Travel Sleep Tips: Keep Calm and Carry On

5 tips to keep sleep on track on vacation

Summer is officially here, and for those of us in the US, July 4th means travel for many families. If you have traveled with young children before, you know that it’s likely this adventure will create upheaval with even the best sleepers. Here are a few of our favorite tips to help you keep your kids’ sleep on track when you travel. Continue reading…

Bunking In: How to Share a Room

In my last blog, I extolled the virtues of having kids share a room. But making that transition can be a struggle at times. Based on lots of input from friends who had been through the process and advice from our pediatrician, here’s what we found worked. All kids are different, though, and it may take some experimenting and several rough nights before your family figures it out. Continue reading…

Sharing a Room

My kids share a room. Many families have no choice in the matter, but we have three bedrooms. And yet we chose to have our children sleep in the same room. Lots of you may think I am crazy. Why risk having one kid wake another during the night? What if the kids have different schedules? Won’t they keep each other awake at bedtime? Continue reading…

Pacis and White Noise and Swaddles, Oh My!

For the next few weeks, Sleep Sisters is talking about sleep aids. No, not that large glass of red wine you had while watching The Good Wife before bed. We are focused on the tools that help our little ones fall asleep and stay asleep.

Sleep aids include:

  • items, such as pacifiers or loveys

  • actions, such as rocking and swinging or bedtime routines

  • changes in environment, such as hearing white noise or being tightly swaddled

As parents of young children, we need all the help we can get to ensure our kids are getting the sleep they need. And sleep aids offer valuable assistance. Between the two of us and our three kids, the Sleep Sisters have tried them all. In our upcoming blog posts, we will share our thoughts and recommendations for specific sleep aids, but this week, we wanted to talk about them in general.
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Simplifying Bedtime

Kids need plenty of sleep to stay healthy and happy, and an age-appropriate bedtime is key. Kids also thrive on routine, so try to keep your bedtime activities as regular as possible. It’s so important to get your kids to bed early enough to enable them to get the sleep they need, but this means parents sometimes miss out on playtime at night or even seeing their children awake at the end of the day. Please let them get to bed on time, and try to find other times to spend with them – maybe making more time in the morning or spending special quality time during the weekend.

If you find that your bedtime routine and kids’ antics are dragging on longer and longer, here are three tips to help you get your kids to sleep on time

    This may be tough if you work a long day, but the bedtime routine can even start before you or your kids get home. If your child is at daycare until the early evening, ask your provider if she can feed him dinner or change him into his PJs before you pick him up. That will be one less thing you have to do once you get home. The goal with a bedtime routine is to slow down and begin readying the mind and body for sleep. By starting the process earlier, it gives you and your kids the opportunity to ease into bedtime without increasing stress or rushing to beat the clock. And please try to turn off the TV at least an hour before bedtime!

    Cut down your routine to the basics. Think about what things you can do at other times of the day. For example, ask your nanny to bathe your little one during the day (maybe before a nap). Read more stories at other times of the day so that you can just have one special book before bed. If you are transitioning from a longer routine, cut back gradually over a few days to allow your child to adjust to the shorter routine.

    Regularity is key, so list the steps, order, and timing of your routine. It will help you be consistent, but it will also enable other caregivers to follow the routine if you aren’t there. For toddlers and older children, try making a simple picture chart of the routine that they can follow to keep the bedtime simple and fun. You can even reward following the routine and completing the steps by giving stickers or other positive reinforcement.

For more sleep tips, please see our Rules to Sleep By.

Bedtime Routines: Your Questions Answered

As sleep consultants, we focus quite a bit on establishing bedtime routines with our client families. Parents seem to have lots of questions about bedtime routines: Why do we need one? When should we start a bedtime routine? What should we include in the routine? How long should it last? What makes a good bedtime routine? Read on…I’ll answer each of these questions right now. Continue reading…

Bedtimes by Age

This month, Sleep Sisters is focused on bedtime. We thought it best to start off with a review of age-appropriate bedtimes. As certified infant and child sleep consultants, we are often asked what time kids should be going to sleep and whether it really makes a difference.

The answer is YES, the time your child goes to sleep does make a difference. We all have a biological clock and our circadian rhythms can help us sleep if we honor them by getting to bed at the right time. In addition, maintaining a consistent bedtime (and wake time) helps keep our internal clock “set” and is a critical part of healthy “sleep hygiene,” according to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine.
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Post-Vacation Sleep Blues

It’s holiday time, and for many of us, that means packing up the kids and taking a vacation. Even if your kids are sleeping well and you have a great routine, a vacation can throw a wrench in the works. Most of us can make it through even the worst sleep situations while on our trip, but when you return home, you want everything to fall back into place, right?

Sometimes returning from vacation brings even more sleep challenges. Many kids revolt once they return from vacation – tantrums at bedtime, night waking, early rising, and more. Why do they torture us after we took them on such a lovely trip?

Kids crave routine and regularity. Even on a short vacation, they come to expect that whatever the sleeping situation was there will continue. So when they get home and find that they can’t share a room or a bed with the family, or that they have to go to bed earlier, they have something to say about it.

Here are 5 tips to help you transition back to your home sleeping routine:

  1. Articulate the rules. The adults in the house need to be on the same page so everyone can enforce the rules and routine. Explain to your kids (even the little ones can understand) that vacation was a special treat, and now that you are home, you are going to return to our house rules. Write down the rules and routine to remind the older kids.

  2. Clear your schedule. For the first several days after you return from vacation, try not to plan any activities late in the day. Keep it simple and stay close to home. Then you can make sure your evening routine is calm, unrushed, and the kids get to bed on time. Your kids may be overtired from less than ideal sleep on vacation, so consider an earlier bedtime for the first week you are home.

  3. Reinforce the routine. Chances are that your routine while on vacation was different from your normal routine at home. When you return, remind your kids of their bedtime routine and stick to it strictly the first week or two after vacation. With younger children who still make, make sure their daytime schedule is back on track and naps are at the right times. Use positive language not just about vacation, but also about how nice it is to be home. “Isn’t it great to be back in your own bed with your animals?” Give small rewards to congratulate your children when they get it right.

  4. Give extra attention. While not strictly linked to sleep issues, I think that kids get used to having more of our attention when we are on vacation. Once we return home, to our jobs and our daily lives, we may not be spending as much quality time with the little ones as we were while away. So kids may seek that extra time with us during the night or at bedtime. To keep from creating bad nighttime habits, try to pay a little extra attention to the kids in the daytime if possible. Or plan some special time for the weekend and discuss that with your child during the week.

  5. Expect some setbacks. Try to manage your own expectations. As your kids adjust to life at home again, they may wake during the night or very early in the morning. If you are suffering from jet lag, assume your kids are suffering even more. While these disruptions may be frustrating, it is normal and kids take a few days to a couple of weeks get back on track.


Vacation Update: Smooth Sailing

I last blogged before my family left for a one-week beach vacation with extended family. I wasn’t worried about my kids’ sleep, but I will admit I was stressed. Travel is always a challenge, and it’s always unpredictable. Change can be hard for kids, and for some adults, too. So how did we fare? It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn good. Continue reading…