Sleep

Prepping for Holiday Travel With a New Baby

Going somewhere for the holidays? Pre-baby holiday travel was probably pretty simple. You booked your flight and/or hotel, chose what outfits and toiletries to bring for yourself, and tried not to forget the presents you got for family or friends.

Travel is very different with a baby, and certainly can be more stressful. But don’t worry! We have all the info you need below to prepare for your holiday travels with a new baby.

Figure out what to pack in advance

Your little one may be…well, little, but they still need a lot of stuff! Your packing checklist will vary based on your baby’s needs and age, but feel free to use this general outline of things we find useful when traveling with a new baby. 

Clothes and diapers

  • Diapers
  • Wipes and cream/balm
  • Changing pad
  • Blankets 
  • Plastic bags
  • 1 to 2 outfits

Feeding

  • Extra bottles, sippy cups, nipples
  • Washable bibs
  • Formula, juice, or water
  • Feeding set and baby food, if appropriate
  • Breast pump, if you use one

Health and safety

  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency information card or sheet
  • Sunscreen (no matter where you’re traveling)
  • Sun hat for warm weather or knit hat for cold weather
  • Baby aspirin or pain reliever
  • Hand sanitizer or disinfectant gel

Getting around

  • Carrier, sling, or wraps
  • Car seat
  • Travel stroller
  • Portable bassinet or crib, if you’re not renting one

Extras

  • White noise machine
  • Nightlight
  • Favorite toys or blankets

If you’re traveling by plane (more on that later), it’s a good idea to have these items in a carry-on or personal items with you. If your flight is delayed or you need something one of these items right away, you won’t be able to access your checked bag. Have them nearby so you’re ready for anything. 

And, prepare to get spit-up or spilled food and drink on you. Bring an extra change of clothes for yourself, as well as snacks and drinks to avoid getting hangry.

Traveling by car

If you’re driving to your holiday destination, use our packing list above as your starting point. Take extra care that the car seat is installed properly in your car. Removable shade screens for car windows can protect your baby from the sun, too.

Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. You’ll be stopping to feed, nurse, or change diapers often, so you need to build some cushion into your schedule. On that note, you may want to plan a route with lots of safe rest stops, or attractions and restaurants you want to see along the way. It’ll be much more pleasant than having to stop at a gas station or truck stop.

Traveling by plane

Traveling with a new baby on a plane can feel like a new parent’s worst nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some quick tips when flying with your little one:

Fly nonstop, or choose flights with a long layover. The fewer connecting flights, the better. The fluctuations in air pressure from taking off and landing can cause pain to your baby’s ears. The less they experience that, the better. If you aren’t able to get a nonstop flight, choose one with a layover a few hours long so everyone can have a break.

Nurse or snack during takeoff and landing. To prevent that ear pain we just talked about, try nursing or feeding your baby during takeoff and landing. Swallowing can help clear the pressure from their ears. Sucking on a pacifier can help, too. If your little one seems to be in a lot of pain, consider giving them a dose of baby aspirin or pain reliever.

Pre-board if you can. Airline policies differ, but many offer pre-boarding or family boarding options. You might be able to stow your strollers and carseats early or board before other passengers. Check the airline policy ahead of time.

Yes, you’ll be nervous, and yes, things may go wrong. Your baby may cry and fuss on the plane. Prepare as best you can, and then roll with the punches. You may get dirty looks from other passengers if your baby screams mid-flight, but don’t sweat: they’ll get over it. 

Enjoy your time with family

Whether you’re taking a vacation or visiting family and friends for the holidays, remember to slow down, breathe, and enjoy that time with loved ones. That’s why you’re traveling! Once you get to your destination, don’t be afraid to give yourself time to take a nap and recharge before the holiday festivities begin.

Asking for help as a parent takes strength. If you and your family are having trouble sleeping, Sleep by Rachelle can help. Learn more about Sleep by Rachelle’s gentle sleep training method on our website.

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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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How to Make Your Child’s Bedroom a Positive Place

Ask any parent: sleep training their infant is tough. It takes hope, a lot of practice, and sticking to a specific sleep training program. When your baby starts sleeping through the night and eventually enters toddlerhood, the change in their sleep habits can be a welcome relief. 

Sometimes sleep problems continue after your child moves out of their crib and into a toddler bed, or even into a “big kids bed” when they’re a little older. Some kids have persistent nightmares, trouble sleeping, or behavioral problems that affect their quality of sleep. In those cases and many others, their bedroom is the last place your kiddo wants to end their day.

That’s why it’s important to make your child’s bedroom a positive place so they can get the best sleep possible. We tell you how below.

Don’t use bedtime as punishment

Have you ever heard a variation of this classic line in movies or television? “No dessert and straight to bed!” Or, if a child is acting up at the dinner table: “that’s it, go to your room!” 

We totally get it; sometimes kids need to be separated when they’re misbehaving, and sometimes parents just want some peace and quiet while they’re eating dinner. However, using bedtime as a form of punishment, or the bedroom as a “time out” space isn’t the best idea. If you want your child’s bedroom to be a space that’s seen as warm, safe, welcoming, and relaxing, don’t send them there when they’re misbehaving. And especially don’t use naptime or going to sleep as a punishment. That may make your child associate sleep with feelings of resentment and anger. Sleep is a healthy, natural behavior, and it shouldn’t be used as a threat. 

Let them decide how to decorate

Your child’s bedroom is their own safe haven, so it makes sense to let them choose how it looks. Of course, it’s still your house, so you make the rules and set the boundaries! But why not let your child have a little fun by giving them free rein over some of the decor? 

For example, maybe you can choose big pieces of furniture together, like the bed, desk, and chair. That way it will fit into your budget and you’ll know that your child likes those pieces. Let your child pick what color to paint the walls; or, if she enjoys changing her style every once in awhile, you might prefer to use peel-and-stick wallpaper or vinyl decals to add flair. Where you decide to compromise and where you decide to let your child take over is up to you. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to control some of those choices, though.

Let them play and get messy

This can be especially tough for type A parents who love cleanliness and organization, but letting your child’s room get messy and lived in is a great way to give it positive associations. Despite how it may look to our eyes, some kids do have a method to their madness; they may leave their toys strewn around if they had to abandon it mid-game so they can dive right back into it. Even the youngest kids respond to an environment with their favorite toys or stimulations.

Remember that everyone has to share common rooms like the living room and kitchen, but your child’s bedroom is their sanctuary. Teach them how to keep it neat and clean, then let them handle that job on their own. Decide what’s okay–there’s a difference between a messy room of toys and clothes, and a dirty room with used dishes–then let your child have at it. 

Create a sleep-friendly environment

Creating a sleep-friendly environment for your child won’t singlehandedly fix any sleep problems they’re having, but it can’t hurt in making it a positive space. Do a visual sweep of your child’s room for any electronics with distracting lights, or small lamps with bright bulbs. Hide the lights on electronics by moving them around or positioning other objects to block them. Swap the bright bulbs for ones that you can dim, or bulbs with softer, warmer light. Bright lights can make it harder for kids (and adults) to fall asleep, so avoid those an hour or so before bed.

If there are a lot of streetlights that shine into their room after dark, or their room gets a lot of light on long summer days, look into hanging up some blackout shades or curtains. Not only will they keep the room dark enough for sleep, but they can help block out street noise and retain heat during the colder months, too.

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Quick Tips for Finding Zen as a Parent

Some days, it seems like you’re so busy that one mishap can derail your entire schedule. If you wake up just 10 minutes late, you feel like you’re playing catch up for the rest of the day.

On those days, it can often feel like things are spinning out of control. You may feel like you’re powerless to get your day back on track. We feel you. During tough days like this, finding a short moment of zen can work wonders. And the best part is, you don’t need a lot of time to recharge and feel better. Read our ideas for how busy moms can find zen and hit their reset button in a snap.

Take 5 to 10 minutes to meditate

Meditation doesn’t have to be a complicated practice, nor does it have to be a long one. In fact, meditation app Headspace notes that meditating frequently is more beneficial than meditating for long periods of time. When you practice meditation, you’ll reduce feelings of stress and anxiousness. For parents, fitting meditation into your schedule can seem like a chore. Start by doing it once a day when you have a moment of calm. You’ll quickly see that it’s worth making meditation a habit.

The act itself is easy. Get into a comfortable sitting position and focus on your breaths in and out. Notice where your thoughts go, then bring them back to your breath. If you’re brand new to the practice, try this one-minute mini meditation for guidance. When you’re ready for something longer, try a 5-minute mindful breathing meditation. Once you’ve begun making meditation a habit, you can find 10-minute guided practices on YouTube or through apps like Headspace.

Enjoy nature with a walk outside

When you can, take your meditation practice outside for an extra dose of endorphins from nature. Or if you want to kick some sluggishness or relieve stress, go on a quick walk outside. A walk can loosen any tension built up in your muscles, and it’ll help you get out of your head. Are you waiting for your kids to get released from school? Park your car and stroll outside for a few minutes. After dinner and the kids’ bedtime, take a longer walk around your neighborhood if you can. It’s a nice way to put some distance between you and anything that’s causing you stress. During your walk, focus on how the sun, air, breeze, or night sky feels. Take deep, nourishing breaths. We guarantee you’ll feel ready to tackle what’s next. 

Get your heart pumping with a quick workout

Need a more intense stress-relieving activity, but don’t have time for a full workout class? Get your heart pumping with a quick high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. You’ll push your body hard and fast through a series of 12 bodyweight exercises in just 7 minutes. A typical workout takes you through 30 seconds of an exercise like push ups, squats, or jumping jacks, with 10 seconds of rest in between. After 12 exercises, you’re done. 

Mamas looking for short and fiery workouts they can do at home can give one of these HIIT workout videos a try. Remember to do each exercise safely and drink plenty of water, especially if you’re new to HIIT.

Escape by reading, writing, or listening to music

When you have a moment of quiet to yourself, fight the urge to check your emails or get lost in your phone. Escape into a book that you’ve been wanting to read. (You can even work your way through a book of poems, essays, or short stories if they are easier to digest in short periods.) Write down your thoughts in a journal, or reorganize your thoughts by making a to-do list in your planner. Find your center again by popping on some headphones and listening to music. Close your eyes and let yourself get lost in the music. After a few minutes of any of these activities, you’ll start to feel better.

Treat yourself

Find yourself dwelling on your to-do list? Sometimes treating yourself is one of the best things you can do to boost your mood. And treating yourself means letting yourself do something you enjoy. Get a pedicure, enjoy a face mask, have that bar of chocolate you’re craving, buy a new house plant, take a nap, or brew an extra cup of coffee or tea. Make it your own, and don’t feel guilty about it!

If you’re curious about sleep training but feel that it’s more of a luxury, think of it as a way to treat yourself and your family to a night of deep, restful sleep. A baby who is struggling with sleep can exhaust parents and other family members. With help from Sleep by Rachelle, a customized sleep training program, you’re sure to find your zen when you need it most.

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How to Swaddle Your Baby Safely

Swaddling your baby is a simple way to keep your baby warm and secure by using a snugly fastened blanket. It can also be a source of comfort to your baby, since it mimics the familiar feeling of being inside the womb. However, when not done properly, swaddling can be unsafe. That’s why it’s important for parents to know how to swaddle their baby safely. Follow our guidelines for swaddling safely so you can soothe your baby or help lull them to sleep.

Choose a swaddle blanket

A ready-made swaddle blanket is a little more sophisticated than a simple thin blanket, but both can be used for swaddling. If you want something that will take the guesswork out of swaddling, choose one that fastens with Velcro, zippers, or hook and loop closures. Some highly-rated favorite swaddle blankets include the Halo Sleepsack and the SwaddleMe Original Swaddle

If you’re comfortable with swaddling your little one in a blanket, you can take some home with you from the hospital: they’re free! Or, try a cotton muslin blanket by popular brand aden + anais. They come in all sorts of adorable patterns, and they’re versatile enough to work as more than just swaddle blankets. You can use them as stroller blankets, nursing covers, or burp cloths in a pinch. 

Once you have your swaddle blanket picked out, you’re ready to swaddle your baby.

Lay the blanket in a diamond shape, and fold the top corner down

Arrange your blanket on a flat surface into a diamond shape. Then, fold the top corner down towards the center. The top of the blanket should now form a straight line.

Place baby face-up on the blanket

Place your baby face-up on the blanket. His neck should rest along the top edge of the corner that you folded down. Gently place his right arm (your left) alongside his body, leaving it slightly bent.

Pull the swaddle securely across your baby’s chest and arm 

Take that same side of the swaddle and pull it across your baby’s right arm and chest. Tuck the end of the fabric under baby, leaving his left arm (your right) free. 

Fold the bottom of the swaddle up and over baby’s feet

Next, fold the bottom of the swaddle up and over your baby’s feet. Tuck the end of the fabric into the top of the swaddle. Your baby’s legs and right arm should be covered at this point. While his right arm should be snug to discourage wriggling out of the swaddle, his legs and feet should be able to move around.

Pull and secure the other corner of the blanket to finish swaddling

Then, gently straighten your baby’s left arm, and pull the remaining corner of the blanket snugly across his body. Tuck the end of the fabric underneath him to secure the swaddle. Make sure the swaddle is nice and tight, but leaves enough room for the legs and feet to move.

Safety tips for swaddling

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, especially when swaddling. 
  • Make sure that your swaddle can’t come loose, which can smother your baby.
  • When your baby learns how to roll onto his stomach, stop swaddling. Your baby may also begin to fuss or fight the swaddle, signaling that it may be time to stop swaddling. This often happens between two and six months.
  • Babies’ legs need room to bend up and out at the hips, so don’t force your baby’s legs to extend or make that section too tight. Restricting movement can lead to developmental dysplasia of the hip
  • Not all babies enjoy being swaddled. It’s common for babies to fuss at first when being introduced to swaddling, but if yours seems happier without it, then that’s okay!

Swaddling can work wonders for soothing a fussy baby or encouraging sleep. If you need more guidance on sleep training methods or soothing techniques, Sleep by Rachelle is here to help! Learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle method or reach out to us with your questions now.

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What Does a Sleep Coach Do?

For new parents, settling your baby into a decent sleep schedule can be exhausting. And if you turn to friends, parent groups, baby books, or your pediatrician for advice, it may seem like they all have something different to say. What can you do?

If you’re considering hiring a sleep specialist to help you and your baby, but you’re not sure what you’re actually hiring them to do, read on.

What is a sleep coach?

A baby sleep coach may have other names: sleep specialist, sleep consultant, or sleep training expert. Whatever their title may be, a sleep specialist typically works with families to help their baby fall asleep and stay asleep. The sleep training method may vary depending on the sleep specialist. Some will examine your baby’s sleep habits and health history. Others will analyze your baby’s feeding schedule and nutrition. A sleep coach’s methods may depend on their past experience with other clients, their own children, or their education and training.

To get the best help for you and your baby, you want a sleep specialist who has a lot of experience working with many families, not just someone who has worked with her own family or a handful of others. Each baby is different, which is why experience is so important!

What is working with a sleep coach like?

Every sleep coach is different, especially since there are many different methods of sleep training out there. When you first contact a baby sleep consultant, in some cases they may ask you to do a sleep study with your baby in a pediatric sleep office, which may rule out sleep disorders. However, most baby sleep consultants will work with you in your home where the family is most comfortable.

Many sleep coaches will ask you to answer questions about your baby and family before visiting your home. Then, they’ll create a feeding and sleep schedule for you to implement. With Sleep by Rachelle, your baby’s sleep cycles are used to create a customized sleep program. Rachelle also looks at your baby’s digestive system and nervous system in order to create a comprehensive sleep plan, which not all sleep coaches do. She also takes your family’s individual needs and habits into account. Most importantly, Rachelle knows that it’s not easy listening to your baby cry: Sleep by Rachelle’s sleep training method is gentle for both baby and parents. Giving a voice to your baby to help clear up the confusion around night wakes.

Interested? Schedule a complimentary sleep assessment.

How do I know it’s time to hire a sleep coach?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already considering hiring one. Some other signs you’re ready for a sleep coach include:

  • You and your partner have experienced so many sleepless nights that it’s affecting your daytime routine. You feel like a zombie.
  • Your baby is at least 4 months old and doesn’t show any signs of a health condition related to sleeping (that you should bring up with your pediatrician.)
  • You’ve tried working through your baby’s sleep struggles, but you can’t seem to get past it.
  • You’re overwhelmed by all the conflicting opinions about sleep training methods.
  • You’re not sure how your baby’s feeding habits are affecting their sleep schedule.
  • You’ve tried one sleep training method before, but you didn’t like it.
  • You’re ready to try one approach and stick with it, but you’re not sure which to choose.

Do some of these signs sound familiar? If so, you’re ready for an experienced sleep coach to help ease your stress. Get in touch with Sleep by Rachelle to learn more about your customized sleep program. We’re here for you.

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Introducing Sleep by Rachelle

Hi parents and families! We’re so excited to introduce you to Sleep by Rachelle!

I’m Rachelle: infant sleep and development expert, author of Creating Sweet Dreams, mother of four, and founder of Maternal Instincts and Sleep by Rachelle. Sleep by Rachelle is a customizable sleep training program that works toward pinpointing and reversing what keeps your baby (and you) awake at night.

rachelle-gershkovich-sleep-expert

Why work with me?

I have 17 years of experience working with families in their homes. That’s what sets Sleep by Rachelle apart from other sleep training programs. Frustrated parents looking for help can rest more easily when they know they’re working with a trained, experienced sleep expert rather than someone relying just on her own experience. By working with families and babies of all kinds I’ve learned techniques and approaches that you can’t get from working with one family alone. Being a mother of four has taught me a lot, but having the opportunity to work with other parents and their babies has been invaluable.

In addition to my years of experience, I have a degree in Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition Services from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Food and digestion plays an important part in your baby’s sleep schedule, so every customized Sleep by Rachelle plan takes your baby’s nutrition into account too.  

Parents, you might think this period of sleepless nights with your fussy baby is just a phase that you “get through.” I understand that point of view. However, treating it like a phase means neither you, your spouse, your baby, nor your other family members are getting the rest they need. You CAN work through it now so your family can find peaceful sleep.
Learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle program or reach out with your questions during a complimentary sleep assessment. We’re ready to help.

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