Did you know that the average parent loses 3 hours of sleep every single night? Mainly because the baby just doesn`t sleep. Wouldn`t it be amazing if you could sleep like before. Now you can.
Here is some tips which will immediately help your baby’s sleep!
#1 Co-Sleeping: Should Your Child Sleep In Your Bed?
Co-sleeping is the practice where the child sleeps in bed with his parents. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most hotly debated and controversial topics related to pediatric sleep. Let’s see why.
Some people argue that co-sleeping is the right and natural way to raise a child because the practice fosters a stronger bond and a more secure attachment.
Conversely, others will tell you that co-sleeping is risky, ridiculous, or even dangerous and they don’t want it for their family.
So, which approach holds the truth?
First, it’s important to understand that co-sleeping is not magic. Although some proponents of the family bed would disagree, numerous couples have reported that their babies did not necessarily sleep deeper or longer because their parents were close by. In fact, some parents found that their child slept longer and woke less frequently when they stopped co-sleeping and moved him into his own crib.
However, whether families choose to co-sleep or have their children sleep independently is a personal decision, and if both parents and child are safe, rested, and fulfilled, then co-sleeping is nothing to worry about.
If you decide do co-sleep, this commitment requires some very careful thinking about what you and your spouse feel is right for you as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.
Ask yourselves the following questions:
• Is it nice to think about enjoying the coziness of sleeping in close proximity, or does one or more of us tend to stay active during sleeping – potentially disrupting the others?
• Does everyone in our family want to co-sleep, or are we leaning toward it because one of us feels strongly?
• Are we willing to commit to being quiet after our child falls asleep, or do we like to watch TV or talk in bed?
• Will we enjoy being able to feed our baby more often throughout the night, or will having him next to us make it tougher to wean nighttime feeds?
• Are we agreeable to getting into bed when our child does, to ensure his safety?
• For working parents, does sleeping next to our child allow us to feel more connected to him?
As expected, co-sleeping has both advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s take a closer look at them.
• Constant closeness whenever the child is awake. Many children and parents enjoy this feeling.
• Immediate action and support for any sleep-related problem
• The ability to nurse and respond to other nighttime wakings without getting up
• More time to spend with the child
• Possibly better sleep for both the child and the parents, if the child was sleeping poorly to begin with
• Parents may sleep poorly if their children are restless sleepers
• Parents may end up sleeping in separate rooms, and they may become angry at their child or with each other
• Children’s and adults’ sleep cycles do not coincide
• Parents may have to go to bed at a very early hour with their children and be left with little time for their own evening activities
• Parents have little privacy
• There may be a slight increase in the risk to the infant from SIDS and related causes.
The decision to co-sleep should be yours, made by the parent – or parents – and based on your own personal philosophies, not on pressure from your child or anyone else. Another family’s good or bad experience with co-sleeping should not influence your decision: your child is unique and your family is not the same.
#2 The Big Change – Transitioning Your Child From Crib To Bed
So, what needs to be done?
First, resist the temptation to move him too early. Most experts recommend doings so around age 3. Unless your child is climbing out of his crib or needs more space than a crib can provide – his body is growing at an astounding rate – it’s better to keep him in the crib, which allows him to feel safe.
This way, your child can feel comfortable taking giant developmental leaps during the day but still regress to the security of his old crib at night.
Moreover, until age 3, toddlers are very impulsive, and your child’s difficulty in understanding and being able to follow directions or rules (like staying in bed all night) will make sleeping in a bed a real challenge. If you transition to a bed before age 3, you can plan on waking up to a little visitor next to your bed pretty much every night.
When the time comes, however, you need to help your child transition smoothly to sleeping in a bed. For that, you need to follow certain steps. These are:
1. Create a safe environment: Safety proof your child’s room and any adjacent areas he may be able to visit into the middle of the night. Secure windows, tops of stairs, and any stepstools that can be tripped over. Even better, you can install a safety gate at your child’s door. You can even install a small night-light in his room to help him orient himself and avoid hurting himself.
2. Pick the mattress: Go to the mattress store – or any other store that sells mattresses – and let your child help you choose the mattress or bed. With safety in mind, all you need is a twin-size mattress and box spring and some safety rails for the side. You should adjust the height of this new bed accordingly, as it will need to sit low on the floor for some time until your child gets used to it. Get some fun new sheets, some special pillowcases and you’re set to go.
3. Disassemble the crib (together): Once the new bed comes home, ask your child to help you to take down the crib. This way, your child will feel part of the transition process and will also be able to say good-bye to the crib.
4. Set up the bed: Put the bed in a corner of your child’s room so that the head and side of the bed are flush against the wall for protection. Add a safety rail to the exposed side of the bed. Your child will feel safe this way, just as he did in his crib.
5. Explain the rules of bedtime: If your child is verbal before the first night of sleeping in the bed, go over the rules of bedtime with him. Tell him that he is a big boy now who needs to understand that when we go to sleep, we only wake up when the sun is nice and bright.
6. Do your bedtime routine: During the first few nights your child is sleeping in his new bed, take an extra 10 minutes of reading time together to make him feel comfortable in his new environment. The idea here is to make your child feel safe. If your child seems excited about the new bed from the very start, you’re one of those luck people who has made this transition easily.
#3 My Child Is An Early Bird – Can I Do Something About It?
Early morning wakings are one of the toughest sleep problems to fix, if not the toughest. If you’re wondering why, it’s because after a decent night’s rest your child has got more energy to fight sleep in the morning. And the truth is, all of us come up into lighter sleep phases in the last hour of our sleep, preparing to take up for the day.
Remember, however, your child is waking early only if he is not getting the right amount of night rest for his age and his body. In other words, if your child sleeps from 7 PM to 6 AM, it’s a perfectly reasonable schedule for him, even though it might feel early to you.
We can’t ask our children to sleep more than 11 hours at night. Their bodies are usually rested after this much sleep, and they won’t be able to do more.
Also keep in mind the following fact: if your child is waking even at 10/½ hours, if he is rested and energetic in the morning and makes it easily till his naptime, then he’s getting enough rest for his body.
Problems arise if your child sleeps from, say, 7 PM to 5:30 AM. In this case, you’ll need to push the bedtime later by 15-minute increments, then watching to see if your child can sleep later in the morning.
A word of caution, though: Making the bedtime later can often have the opposite effect of causing your child to wake up earlier. This is the reason why things need to be done in small steps.
Here are some other ideas to try if your child is an early bird:
• Make sure that your child’s room is very, very dark.
• If there are any sounds that could be waking him – such as garbage trucks, barking dogs, sprinklers – put white noise in the room and make the volume loud enough to protect him from these sounds
• Remove all stimulating toys from your child’s crib or bed, which can be distracting once the sun enters his room.
• If you are checking in on your child within the last hour before his wake time, your interaction may prevent him from returning to sleep. Don’t check on him if it’s less than one hour till his wake time.
• Make sure the bedtime is not too late for your child’s age. Adjust the bedtime earlier by 15-minute increments, and watch what happens in the morning. In doing so, you will allow your child to sleep later, as he is less overtired at bedtime. If he does wake earlier, return to your previous bedtime. If moving the bedtime earlier has no effect on the wake time, you may want to consider using the earlier bedtime anyway to help your child get the right amount of night sleep for his age.
• Make sure your child is not hungry. If you have a child under 12 months and have newly begun to wean feedings, you may want to slow the process down to give him more time to adjust. Moreover, be careful to ensure that you are offering the breast or bottle more often during the day to help him transition his previous nighttime feeds to the daytime, so he won’t be hungry going down for sleep at night.
#4 Sleep Struggles – Why Do Children Cry As They Learn How To Sleep
Seeing your baby cry is perhaps the most heartbreaking moment of all. You don’t want him to cry. You want him happy. And of course, you want him healthy. But for all that to happen, he needs to sleep properly.
It would be nice if your child could learn how to sleep without any crying or frustration whatsoever. Every parent would sign up for that. Unfortunately, the truth is that all children, regardless of the method you use to help them sleep, inevitably do shed some tears in the process. Let’s see why.
First and foremost, children cry when learning to sleep because they are protesting – they don’t like change. In fact, they hate change. Just think about it.
Do you remember what your favorite book was as a kid? Do you remember wanting to read that book over and over again, even though you knew every word of it?
We all resist change, children and adults alike. It’s normal to do so, and it’s normal for your child to express his resistance by crying. After all, crying comes before words – not the other way around.
Second, as children begin to learn how to sleep but haven’t yet figured out how to do so, they are understandably frustrated. They no longer have Mom and Dad on their side to help them get to sleep, and they don’t yet know what to do differently. They will eventually.
What’s really interesting about falling asleep is that although each of us is born with the inherent ability to do so, it is considered a learned behavior. And yet you can’t teach anyone else how to do it – you can’t simply say to your child to close his eyes and sleep. Instead, each of us has to learn for ourselves what to do to settle into sleep.
Of course, there are children who seem to learn how to sleep almost magically, with very little effort on the parent’s part. However, children are different. Everyone is unique.
Your child, along with many others, hasn’t learned this essential skill yet, which is why he needs you to take a step back, so he has the opportunity to achieve that on his own.
How will he do it? He might kick his legs around a bit, he might gently rock his head from side to side, or he might grab his lovey. Or maybe he’ll suck on his thumb. If he’s a bit older, maybe he’ll play with his hair.
The truth is, each of us has different things we do to soothe ourselves into sleep, and your child will surely find a way that’s perfect for him. But he won’t discover those things nearly as easily with you standing right next to him or picking him up – he won’t have the motivation to do so.
Simply put, if you “help” him, he will cry even harder because the touching feels like a tease that serves to reinforce the crying.
#5 Sleep Problems And Nighttime Feedings
Although your baby may give up regular nighttime feedings on his own by the time he’s three months old, do not expect – or insist – that such a young infant give them up altogether, all of a sudden.
But if your child is at least three months old, still nurses or requires a bottle at bedtime, and needs to eat again several more times during the night, then the extra feedings may well be causing the extra wakings. If that is the case, you may be able to help him sleep better by decreasing the number of these feedings.
However, if your baby takes in a substantial amount of food – from extended feedings at the breast, or bottles adding up to more than eight ounces over the course of the night – then he has learned that certain times of night are mealtimes. To eliminate these feedings suddenly wouldn’t be wise or nice.
The amount of milk or juice your child drinks during the night may be considerable. If he finishes four full eight-ounce bottles, that is a large amount for even an adult to consume overnight.
Solving The Problem
If you have concluded that excessive and unnecessary feedings at night are disrupting your child’s sleep, you will be relieved to learn that although such feedings can lead to severe sleep disturbances, the problem is also one of the easiest to fix.
Two things need to be addressed. The first is to reduce or eliminate the nighttime feedings to avoid their various sleep-disrupting effects. The second is to teach your child new sleep associations so that he can fall asleep without being held, without eating, and without sucking on the breast or bottle. You can do these things at the same time, or one at a time.
To fix the problems caused by the feedings, start by gradually decreasing the number of nighttime feedings, their size, or both. Just don’t stop the feedings suddenly. A program designed to allow new patterns to develop will be easier for him to follow.
Your goal is to gradually move your child’s feelings of hunger out of the nighttime and into the daytime. Once there is only a single remaining nighttime feeding left, you can choose to stop that feeding right away – instead of gradually – if you prefer, since the total amount of ingested food during the night is now fairly small.
If you are working on sleep associations and hunger patterns simultaneously, put your child in bed as soon as each feeding is over, even if he wakes and begins to cry. If you nurse him and he sleeps next to you, move him off of you when the feeding is done so that he can learn to fall asleep without using your breast as a pacifier. You’ve just fed him, so he is not hungry – now you are only changing his expectation of what happens while he falls asleep.
Within a week, if all goes well, you will have finished cutting down or even eliminating the nighttime feedings. After that, continue applying the technique of progressive waiting at any waking at night (except for feeding times) until the wakings stop. It should not take more than another few days.
#6 How lack of sleep affects your baby's brain and personality
A leading researcher on temperament in infants and young children once said in despair, “When I raised my first child, I believed behavioral theories claiming that what I do as a parent molds my child’s character. With my second child, I was already a geneticist and believed that a child is born with characteristics that are passed on through heredity and that environmental influence is minimal. I barely knew my third child at all...”
This analysis was, of course, exaggerated, but it demonstrates the ongoing quest of parents and scientists to answer this question: what determines the personality and personal characteristics of the child?
The question of heredity (“She got her shyness from her dad’s family”) versus environment (“If his mother were more strict with him, he would be calmer”) underlies parents’ attempts to understand the range of influence they have in molding their child.
Up-to-date research points to a complex picture: the influence of heredity and environment on the child. Much evidence suggests that the baby is born with genetic baggage that not only determines how he looks, the color of his eyes, and his chances of suffering from various diseases but also significantly influences the character traits that he or she will develop.
Physical activity level, shyness or sociability, openness to new situations, and anxiety are among the traits that are related to the genetic predisposition with which babies enter the world. Many parents discover that their child has traits that are undesirable to them—especially if they remind them of qualities they dislike about their parents, their spouses, or themselves.
Parents frequently try to fight these traits, but they often discover that it is a losing battle.
It seems that the most important variable that influences the quality of the relationship between parents and children is the “goodness of fit” between the child’s traits and the parents’ expectations.
A very active child, for example, may be adored by a father who appreciates and identifies with this trait but merely tolerated by a father who expects a calmer child.
On the other hand, a quiet, calm child may be considered depressive or lifeless by the first father, while the second father sees her as perfect.
Incompatibility between parental expectations and the child’s traits may lead to frustration and stress in the relationship, particularly if the parents try to “correct” the child to conform to their expectations.
The Relationship Between Temperament And Sleep
Every parent is familiar with the situation in which her child demonstrates by his behavior that he “is up past his bedtime.”
When scientists asked parents to describe this situation, some said that the child calms down, seems sleepy, falls asleep on his own, or asks directly or indirectly to go to bed. Other parents said that their child in this situation “climbs the walls,” “is a crybaby,” “is nervous and unhappy with everything,” “doesn’t respond to what he’s told,” or “simply does annoying things.”
Clearly, young children react to tiredness in significantly different ways.
A state of fatigue is not necessarily expressed by decreased activity and obvious sleepiness.
Sometimes the symptoms can be just the opposite.
Some of the typical “negative” behaviors of the tired child are compatible with general patterns that characterize behavior disorders.
Much evidence points to a strong correlation between sleep and the development of the child’s personality traits.
Studies have shown that a baby who suffers from sleep disorders (difficulty falling asleep, for example, or many awakenings during the night) tends to be “more difficult” in other behavioral domains.
In a study conducted in several sleep laboratories, scientists compared a group of nine- to twenty-four-month-old babies whose parents had come for a consultation about their children’s sleep problems with a control group of babies without sleep disorder – not surprisingly, what they found is significant differences in the traits that the mothers attributed to babies.
The mothers completed a temperament questionnaire, which is a sort of “personality” test for young children.
The mothers rated their degree of agreement with such sentences as “The child agrees to be dressed and undressed without protesting,” “The child responds strongly (screams, yells) when frustrated,” and “The child sits quietly when waiting to eat.”
In general, the mothers of babies with sleep problems described them as more demanding, complaining, annoying, negatively sensitive to different stimuli, and difficult to adapt to different situations, as compared with babies without sleep problems.
One of the traits measured in the temperament questionnaire is the degree of sensitivity or responsivity of the baby to different sensory stimuli (noise, temperature, taste, smell).
Some babies are very sensitive to any kind of sensory stimulus, and others are sensitive only to a specific type of sensation—for example, those who recoil from skin contact.
A wide range of babies do not respond in an outstanding way to sensory stimuli.
One of the hypotheses that the researcher William Carey examined in 1974 was that babies who suffer from hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli would tend to develop sleep difficulties.
Carey’s findings supported the hypothesis, and he claimed that the heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli is hereditary.
In order to fall asleep, the baby has to disassociate himself from the external environment and stop responding to people, noise, light, and temperature, and to disassociate from internal signals as well, such as pain, discomfort, and hunger. This ability to disassociate is most critical for maintaining uninterrupted sleep and for preventing awakenings in response to various stimuli.
A baby who is sensitive from birth to any internal or external stimulus will have trouble disassociating from environmental stimuli, which will interfere with his ability to relax and fall asleep easily and will cause him to awaken easily and frequently over the course of the night.
This correlation between sleep and behavior continues throughout later childhood.
Studies that examined school-aged children found a correlation between sleep disorders and problems with behavior and more general adaptation.
Actually, sleep disorders serve as a sensitive barometer of general adaptation problems among children and adults.
Sleep disorders are a prominent sign of stress and anxiety, depression, and adaptation problems. Sleep problems are so prevalent in some behavior or emotional disorders that they have been included in diagnostic criteria.
One factor that strengthens a diagnosis of anxiety disorders in a child, for example, is the presence of a sleep disorder.
The close correlation between sleep disorders and behavior problems in children can be explained in a number of ways.
Perhaps a child born with a tendency toward problematic behavior develops sleep problems as well, as a result. At the same time, it is reasonable to believe that significant sleep problems will lead to insufficient sleep or sleep deprivation, which may cause the child to be nervous, impatient, and harder to manage.
In addition, a third cause, such as incompatible parenting patterns, may provoke or aggravate both behavior problems and sleep difficulties.
In treatment centers, scientists frequently come across babies or young children who are described by their parents as hyperactive.
The parents use this term casually, but professionals use it to diagnose a condition—the professional term is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder— that occurs only in older children.
These babies are described as especially active and restless and are said to demand attention and seek stimuli constantly.
Often parents associate their child’s sleep difficulties with his wakeful restlessness. Occasionally a parent says something like, “This boy has a turbo engine and he cannot shut it down at bedtime,” or “He is like the Energizer bunny; he keeps going and going and going.”
Although hyperactivity is diagnosed at a later age, there is evidence that most hyperactive children were overactive, restless babies, with difficult temperaments.
Again, we face a chicken-or-egg question: are these babies unable to sleep like “normal” babies because they are unusually active, or does their sleep problem underlie their “hyperactivity”?
In many cases sleep disruption appears to lead to “hyperactive” behavior patterns, even though no research has directly confirmed this fact.
More and more evidence demonstrates that lack of sleep may bring on behavior that resembles that of a hyperactive child.
From an intuitive perspective we can all recall methods we use to keep ourselves awake when we are tired.
These methods include increasing our activity, fidgeting, fiddling with our hands or our facial muscles, and similar strategies.
This pattern contradicts the expectation that the tired child will relax and slow down.
The clinical literature has documented certain cases in which significant sleep problems have been found to lead to “hyperactive” behavior patterns and later to a wrong diagnosis and treatment.
It is of utmost importance to examine the possibility that the sleep disorder is the source and not the outcome of the “hyperactivity.”
In the event that a sleep disorder exists, it should be treated before treating the disorders that result from it.
In some cases treating the sleep disorder may spare the child from receiving unnecessary medication like Ritalin, which is the most prescribed chemical response to children’s behavioral problems.
An erroneous interpretation of a child’s behavior can also result when she responds to a sleep disorder with heightened tiredness, indifference, and lack of interest in the environment. This pattern may be interpreted as depression, and sleep difficulties can be seen as the result of that condition.
As the professional literature reveals, such an erroneous diagnosis can result in a failure to detect and treat a primary sleep disorder, as well as mistaken treatment for depression.
Case studies have shown that when the problem is diagnosed correctly as a primary sleep disorder and treated accordingly, there is a parallel improvement in sleep and disappearance of the “depressive” symptoms.
Assessing intelligence in infancy is a very complex task.
Tests used on infants to assess early mental abilities that could be considered components of intelligence have generally failed to predict intelligence or cognitive abilities and achievements in later ages.
The research on the relation between sleep and intellectual development has been hampered by our limited capacity to assess intelligence in infants.
Efforts to study this issue have failed to provide a clear picture of the situation, and we need to call upon additional studies on older children and adults to help us consider the issue more systematically.
Scientists from the University of Connecticut in Evelyn Thoman’s group, which has contributed significantly to the field of the study of infant sleep, examined this question. They followed sleep of newborns over the course of their first two days of life and examined their development at the age of six months.
Special recording devices documented the babies’ sleep in hospital bassinets after birth.
The scientists then tested the mental, motor, and perceptual abilities of the babies at the age of six months, using the Bayley Test.
They found a correlation between sleep measures of the newborns on their first day of life and their development six months later.
Some scientists found a correlation between sleep disorders in infancy, especially those that are caused by respiratory problems, and possible shortfalls in intellectual development and academic achievements at a later age.
Other studies, however, found no comprehensible correlation between sleep and later mental function.
Studies on older children and adults have shown that sleep disorders or insufficient sleep primarily interfere with cognitive abilities associated with attention and concentration.
That is to say that the ability to focus on certain stimuli for extended time deteriorates.
People who don’t get enough sleep react more slowly and make more mistakes on tasks that demand attention and continuous concentration. Although the question of sleep and attention has not been directly studied in infants, some support for their correlation comes from indirect approaches.
For example, mothers described their babies (aged nine to twenty-four months) who suffered from sleep problems as having trouble concentrating on play or a particular activity for an extended length of time, and as easily distracted by other stimuli.
In another recent study, sleep scientists examined the relationship between sleep patterns and learning skills, concentration, and attention among school-aged children.
The sleep patterns of the children were examined objectively by using sleep watches, and their learning functions were examined by computerized tests.
Similar to the results in studies of adults, they found that children whose quality of sleep deteriorated (as manifested by many or lengthy awakenings from sleep during the night) also had decreased attention abilities.
These findings support the assumption that these critical functions for learning and academic achievement are adversely affected by sleep disorders among children.
Furthermore, recent studies have shown that if “normal” children are requested to shorten their sleep for experimental purposes, they suffer negative consequences, and their learning and attention abilities are significantly compromised.
On the basis of what we have learned about older children and adults and from the limited information on infants, it is fair to conclude that the intellectual abilities of infants are challenged by disrupted or insufficient sleep.
#7 6 Science-Backed Baby Sleep Strategies
Everything about baby sleep can seem frighteningly high-stakes at 3 A.M. in the morning.
Make one tiny mistake in his or her training and your child’s development will be seriously affected: he’ll either end up waking in the night well into his high school years, or worse, develop anxiety, depression, or mood swings.
And with every sleep expert offering slightly different advice on the ideal timing and method for sleep training you may be unsure about who to believe, how to proceed, or which sleep training method you should follow.
That’s where this article fits in – I’m going to help you separate sleep fact from sleep fiction by zeroing in on 6 science-backed strategies that have been proven to promote healthy sleep habits in babies and young children.
Strategy #1 – Learn to Spot Your Child’s Sleep Cues
Like the rest of us, your child has a sleep window of opportunity, a period of time when he is tired, but not too tired.
If that window closes before you have a chance to tuck your child into bed, his body will start releasing chemicals to fight the fatigue and it will be much more difficult for you to get him to go to sleep. So how can you tell if your baby is getting sleepy? It’s not as if your one-month-old can tell you what he needs. Here are some sleep cues that your baby is ready to start winding down for a nap or for bedtime:
-Your baby is calmer and less active – this is the most obvious cue that your baby is tired and you need to act accordingly.
-Your baby may be less tuned-in to his surroundings – his eyes may be less focused and his eyelids may be drooping.
-Your baby may be quieter – if your baby tends to babble up a storm during his more social times of the day, you may notice that the chatter dwindles off as he starts to get sleepy.
-Your baby may nurse more slowly – instead of sucking away vigorously, your baby will tend to nurse more slowly as he gets sleepy. In fact, if he’s sleepy enough, he may even fall asleep mid-meal.
-Your baby may start yawning – if your baby does this, well, that’s a not-so-subtle sign that he’s one sleepy baby.
When your baby is very young, you should start his wind-down routine within one to two hours of the time when he first woke up.
If you miss his initial sleep cues and start to notice signs of overtiredness – for instance, fussiness, irritability, and eye-rubbing, simply note how long your baby was up this time around and then plan to initiate the wind-down routine about 20 minutes earlier the next time he wakes up. (The great thing about parenting a newborn is that you get lots of opportunities to practice picking up on those sleep cues—like about six or seven times a day!)
Learning to read your baby’s own unique sleep cues is the first step to a more rested and more content baby.
Here’s something else you need to know about babies’ sleep cues, something that can toss you a major curve ball if you’re caught off guard:
Babies tend to go through an extra-fussy period when they reach the six-week mark. The amount of crying that babies do in a day tends to increase noticeably when babies are around six weeks of age.
You aren’t doing anything wrong and there isn’t anything wrong with your baby. It’s just a temporary stage that babies go through.
If your child becomes overtired, your child is likely to behave in one or more of the following ways (results may vary, depending on his age and personality):
-Your child will get a sudden burst of energy at the very time when you think she should be running on empty.
-You’ll start seeing “wired” and hyperactive behavior, even if such behavior is totally out of character for your child at other times of the day.
-Your toddler or preschooler will become uncooperative or argumentative.
-Your child will be whiny or clingy or she’ll just generally fall apart because she simply can’t cope with the lack of sleep any longer.
You will probably find that your child has his or her own unique response to being overtired. Some children start to look pale. Some young babies start rooting around for a breast and will latch on to anything within rooting distance, including your face or your arm! When nothing seems to be wrong (he’s fed and clean), but he’s just whining about everything and wants to be held all day, he’s overtired and needs help to get to sleep.
Learning to read your baby’s own unique sleep cues is the first step to a more rested and happier baby.
Strategy #2 – Teach Your Baby to Distinguish between Night and Day
Because our circadian rhythm (our internal time clock) operates on a 24-hour and 10-minute to 24 hour and 20-minute cycle (everyone’s body clock ticks along at a slightly different rhythm) and all of our rhythms are slightly out of sync with the 24-hour clock on which the planet operates, we have to reset our internal clocks each and every day – otherwise, we’d slowly but surely stay up later and sleep in later each day until we had our cycles way out of whack.
Daylight is one of the mechanisms that regulate our biological cycles.
Being exposed to darkness at night and daylight first thing in the morning regulates the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that keeps our bodies’ internal clock in sync to that we feel sleepy and alert at the appropriate times.
By exposing your baby to daylight shortly after he wakes up in the morning and keeping his environment brightly lit during his waking hours, you will help his circadian rhythm to cue him to feel sleepy at the right times.
Moreover, he’ll start to associate darkness with sleep time and bright light with wake-up time – you’ll find that it works best to take advantage of sunlight (as opposed to artificial light) whenever possible.
Studies have shown that exposing your baby to daylight between noon and 4:00 P.M. will increase the odds of your baby getting a good night’s sleep.
Strategy #3 – Let Your Baby Practice Falling Asleep on His Own
Some sleep experts recommend that you put your baby to bed in a sleepy-but-awake state whenever possible from the newborn stage onwards so that he can practice some self-soothing behaviors.
Others say that you should give your baby at least one opportunity to try to fall asleep on his own each day.
Lastly, some others say that there’s no point even bothering to work on these skills until your baby reaches that three-to-four month mark (when your baby’s sleep-wake rhythm begins to mature so that some sleep learning can begin to take place).
Sleep experts claim that the sleep-association clock starts ticking at around six weeks. They claim that this is the point at which your baby begins to really tune into his environment as he’s falling asleep.
So if he gets used to falling asleep in your arms while your rock him and sing to him, he will want you to rock him and sing to him when he wakes up in the middle of the night – that’s the only way he knows on how to fall asleep.
This is because he has developed a sleep association that involves you – you have become a walking, talking sleep aid.
Some parents decide that it makes sense to take a middle-of-the-road approach to sleep associations during the early weeks and months of their baby’s life – they decide to make getting sleep the priority for themselves and their babies and to take advantage of any opportunities to start helping their babies to develop healthy sleep habits.
Regardless of when you start paying attention to the types of sleep associations your baby may be developing, at some point you will want to consider whether your baby could be starting to associate any of the following habits or behaviors with the process of falling asleep:
-Falling asleep during bottle-feeding
-Being rocked to sleep
-Having you rub or pat his back, sing a lullaby, or otherwise play an active role in helping your baby to fall asleep
-Having you in the room until your baby falls asleep
-Relying on a pacifier
Here’s something important to keep in mind, particularly since we tend to fall into an all-or-nothing trap when we’re dealing with the subject of sleep.
You can reduce the strength of any particular sleep association by making sure it is only present some of the time when your baby is falling asleep.
If, for example, you nurse your baby to sleep some of the time, rock your baby to sleep some of the time, and try to put your baby to bed just some of the time when he’s sleep but awake, he’ll have a hard time getting hooked on any sleep association.
Sleep experts stress that the feeding-sleep association tends to be particularly powerful, so if you can encourage your baby to fall asleep without always needing to be fed to sleep, your baby will have an easier time learning how to soothe himself to sleep when he gets a little older.
Most babies are ready to start practicing these skills around the three- to the four-month mark.
Strategy #4 – Make Daytime Sleep a Priority: Children Who Nap Sleep Better
Scientific research has shown that babies who nap during the day sleep better and longer at nighttime. While you might think that skipping babies’ daytime naps might make it easier to get them off to bed at evening, babies typically end up being so overtired that they have a very difficult time settling down at bedtime and they don’t sleep particularly well at night.
And rather than sleeping in so that they can catch up on the sleep they didn’t get the day before, they tend to start the next day too early and they have a difficult time settling down for their naps, as well.
Simply put, it is important to make your child’s daytime sleep a priority, just as you make a point of ensuring that he receives nutritious meals and snacks on a regular basis – your child needs nutritious sleep snacks during the day in addition to his main nighttime sleep meal in order to be at his very best.
In addition, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers who nap are generally in a better mood and have an improved attention span as compared to their age-mates who don’t nap.
Strategy #5 – Know When Your Baby No Longer Needs to Be Fed At Night
Your baby may continue to wake up in the night out of habit even when he’s outgrown the need for a middle-of-the-night feeding.
If your baby is going without that nighttime feeding some of the time or doesn’t seem particularly interested in nursing once he gets up in the night, it might be time to eliminate that nighttime feeding and use non-food methods to soothe him back to sleep.
Eventually, of course, you’ll want to encourage him to assume responsibility for soothing himself to sleep, but the first hurdle is to work on breaking that powerful food-sleep association.
With some children, it happens quickly. With other children, it’s a much slower process.
Once you break that association, he may stop waking as often in the night and may be ready to start working on acquiring some self-soothing skills.
Strategy #6 – Remain as Calm and Relaxed as Possible about the Sleep Issue
If you are frustrated and angry when you deal with your child in the night, your child will inevitably pick up your vibes, even if you’re trying hard to hide your feelings.
Accepting the fact that some babies take a little longer to learn the sleep ropes and feeling confident that you can solve your child’s sleep problems will make it easier to cope with the middle-of-the-night sleep interruptions.
Scientific studies have shown that parents who have realistic expectations about parenthood and who feel confident in their own abilities to handle parenting difficulties find it easier to handle sleep challenges.
#8 The Developmental Importance Of Napping For Babies
Baby naps aren't just sweet moments of parental respite – they're also developmentally vital.
For new parents, getting more sleep doesn’t just have to be a dream. There are ways to make it happen, starting with getting their baby on a consistent sleep schedule, both at nigh and with daytime naps.
This may not look to difficult, but in reality, it is. Putting a baby to sleep in a softly manner requires a precise and planned approach.
Sleep experts have proven that setting babies’ internal clocks to a routine nap cycle is more than just a smart way for parents to free up time to work or recharge their own batteries – it’s also vital to early development.
Regular sleep is an essential physical and cognitive aid to a baby’s brain and body. And naps play a vital role.
According to clinical studies, children who have regular, adequate daytime naps settle to sleep at night easier, have less night walking, are less accident-prone during the day, and show better performance on cognitive tasks.
The negative side effects of poor napping are equally noteworthy. Children who lack adequate sleep duration, which is more likely if naps aren’t taken regularly, are at increased risk for obesity during preschool and early school years, have more difficulty with emotional, social and physical functioning in early school years, and are more likely to exhibit hyperactivity. For babies to truly reap the many benefits of sleep, nature alone isn’t enough. Parents play a huge role and their first question is almost always, “How many hours of sleep does my kid need each day?”
Experts have reached a consensus, agreeing that a six-month-old will need 13 to 14 hours of sleep, while a 12-month-old will need 12 hours of sleep.
That amount remains pretty consistent until age four, when kids usually stop napping. Then it drops down to about 11 hours of sleep.
Of course, that’s really helpful to know out of the gate but still not super helpful for establishing consistent nap schedules. Because infants’ daily sleep needs can fluctuate a lot in the short-term – day to day or week to week – parents can feel like they’re shooting at a moving target.
The mindset of “How many hours has it been since the last sleep?“ doesn’t establish solid, daily sleeping times. That’s best achieved through active parental involvement and intervention.
Let’s take the following example – if your baby will sleep 10 hours at night, from 8 PM to 6 AM, that means you aim for bedtime at 8 every night and plan to wake them up at everyday at 6 in the morning.
It might sound crazy, but that’s what helps set that internal clock.
The same goes for naps.
Yes, though it seems counter-intuitive, sometimes the best strategy for getting babies on a regular sleep schedule is to wake them up from a nap.
If you don’t wake them up, however, you can start a snowball effect. What this means is that they’ll nap for, let’s say 3 hours, but then they won’t be tired enough to go to bed at night. It’s hard, but having a balance helps.
That’s why some babies hit all the right numbers in terms of daily totals but still struggle to sleep through the night – they’re just not tired enough.
Instead of letting them sleep as long as possible during the day, the more effective approach is to make sure they get a few consolidated hours of good sleep.
Simply put, naps are a matter of quality over quantity – an hour or two goes a long way. So does a strong routine.
How Much Daytime Sleep Do Babies Need?
Newborns: Until they’re about 3 months old, infants are napping machines. They can sleep up to 18 hours a day, and typically only spend an hour or two awake at a time.
Babies: After the newborn stage, but before they reach their first birthday, babies need two to four naps a day. They may rest anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours at a stretch.
Toddlers: Children this age should get 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day, including naps. Somewhere between their first and second birthdays, most toddlers drop from two naps a day to one, which usually takes place in the early afternoon. When that happens, the remaining single nap can be long: up to 3 hours.
Preschoolers: After age 2, not every child needs a nap, though some 3- or 4-year-olds will still benefit from one. Preschoolers need 11 to 13 hours of sleep a day, but it’s more important for them to get a solid night’s rest than it is for them to nap. So if your child can’t fall asleep at night on the days when she naps, it may be time to shorten his afternoon snooze. But make sure to compensate by pushing bedtime earlier.
School-aged kids and older: After age 5, most kids no longer need naps. But a mid-day rest can work wonders for kids and teens who are dragging. Try to keep them short -- about 30 minutes -- and make sure they wake up by late afternoon. That way, the nap won’t mess with their bedtime.
#9 4 Fascinating Facts About How Babies Sleep
When people use the phrase “sleeping like a baby”, they’re probably not being literal, and that’s because new parents are usually tired and exhausted trying to find the best strategies for getting their little ones to sleep.
While we can’t erase the exhaustion that comes with taking care of a baby, we can help you worry a little less, and take some comfort in the fact that some of your baby’s sleep habits are not a cause for alarm, but are actually markers of good health. These are:
#1 Baby Sleep Patterns Are Different from Adult Sleep Patterns
We adults depend on circadian rhythms to regulate our sleep patterns – that is, the timing and duration of sleeping hours – but babies aren’t born with a built-in biological clock already ticking.
The rhythm takes time to develop, which is why newborn sleep schedules are so erratic and unpredictable. A normal infant won’t have a regular sleep pattern until they’re about 3 to 6 months old.
Moreover, even after sleep patterns are established, babies will still sleep differently, because they don’t go through the stages of sleep the same way adults do. We go through one sleep cycle – from light sleep to REM sleep – every 90 minutes or so.
For babies, it only takes about 50 minutes, and they don’t catch up to the adult standard until they reach their toddler years.
#2 Babies Are Light Sleepers
You probably know this already, but have you asked yourself why?
For one, it has to do with those shorter sleep cycles. Infants, particularly newborns, may actually wake up between full cycles, so it’s not so much light sleeping as it is actually learning how to sleep properly.
On top of this, babies spend about the same amount of time in both non-REM (quiet) and REM (active) sleep; compared to adults that spend only about 20% of their slumber in REM sleep.
Deep sleep actually occurs right before REM sleep, and is the last of the three stages of NREM – the other two being part of light sleep.
What does this all mean?
Not only is the infant sleep cycle shorter, but it also includes a lower percentage of deep sleep.
It can take up to 20 minutes of light sleep before your baby sleeps into a deep slumber, and even then, REM sleep ensues shortly after.
This is part of why they need to sleep so often.
#3 When It Comes to Daytime Naps, Every Baby Is Different
Let’s settle this, before doctors and other health professionals get into an uproar. Yes, there are ideal numbers: A good nap is generally considered to be at least about an hour and a half in length. There are also commonly prescribed amounts of naps per day, depending on age range—three to four naps from three to five months, two to three naps from six to nine months, and up to two thereafter and into the toddler ages. Newborns don’t nap, as much as they have short windows of waking moments, in between sleeping periods of two to four hours at a time throughout the entire day.
Your baby’s actual sleep habits may be close to this, or completely different—depending on factors such as temperament, environment, daily routine, and more.
If your baby’s naps are unusually short, but they nap more often or sleep through the night with relative ease—waking only to feed—that’s fine.
If your baby naps for more than an hour and a half but takes less naps overall, that’s fine, too.
What’s most important is the total number of hours spent sleeping in a day—about 11 to 18 hours, depending on the baby’s age.
The point is that your baby hasn’t read the baby books you have, and they don’t understand what their pediatrician says during checkups.
As long as they’re happy and healthy, deviating from standard daytime sleep habits isn’t such a big deal.
#4 Babies Process Information and Learn Even During Sleep
Contrary to what some may believe, babies get a lot of sleep.
This is good news, because sleep influences learning and memory; and if that’s true for adults that spend one third of their lives asleep, what more for babies that spend up to 75% of their time in slumber? From training themselves to recognize their parent’s voices, to figuring out working non-verbal cues to express feelings like hunger or pain – and much, much, more – babies learn and test the limits of their environment continuously when they’re awake.
What they learn is then consolidated and bolstered by periods of sleep in between their waking moments.
And even though there’s no conclusive proof that learning while sleeping works with adults — most studies on this actually refer to memory reactivation, which requires previous learning while awake — it can actually work with babies.
#10 Interview Mary-Ann Schuler
Today I had the pleasure – and honor – to speak with Mary-Ann Schuler, child psychologist and world renowned baby sleep training expert. Her impressive rise to fame started when she discovered a very efficient method of putting any baby to sleep – no matter how stubborn or active he may be – in a short time and with no stress. Since then she has helped thousands of babies and families help get good quality sleep, day and night. Here is some of the brilliant advice she had to share with me today:
Me: Hello Marry-Ann. Thank you for accepting my invitation.
Mary-Ann: It’s a pleasure. Hope I can answer all your baby sleep training questions and help more parents along the way.
Me: Let’s begin with a short introduction. Did you ever think that you would provide this much-needed help to so many people?
Mary-Ann: The truth is, I didn’t. But I knew somehow that I had to. Baby sleep issues are among the – if the not most – common problem parents face with their babies.
Being a mother at home and a child psychologist at work and still being unable to solve the problem made this even more frustrating.
Me: That’s really inspiring. The fact that this interview will reach out to a lot of parents who are at their wits’ end not knowing how to address this problem makes it invaluable.
Mary-Ann: I truly hope so.
Me: If you were to choose a word to describe the process of sleep training a baby, which one would it be?
Me: Wow! I’m convinced that parents love hearing that. Can you tell me exactly what you mean by “rewarding”?
Mary-Ann: Yeah, sure. Rewarding in the sense that babies and parents are equally benefiting from it. The reward is a good night’s sleep for both.
Me: And if parents want very fast results?
Mary-Ann: The truth is, nothing ever happens overnight. They need to remember that consistency and persistence are the keys here.
They are the building materials that support the whole structure. Take one out and the building falls to the ground.
Me: How about positivity? Is it important?
Mary-Ann: Surprisingly, children can sense if you’re truly happy. In other words, if you’re not happy when you’re teaching them, they won’t be happy learning from you.
Me: There is an old debate if children need to cry out until they fall asleep or not? What do you think of this?
Mary-Ann: I have to admit this is among the most common questions I receive. The short answer is no. Children shouldn’t be left alone crying out until they fall asleep.
The reason for this is simple: children need affection. If they don’t receive it now, they won’t show it back later in life. Affection, however, doesn’t mean rocking them to sleep every night.
The good news is that there is a third way, which is both soothing and efficient. I describe it in detail in my book.
Me: You wrote the book on how to sleep train every child. If parents pick it up, can they really have a sleeping child in a short amount of time?
Mary-Ann: As I clearly explained in the book, each child is unique and there are certain differences between each developmental phase. You can’t sleep train a 2-month old baby in the same way you would train a 1-year old. In general, any baby can be trained in a short amount of time, but it all depends on a parent’s consistency in following the routine.
Me: What is the shortest time someone has ever sleep trained their child using your method?
Mary-Ann: I receive mails from parents telling me they achieved fast results on a daily basis, but the most amazing mail I read was from a very happy mom who told me that she managed to sleep train her baby in three short days.
Me: Wow, that’s amazing. So if parents want to use your method and see that kind of fast results, where can they find out more about your program?
Mary-Ann: They can visit my website! It’s the only place they will find out exactly how I discovered this method and get their hands on a copy for themselves. (Click Here To Visit Mary Ann Schuler’s Site)
Me: Thank you very much for your time Mary-Ann.
Mary-Ann: Any time!
Chinese Medicine Researcher, Alternative Health and Nutrition Specialist,
Health Consultant and Former Infertility Sufferer Teaches You How To:
- Get Pregnant Naturally
In 60 Days!
- Give Birth to Healthy Babies
- Improve the Quality of Your Life Dramatically!
- Reverse Both Female and MaleInfertility Issues
- You Are On Your 30's or Late 40's
- You Have Tubal Obstruction
- You Have High Levels of FSH
- You Have PCOS or Endometriosis
- You Have Uterine Fibroids or Uterus Scarring
- You Have Ovarian Cysts Or 'Lazy Ovaries'
- You Have A History of Miscarriages
- Your Male Partner Has Low Sperm Count
- Without Resorting To Drugs, IVF or IUI Procedures
- Faster and Easier than You Ever Thought Possible!
by Lisa Olson- Nutrition Specialist, Health Consultant, Chinese Medicine Researcher and Author
Are you struggling to get pregnant? Are you frustrated, or feeling angry for not being able to conceive despite all your efforts?
If you answered yes, then let me tell you that I know exactly how you feel, because I personally had gone through the same experience years ago.
I have battled with my so called infertility for more than a decade until I have finally found a cure, got pregnant twice and now am a proud mother of two beautiful healthy children.
You're about to discover what might be the most powerful Infertility cure system ever developed. It's the same system to over 137,358 women, just like you, used to permanently reverse their infertility, get pregnant quickly and give birth to healthy children.
My name is Lisa Olson and over the past 14 years, through a long process of trial, error and experimentation, I have developed a sure-fire, 100% guaranteed, clinically researched system that is backed by 65,000+ hours of alternative medicine expertise with holistic and Chinese medicine research for getting pregnant quickly and naturally. This is a very rare, highly unique and potently powerful Infertility healing system, which very few women even know exists...
If you would like to learn how to reverse infertility and get pregnant quickly and safely... without drugs, without risky surgery, without any typical Infertility treatments, and without any side effects, then this will be the most important letter you will ever read. I guarantee it and I've got the results to prove it!
Success Story #1: Nicole Terry
"Using your system I got pregnant naturally at age 44!"
"Dear Lisa, After 7 years trying to conceive I finally got pregnant 4 weeks after I read your book and followed your program. It was simply amazing. I had history of recurrent miscarriages and was also diagnosed with genetic problems but using your system I got pregnant naturally at age 44& after 2 HSGs and 4 negative IUIs including 6 induction Clomid cycles and laparscopy. Everything in your book makes sense. I am recommending your program to all my friends.
God bless you!"
The Children Learning Reading program is a simple, powerful, and proven learning to read system that many parents like you have used to successfully teach their children to read in a relatively short period of time - spending just 10 to 15 minutes each day. We have the results to prove it! See amazing results and videos here.
►Who Is the Program Designed For?
It doesn't matter if your child is a 2 or 3 year old toddler, in pre-school, in kindergarten, in elementary school, or at any age, our methods will enable you to easily and effectively teach your child to read.
- If you have a young child and you want to give your child the best start in life possible by developing superior reading skills, our Reading Program is for YOU! - If you have a child in pre-school or grade school just starting to learn to read, our Reading Program is for YOU! -
- If you have a child that's having reading difficulties and/or is behind in reading, our Reading Program is for YOU! The Children Learning Reading program will help your child learn to decode printed text quickly and learn to read fluently through the critical process of developing phonemic awareness combined with synthetic phonics.
Phonemic awareness is arguably one of the most important aspects of learning to read and becoming a fluent reader. Children that lack phonemic awareness typically have reading difficulties, and end up being poor readers. The Children Learning Reading program is an extremely simple, straight forward, and step-by-step program.
Our program includes simple exercises and practices starting with the very first lessons that work to help your child develop phonemic awareness, and learn to read. Clinical studies, and even the National Reading Panel has stated that helping children develop phonemic awareness is one of the most effective ways to teach children to read.
► How Does the Children Learning Reading Program Work?
The program is designed to be taught to your child in two stages, and each stage comes with it's own instruction book and step-by-step lessons. Stage 1 helps your child develop all the important foundational skills of learning to read and read fluently, while stage 2 lessons deal with slightly more advanced lessons helping to greatly advance your child's already impressive reading skills developed from stage 1 lessons.
There are 28 lesson in stage one that are smoothly laid out to teach your child starting with the building blocks of reading printed text. The alphabet letters and sounds are introduced to your child in a stepped, sensible, and intuitive order through the 28 lessons. Very simple words and blending exercises are introduced very early on, and more complicated words, sentences, stories, and rhymes are slowly introduced with the lessons as your child progress.
By the time you complete stage one lessons with your child, your child will have already developed superb reading skills that sometimes leave you even surprised and amazed. Once you complete stage one, you can move on to stage 2 lessons, which involve teaching some more complicated matters dealing with reading.
There are 22 lessons in stage two. One of the main focus of this stage is teaching your child letter combinations that represent a single sound. The words, sentences, lesson stories, and rhymes here are more advanced, and work to greatly increase your child's reading skills and reading fluency. The wonderful thing about the Children Learning Reading program is that throughout the entire program, your child learns to read, and develops phenomenal reading and decoding skills without resorting to memorizing sight words, or memorizing any phonics rules.
Another huge plus of this program is that the step-by-step lessons are designed to be quick and effective. Each lesson typically takes no longer than 5 to 10 minutes to complete, and some lessons take just 2 or 3 minutes to complete. As you can imagine, with the short attention span of small children, short lessons like these will be much more effective and productive than long, drawn-out lessons.
To teach your child to read, all that you need to do is follow the lessons step-by-step, and spend 5 to 10 minutes each day consistently teaching your child to read. In just 12 short weeks, you will be extremely pleased that you have taken the time and effort to give your child the most important skill in life - reading.
►Get started today, download your copy of Children Learning Reading here
Your toddler will gradually understand how she can use words to describe what she sees, hears, feels and thinks. Even before she uttered her first word, she was listening to and learning from everyone around her.
How did my baby's speech develop in her first year?
From the moment your baby arrived in the world, she was learning how to communicate. Her first form of communication was crying. She cried when she was hungry, uncomfortable or tired.
From around three months, your baby may have started to babble to herself and make sounds back when you talked to her. She may have begun to recognize her name, and even responded when you said it from across the room.
From around six months, you may have noticed your baby favoring certain sounds, such as "ba" or "ma", as these were easier to pronounce. She may have repeated them over and over because she liked the way they sounded.
How will my toddler learn to talk?
12 to 17 months
From around her first birthday, your toddler may begin to use one or more words and know what they mean. Her first words could well be a variation of "mum mum" or "Dada".
By around 15 months, your toddler will probably raise her voice at the end of a question. She may make hand gestures to emphasis what she's saying, such as pointing and waving.
Your toddler may be able to understand and follow simple or routine instructions, such as "Pick up your teddy" or "Come to the table".
18 to 24 months
By 18 months your toddler may use between six and 20 simple words. By two, your toddler may be using 50 or more single words.
She may be able to put two words together, making basic sentences such as "Carry me". When you sing a nursery rhyme, she'll attempt to sing along with you. So if you sing "twinkle twinkle little..." and pause, your toddler may add in "star."
She will chatter to herself as she plays. Enjoy listening to your toddler as she creates her own little world. It doesn't matter if what she says doesn't make sense. The rhythm will sound like real speech.
Pronouns such as 'I','she', and 'it' may confuse your toddler. These labels for things and people are a little too abstract for her just yet. You may catch her avoiding pronouns, saying "Baby throw" instead of "I throw". There's no need to worry if your toddler's speech doesn't sound clear yet. Every toddler learns different sounds at different stages.
25 to 36 months
Your excitable toddler may struggle not to shout when she's expressing herself. She doesn't yet understand how she can change her voice to find the right volume when talking.
Your toddler will start to get the hang of pronouns, such as 'I', 'me', and 'you'. She will also be using the word "no" a lot. This is her way of asserting her independence from you!
Between the ages of two and three, your toddler's vocabulary will increase to about 300 words. She will string naming words and action words together to form complete, though simple, sentences such as "I go now".
Your toddler may ask you simple questions, such as "What?", "Where?" and "Who?" a lot. Get ready to be patient as your curious toddler wants to know the answer to everything!
By the time she turns three, your toddler will be able to have a simple conversation with you about what's she doing now or something she's done in the recent past.
But don't be surprised if your toddler gets the tense wrong when she's telling you about something that's happened. For example, she may tell you that she "swimmed", when she means that she "swam" . Try not to tell your toddler that she got the word wrong. Instead, answer her with the correct tense. So tell her, "yes, we swam yesterday."
By now your toddler may be able to tell you her full name and gender, and perhaps even her age.
How can I encourage my toddler to talk?
Talk to your toddler as much as possible as you go about your daily routine and when you are out and about. The more you talk to your toddler, the more new words she'll learn, and the better she'll get at talking.
Chat to your toddler as you change her nappy, feed, or bathe her, and give her time to respond with a smile or eye-to-eye contact. Use everyday activities to help your toddler to make connections between actions and objects and the words that represent them. Point out things you see when you're out and about.
Simplify your speech when you talk to your toddler. Use short sentences and emphasise key words. This will help your toddler to focus on the important information.
Try talking to your toddler from time to time in sentences that are about one word longer than the sentences she is using. So if your child uses two-word sentences, use lots of three-word and four-word sentences when talking back to her. For example, if your toddler says "a fish", you could say, "yes, a big fish."
You can increase your child's vocabulary by giving her choices, such as "Do you want an orange or an apple?". You could even show your child both an apple and an orange. This helps your toddler to store a picture of the word in her mind.
It will help your toddler to learn how to talk if you make time to sit in front of her and talk to her. You could even sit in front of her when you read a book, rather than have her on your lap, so she can watch you talking.
Look at books with your toddler regularly. Even if you don't follow the story as it unfolds, your toddler will learn by listening to you talk about the pictures.
How will I know if my toddler is having trouble learning to talk?
There's no simple test that can tell you whether your toddler is having problems learning to talk.
If you're worried, have a chat to your health visitor. She will most likely be able to reassure you that your child's speech is developing normally, or refer you to a speech and language therapist for assessment.
Massage can soothe your baby and relax you. Follow our step-by-step image guide to baby massage and learn the best techniques for massaging your baby.
1 / 12
Getting to know you
Offer your baby a massage when she's awake an alert; ideally not just after a meal, or when she needs a nap. When you think she's ready, set yourself up on the floor with a towel and a small bowl of oil suitable for massage. If your little one seems uncomfortable or starts crying before you've finished the massage, stop and give her a cuddle instead.
Her legs are a good place to begin, as they're less sensitive than some parts of her body. Using a little oil, wrap your hands around one of her thighs and pull down, one hand after the other, squeezing gently, as if you're "milking" her leg. Switch legs and repeat.
Take one foot and gently rotate it a few times in each direction, then stroke the top of her foot from the ankle down to the toes. Switch feet and repeat.
Use your thumbs to trace circles all over the bottom of each foot.
To finish off the feet, take each toe between your thumb and forefinger and gently pull until your fingers slip off the end. Repeat for all ten toes.
Take one of her arms in your hands and repeat the milking motion from her armpit all the way to her wrist. Then, take her hand and gently rotate her wrist a few times in each direction. Switch arms and repeat.
Trace tiny circles over the palm of each of her hands with your thumbs.
8 / 12
Gently take a finger between your thumb and forefinger and pull, letting her finger slip through your grasp. Repeat for all her fingers and both thumbs.
Place your hands together in prayer position over her heart. Then, opening out your hands slowly, stroke outward and lightly flatten the palms over her chest. Repeat several times.
The chest (continued)
Place one hand flat across the top of her chest. Stroke it gently down to her thighs. Repeat the motion, alternating hands, several times.
Roll your baby onto her tummy. Using your fingertips, trace tiny circles on either side of her spine from the neck down to the buttocks.
The back (continued)
Finish with some long, firm strokes from her shoulders all the way to her feet. When you have finished, put on her nappy and cuddle or breastfeed her. She'll probably doze off!
The sun is shining, so of course you want to go out and enjoy it with your baby. Read on to find out how to make sure your baby enjoys the sunshine safely.
While your baby’s tiny, it's best to keep her out of direct sunlight completely. Once she's six months or older, and wants to crawl and play outside, head for the shade and protect her delicate skin with a sun hat, loose-fitting clothes and sunscreen. It's recommended that you keep your baby in the shade when the sun is at its hottest between 11am and 3pm.
How can I keep the sun off my baby's skin?Try to keep your baby in the shade as much as you can, under trees, an umbrella, a canopy, or a sun tent.
If your baby isn't mobile yet, she’ll be happy to lie and kick in the shade. If your baby is crawling or walking, encourage her to sit and play in the shade if it's very hot. It’s particularly important to stay out of the sun during the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest.
Keep her skin covered with clothes made from lightweight, closely woven fabric, such as cotton.
A wide-brimmed, or foreign legion style, hat will shade your baby’s face, ears and neck. Choose a hat with an elasticated or velcro strap that tucks under her chin, which will stop it coming off.
Sunglasses for your baby will protect her sensitive eyes. They don't need to be expensive, but they do need to be good-quality wraparound glasses. When you’re buying sunglasses for your baby, look out for:
- the CE Mark and British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005)
- a UV 400 label, which tells you that the sunglasses offer 100 per cent UV protection
- an adjustable rubber or neoprene strap to help keep them on
When you’re out and about with your baby on a hot day, attach a sun canopy, sun hood, or umbrella to her pram or pushchair. Remember to check regularly to make sure that it’s still shading her from the sun, and adjust it when you need to. If you can’t keep your baby out of the sunlight, the next level of protection is sunscreen.
What sort of sunscreen should I use on my baby?Once your baby is six months old, you can use lotions or sprays that are specially formulated for babies and children. We can’t be completely sure of the safety or effectiveness of using sunscreens on younger babies. That's why it’s recommended that you keep your baby out of the sun completely for her first six months.
When your baby is six months or older, choose a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15. Also, check the label says the sunscreen is a broad-spectrum brand with a four-star or five-star rating. This means it offers good UVA and UVB protection.
Apply sunscreen liberally to every part of your baby's skin that isn’t covered by clothes or a hat, including her hands and feet. You'll need a plum-sized dollop of sunscreen, probably far more than you'd expect. It's best to pat it on rather than rub it in.
If you can, put the sunscreen on your baby about 15 minutes before she goes outdoors. You’ll need to reapply it at least every couple of hours and after she has played in water, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
Some brands make tinted sun creams, which makes it easy to see if you have missed a bit of your baby’s skin.
If your baby has eczema or sensitive skin, check the ingredients list for anything you know is likely to irritate her skin or trigger an allergic reaction.
Test any new sunscreen product on a small area of her skin first before you apply it to any exposed areas. If your baby does develop a rash or redness where you’ve tested it, choose a hypoallergenic formula instead. Apply eczema emollients or treatments first, and then put sun cream on half an hour later.
What should I do if my baby gets sunburn?Your baby's skin is very delicate. Despite your best efforts to protect her, unfortunately sunburn can occasionally happen.
You may not realise your baby has sunburn straight away. It could take several hours before the redness and pain of the burn appears.
If your baby’s sunburn looks red and sore:
- Soak a cloth in cool water, wring it out, and then gently place it on the sunburnt area for 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Do this several times a day.
- Bath your baby in tepid water to help cool her skin and reduce the redness.
- Gently apply a moisturiser or an emollient to soothe her skin.
- Offer extra breastfeeds or drinks to help cool her down and to replace any fluids that she has lost through sweating.
If your baby's sunburn is severe, and her skin is tender, swollen and blistering, call your GP. She may prescribe a soothing cream and a dressing for the blisters, and suggest you give your baby infant paracetamol to ease her discomfort.
Why is disciplining my child important?
Your preschooler needs to understand how she's expected to behave, as well as how you’re likely to react to her behavior. You can help her to learn by being consistent in the way you discipline her.
Consistency gives her the confidence to explore and learn, secure in the knowledge that certain things are allowed, and others aren't.
There's no need to be too rigid. It’s important to be responsive to your child. But frequently changing the way you discipline her, or only disciplining her some of the time, will confuse her. If she's confused about her boundaries, she won't be able to manage her behaviour as well.
It may feel as though giving in to whining or tantrums now and again makes life easier, but it can actually make things much more difficult in the long run. This is as it teaches your child that making a fuss is a good way to get what she wants.
Here are some useful tips on how to discipline your child consistently.
1. Set ground rules with your child
Set four or five basic rules around the issues that matter most to your family. Involve your child when you're coming up with the rules, so that she feels she has a say.
Try to make the rules as clear and specific as possible. For example, "Always be good" isn't a helpful rule, as it doesn't tell your child what counts as "good".
“We don’t hit” and, “We clear up our plates after eating" are more helpful. You can also set your own rules, based around your family life. For example, if you or your partner works shifts, you may want to introduce a rule such as, “Always be quiet in the morning.”
Your rules can also reflect behavior that your child particularly needs to work on. Choose one or two issues to focus on at any one time, such as refusing to go to bed, or whining when she wants sweets. When these situations come up, make sure that your child knows what’s expected of her every time.
Be sure to set a good example by following all the rules you make. Young children learn a lot from watching how their parents behave.
It's no good saying, "You're not allowed sweets", if she then sees you or your partner munching away on a chocolate bar.
Try to model good behaviour for your child whenever you can, and save your indulgences for when she's not around.
2. Ask for support
Once you’ve set some rules, and are ready to implement them, get as much support as you can. It can be invaluable to have backup when you feel frustrated or tired.
You and your partner need to agree on what the rules are, and how you’ll enforce them. Try to get the support of other people your child spends time with, too, such as grandparents.
If your child is at nursery or preschool, talk to her key worker about a particular behaviour you're working on. They may agree to help reinforce your rules.
There may be times when someone else disciplines your child and you don’t agree with them, or wish they’d handled it differently.
If this happens, try to wait until your child is out of earshot before talking it through with the adult involved.
Let them know that you’ve set certain rules, and that it’s important to you that they’re enforced consistently.
3. Time it right
It can be tempting to give your child a crash course in manners just before a birthday party or a trip to visit relatives.
However, you’ll be more successful if you start to enforce a new rule at a quiet time when there’s no pressure. This will give you both time to get used to the new expectations.
Your child may find any changes to her routine hard to handle at first. So don't try a new discipline technique just before a new baby arrives, or during a house move. Instead try to be as consistent as possible with established and existing rules during chaotic or stressful times.
4. Be patient
Repetition is the key to teaching young children anything. So carry on telling your child when her actions aren’t acceptable, even if it seems your words aren’t sinking in.
This may take some time, so try to stay calm while she's learning. Explain to your child why it’s a good idea to listen to you, giving her simple reasons that she can understand. “You have to wash your hands before you eat because they’re dirty and you could get sick” is a good example of this.
If you’re consistent over time, she should get the message eventually.
5. Don’t expect perfect behaviour
It’s completely natural for your child to challenge and even defy you at times. She's not trying to make you angry, she just wants to explore her world and test her boundaries.
Providing her with calm direction whenever she misbehaves will help her to feel supported and cared for, while teaching her how you'd like her to behave.
Don’t assume that your discipline tactics aren’t working if you have to use them every day. The more often you repeat the same tactic over time, the more likely your child is to grasp your message. Also, her behaviour will probably become more manageable naturally as she gets older.
6. Bend the rules - sometimes
Consistency is important, but it’s fine to make an exception to a rule if there's a good reason. After all, life isn't always predictable!
Being a little flexible will help your child begin to understand that there are sometimes different rules in different contexts.
The key to flexibility is to be honest with your child about why a rule doesn't apply in a particular situation.
For example, you could say, "We're going on a long car journey today, so you'll be able to play with the tablet for an extra hour." This lets your child know that the rules make sense, and are there for a reason.
Try to avoid bending the rules just because you’re too busy or stressed to enforce them, though. This teaches your child that rules aren’t really that important.
If you give in for no reason once or twice, your child will quickly learn that you'll give in again in future. So only bend the rules when you have a good reason that you can explain to your child.
Is it normal that my preschooler finds it hard to share?Yes, it’s perfectly normal for your preschooler to find sharing tricky. Children generally understand the concept of sharing at about age three. But it will take a while longer before your child is prepared to do it.
Although your child is starting to develop empathy, and knows that he needs to take turns, he isn’t mature enough to resist all of his impulses. Most three-year-olds and four-year-olds put their own needs first, and can get upset when the needs of others get in the way.
Your child may not understand enough to realise that even if he doesn’t have a toy now, it’ll be his turn soon. So don’t be surprised when you see him grab a truck from a friend, or refuse to let his sister look at his favourite book.
Beneath the surface, though, his sharing skills are maturing. Part of this is because of how much he loves getting praise from you and other trusted adults. He may enjoy drawing pictures for teachers, making presents for you and sharing snacks with his friends. You can sow the seeds of generosity by gently encouraging your child to share.
How can I teach my child to share?Make it fun
Teach your child cooperative games in which he has to work together with others, rather than competitive games which focus on winning. You could try doing a jigsaw puzzle together, taking turns to add pieces. Or you could blow up a balloon and play keep-it-up.
Share projects, too: water the plants, sweep the floor, or unpack the shopping together.
Don't punish your child for not sharing
It can be embarrassing to see your child snatching a teddy from his friend, or throwing a tantrum because his turn with the trucks has ended. But if you tell your child that he's selfish, or force him to hand over a prized possession, he may get the message that sharing has negative consequences.
When children feel ashamed or embarrassed, they sometimes become defensive, which can make it much more difficult to learn new skills. So try to give your child some leeway, and acknowledge that he's probably not being deliberately mean or rude by refusing to share.
Keep in mind that it's natural for your child to want to keep some items to himself, as he develops a sense of what it means to own something. Rest assured that as he matures, he'll learn that sharing with friends is much more fun than playing by himself.
There may be some objects, such as a particularly beloved teddy or comfort blanket, that your child will never want to share. It's fine to keep one or two favourites as special objects just for him, just as you probably have some prized possessions that you prefer not to share.
Talk it out
When your child squabbles with a friend about a toy, try to intervene before things become too heated. If either child starts having a full-blown tantrum, try to remove your child from the area until things have calmed down. Once both children are ready to listen, discuss the situation with them in a thoughtful and compassionate way.
If your child's friend is holding something back, explain how he may be feeling. For instance: "Josh really likes that toy, and he doesn't want anyone to play with it right now. Can you find something else to play with?"
Help your preschooler put his own feelings into words, too. You may need to give him the vocabulary, for example by saying, "It sounds like you feel cross”, or "you’re looking a bit disappointed". This also reassures your child that you understand how they might be feeling.
If he's reluctant to share a particular toy, ask him why. Maybe you'll discover that there's a shortage of train tracks at his nursery, or that he especially prizes his football cards because they were a present from Grandad.
Teach your child to problem-solve
If your little one has a firm grip on a toy truck that his playmate wants, the concept of sharing the truck may not even have occurred to him. Encourage your child to take turns with the truck. Setting a kitchen timer to mark each child's turn may help.
Reassure him that sharing isn't the same as giving away, and point out that if he shares his toys with friends, they'll be more inclined to share theirs with him.
Respect your child’s possessions
If your preschooler feels that his clothes, books and toys may be lost or damaged, he’ll be less willing to share them. So ask permission before you let his sister borrow his colouring pencils, and give him the option of saying no.
Make sure that his siblings and friends respect his things too, by encouraging them to ask if they can use them and making sure they take care of them when they do.
Before a play-date, ask your child if there's anything he'd rather not share, and help him find a safe place to put his special toys. Then ask him to think of some things that would be fun for him and his guest to play with together, such as walkie-talkies, art and craft supplies, or a bat and ball. Ask his friend to bring along a few toys too, so your child isn’t the only one sharing.
Set a good example
The best way for your three or four-year-old to learn generosity is to witness it. So share your ice cream with him. Offer him your scarf for a superhero's cape, and ask if you can try on his new hat.
Use the word “share” to describe what you're doing, and let your child know that you can share a story, a feeling or an idea, as well as sharing material things. Most importantly, let him see you give and take, compromise, and share with others.
Learn more about when your child will start to show empathy for other people’s feelings, and find out when to teach him about respect.
If you haven't already, now is a great time to establish a bedtime routine for your toddler. When you follow a set pattern every night, your toddler will know what to expect. This will help him feel more relaxed, and able to fall asleep more easily.
What are the basics of a good bedtime routine?
The important thing is that you do the same thing every night, so that your toddler learns to associate particular activities with bedtime.
If you're not at home, try to follow your routine as much as possible. The familiarity may make it easier for him to settle down in his new surroundings.
Your toddler's routine should always include spending a little time in his bedroom. This will teach him that his room is a nice place to be, not just where he's sent at the end of the day.
Once you've tucked your toddler in for the night, give him a kiss and leave the room. If he grumbles, tell him that you'll be back to check on him in five minutes. In all likelihood, he'll be fast asleep by the time you return. If not, do the same thing again until he settles.
What can I include in my toddler's bedtime routine?
What you include in your toddler's routine is up to you. Just make sure you choose activities that help calm your toddler, rather than excite him. Here are some ideas for you to try:
Give him a soak
A nice, warm bath is a soothing experience, and getting your toddler clean and dry is a great way to ease him into bedtime.
However, if your toddler doesn't enjoy baths, or if they make him too excited, it's probably better to leave them for the morning. Give his face and hands a wash instead.
Brush his teeth
Your toddler's routine should always include brushing his teeth. It's important to start the habit of brushing as early as possible so that he learns to look after his teeth properly.
Get him changed for bed
Change your toddler into a fresh nappy, or encourage him to use the toilet if he's already potty-trained. Then help him get changed into his pajamas. Offer him a choice of two pajamas so that he can exercise some of his growing independence.
Play a quiet game
Having a calm game on the floor of your toddler's bedroom is a great way to spend some fun time with him before bed. Older toddlers may enjoy simple puzzles or card games, and younger ones are always entertained by peek-a-boo.
Your game doesn't have to be big or special. It can be as simple as taking turns saying the alphabet or counting to 10. Anything that entertains your toddler without over-stimulating him is fine.
Have a chat
Whether or not your toddler's talking yet, bedtime is a perfect opportunity to have a quiet chat. Of course, if you have a young toddler, you'll have to do most of the talking yourself, but he'll still love getting your full attention.
Talk about everything you've both been doing throughout the day, and how it may have made him feel. If your toddler's old enough, ask him to tell you about the best and worst things that happened to him, as well as anything that's worrying him. This may help him to work through any anxieties or fears so that he gets a better night's sleep.
Read a bedtime story
Cuddle up for some cosy story time. Your toddler will love spending time with you, and hearing you give all the characters silly voices. It'll even help him learn new words, and encourage a lifelong love of reading.
Give your toddler a choice of books from a small selection each night. He'll enjoy getting to have his say. You may end up reading the same few books for week or so, but repetition is a key part of your toddler's learning. While it may be a tad frustrating for you, it's great for his development!
Sing a song
A soothing lullaby is a classic way to help your sleepy toddler drift off. Your voice and your partner's voice are your toddler's favorite sounds. You could even record a tune for him to listen to when someone else puts him to bed.
Your toddler may enjoy going around the room saying goodnight to his favourite toys. Don't let him take advantage, though. If he insists on saying goodnight to every single stuffed toy in his bedroom, he may just be trying to put off bedtime a little longer.
Bear in mind that anything can occasionally throw your toddler's routine off for a few nights. Find out when your toddler will be ready to sleep away from home.