By Brooke Nalle
You did it. You survived summer vacation. You went to Grandmas and back. You have packed up the pack and play, put away the suitcases, and are settling in for fall. Smooth sailing from now on, right?
Not always, because of course, there are some challenges that come with this new season. First colds, dark mornings, early wake ups, and of course the dreaded … time change. Here are a few pieces of advice that I share with my clients this time of year and that will hopefully get you back on track or keep you going in the right direction.
1. If your child has a cold, you continue to gently follow your sleep routines and expectations. Just know that congestion makes it tough to feed, take a pacifier, or suck a thumb, so you might need to supplement how much you help to get them to go to sleep. If your child has a fever, do not embark on a sleep training plan! As soon as they are better, plot out a path to improve sleep, to get back to where you were, and take a few steps to get there in a day or two.
2. If your baby or toddler is waking up too early (it feels especially early this time of year), then make sure she is fully putting herself to sleep at bedtime as independently as possible. That way she can apply these same ‘going to sleep skills’ when she stirs in the early morning hours. You can adjust the afternoon nap to prevent her from going down too tired as well.
3. And last but not least … the time change. You can either work proactively or reactively to adjust your child to the new time. To prepare in advance, shift your child’s naps, bedtime, and feeding schedules 15/20 minutes towards the new time. You need to shift all 3 for it to work. You should also allow 3 to 4 days to get there. If the time changed, and you want to move your child onto the new time as quickly as possible, then shift naps, feedings, and bedtime as close to the new time as possible. I don’t suggest doing the full hour, but break it in ½ or 1/3rd based on your child’s temperament and what you think he can handle.
Finally Halloween can be very exciting and sometimes scary for your child. Try to plan your Halloween events from their point of view. Look for celebrations that are geared towards the age of your child –
perhaps a Halloween parade, or even dog parade rather than a trip to a Haunted House or Scary Jack O’Lantern ride.
Pediatric Sleep Consultant
Sleepy On Hudson
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