All posts by Jessica Bryant

Introducing the Sleep Happy Monthly Club Membership

Introducing the Sleep Happy Monthly Club Membership!

Children’s sleep needs change as they grow and move through different developmental phases. That is why we created the Sleep Happy Club for former clients. Membership in the club includes ongoing sleep consultant follow-up and support. Members receive monthly age appropriate sleep updates, covering changes to watch for and explaining developmental milestones.

Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and support to smoothly transition through the different developmental phases while maintaining the healthy sleep habits you have already created.

If you would like to have your sleep expert on call each month, visit services page for more information or send me an email today!

Solve Your Naptime Struggles with the Quiet Box Method

Introducing the Quiet Box…

The Quiet Box is a great tool to reintroduce or reinforce nap time or quiet time.

The Quiet Box is a shoebox or plastic box filled with a few quiet toys that is introduced with enthusiasm to a child at nap or quiet time.   I always recommend to have established Sleep Rules or Sleep Expectations in place prior to using the Quiet Box Method.  Once nap or quiet time expectations in your home are set, the Quiet Box can be introduced.  It should  only be used when little ones are laying down AND calm.  The privilege of the Quiet Box can be lost if your child protests loudly or is bouncing around the room instead of resting.  Build up the excitement for the Quiet Box.  Let the child know that after nap, the Quiet Box gets put away.  But staying calm and resting during “quiet time” means you earned the Quiet Box again tomorrow.

 

Do you have to go out and buy a bunch of things in order to use the Quiet Box Method?

No way! Use what your have around the house.  Find some toys that are at the bottom of the toy box or the back of the closet.  You do want the box to be somewhat novel, so you can always pick up some new books at the library.  My favorite quiet toys include books, manipulatives, puzzles, little people or characters, toys, soft stuffed animals, a few duplos or blocks, dolls that have fine motor opportunities like buttons, zippers, and snaps on them, stacking cups or a practice board to name a few.

My suggestion is to pick 3 different toy options to start with.  For example, 2 small books, 3 little people, and a few duplos.  You can always add more, but the idea behind the method is to entice your child to go calmly in their room to “rest” and have independent developmental playtime.   Depending on the age of your child, you would like them to eventually go to sleep, so keep your box simple and not overwhelming.  After the first day, you can always alter the box if you feel your child needs more or less.

Make sure you put the box away, out of reach when nap is over.

I will be sharing unique finds to add to your Quiet Box over time, so be sure to follow Sleep Happy on Instagram and Facebook!

And one more nap tip … if at first the Quiet Box does not work, reevaluate how stimulating your child’s room is.  Simplifying your child’s room can help create a more calming environment.  It may seem drastic, but it can be a great way to help reset nap or quiet time.  Here are pictures from one Sleep Happy Mom of two who made changes to reset the boundary for nap for her 2 year old daughter.  Her daughter was spending her entire nap time pulling out clothes from the dresser, changing clothes multiple times and even taking offer her diaper during her two hour nap time.  Once Mom introduced the quiet box and simplified her room, her daughter was engaged with her box and then would pack it away before laying down to take her regular 1.5-2 hour nap.

 

Many thanks to my darling models,  age two and a half,  for allowing me to borrow their toys and modeling how to use the Quiet Box Method for our Sleep Happy readers!

Have additional questions on how to reset Quiet Time for your little one?  Give me a call at 214-856-0341 or shoot me an email at Jessica@SleepHappyConsulting.com.

 

Sleep Happy Gives Back: Supporting Babies Need Boxes

Ever since I founded Sleep Happy in 2015, I have had a desire to give back to parents of little ones. That is why I am so excited about our month of supporting the non-profit organization, Babies Need Boxes, this April. Babies Need Boxes distributes baby boxes filled with essential childcare products. The boxes themselves are safe sleep spaces for infants up to 6 months.

Throughout the month of April, 20% of all Sleep Happy sales will be donated to Babies Need Boxes. That means that each phone consultation scheduled, Sleep Happy Club Membership dues paid, 10-day consultations package booked, or Pillow Bar purchase made through Sleep Happy in April, will benefit this wonderful organization.

The idea of babies sleeping in cardboard boxes actually has a long-standing tradition in Finland. For over 80 years, Finland has handed out boxes for safe sleeping filled with newborn essentials to all new parents. The founder of Babies Need Boxes, Danielle Selassi from Minnesota, was inspired to create the non-profit organization after hearing about Finland’s cardboard box program. Danielle’s goal was similar: to provide safe sleep solutions and newborn essentials to all families, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Supporting a child’s start to life with education, support, and safety are core values for us here at Sleep Happy Consulting.  Equipping parents with safe sleep options and education from the very start of their parenting journey creates confidence in parents.  I am so excited to have found this movement and to be supporting Danielle’s mission this year.   The goals of her nonprofit aligns with the Sleep Happy mission:

To be a source of knowledge and empowerment for parents; equipping them with the confidence and tools to teach their children to become happy sleepers.

After earning my BS in Child Development & Family Relationships, my first job out of college was with Early Childhood Intervention. Early Childhood Intervention focuses on serving the birth to 3 population with developmental delays & their families in the home. My work as a case manager, sitting on floors with parents & little ones, is where my heart grew for educating & empowering families. Supporting Babies Needs Boxes is a great way to get real solutions to support parents into the homes.

Are you ready to have all your sleep goals achieved while supporting Babies Need Boxes? Then don’t hesitate, contact Jessica today by scheduling a free 15-minute Phone Consultation emailing jessica@sleephappyconsulting.com, or by calling 214-856-0341.

Daylight Savings “Springing” Forward

 

 

Springing Forward often causes parents more concern than Falling Back, because surely it is easier to fall asleep later than usual than earlier than usual, RIGHT?!

I like to simplify all the overwhelming information that circulates around the time change.  If you read my blog post about “Falling Back” you will know how much I encouraged you to use light, natural and artificial, at bedtime to help little ones adjust to the Fall time change.

Now with the Spring Forward in the clocks, we are going to use the lack of light to help naturally tigger earlier sleepiness. I encourage you to dim the light 1 hour prior to bedtime. This means you need to have dimmers, black out curtains, black poster board or trash bags and painters tape on hand to bulk up your darkness game starting on Wednesday.  The dimming of the lights also includes turning off iPads, iPhones, tablets, television shows, and other stimulating screens.  If you have other questions about my recommendations on screen time before bed, feel free to read my post on Screen Time Truths.

Time Change Tips:

Take a deep breath, continue to be thoughtful in reading YOUR child’s cues, stay calm and confident.

Select between TWO options:

Option A:  Do nothing, wing it, follow your child’s cues and adjust schedule if needed starting Sunday.

Option B:  Shift Schedule forward starting Wednesday to give yourself 4 days to shift bedtime up.  Wake from last nap of the day 15 minutes earlier than normal in order to be able to shift bedtime 15 minutes earlier AND wake your child each morning 15 minutes earlier than usual to fit the new Sunday morning target wake up time.  {I know this is the most brutal suggestion, but it will have the best pay off down the road.}  Repeat this method for each of the four days so that when you reach the day the time shifts, your child’s new schedule will match her pre-DST schedule.

Darken bedtime zone 1 hour before bedtime to naturally signal the hormone release to move them into a sleepier state.  This means no outside play (move it to first thing in the morning instead the first week) and no exposure to screens at this time.  Dim lights and quieter voices are great signals for young children to start calming their bodies for sleep.

Make sure you are consistent with your response and reinforcing boundaries for sleep as you guide your child through the time change. You don’t want to build in a new crutch.

How do naps work if I decide to move up bedtime and wake time 15 minutes each day for 4 days?

You have a young infant and you still watch the awake time intervals and balance that with your baby’s sleepy cues to know when to but her down for naps.  Continue with this plan, but be sure to wake from naps when needed to protect the next sleep session and insure that your baby is not getting too much day sleep.

OR

You have a child that naps at a predictable time each day. Apply the 15 minute earlier a day strategy to help with the adjustment.

 

Still feeling apprehensive about this time change thing that everyone thought was a good idea way back in 1918?

Think about your child’s needs.  Think about your schedule.  What can you be consistent with for a week to get through the adjustment?

PREPARE Decide what approach your family will take to adjust to “loosing an hour” or “springing forward.”

WATCH Watch nap durations to make sure children do not get too much day sleep.

USE LIGHT AS A SIGNAL Dim light ONE hour before bedtime.  Move evening outdoor playtime to the morning to help with the transition to an earlier bedtime.

Most #happysleepers that already sleep well because their parents have firm boundaries for sleep in place adjust to the time change in a few days.  A small percentage of children require a gradual adjustment and take a week or two to settle in.

Have more questions?  Would you like a sleep expert to weigh in on your current sleep routines?  Schedule a free 15-minute call to learn more about how Sleep Happy services can your help you reach your sleep dreams by following this link:  https://calendly.com/sleephappy/free15min. 

 

Screen Time Truths

In the current age of technology, people spend increasing amounts of time in front of screens.  While electronics can have a variety of educational and developmental benefits for children, being in front of a screen before bed can affect sleep.  The stimulation that comes from screen time can be the cause of wake-ups during the night among children.

When children watch TV they respond emotionally, not logically.  These emotions can stay with children for up to two hours after the event that first elicited the emotion.  Children can even become addicted to screen time and can exhibit a “fight-or-flight” response in an effort to keep the TV on.

In addition to affecting emotions, the blue light from screens has a physical effect on humans.  Electronic screens emit blue light.  Many studies have shown this blue light can curb the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with sleep.  A reduction in melatonin makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

If you are working on sleep routines and screens are a part of your evening routine, consider moving screen time from after dinner to the morning.

Here are some more bedtime tips:

1. Empower your preschooler to be part of the process of working towards new boundaries for sleep.

2.  Set the expectations and give your child specific, attainable jobs at night. (ex. Your job is to lay down and work at going to sleep)

3. Discuss what your job is as the parent.

4. Let them know that their favorite show will be available to watch at another time, but no longer at bedtime.

Looking to make bedtime a dream again, email jessica@sleephappyconsulting.com to set up a Free 15-Minute Phone Consultation to see if our services will be a good fit for your needs.

 

Think Outside the Book

I often hear from clients that reading a book to their baby or toddler as part of the bedtime routine is a struggle. Some parents feel it’s an unspoken rule that they must read their baby a book at bedtime. Side note…I had to laugh when I selected this image…I think the title should be “Bedtime in a Dream World.”  I know that bedtime might look this snuggly 2% of the time, but it’s by no means the norm.

Bedtime reading, in the traditional sense of a child sitting in your lap while you read a book, is not age appropriate for young children.  As a former kindergarten teacher, I am going to encourage you to read to your child as much as possible ALL the way through school.  However, if books are a struggle, there are many great alternatives that all foster the development of language, attachment, and future academic achievement.  I have listed a number of them below.

Sit on the floor while you read and allow your baby or toddler to crawl around the room during the bedtime routine instead of trying to hold them in your lap.

Replace a book with the lost art of story telling.  Use different voices.  Feel free to tell the same story each night.  Children LOVE when parents tell stories.  (I do not have the gift of storytelling myself, so I am always jealous of those who do.)

Tell nursery rhymes or finger plays instead of reading.  The rhyming and and alliteration help young children learn about sounds and language, which later translates into reading.  The more children are exposed to rhyming and alliteration the easier it is for them to recognize sounds and sound out words when they enter school.

Sing a favorite song.  When my oldest was a tiny infant, I learned a song at a mommy group that I began singing:

Good night sweet Madeleine it’s time to rest… lay your sweet head upon our Savior’s chest.  I love you so, but Jesus loves you best. Good night sweet Madeleine, good night.

Here is another sweet simple song.  I require simple, especially in the lyric department.

Good night to you.
Good night to me.
Now close your eyes and go to sleep.
Good night. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams tonight.
Good night. I love you.

Don’t let bedtime become stressful trying to get your child to sit for a book.  Change it up, pick one of these options to see if your child enjoys changing up the routine.

 

 

 

Traveling with Happy Sleepers

Traveling with little ones this season?  Worried about your good sleep routines falling apart?  Don’t.

Children that have a predictable sleeping routine are often more flexible because they are not sleep deprived.  Enjoy your trip.

Pick one routine (bedtime or naps) to maintain as well as possible.  

If you stick to your bedtime routine, try to encourage naps on the go at your normal awake time interval.

If you choose nap routines, stretch naps when needed to adjust to a late bedtime.

AND give yourself and your little ones THREE days of strict routines (wake time, cues, awake times, and bedtime) when you get home to get back on track.

What to pack to recreate your sleep environment:

  1. Bring your Pack ‘n Play or rent one with a company like www.babierge.com.
  2. Pack your crib sheet
  3. Bring lovey (and backups if you have them)
  4. Bring a portable noise machine like the Dohm Portable found on Amazon.
  5. Portable blackout curtains like Gro Anywhere Blinds found on Amazon.

If sharing a room, it’s important to create a boundary between the parent bed and little one’s sleeping area.  Some rooms may have a living space or furniture you could place the crib behind.  For other rooms here are some options:

  • Snoozeshade Breathable Canopy found on Amazon
  • Create a DIY boundary by packing a dark sheet and clothes pins or command strips to hang a makeshift curtain as a boundary

And above all, have a great get away!!

One more tip for infants…because it is GENIUS!!!  Pack an air pump and an inflatable pool to provide a clean confined play boundary.

Packable Travel Play Pen

 

Does Your Preschooler Struggle at Bedtime?

Does your preschooler struggle to calm their bodies for sleep?

Does your preschooler sleep through the night but take forever to fall asleep at bedtime?

Here are some tips to help your child calm their bodies and prepare for sleep.

  1. Limit electronic screens 1-2 hours before bed.
  2. Incorporate specific play activities to help calm their bodies for sleep.  Playing  wheelbarrow or pushing a weighted laundry basket are examples.  For more calming play ideas, consider scheduling a Sleep Happy Phone Consultation.
  3. Keep a consistent bedtime routine (ex. PJs, activities, story or song before bed)
  4. Keep a consistent wake time in the morning

Does your child have more specific needs?  Would you like to talk about sleep in your house and get help creating a Sleep Plan that is specific for your child?

Contact Sleep Happy today for a Free 15-minute phone consultation by emailing jessica@sleephappyconsulting.com. 

 

 

Daylight Savings: Fall Back

The Fall time change causes many parents to worry about early wakings.  “Will my 6 a.m. early riser suddenly start waking at 5 a.m.?”  Typically, it only takes a day or two to adjust to this 60-minute shift.  Daylight hours begin to get shorter very quickly this time of year, which helps to reset their body clocks.

After the first morning, treat early wake-ups as you normally would to reinforce the boundary for sleep.  Let your baby sleep until your normal wake time or cutoff time.  While most babies adjust quickly, some more sensitive babies take a couple of weeks.

Recent research indicates exposure to light (natural or artificial) helps reset young children’s body blocks during time changes.  Keep light dim in the morning when you are up before your ideal wake up time.  Take your child outside in the morning and in the evening to expose them to the natural rhythms of the day.  If it gets dark early in your area, keep the house well lit to indicate wake time, then dim the lights when you start moving towards bedtime.   Light is a logical indicator of awake time or calm to sleep time for young children, so using it to reinforce changes in their schedule is very helpful.

Yes, there are other techniques to prepare for Daylight Savings.  If you have a method that works great for your family.  Stick to it.  If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Often, there are so many suggestions for how to deal with time changes that it becomes overwhelming to know which method to try.  Reinforcing boundaries for sleep, and using light to help little ones understand when it is time to be awake or asleep is a simple research-based method, that will work when consistently reinforced.

 

Making Bedtime Fun Again

Burrito Game Lover, 18-month-old James

Making bedtime fun for my young clients and their parents has become key to establishing new routines.  Nightly intentional play activities engage children and create excitement at bedtime.  Sleep Happy bedtime games, such as the “Burrito Game,” give children something to look forward to at bedtime.  My 18-month-old client this month loved the Burrito Game so much, he began initiating it each night.  A definite sign of empowerment!  During our 10th Day Wrap Up, his mom eagerly talked about how he would purposely head into the nursery, pick out a blanket and spread it out on the floor, then lay down on it ready to be “Burrito’d.”  This is proof that bedtime doesn’t have to be dramatic.  With consistency and engagement, it can be a real dream.