consistent bedtime routines are good techniques to try.

If the child is suffering from severe teeth grinding because of dental related problems then a visit to the dentist is a good idea. A mouth guard or splints may be recommended. Crowns or overlays may also be suggested especially when your teeth grinding has caused the teeth to be more sensitive.

In mild cases of bruxism, a sleep consultant can possibly assist. Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz offers a range of affordable sleep consultation packages. Our professional sleep consultants work with the child and the parent in sensitive and gentle ways to improve sleep for not only the child but the entire family. Go to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/

Positive Sleep Aids vs. Negative Sleep Aids

Positive Sleep Aids vs. Negative Sleep Aids

As parents, we want to do whatever we can to help our little ones go to sleep and stay asleep. For babies and young children, getting to sleep can be a difficult task which can cause frustration for the parent. Sleep aids are things that help little ones fall asleep and stay asleep. However, there are positive sleep aids and negative sleep aids. I personally, am not opposed to sleep aids. If it helps a child achieve better sleep and is doing its job then I do not see the harm in it. However, some sleep aids might actually be causing more of a disturbance to the child or the parent which isb’t helpful.

A negative sleep aid is something that effects either the sleep for the child or takes up too much of the parent’s time. For example, I had a case where a baby would only sleep whilst holding it’s mother’s hair. Whilst this was helping the baby sleep, it was not a pleasant experience for the mum who not only found it uncomfortable, but was unable to move in fear of waking the baby. Other cases might be that a baby will only fall asleep if the mother’s hand is on their back. These constitute negative aids for obvious reasons.

Positive sleep aids are helpful to both the child and the parent. A special blankie (if the baby is old enough to have one) can be a positive sleep aid. A dummy can also be a positive sleep aid. The reason I use the word “can” is because if the baby loses its blankie or its dummy and wakes up crying then it can turn into a negative sleeping aid as its affecting sleep in a negative manner. Something parents can do as the baby gets older is teach them how to find their dummy themselves so they don’t have to get up to find it.

Other positive sleeping aids include:

  • A piece of clothing with a mother’s smell in the cot (if the baby is old enough);
  • Breastfeeding or bottle;
  • A special blanket;
  • Teddy bear;
  • Music;
  • White noise machine;
  • Sleep training clock.

A fantasic positive sleep aid for children aged 2 years and up is a toddler sleep training clock. It is comforting in nature for little ones to have in their rooms and the best on the market in the Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock. Packed full of so many features it’s a brilliant sleep product and is customizable to suit individual children and their sleeping needs. Go to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-clock/ for more information.

IS IT OK TO ASSIST MY BABY TO SLEEP?

IS IT OK TO ASSIST MY BABY TO SLEEP?

“Is it okay to assist my baby to sleep?” The answer is yes. Your child’s health is likely to be a high priority and you already know that kids get very cranky and difficult if they don’t get enough sleep!

This is a controversial topic as some believe that assisting a baby to sleep will stop them learning the skill of self settling. I disagree. I do not see a problem with assisting a baby or young child to sleep. Having difficulty falling asleep is a common problem and some babies and children need more help in this area.

‘Assisting’ to sleep can include a variety of different things such as feeding to sleep, patting to sleep or just being in the child’s room with them and singing. No matter what method you choose to help your little one fall asleep…..it’s ok!

Young babies especially often need a lot of help falling to sleep. Self settling is a skill that needs to be learnt and takes time. Some babies might learn this skill early on but it might take others well into the toddler years to learn. Is it ok to help a 3 year old fall asleep? In my opinion, the answer is yes as long as the parent is comfortable in doing so.

I believe it’s a myth that assisting a baby to sleep will cause them to never learn the skill of self settling. When a child is ready to fall asleep independently they will do so. What I do encourage parents to do though, is to only help the child fall asleep if they need it. If they don’t need assistance in falling to sleep then there is no need to do it.

Some parents find they get quite anxious about their child learning to self settle. It’s important for parents to manage expectations. Is it ok to expect a 5 month old to fall asleep on their own? No, I don’t believe it is. Some 5 month old babies might be able to get to sleep by themselves, but if they cannot then there is no issue in helping them. This will not stop them learning the skill of self settling when they are ready.

Is it ok to expect a 3 year old to fall asleep independently? Whilst I don’t believe it’s ok to “expect” them to do so, I do believe its fine for a parent of a 3 year old to want them to learn this skill. And, there are lots of different things that can be done to help them learn the skill of self settling.

As a sleep consultant I work with a lot of families who are keen to teach their babies and young children the skill of self settling. If the baby is of an appropriate age then I work closely with the baby and the parents to gently teach this skill using a variety of sleep training methods. Sometimes it only takes a matter of days for the baby to pick up this new skill but sometimes it takes 2-3 weeks.

Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz offers a range of affordable sleep consultation packages. To check them out head to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/

SLEEP AND DREAMS

SLEEP AND DREAMS

Sleep is the scientifically defined unconscious state in which a person gets disconnected consciously from the outer world and relaxes all the body parts. In this state the voluntary functions of the body almost become still but the involuntary functions remain active with their speed slowing down. During sleep every one experiences another natural phenomenon called dreams. Dreams are scientifically defined as the picture portrayed by the normal functions of the brain during the unconscious state of body and this picture is seen by human beings themselves In this way human beings find themselves in a different world which is totally different form the normal world we see daily.

Sleep is required by every person (and by animals) and it plays a major role in making the body function properly. Deficiency of sleep may lead to many disorders which will disrupt the normal functioning of the human body. Generally, the required amount of sleep by a person varies with age. A newborn baby sleeps a lot more than an adult person and at the same time the natural time period which is required for sleeping at a particular age should be practiced in order to keep the body properly functioning.

Many cultures have their own interpretation regarding dreams. The scientific study of dreams is called "Oneirology" but a lot of different cultures associate dreams with spiritual meanings. These are mostly considered to be messages from God and these messages are sometimes translated by experts like.

For littlies, dreams really start becoming active in the toddler and pre-school years. This is a result of their little imaginations beginning to really develop. In turn, these dreams can be in the form of nightmares and night terrors and these are becoming more prevalent as a result of so much technology use. Parents can help reduce the amount of nightmares and night terrors by minimizing TV and technology use and having in place a good bedtime routine.

Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz offers a range of affordable sleep consultations packages to help children and parents suffering from sleep related issues. Head to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/ for more information.

TODDLER FOOD FUSSINESS

TODDLER FOOD FUSSINESS

Toddlers can be fussy and hard to feed. Whilst a lot of people will say “children will eat when they’re hungry and won’t starve”….it’s still important to ensure your little one is eating a healthy and balanced diet. Check out some of our tips below for helping to get your toddler more excited about meal time:

Finger food

Finger foods are fairly easy to prepare and something that is appealing to kids. They can pick the food up themselves to eat and finger food comes in lots of different forms. Sweet potato fries are not only delicious but they are healthy and something a lot of toddlers love. Cut up carrot, celery and capsicum can be served with a dip that your child likes. It might be a tad messy but we can’t win all of the battles! Any sort of vegetables that your child likes can be cut up for your little one to enjoy. Cheese and biscuits are often a popular choice also.

Fruit

Rich with sweetness, fruits are a go to in my house and the fruit bowl is always full. If your child refuses everything else offered to them, turn to fruit. Healthy and full of fibre….fruit is a great option for little ones.

Eggs

Eggs are both nutritious and fun to eat. There are so many different ways to cook eggs and they are packed full of protein for growing kids. A favourite in my house is a boiled egg served in an egg cup with soldiers (cut up toast to dip into the egg).

Choice

Whilst cooking can be a tiring task, a good way to get your little one eating is to provide them with choices. By ‘choices’ I don’t mean a choice of 10 meals or even 5. But, a choice of 2 to 3 different meal options gives your toddler some control which works well.

Get Involved

Lastly, toddlers love being a part of it. Get your little one to help you with different tasks in the kitchen. Let them watch the cooking process which may in turn make them more interested in eating what they have helped to make.

Generally a fussy toddler will grow out of bad eating habits as they get older. However, it’s important for parents to instill good eating habits in the household. Eating the wrong foods, not eating enough or eating too much can affect a child’s sleeping habits so it’s important to teach healthy habits from an early age. If you feel that your child’s diet is negatively impacting upon their sleep, Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz can help. Head to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/ for more information.

SIGNS THAT YOUR TODDLER IS READY TO CUT THE DAYTIME NAP

SIGNS THAT YOUR TODDLER IS READY TO CUT THE DAYTIME NAP

Cutting the daytime nap can be a difficult time for parents of toddlers. That 1-3 hour break in the middle of the day whilst your little one slept is no longer going to happen….and instead you enter the afternoon with a toddler who is tired. A question I get asked a lot is “when is the right time to cut the daytime nap out?” Well, there is not just ‘one’ age that makes it the right time. Generally speaking, most toddlers will cut out this nap between 3-4 years old…..but some may be earlier and some may be later. However, there are signs to look out for to suggest your little one is ready:

  • It’s getting increasingly difficult to get your toddler to sleep at naptime. This is one of the strongest signs that suggests it’s time to cut out the nap;
  • It’s getting increasingly difficult to get your toddler to sleep at bedtime. This suggests that they are getting too much sleep so it’s ready to cut the nap;
  • You cannot actually get your child to sleep at naptime and they don’t show any tired signs. This is suggesting that the extra daytime sleep is no longer needed;

Whilst some children may not experience any negative side effects to having the daytime nap cut out…..many children will also be very tired and cranky by the time the afternoon rolls around. Making the transition from one nap to no nap can be a difficult one. Some parents find that cutting out the nap only every second day to begin with to be quite helpful. Allowing them to nap every second day lets them catch up on sleep. It will be clear to parents as to whether their child is tired by the end of the afternoon. Whilst this is normal and something they will adjust to……it also might mean that napping every second day is a good option. Rest time is important for young children who are not napping. Rest time could be something like lying down and reading some books or just some other form of quiet play.

Whilst making this transition, you might find that bedtime needs to be adjusted and brought forward. Putting your little one to bed earlier allows them the extra sleep time that they are missing out on from the daytime sleep. You might bring the bedtime forward by 30-45 minutes as your toddler is excessively tired by this time.

Making any change in a toddler’s life takes time. But, they will adjust and this is just another stage to work through.

If you are experiencing problems making the transition Sleep Consulting by Sleepy Starz are here to help. Go to www.sleepystarz.com/sleep-consulting/ for more information.

TERRIBLE TWO’S AND TANTRUM THREE’S

TERRIBLE TWO'S AND TANTRUM THREE'S

Every parent loves their children but there will always come a time when that love is pushed to the limit. Toddlers are cute and funny but the toddler years can also be a nightmare. The terrible twos are called that for good reason. Sometimes just being prepared can make all the difference in the world and can prevent those outbursts of chaos known as the temper tantrum. There are some ways to better handle the outbursts but no two children are alike. Not every method works for every child but there are certain solutions that work overall for these typical behaviors.

Frustration is the primary cause of the temper tantrum and the frustration can be boiled down usually three things. They are either tired, hungry or a good combination of both. The tantrums usually happen at an inconvenient time. Of course no time is truly convenient. The terrible twos are when the frequency and intensity of the temper tantrum generally tends to increase.

Tips To Get Through The Terrible Twos and Tantrum Threes

Keep a journal. Write about every frustration, every tantrum, every humorous moment–yes, there will be many of each. Someday, when you have more energy, you may find you actually have a book. You might even want to consider two journals: one that is strictly your personal thoughts that no one will ever see until you write your book and the other for your child–a reflection of those early years as he/she matures. Older children love reading about themselves.

Do lots of outings and special activities at home. I know that sounds impossible with a two-year-old but persevere. Your outings might be for the location–zoo, butterfly pavilion, etc, or outings might have a specific purpose–find blue things, find flowers, find 3"s, or do story-time at the library.

Give your toddler a safe place to release their anger and emotion. Sometimes, letting it all out really does help them feel better rather than suppressing the frustrations and keeping the emotions bottled up.

Try your very best to remain calm. This is hard but any outwardly expressed anger or frustration will elevate the force of the tantrum. Pick up your child and hug them while whispering something interesting into their ear.

Remove the child from wherever it happens to be that the temper tantrum is taking place and tell them that they can only come back when they are finished and they are smiling. Once they do return, talk to them about what just went on. Try and find out what it was that set them off and how you both may prevent it from happening again in the future.

Simply ignore the temper tantrum if at all possible. Do not listen or react in any way while the child is screaming. This will help instil the understanding that the proper way to get your attention is to talk to you, not to scream at you.

For more tips and information about toddlers go to www.sleepystarz.com

Life as a First Time Parent with Twins

Life as a First Time Parent with Twins

It’s hard enough taking care of one infant, let alone two. But we were up to the challenge and were so excited when we found out that we would be having twins. Whether it was the right way or the wrong way, I did not read any parenting books prior to their arrival. Maybe I should have, but I really felt that my instincts would kick in and the advice from my big sister who had three children of her own would be free flowing. I was told however, that unless one is reading things specifically geared toward twins many of the things do not apply.

Truth be told it was a bit maddening to sleep train them in the beginning as soon as one went down the other would wake up. We chose the method of going in every few minutes at increasing intervals to let them know we were there and they were safe. I will admit, I did go against my sister’s advice and I did pick them when they cried. The quick pat or rub on the back only inflamed them when they just wanted to be cuddled. When they are both screaming at the top of their lungs the only thing I could think about was getting them to stop. We did swaddle them in the early months and this certainly helped them to feel secure. They have been sleeping from 7 to about 7 since they were 5 months old…..which I feel so grateful for. They sleep in the same room and have gotten used to the other one’s noises. Now they are a source of comfort for one another and play and "talk" until they fall asleep.

I was definitely a fan of the dummy……anything that could give me a five minute reprieve from the noise. As they reached around 10 months I limited the dummy use to their cots only and over the next two months reduced the number of dummies in their cot to one which they began to throw on the floor.

When they were 13 months, I decided it was time to pull the dummies out completely. We spent several days telling them the dummy fairy was coming and they would give it to her. In return they would get a present. We went to the supermarket and bought balloons and tied their dummiesto them and sent them up in the sky. It was heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. It took a few days of adjustment but both are sleeping fine.

I also believe in routine and structure….whatever you want to call it. I have two babies with distinct personalities and they are both happy and easy going. I believe their routine has helped them to feel safe. They have predictability in each and every day which I think has helped them be free from worry. They go down easy and wake up easy with very little crying.

I am no expert on any of this….it really has been more a function of doing whatever needs to be done to reduce the amount of noise that twins can bring. In the end if any of these things have worked to keep them feeling safe and loved then I am thrilled. Trust your gut and figure out the routine that works best for you, your babies and family and stick with it.

TEN TOILET TRAINING TIPS

TEN TOILET TRAINING TIPS

Toilet training can be a challenging and frustrating time for both the child and the parent. I just finished toilet training my 2 year old and it it actually happened quite quickly…..though there were a couple of hiccups along the way.

Have a read through our tips to make the process a little smoother:

  • Before you begin toilet training watch for signs that indicate your child is ready. Some ѕignѕ inсludе hiding whеn filling thеir nарру, hаving a dry nарру fоr еxtеndеd periods аnd thеn filling it in оnе gо, tаlking about tоilеt hаbitѕ, bеing аwаrе оf others tоilеting, bоwеlѕ mоvеmеntѕ thаt аrе рrеdiсtаblе tо a dеgrее аnd learning the skill of pulling their own pants up and down.
  • Don’t rush it! There ѕееmѕ tо be a pressure аmоngѕt mother’ѕ grоuрѕ аѕ tо whо саn hаvе thеir сhild tоilеt trаinеd thе еаrliеѕt but there is no rush. Children learn in their own time and there is no ‘right age’ of when you should begin.
  • Wаit until the wеаthеr iѕ wаrmеr – where роѕѕiblе. Wаrm wеаthеr mеаnѕ уоur toddler саn run аrоund bоth indoors аnd оutdооrѕ in juѕt undiеѕ. Thiѕ mаkеѕ fоr juѕt one ԛuiсk lауеr tо bе рullеd dоwn in thе ruѕh to thе роttу and if ассidеntѕ hарреn then thеу are more likеlу tо bе оutdооrѕ and this makes for a muсh less stressed саrеr.
  • Prераrе the child fоr potty trаining. Thеrе аrе a number of bооkѕ written about toilet trаining and bу rеаding thеѕе tо сhildrеn thеу bеgin to associate with either a tоilеt оr a роttу. Tаlk аbоut toilet training to your little one and invove them in the process of buying a new potty or toilet training seat. You саn even rоlе play with teddies оr dоllѕ.
  • Make the pоttу arеа exсiting. If a роttу аrеа iѕ inviting with books, rеwаrd stickers аnd ѕресiаl роttу timе toys thеу аrе mоrе likеlу tо ѕtау and wаit tо dо thеir buѕinеѕѕ.
  • Sеt thе child uр fоr suссеѕѕ. Givе thе child a lаrgе drink аnd sit thеm оn thе роttу about hаlf аnd hоur tо 45 minutes lаtеr. Stay with thеm аnd read оr play until they need to go. Thiѕ аllоwѕ thе сhild to have ѕuссеѕѕ аnd ѕhоwѕ thеm what the рrосеѕѕ iѕ аll аbоut. Givе thеm praise аnd еnсоurаgеmеnt whеn the process iѕ ѕuссеѕѕful.
  • If using a potty, place it near the child plауing. Identifying that the urge to go to the toilet is present is crucial in a toddler toilet training.
  • Prераrе thе envirоnmеnt fоr potty trаining. The аim iѕ tо hаvе the environment аѕ rеlаxеd as роѕѕiblе.
  • Keep your cооl. Being соnѕtаntlу on thе lооk оut fоr ѕignѕ оf needing to gо and constantly аѕking your сhildif they need to go can be taxing! Sеt uр the rest of уоur ѕсhеdulе tо bе ѕimрlе ѕо thаt уоu hаvе еnоugh еnеrgу tо kеер your cool.
  • Motivate your child. In the саѕе оf mу dаughtеr, ѕhе was wеll and trulу ready to tоilеt trаin аnd juѕt needed mоtivаting. Thiѕ саn be as simple аѕ ѕtiсkеrѕ оr ѕtаmрѕ.

www.sleepystarz.com

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