Sleep Q & A with Pediatric Sleep Consultant Emily Freilino

 

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Hi! My name is Emily Freilino and I’m a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant with Sleep Wise Consulting. After working with Sleep Wise for my own son, I left my 10+ year career in advertising in order to help families get the sleep they need. The success I saw was customized to my family and my son, and I knew I needed to bring these skills to others. I believe that a well-rested family is a family that has more time to laugh, hug and play, and I will take the time to get to know you and your family and ensure that your questions are answered – I settle for nothing less than success! If you’d like to learn more, please reach out to me at emily@sleepwiseconsulting, and we’ll schedule your free 15-minute sleep evaluation.

In the meantime, Lauren and I have collected your questions about sleep, and I have some tips for you below!

Q: How can I teach my newborn the difference between night and day?

A: Light! For naps and bedtime, you want the baby’s room to be as pitch black as possible (like I-can’t-see-my-hand-in-front-of-my-face pitch black!). Then, when it’s not time to sleep you want to make a big deal of the fact that it’s daylight. Expose the baby to as much natural sunlight as possible. Natural light (of the lack thereof) is what affects a person’s levels of melatonin, a natural secreting hormone that tells our bodies it’s time to sleep. By ensuring your baby is exposed to light during the day and dark at night and during naps you’ll help to set the internal body clock accordingly.

Q: My 20-month-old daughter will only nap for 90 minutes. How do I extend the nap?

A: This is a tricky question! 90 minutes is actually considered a really great nap for this age. The length of naps can depend on many things such as overnight sleep and how recently you’ve switched to one nap per day. In general, any nap over an hour is considered a restorative nap and could be sufficient for your child. And remember, daytime naps and overnight sleep are always connected so if you are seeing issues with one there’s likely a connection with the other. If you’d like to chat more about your specific situation, please reach out to me at emily@sleepwiseconsulting.com

Q: My son will be two in August and he’s been having a lot of sleep problems since he was 18 months old.  We aim for 11-12 hours a night and a 2ish hour nap during the day, but we were told that’s too much sleep.  They said for his age we should aim for 10 hours at night and 1-1.5 hours during the day. I feel like he’s too little! Any advice?

A: How much total sleep a child needs does vary slightly from child to child, but the recommended total sleep for a toddler (1-2 years old) is 11-14 total hours. So, while what you were recommended is on the lesser end it could be totally normal! The key to knowing whether or not your child is getting enough sleep is to watch their behavior – are they generally happy and only tired during nap times and bedtime? Then, they are likely getting enough sleep. Are they prone to tantrums and seem to always be a bit on the drowsy side? Then, they may need to work on getting more sleep. Check out the chart below to see more:

Q: My son is 20 months old and we have no routine in the night time sleep.  Nap time is great, but night time is not. HELP!

A: Routines and consistency are key to seeing great sleep in children! I always suggest a bedtime routine for a toddler including a bath, a book, a quick song and cuddles and then into bed awake. If you already have a great naptime routine, consider using the same routine before bed with the addition of a bath at the start of the routine. Remember, a bath doesn’t have to be a full bath every night! Even just 5 minutes in the water can help to signify that bedtime is coming soon.

Q: How can I get a two-year-old to sleep in?

A: We would all love to sleep in, right?! The key to dealing with early morning wakings is darkness. You can read more about why darkness matters here: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/have-you-considered/does-darkness-matter/.

Q: How and when is it okay to transfer two children to the same room? Should they both be sleeping through the night?

A: While it’s technically never too early to have siblings share a room, it can be much easier on everyone if both children are sleeping through the night before the move. If the baby is still waking to feed in the middle of the night, you run the risk of waking the toddler and it’s important to respect each child’s independent sleep needs.

Q: My daughter is 8 months and can roll over but is it okay she rolls onto her belly to sleep?

A: Yes! Most children have the ability to roll over by 6 months of age. If she is rolling consistently it is ok to leave her as long as she starts out on her back for sleep. You can see more about this recommendation and other FAQs from the National Institute of Child Health and Development here: https://www1.nichd.nih.gov/sts/about/Pages/faq.aspx#q7.

Q: My baby is 4 months old.  We start bedtime at 7pm and by the time he is in bed it’s 9pm. How can we make this an easier bedtime routine?

A: A bedtime routine should be no longer than 30 minutes and should include a feeding (if you’re breastfeeding, this routine could be as long as 45 minutes). A great routine consists of a feeding,  bath, book and into bed awake. If it’s taking too long, look into two things: (1) are there unnecessary parts of the routine that can be removed? (2) which parts of the routine take the longest and can they be shortened?

 

Q: What time should the last bottle be before a 7pm bedtime?

A: This is a complex question! Since feeding and sleep go hand-in-hand in order to provide the best direction for this question I would need to know the child’s age, sleeping schedule and full feeding schedule. If you’d like to discuss further please send me an email at emily@sleepwiseconsulting.com, and we’ll set up a free 15-minute sleep evaluation.

Q: Ways to help sleeping when traveling? It always throws my kids off!

A: Traveling can be tough on a child’s sleep schedule, but the good news is that with a little planning you can avoid interfering with their sleep skills long term. The biggest things to remember are: 1. Don’t over-schedule 2. Be consistent with naps and bedtime 3. Be patient as your child acclimatizes to the new environment 4. Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy or blanket 5. If you’re not a co-sleeping family, don’t start now! You can read more about each of these tips here: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/travel-tips/5-tips-on-how-to-maintain-healthy-sleep-habits-while-on-vacation/.

Q: What do you do when going on a beach vacation and naptime? How can I make my kids sleep on beach?

A: Beach vacations can be hard for a child’s sleep schedule but the key to success is always consistency! It’s important to prioritize your child’s sleep needs as much as possible and sleeping on a hot, bright beach is definitely not easy. If possible, allow naps to be inside and resume your beach time when the kids are awake.

Q: My baby is 5.5 months old, takes 4 45-minute naps every day, and wakes up every 3 hours to feed. How can we get him to sleep through the night and on a better schedule/ routine?

A: It sounds like your little one probably has a what I call a “sleep prop. A sleep prop is anything external the baby uses to fall asleep and stay asleep. This could be rocking to sleep, bouncing to sleep, patting to sleep, etc. In order to get your baby more restful sleep, you’ll want to work on putting them to bed prop-free. Sleep is a very complex issue so if this situation sounds like you, please reach out to me at emily@sleepwiseconsulting.com for a free 15-minute sleep evaluation. I’d love to learn more about your child’s sleeping habits and get your entire family more and better sleep!

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