The Do's and Don't's of Sleep Training Your Sick Child

The Do's and Don't's of Sleep Training Your Sick Child

The last thing you need to happen when you are sleep training your little one is for them to get sick - but sometimes that is simply unavoidable! If they do get sick, what does that mean for all the hard work you’ve done while sleep training?! Does it mean all the work you’ve accomplished is going out the window?! Was it all for nothing?! The short answer to that is NO! Thankfully, there are some simple “rules” you can follow to ensure that your previous efforts are successful through the illness and afterward. The first thing you will want to do is determine if your little one is sick enough to pause sleep training until they are better or if they are well enough to carry on with sleep training. Most babies seem to be able to move forward with sleep training, but you know your baby best and have to make this determination on your own. This blog will go over the do’s and don’t’s of sleep training your sick little one!


Rule #1:
Don’t create any new (or recreate old) sleep habits!
Consistency is KEY when it comes to sleep training and if your child is sick consistency can make a huge difference. You don’t want to create any new sleep habits such as, rocking to sleep, bouncing to sleep, feeding to sleep, etc., and you don’t want to recreate old ones that you have worked so hard to get rid of. A specific sleep habit you don’t want to (re)create is night feeds, as this can be a fairly tough one to break. If your little is old enough, give them water instead of breastfeeding or a bottle throughout the night. This will help prevent a night feed habit that may lurk after your child is better. Nevertheless, if your pediatrician recommends feeding them at night then you would definitely need to listen to their advice and feed them.

Rule #2:
Sleep in their room, try not to bring them to your room.
If you feel the need to sleep near your little one while they are sick, then you can most definitely do that! I would recommend that you move to their room and avoid bringing them to your room though. You can bring in a mattress to their room and sleep on the floor or do whatever works for you. You don’t want to bring them to your room though because that can create a sleep habit that they will most likely prefer even after they are feeling better. The key is to try to keep things as consistent as possible!

Rule #3:
Prepare yourself for frequent night wakings and possibly shorter naps.
When your little one becomes sick, you will need to prepare for some long nights and possibly shorter naps. This can be frustrating and exhausting, but if you can prepare yourself for this and get ready to miss out on some sleep yourself then things will be much easier for you. Maybe you can go to bed early to make sure you get in some good rest before your babe wakes or get some help if they are taking shorter naps - maybe someone else can help with some of the house work! The point is to get your mind and body prepared to lose out on some sleep for a few days or so and the more prepared you are, the less discouraging it will be. Always remember: this is temporary - so hang in there!

Rule #4:
Exceptions are allowed!
You know your baby best and you need to be the one determining whether they need some extra sleep, whether that be adding another nap to the day, allowing a nap to be longer than usual or going to bed earlier than normal. Furthermore, if your little one needs extra cuddles and love then by all means give it to them! Once they are feeling better you can get their sleep back on track!

Remember: Backsliding can be perfectly normal when your little one is sick and that is okay! You can always start sleep training over again with the skills they have already learned as soon as they are feeling better! Save this graphic below for quick reference when needed!


Disclaimer: Please always follow your pediatrican's advice when your little one is sick!

If your little one is feeling under the weather and you would like some 1:1 help to get them through this tough time without putting their new sleep training skills at risk then send me a DM or email me at hello@courtenaymcintyre.com to start your FREE consult!

Did you like this blog post? You would love my Facebook group called 
Sleep Little One where I give free advice and tips to exhausted parents looking to improve their child’s sleep! Come join this amazing group and start getting better sleep today!


Until next time friends,

The Most Ideal Time To Start Sleep Training

The Most Ideal Time To Start Sleep Training

Just like anything in life, there are ideal times and not so ideal times to do something and sleep training is not exempt from that. Sleep training should be done at a time that is fitting for everyone involved as this can produce the best results. If you start sleep training at a time that is not in everyone’s best interests, then the whole process can actually backfire. In this blog, I would like to address the most ideal and the least ideal times to start sleep training so that you can be sure it’s the right time for you before you get started!


Tip #1:
Will you be around?
Before you start this sleep training process you need to be sure that you are going to be at home for a couple weeks. You don’t want to start this process right before you go on vacation or right before you go back to work (and your child will be attending daycare). It is optimal that your little one is able to sleep in their own bed for the first couple of weeks of sleep training because they will need time to get used to these changes. If you do this at a time when other changes are occurring it can be too much for them, resulting in this process not going very smoothly.

Tip #2: 

How’s your little one?
If you little one is healthy and thriving then this is a perfect time to start sleep training! On the other side of things, if they are not feeling well or maybe they are having some setbacks developmentally then it is best to wait until those things have been sorted out before you start sleep training. You want to be sure that your little one is going to be able to handle the sleep training journey and that it’s not an uphill battle for them due to outside factors. This can enable that sleep training is effective and can be done as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that if you are already in the middle of your sleep training journey and your little one gets sick, you will have to determine if they are well enough to continue or to pause until they are better. Most times it is fine to continue with sleep training.

Tip #3:
What does your partner think?

It is very important to know and understand how your partner feels about this sleep training journey. It is much more successful if your partner is on board for a couple of different reasons, such as they can be a support to you and can take over when you need a break. The first few days of sleep training can be difficult, so when you have that extra support it can make all the difference. Furthermore, if your partner understands the sleep training method and is committed to it just as much as you are, this can help the process go much smoother and swifter.


In addition to all of this, I wanted to add something of the upmost importance that every parent should be aware of that can be a critical reason to start sleep training and that is… sleep deprivation. I am sure that you are aware of what sleep deprivation is, but in case you aren’t I want to list the symptoms of this. If you are feeling any of these symptoms it is very important to get in touch with your doctor. Beyond that, these symptoms can be an indicator that you may need to start sleep training your little one so that everyone can start getting the sleep they so desperately need. If sleep deprivation goes on for too long, it can lead to very serious issues such as depression, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with your doctor and then figure out if sleep training may be the best thing for your family at this time.

Are you feeling any of these symptoms of sleep deprivation?:

  • Depression
  • Absent minded
  • Clumsy
  • Hazy
  • Indifferent
  • A depleted sex drive
  • Heightened appetite
  • Carb cravings

    If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, give your doctor a call. If you feel like this may be an ideal time to start sleep training, then please send me an email at hello@courtenaymcintyre.com and we will get you back to having optimal sleep (and your little one too)!

    Did you like this blog? If you did, you would love my group on Facebook called 
    Sleep Little One where I give free advice and tips to exhausted parents looking to improve their little ones sleep. Hope to see you there!!


    Happy sleeping everyone!

The Top 4 Signs It’s Time To Extend Your Little One’s Wake Windows

The Top 4 Signs It’s Time To Extend Your Little One’s Wake Windows

I’m sure you’ve probably wondered a time or two if it’s time to extend your little one’s wake windows. This is something that I’m sure every parent has gone through and sometimes the signs can seem obvious while other times they aren’t. I specifically remember when my children were ready to extend their wake windows and it didn’t click for me that this is what was going on until I had my third child. My daughters didn’t show very many signs - not to mention I had no idea what to look for - whereas my son showed the signs quite clearly and I knew what to look for at this point. In this blog, I want to identify the top four signs that it’s time to extend your little one’s wake windows and take the guesswork out of this for you!


Sign #1:
Your little one’s naps are being cut short and/or they are waking frequently at night.

This is a definite sign that your babe is ready to extend their wake windows because they appear to be getting too much daytime sleep and as a result are under tired. This will result in them waking early from their naps or waking frequently throughout the night, when they usually sleep well. When you extend their wake windows, sometimes their naps will have to be adjusted (a nap may be dropped or shortened) and when that happens it will stop the night wakings because they won’t be getting too much daytime sleep.

Sign #2:
Your babe isn’t showing tired cues at their normal nap/bedtime and they seem content and happy.

When your little one usually shows tired cues at their designated nap and bedtime, but they suddenly seem content and happy during this time instead, this can be a sign that they are ready to extend their wake windows. Be careful not to confuse this sign with being overtired and having a second wind though. If a baby is over tired, then can get a “second wind” which comes off as being hyper and having energy - but make no mistake, they are overtired and need sleep especially if it’s their usual nap/bedtime.

Sign #3:
Your child is taking 20 minutes or more to fall asleep for naps and/or bedtime.

If your babe usually falls asleep quite easily for naps and bedtime and then they are suddenly taking 20 minutes or longer to fall asleep, this could be a sign that they are ready to extend their wake windows. When a little one is ready for sleep, it usually doesn’t take them very long to actually drift off into sleep. Sometimes they can take 5 minutes, sometimes 10 and maybe even 15 - and all of these are acceptable. It’s quite rare that a child will fall asleep seconds after they hit the sheets. However, if they are taking 20 minutes or more to fall asleep this can be a sign that they are ready to extend their wake windows.

Sign#4:
They are playing, rather than sleeping, when it is nap time and/or bedtime.

I don’t know a lot of parents who are in favour of middle of the night crib parties, but when you are wondering if your babe is ready to stretch their wake windows this can be a clear sign that they are ready. When your little one isn’t experiencing appropriate wake windows they may be getting too much daytime sleep, which can result in them being under tired for naps and/or bedtime, and this can cause them to want to play rather than sleep. Extending their wake windows should stop those middle of the night parties.


An important factor to remember before trying to extend your little one’s wake windows is that they need to be showing these signs 5 or more days of the week and they need to be showing them for 2 weeks or more, consistently. If they are only showing these signs one or two days out of a week and these signs only go on for a few days before going back to normal, then I would say it was probably other aspects at play. A big issue that can trick parents is when sleep regressions are occurring as this can make it seem like your little one is ready to extend their wake windows or drop a nap when in all reality they are actually going through a sleep regression. After the regression has passed, their sleep will usually go back to normal. If a parent tries to extend their child’s wake windows during a regression it can really backfire on them and cause issues that weren’t there to begin with. I caution you to make sure that your child is genuinely ready to extend their wake windows before trying to extend them. If you jump the gun when they aren’t truly ready, it can cause more issues than resolve them.

How To Extend Your Little One’s Wake Windows:
In order to successfully extend your child’s wake windows you will have to make sure to take a few things into account, such as:

  • You will need to gradually extend their wake windows, you don’t want to extend them hastily as that rarely ends well.
  • You will need to take into account the age of your little one. If you have a younger baby, between the ages of 0-9 months old, then you are better off gradually extending their wake window by 5-10 minutes every few days. This means every few days you will stretch their wake window by 5-10 minutes.
  • If you have an older baby, between the ages of 10 months to 2 years, then you can get away with a longer stretch of wake time by 15-30 minutes every few days. If you do extend their wake windows by 30 minutes make sure that you give their circadian rhythm about a week or so in time to adjust. 

If you have a little one that is ready to extend their wake windows, but you are having trouble doing this alone, then send me an email at hello@courtenaymcintyre.com to get your free consult!

If you enjoyed this blog, then check out my Facebook page called 
Sleep Little One where I give advice and tips to exhausted parents who are trying to improve their child’s sleep. I hope to see you there!!


Chat soon,


The 80/20 Rule and Why You Need It In Your Life

The 80/20 Rule and Why You Need It In Your Life

Most parents are aware that when they have a baby things are going to change for them in various ways. Whether it be trading in nights at the club with nights in the crib (sometimes literally) or switching up what time we go to bed at, one thing is for sure: having a baby means more time at home - at least for the first little while. One thing that I am not sure many parents are aware of is the 80/20 rule and this is what I want to talk about in this blog today! So read on!

What is the 80/20 Rule?
I am sure a lot of you know what the 80/20 rule is when it applies to dieting or some other concept, but do you know what it means when it comes to your little one’s sleep? It is actually pretty straight forward; 80% of the time you stick to your little one’s designated schedule and the other 20% of the time you can be flexible with their schedule. Maybe that means you skip a nap or you stretch out the wake window a bit and give a nap a little later than you normally would or maybe you give a nap on the go! Sometimes the 80/20 rule can come in super handy, such as during the holidays or when you are travelling.

What to Do If You Use The Rule
One day you may accidentally skip a nap, give one on the go or give one late, or maybe you do it on purpose because you know all about the 80/20 rule - so what do you do next? If you do happen to use this rule, you will need to adjust their bedtime or next nap. In order to do this, you will need to pay attention to their wake windows and sleepy cues, especially when it comes to bedtime. You don’t want them getting overtired because this can cause issues all on their own, so if they are really pushing their wake window then try to give them a nap as soon as you can. If it’s later on in the day, then you would adjust bedtime. You don’t want to give them a nap too late in the day - it’s easier to just give an earlier bedtime (but they shouldn’t be going to bed for the night any earlier than 6pm as this could lead to an early morning wake). All these factors are very age dependent as well, so keep that in mind. A younger baby isn’t going to be able to handle very long wake windows and will need more naps throughout the day anyway, not to mention they usually go to bed later in the evening than an older baby would.

Important Factors to Remember
Before you start trying to implement the 80/20 rule with your little one there are some very important factors to take into consideration. The most important one is that your babe should already be getting consistent, good quality sleep - meaning they aren’t currently struggling with sleep. If you try to implement this rule when your little one is already having a difficult time with sleep, it may make things worse. This rule applies to little one’s who are already sleeping well and therefore won’t be greatly affected by skipping a nap or taking one a little later than usual. Another factor you will want to consider is the age of your baby. A younger baby won’t be able to handle very much wake time and if you try to push them to stay awake longer than they are able to then it could end up causing them to become overtired and that can cause a set of issues all their own. Be mindful of what your baby is capable of, the kind of sleep they are already getting and their age and temperament before deciding to implement the 80/20 rule. It can be a super helpful rule - but only when it’s used properly!


If your little one is not getting consistent or a good quality sleep, then send me an email at hello@courtenaymcintyre.com to get a FREE consult!!

You can also join my free Facebook group called 
Sleep Little One where I give advice and tips to tired parents looking to improve their child’s sleep. I would love to see you there!


Talk soon,

My Top 4 Ways On How to Stay Calm During Sleep Training

My Top 4 Ways On How to Stay Calm During Sleep Training

Sleep training can be a very complex subject and luckily you can find a lot of information online about how to sleep train, which methods you can choose and even how to support and comfort your child along the way. What you won’t find as easily is advice and tips on what you, as the parent, can do to stay calm during this trying time. Sleep training can be very overwhelming and stressful and us parents need to be taken care of through this process as well. In this blog, I want to give tips and advice on some ways you can stay calm, reduce the stress you may be feeling and what to do when it gets too hard for you to handle on your own.


Make Sure You’re Prepared
If you can be prepared before starting this process, it will greatly benefit you. Researching sleep training methods, picking one and sticking to it throughout the entire sleep training process will make your life much easier. When you jump into things, without really knowing what you are doing, it makes it harder to establish a consistent method and therefore harder for your little one to be sleep trained. Making sure you are prepared beforehand can allow sleep training to progress much smoother. If you feel like you're struggling to figure out which method works best, you're not sure how to go about the process or are simply just confused and overwhelmed by it all then you can always hire a sleep consultant to help you (more on that later).

Mindfulness
It’s no shocker that being mindful of your situation can be a very calming tool that you can use while sleep training. Mindfulness includes being attentive of your emotions, but it also involves ways you can actively calm yourself during stressful times while you are sleep training (like when your LO is crying and you are required to wait a certain amount of time before going in).

Here are some of my favourite ways, that I have used, to keep yourself grounded and calm:

Box Breathing

Box breathing can slow the sympathetic stress response and is an ancient technique that has even been endorsed by Navy SEALs. To do this you can set a timer for 5 minutes, sit with your back straight and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and then hold for 4 seconds again. Repeat as desired.

Here is an example of box breathing (save this image for future reference):


Breath of Fire
This technique really focuses on the deep breathing, almost like a dragon. Take a deep, breath in from the belly a few times. Then you can push your breath in and out through your nose, forcefully - this should cause your stomach to distend in and out automatically. Continue as long as you’d like.

Mindful Appreciation

Being grateful in times of stress can seem rather small, but can actually be so effective. All you have to do is think of some things in your life that usually go unnoticed, but make your life so much better. The trick to this is to get specific; instead of saying “I am thankful for my family” think deeper such as, “I am grateful that I got to spend the day with my sister the other day.” It can help to list off 5 things and really get specific with it.

Body Scan Mindfulness Technique
Being mindful of how your body is feeling during stressful times can help you to stay grounded and in touch with your feelings and emotions. All you need to do is move your attention through your body, from head to toe, and focus on any sensations that stand out to you such as tingling, warmth, tension or relaxation.

Foot Grounding Exercise
Foot grounding is a great way to ground yourself if you are feeling jittery or stressed out. In order to do this you would place your feet flat on the ground (preferably barefoot), whether you are sitting or standing, being mindful of how the ground feels on your feet. Then you would breath in for 4 counts, hold, then exhale for 4 counts. Repeat this 3-5 times.

The Name Game
This game is an easier game than tic-tac-toe and can be very helpful in repressing spiralling thoughts. When you do this exercise you ground yourself and become mindful of your surroundings and environment. First, look around you and name three things you can hear, then name two things you can see and finally one thing you can feel.

Here is an example of the name game (you can save this image for future reference also):

Keep Yourself Busy
Keeping yourself busy during the tough times of sleep training can be a life saver! If you have help at home, such as a husband, doula, or family member then use that to your advantage. Ask them to make sure your baby is safe (watching them on the monitor) while you excuse yourself to do what you need to do to stay calm. If you don’t have someone at home, that is completely okay. You can simply turn the monitor off and check in every few minutes. Once you are sure your baby is okay you can turn it off again. The point of this is to give yourself some time to calm down so that you can deal with the situation appropriately and be consistent with your chosen sleep training method. Choose something that you know will calm you down, and when things start to get too overwhelming, go do your chosen calming tool. This may be putting in headphones to listen to a calming song, going outside to get some fresh air or doing some mindfulness/breathing exercises that are listed above. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself calm.

Hire Assistance
Sometimes sleep training can be very overwhelming and confusing - even before you get started with it. I remember trying to piece together information about sleep training that I found on Instagram, Facebook sleep training groups and Google and it left me worse off than before I began the search for help. Sleep training does need to be very consistent and the method needs to be one that is suitable to your child’s temperament and personality. All of this can be difficult to navigate on your own. Maybe you have started sleep training, it is not going very well and you are at your wits end. These are all very acceptable reasons to hire a sleep consultant to help you make a personalized sleep plan that is suitable to you and your child. They can be a very big help to you through this tough process. A sleep consultant isn’t there just to create a sleep plan for you, they are also there for emotional support so that you can get through this as easily as possible. There is no shame in hiring help, especially when you really need the guidance and support!

If you are needing help figuring out a sleep plan for your child, I do FREE 15 minute consults and can help you to figure these tough things out. Send me a DM or an email (hello@courtenaymcintyre.com) to start your free 15 minute consult and discover ways I can help you!

If you liked this blog, you would love my group on Facebook called 
Sleep Little One where I give advice and tips to tired parents who are looking to improve their little one’s sleep! I hope to see you there!!

 
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