Baby Sleep and the Seasons: How sleep changes with shorter days

2020 has had its fair share of shakeups (to say the least). Now that we’re settling into winter, there may be another change you’ve noticed recently: your baby’s sleeping habits. When the seasons change — or when the dreaded Daylight Saving Time forces us to lose daylight — it can disrupt Baby’s sleep. Why, exactly? We’re sharing some main reason sleep changes with the seasons and how you can adjust so everyone gets the sleep they need.

Less daylight = earlier bedtimes

If your bedtime routine has remained the same but your baby is nodding off earlier, you can thank their circadian rhythm, which is a natural process that regulates our sleep based on the light. But with less daylight in the fall and winter, your baby is likely going to sleep much sooner. 

While an earlier bedtime may not seem like an issue at first, it usually means earlier wake-up times. That, of course, can impact your or the entire family’s sleep. So, how do you adjust? In a word: slowly. Start Baby’s bedtime routine 15 minutes later each night until you reach a new desired bedtime — typically an hour to reflect the time change. And when summer rolls around again, you can make the same adjustment, but start bedtime earlier instead. 

Disrupted naptimes 

While the extra nighttime hours may have the rest of us feeling sluggish, you may notice your baby starting to sleep longer through the night. That’s because they’re not battling the heightened activity that comes with summer, like lighter evenings, later bedtimes for the rest of the family, or hotter temperatures. However, if they’re getting more sleep at night, that can start to impact their naps during the day.

If that’s the case, you may need to adjust your routines a bit. While a baby sleeping in is usually a gift for any parent, skipping out on naptimes is not. Try to wake Baby up at the same time each day so there’s room for a nap that day. The goal here is to make sure they get the same amount of sleep each day, but not all at night. 

Colder temperatures

Even though we might not like the colder temperatures outside, we actually sleep better with them inside. That goes for Baby too! Health experts say cooler temperatures — around 65 degrees — help us sleep better through the night.

Yes, it may feel colder in your home, but that can actually help Baby get much-needed deep sleep. If they’re too hot, their sleep will likely be more disrupted. And, of course, we know that blankets and pillows are dangerous to put in the crib with them. The takeaway? When it gets cooler outside, don’t overdress your baby or put blankets in their cribs. All you have to do is ensure the temperature isn’t too hot or too cold — but just right.

Still struggling with Baby’s sleep? Let Rachelle help!

A baby’s sleep can be affected by a number of things — beyond changes in the season. When that happens, it can be incredibly confusing and frustrating to pinpoint what’s going on. That’s when Sleep by Rachelle can step in to help!

With nearly two decades of experience as a sleep coach, Rachelle knows and understands what affects a baby’s sleep and creates customized plans for families. Whether you’re just starting out, navigating a seasonal change, or struggling in any other way, Sleep by Rachelle is here to help. Book your complimentary sleep assessment today!

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Identifying Your Baby’s Sleep Style

Navigating newborns and infants are challenging for any parent. But identifying their sleep style or patterns can be even tougher, especially when you’re completely exhausted yourself. Here, Rachelle breaks down some of the most common baby sleep styles and how you can work through them to get a more restful night’s sleep.

Light sleeper

A baby with a light sleep style can be incredibly exhausting and frustrating and make you feel chained to silence each time Baby goes to sleep. That shouldn’t be the case, though, as your baby needs to learn to sleep through normal noises. What happens with light sleepers is that they haven’t quite learned to self-soothe yet. If Baby wakes often, try letting them settle themselves back to sleep. You can also make small adjustments to make their sleeping environment more comfortable, like darkening the room, making the temperature a bit cooler, and using a white noise machine. It may also be an indication that your little one is needing to rebalance the total hours of sleep used in the daytime, instead of at night. Every baby has an ideal total hours of sleep in a 24-hour period and this often needs adjustment to better meet their needs.

Early riser

Early risers can also be exhausting for parents, cutting your sleep short every night. But if you’re putting Baby to sleep early in the evening and they wake up around 5 or 6 in the morning, they’re actually getting a full night’s sleep. But if it’s still tough to manage, there are a couple of ways to help. 

First, you can try pushing bedtime to a later time at night. Don’t do this all at once, though; do it in 15-minute increments, so it’s a smoother transition. Another tip is to treat your baby’s early wake time as if it’s happening in the middle of the night. Approach Baby with a soothing voice and keep the lights down to see if they can self-soothe themselves back to sleep. Lastly, offering a 30-45 minutes power nap in the evening will help extend the bedtime and help with “the witching hour.”

Frequent napper

It’s perfectly normal for babies to sleep a lot. But if you notice your baby taking shorter, more frequent naps, it can quickly put a dent in your schedule and knock the entire family out of routine. If this happens, try getting back on schedule as soon as possible. Wake Baby up at the same time each morning, then put them down for a nap at the same time — usually about two hours after wake time. 

In the beginning, you only need one nap a day in the crib to help in the transition to crib naps later on. The best first step to building a sleep structure is going to be a set morning routine and bedtime routine that helps your baby create healthy and happy sleep associations.

Demanding sleeper

It’s a common (and frustrating) issue many parents face: Their baby can only sleep soundly in one place, like someone’s arms, their car seat, or a swing. But it’s important to remember that these are habits babies learn, not born with. Try to prioritize making Baby’s crib more soothing and inviting, and use an object to help them transition — like a lovey or something that smells like mom. Also, be sure to stick with a sleep routine as closely as possible where Baby is laid in their crib for every single nap.

It’s also important to follow safe sleep guidelines and to ensure your baby has a safe sleep space that is age-appropriate.

Get a customized plan for your baby’s sleep style

Navigating your baby’s sleep style can be unpredictable and exhausting. It’s not only crucial for them to get sleep, but you need your rest as well. Sleep by Rachelle can identify your baby’s unique sleep style and create a method that works for them — and for you. With more than two decades of experience, Rachelle can help everyone get the sleep they need. Get started with a complimentary sleep assessment with Rachelle today!

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5 Bedtime Routine Mistakes to Avoid

Bedtime routines are crucial for a good night’s sleep for everyone — babies, toddlers, and parents. But if your little ones are still struggling to get to bed or fall asleep at night, there may be a few hiccups in your routine. Read on to learn more about the most common bedtime routine mistakes to avoid to ensure the entire family gets their much-needed rest.

Mistake #1: Not staying consistent

The entire purpose of a bedtime routine is to, well, make it routine. No matter their age, all children benefit from consistency. If you start their routine at different times each night, do the steps out of order, or skip it altogether, chances are you’ll disrupt their natural sleep patterns and overlook their sleep cues.

A successful bedtime routine begins at the same time each night, includes the same tasks — like a soothing bath, pajamas, and a bedtime story — and only lasts 15 to 30 minutes.

Mistake #2: Making exceptions

One reason bedtime routines are often inconsistent is that parents fall into the ‘just one more’ trap. It may look something like:

  • Just one more story
  • Just one more snuggle (this one gets all of us!)
  • Just one more glass of water
  • Just one more trip to the bathroom
  • Just one more minute

Of course, it’s human nature to want to spend more time with your little one and give them what they need before bedtime. But making exceptions to the routine teaches children that the rules are flexible and essentially rewards them for not going to sleep — which is exactly what we want to avoid.

Mistake #3: Using bedtime as a punishment

As babies turn into toddlers and certain behaviors start to wear on us, it’s sometimes easier for parents to send them straight to bed without their usual rituals and routines. Trust me — I get it. However, forcing your kids to go to bed when they’re angry or frustrated can cause them to associate those feelings with sleep. Not to mention, they’ll start to see their bedroom as a place of punishment, not as a safe, soothing, and positive environment.

Mistake #4: Getting them excited

Playing games, watching TV, having a tickle fight — these are all fun activities to do with your little ones. Just not before bed. Those small moments of excitement can cause bursts of energy that are not conducive to falling asleep when they’re supposed to. Make sure your routine only consists of calming and soothing rituals, like dimming the lights, listening to soothing music, talking in quieter voices, and making gentle movements.

Mistake #5: Being afraid to ask for help

If you feel like you’ve tried it all and still can’t get your little ones to sleep, there’s no shame in asking for help! Sleep training your little ones is no easy feat, and sometimes you just need a helping hand. Especially if you have a newborn or very young child in the house.

That’s why I offer a complimentary sleep assessment (yes, even virtually!) to help everyone get back on track. Schedule a call with me to learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle method and how I can help you and your family get the sleep you need.

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Tips for managing sleep schedules when homeschooling

With coronavirus cases still on the rise in parts of the U.S. (as of August 2020), many schools are opting to continue online learning to reduce the risk of continued spread. As a result, many parents (and their children) have to adjust to at-home schooling while maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine for the entire family. To make sure everyone gets their much-needed rest, I’m sharing tips for managing sleep schedules during at-home schooling.

Establish a ‘school day’ routine

As tempting as it may be, try to avoid letting your kids learn in their pajamas. Wake them up at a set time every day and have them get dressed and ready as they usually would for school. This helps prepare them for ‘school mode’ and sets them up for success. You can also model this by getting ready for school yourself!

If you can, try to designate a schoolwork space outside their bedrooms, which should be a positive space only used for relaxing, resting, and sleeping. From there, create a ‘school day’ routine that mimics an in-person experience that includes:

  • Schoolwork
  • Hourly breaks
  • Naptime (if applicable)
  • Lunchtime
  • Snacktime
  • Playtime

A consistent school day routine will help your little ones stay on track with school and provide a seamless transition into nighttime activities and their bedtime routine.

Get outside

Part of your kids’ school day should include physical activity and, if possible, outdoor time. Health experts say that regular exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in children, which they may experience because of stress from the pandemic. It also helps them burn energy to sleep better at night. Help them stay active by doing things like:

  • Going for walks or bike rides
  • Taking breaks outside
  • Scheduling recess or designating playtimes
  • Practicing sports in the backyard
  • And more!

If you’re able and have the time, join them! Getting fresh air will be good for you, too, and will provide your kids with much-needed social interaction. Also, if you feel comfortable, you can consult with neighbors or other parents to let your children play outside in small groups.

The more physical activity your kids can enjoy, and the more Vitamin D they can soak up, the better they will sleep at night. That helps them feel rested for the next day, too.

Make sure everyone is getting sleep

Managing sleep schedules shouldn’t be limited to your kids who will be learning from home for the foreseeable future. You, your partner, and everyone else in the family should also be getting their much-needed rest. If you’re having trouble with sleep schedules, have a young baby to care for while also managing homeschool, or are sleep-deprived yourself, I can help!
Schedule your complimentary sleep assessment with Sleep by Rachelle. I’ll help you and your entire family have a smooth transition into the new school year and a ‘new normal.’ I am offering virtual consults for anywhere in the United States so you can get the support you need, safely and from wherever you are!

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Daylight Saving Time: How to Get Baby Back on Schedule

You’ve finally gotten your little one used to some kind of sleep schedule. Yay!

And then, it happens: Daylight Saving Time ends or begins. (And yes, it’s “Saving” and not “Savings.” Who knew?) With that spring forward or fall back one hour, your baby’s sleep routine is thrown off. And that means yours is affected, too.

Don’t worry, mama. If you’re not living in one of the few states who don’t observe Daylight Saving Time, there are ways to get your baby’s internal clock back on schedule.

Spring forward: Daylight Saving Time begins

When the clocks spring forward for the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, you and your baby lose one precious hour of sleep. To prep your baby for the time change, try moving bedtime 10 to 15 minutes earlier each night for about 4 to 5 days. 

So if you typically put your baby to bed around 8 pm, put her to bed at 7:45 pm the week before Daylight Saving begins. The next night, bedtime is 7:30 pm, and so on and so on. Your goal is to get bedtime as close to 7 pm as possible to make Daylight Saving less of a shock. If an earlier bedtime doesn’t seem to work, you can try moving wake up time earlier instead.

Fall back: Daylight Saving Time ends

In the fall, usually around early November, the clocks fall back one hour, meaning we get to enjoy a few more moments snuggling in bed. Sounds nice, right? It also means that your little one will probably wake up one hour earlier, too. 

To get back on schedule, use the same approach that you used in spring, but reversed. About 4 to 5 days before Daylight Saving ends, push bedtime about 10 to 15 minutes later each night. If Baby goes to bed around 8 pm, set his bedtime at 8:15 the week before Daylight Saving ends. The next night, bedtime is at 8:30 pm. Before you know it, your kiddo will be used to falling asleep later. 

Stick to a bedtime routine

If all else fails, take a deep breath and relax. You’ll get back to your usual routine eventually. It helps to stick to a consistent bedtime routine: a bath, bedtime stories, feeding, and rocking help your baby prepare for sleep.

Making your baby’s room as sleep friendly as possible can also make a big difference. That means dimming the lights, using a noise machine, and putting up blackout curtains if needed at bedtime. In the morning, expose your baby to natural light by going for a walk, opening up your blinds, or having breakfast outside. 

It takes time for everyone to adjust to Daylight Saving. You might feel cranky or sluggish when the clock springs forward or falls back, so remember to give your little one (and yourself) a break if the routine doesn’t work. In time, you’ll adjust naturally.

Need more sleep tips? Sleep by Rachelle is a full-service sleep program tailored to the unique needs of each baby. Learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle method on our website!

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