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Three Bedtime Building Blocks For Your Child

The use of building blocks is a great teaching tool in helping bedtime become easier for both you and your child. Just like a step stool helps the little ones reach the sink or a scaffold helps a construction worker reach higher heights, building blocks help your child to learn to sleep on their own. It is a great esteem building tool also as children feel great when they can do something on their own.

The building blocks you will use are sleep cues. The big fancy term used in the medical field is “sleep onset associations”. The great thing about these sleep cues is that when they are used consistently they tell the brain that it’s time to slow down and rest. This is great for both you and your child because once these are set in place your child’s brain will automatically respond to these cues.

Children learn about associations between events and objects and can relate that to falling asleep at the age of six months. If you will recall in my post on when you should start teaching them this skill it’s  at around 4 months. I also mentioned that you don’t expect them to have this skilled mastered but that you can introduce them to it at that age. Young children and babies begin to learn that certain things done in a certain order will lead them  to sleep. The cues I’m about to share with you are scientifically proven  to help children as well as adults begin to wind down and begin to feel sleepy.

Cue 1: Create an atmosphere that’s conducive to sleep by turning off all excess lights. You will want to close the curtains and pull down the shades. Light stimulates the body to stay awake  while darkness signals sleep to the body. This also tells the brain to produce melatonin, a hormone in the body that regulates the body’s rhythms and also helps us to feel sleepy. This is also true for any television, computer or electronic toy light or lighted clocks. Read more »

When Should You Start Helping Your Infant To Sleep On Their Own

When should you start helping your infant to sleep on their own? The answer is around 4 months. I say around because every child is different and you really should determine what is best for you, your family and your child. So if your child is 6 months and you’re reading this it’s okay you can start at 6 months.  This is just a guide to give you an indication of when you can start.

Please also keep in mind two things. One whenever you are working at teaching your child a new skill you want to do what is to gradually build the skill so that the baby will be able to do it eventual and also has the time the need, how ever long they need to accomplish that skill. In Early Childhood Education we call this scaffolding. Just like those scaffolds that you see on construction sites that allow the workers to reach higher levels. You also want to give your child the opportunity to gradually reach that more advanced place that they are trying to acquire. Second be patient, knowing that this will take some time and not happen overnight will help you to be patient.

So you are building skill upon skill, little by little. Meaning you don’t expect your baby to be able to sleep on their own in one night or two, three or four nights. As my Ballet teacher used to say, “It’s a process not an event.” So prepare yourself by managing your expectations. Be patient and expect a few tears. Be prepared to assure your baby with a soothing voice.

WHEN TO PLACE PUT THEM IN THEIR CRIB

Don’t allow your baby to fall asleep on you. Once they do that that’s it. As soon as you put them down they will wake up. Then comes the dance of you trying to console them and get them quiet again so you can get them back to sleep and lay them down only to have them wake back up again. This will cause anxiety and frustration for both you and the baby. Your intention and desire is to help them to learn to go to sleep on their own.

Part of learning to go to sleep on their own is learning how to comfort themselves and soothe themselves and know that they will be okay and that you are still their mommy or daddy and that all is good with the world. Their will be some crying to accomplish this because they are babies and this is how they communicate and this is a new thing for them.

So your job is to be the comforter and soother in a way that empowers them to be able to do it by themselves. In building this skill you will be by their side rubbing their tummy and talking to them in a soothing voice. You will look at their stomach instead of their eyes. The reason for this is looking them in their eyes will have the opposite effect of what you want. This is because looking into a baby’s eyes stimulates them. You don’t want to stimulate them. You want to calm them down and sort of lull them to sleep.

So to recap you don’t want the baby to be asleep when you put them into the bed. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is wide awake ready to rubble and 10 is knocked out cold, you want your baby to be around a 7 or 8 before you put them into the crib.

 

HOW TO BEGIN

Begin by placing your baby in the crib on their backs. It’s best if you have a ritual that you do or will do every night. So think about this ahead of time. What worked for my daughter and I was to feed her, then a bath and then a bedtime story. I found that it helped to have this ritual even when she got to be a toddler and preschooler. We just added more things like getting a drink of water, going to the bathroom, talking about her day and then the story was the last thing before lights out.

Once you place them on their backs you can sing them a song or read a story or just talk to them. Tell them that you love them and think they are so wonderful. Tell them how they are just growing so wonderfully and beautifully. That they are going to have a wonderful and good night sleep and that mommy or daddy will be going to their room while they sleep in theirs. Tell them they are going to do just great and everything will be fine. Tell them this in a sing song type of voice using words, and make it sound soothing.

Then leave slowly, reassuring them that they are going to be fine, have a great sleep, grow big and strong etc. If you are met with crying keep reassuring them where you are. If it escalates slowly make your way back to them telling them Mommy or Daddy is here. Keep reassuring them that they are okay and will be able to do this. Remember look at their belly not their eyes. Then try leaving again.

Please share with us how you successfully taught your child to sleep on their own. We’d love to hear what worked for you. Please also share this with anyone that is facing this challenge. I will be writing more on this subject in later posts, so please come back.  Have a great day! :-)

 

 

At What Age Should You Teach Your Baby To Sleep On Their Own

This is a really short post in the form of a question. At what age should you teach your baby to sleep on their own? Some of you would say baby? My child is a preschooler about to enter kindergarten and it is a fight to get them out of our bed. So to keep the peace and get some sleep we allow them to sleep with us. We tried and tried and tried, but it’s too much of struggle!

I totally understand and was shocked at the answer. I’m going to make this easy and make it multiple choice. Come back tomorrow for the answer.

A.) 6 months

B.) 8 months

C.) 24 months

D.) 4 months

Remember come back the same time tomorrow for the answer. Please include in your answer what you do to get your child to sleep. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a wonderful day! :-) Remember to please tweet or share this post. Thanks so much! :-)

Some Interesting Facts About Babies And Crying

I love learning as much as I do teaching. Today I learned some really interesting facts about babies one of the most important is, crying is natural for babies. It’s how they communicate and is the second thing they do after taking their first breath of air. When I experience a crying baby in my classes, the first thing I do is keep myself calm, I then begin to talk to them in a calm soothing voice and make eye contact with them. One technique I use that works quite well is distraction. Speaking in a calm soothing voice I tell them they are going to be okay and everything is going to be alright. I then take them over to my boom box and begin to explain the different parts of it to them.  I tell them that they are the teacher’s assistant for the day and are going to help me with their Music and Movement class.

They are usually so intrigued by this piece of equipment that all crying stops. Of course they reach out to touch it and explore as I am selecting the music for their class. One of the things I’ve learned from these experiences is that when I’m calm it’s easier for the baby to feel calm. I find this to be true even if I’ve never met the baby before and it’s my first time interacting with them. Sometimes I don’t have to go to the boom box just talking to them and holding them seems to work like magic. What I learned in this class was talking in that voice is a way to soothe a baby.

I learned that babies cry as a way to communicate their needs. Babies are always trying to tell us something so it’s up to us as caregivers to be sensitive and attentive to them. These needs are grouped into categories like biological, social-emotional and things that need immediate attention. Actually in all cases you need to give babies immediate attention, but there are ways of doing it that allow them to learn to calm themselves, comfort themselves and learn that their needs will get met and that they are heard and important.

Like resisting the urge to give babies a pacifier and realize that after you’ve checked for hunger, burping, diaper change or illness it could simply be that they are lonely, over stimulated or frustrated. These things fall in the social emotional category and are just as important as feeding, diapering, teething etc. One thing that helps us determine what’s wrong is listening to the types of cries. A baby has four types of cries: hunger, dirty diaper, anger and fear or pain. If you’ve taken care of all those things listed and they are still crying, listed  below are some other things you can do.

  1.  Talk in a soothing voice.
  2.  Sing a lullaby.
  3. Rub their back.
  4. Hug them close.
  5. Cuddle them.
  6. Swaddle them.
  7. Hold them while rocking in a chair.
  8. Give them a warm bath.
  9. Turn on some soothing music.
  10. Take them for a car or stroller ride.
  11. Lie them down on their back if they are sleepy, using some of the above techniques.

I’m sure you have some things that you use to soothe a crying baby and many things on this list you’ve probably done instinctively. I love having more options and learning more things that can help babies grow, develop and be happy. Some people think caring for infants and toddler doesn’t require skill when in fact it requires a lot of skill. How babies are treated in the first few years of their lives has a tremendous impact on the rest of their lives and who they will become.  It’s an awesome responsibility one I am proud to have.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Babies Need To Crawl

I am so amazed at how quickly children change and develop. I only get to see my students once a week and believe it or not a lot can change in a week. Last week one of my eight month old students could not hold her body up to sit up by herself. She needed props and pillows all around her to support her. I was ecstatic to see her sitting up by herself when I came to her  class to teach her music and movement. I greeted her with an enthusiastic “Hello followed by her name. She game me that million dollar smile I love so much.

Although she was not yet mobile she moved her body to the music very gingerly. All of her weight was moving forward, so she was making a 45 degree angle with the floor. I explained to her director that although she was sitting unassisted we still need to build her core strength and upper body strength so that she would be able to sit up straight making a 90 degree angle with the floor instead of a 45 degree angle.

I also explained to the director that if she didn’t lean forward she would fall over backwards if she tried to straighten up. Isn’t that amazing that her body figures out a way to keep up upright. I explained to the director that this is why we do the exercise of having the students crawl through a tunnel like object. Crawling and scooting( where they are not on their hands and knees) help children to build upper body and core strength. This is necessary for them to go from crawling to eventually walking. All children take the same path of development but at different times according to their own individual development.

One other very important purpose of crawling and scooting is to integrate both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This is very important because not only does it integrates the brain which helps it process information quicker. It also builds brain architecture and support neurological organization of their nervous system. Crawling and scooting are very essential aspects of child growth and development.

Giving babies ample floor time gives them an opportunity to develop both the muscles of their bodies and also ensures neurological health. Babies have to move. Through movement they are using their muscles to create pathways and connections and wire their brain. They also need to move to develop their muscles for future skills they will need like walking and feeding themselves. Cognitively they learn about themselves, their surroundings and environment.

So give babies ample time and space to crawl, scoot or just be on their tummies. In Early Childhood we call this tummy time. So make tummy time a fun time that can also be used for learning. I would love to hear about some of the activities you use with your baby during their tummy time. Please remember to share this with your friends, family and anyone who would find it useful and leave a comment below.