In addition to the event, activity, & preschool roundup you already receive in our weekly newsletter, we recently added a super fun & informative component: "Help from the Hive". In it, Hillary Catherine from Hillary Catherine Sleep Consulting and Melissa & Jessica from The Parent Collective will answer all of your sleep, pregnancy, and parenting questions and concerns. To make it super easy for you to refer back to previous questions & answers, we will archive all of the priceless information we receive right here! Check this post weekly for new content; or be the first to receive it right in your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter here.
To find out more about Hillary Catherine Sleep Consulting and The Parent Collective, check out our introduction post here.
My baby is up every night before midnight wanting to be fed. My friend just recommended I try a dream feed. What are your thoughts?
For anyone who doesn't know, a dream feed is when you wake your baby up for a feed before you go to sleep for the night, in hopes of extending the amount of time before they wake up hungry again. While this sounds logical, and you might hear this advice from everyone you talk to, my advice is to avoid the dream feed. The only time I have heard of this working is when it comes through the grapevine, which makes me just a little skeptical. More often what I see happening (speaking professionally and personally - before I was a sleep consultant I was a really tired mom who took on the advice to try a dream feed!) is that parents end up adding a nighttime feed. So, baby used to wake up at 1am and 5am to eat and a dream feed is introduced at 9:30pm, with the goal being that this will fill the baby's tummy enough to stretch out the timing of that first feeding. More often what happens is the baby still wakes up at 1am and 5am, but within a few days they are also waking up at 9:25pm, ready for the extra feed they have gotten used to. Rather than trying a dream feed I recommend focusing on teaching your baby the skills they need to sleep independently, and then your baby will take the lead on dropping those feedings all on their own.
When should I move my daughter from her crib into a toddler bed?
While every family is different, most children do best staying in their crib until they are three years old. There are a lot of responsibilities that come with sleeping in a bed and they can be difficult for a child under three to understand. Switching too early can cause difficulty falling asleep, nighttime wakings even when there weren't any before, and middle of the night trips into your room. Your daughter's crib, and the physical boundaries around it, have been a safe space for her for most of her life, and keeping her there longer is perfectly fine. The only reason to make the switch sooner would be if you have a climber on your hands and you can't safely keep her from climbing out. If she is climbing, before making the switch, make sure her mattress is on the lowest setting. You can also try a sleep sack, which has been a great solution for many children. Halo makes nice ones up to 5T that are definitely worth checking out!
What time should my kids being going to bed?
This is a great question because bedtime is so important! It is one of the first steps to ensuring your child has a full and restful night. That said, the answer can vary. I am a big believer in “you do you” as long as it is working for you and your child. However, I will provide some guidelines and average bedtimes to help you get started.
While the bedtime itself is not as important, what is very important is making sure your child gets 10-12 hours of sleep at night. This is true for babies and toddlers up to three years old. I recently met a mom of a 1.5 year old who said her baby goes to bed at 10:00pm and wakes up at 9:00am. Is that average? Nope. Is baby happy, healthy and well rested? Yep. Are Mom and Dad happy with it? Yep. Then I say perfect! It works for them. On average babies wake-up at around 7:00am, no matter what time you put them to bed. For these babies an earlier bedtime is needed to accommodate the wake-up time. Below I outlined some recommended bedtimes based on age. Remember, they are averages and every babe is a little different. If your baby goes to sleep late and wakes up late and it works for you, then great! However, if your baby is struggling to sleep through the night or wakes up very early try bumping bedtime up. Many parents are surprised by how much their child thrives on an early bedtime.
- Birth–6 weeks: 8:00pm-10:00pm
- 6 weeks–3 months: 7:00pm-9:00pm
- 3 months–3 years: 7:00pm-8:00pm
My one year old typically sleeps well, but it feels like every time we travel it all falls apart. She has a hard time falling asleep, often wakes up in the middle of the night, and is always up very early. It is frustrating because we travel so often! This Memorial Day Weekend we are renting a house with a big group of friends and I am nervous about how well she will sleep. Help!
I think it is great that you travel with your daughter! I am so in favor of showing your little one the world and giving them new experiences to take in. That said, it can definitely be tough, especially when it comes to sleep. Luckily I know a few things that can make it much easier. Good luck this weekend. I hope you have a great trip!
1. Bring something familiar from home. If she sleeps with a lovey (a special blanket or stuffed animal) then bring this! If she doesn’t I would recommend trying to introduce one for future travels. You can also bring pajamas, a sleep sack or even crib sheets that are unwashed so that they still smell like home. This is a good one for babies who are not old enough for lovies yet (American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until babies are one year to put anything into the crib with them).
2. Try your best to stick to her normal schedule. Skipping naps will almost definitely result in a night with a lot of wake-ups or an early morning wake up the next day. A normal routine will also provide her with a sense of security in a day full of new and exciting experiences.
3. If she is sleeping in the same room as you create some kind of physical barrier between her crib and you. You might have to get creative for this one! I recommend packing an extra sheet and some painters tape, push pins, or a clothesline. You are trying to prevent her from rolling over half asleep at 3am, have her little eyes flutter open for a second, and realize her favorite people are right next to her and it is time to party.
My 5-month-old son (who was waking up just once a night to nurse) is now getting up 3-4 times. I have tried the method of going in his room every 10 minutes and letting him cry to sleep, but since he was sick last week everything we established has gone out the window. He's in a Merlin Sleepsuit and I know he can go to sleep on his own at bedtime. What do I do in the middle of the night to get him back to sleep? Also, my daughter’s room is very close to his!
I am so glad you asked! I feel for you, Mama. Recovering sleep skills can be a challenge after a baby is sick. It can be so frustrating to know they can do it but it seems like just won’t. There is good news, though. It sounds like he is putting himself to sleep at bedtime, which is fantastic news to my sleep consultant ears. Often my work with a client starts with teaching a baby this skill.
For all other night wakings (aside from the one time you feed him) you want to respond to his cries the same way in the middle of the night as you do at bedtime. This is for two reasons. First, it sounds like it works for him, he is falling asleep on his own at bedtime. If it works at bedtime it should work in the middle of the night too. Second, consistency is key with babies. It is how they learn. If you do one thing at bedtime and another thing all night long he is getting mixed signals from you which can be confusing.
It is tough when there are older siblings nearby. You don’t want to interrupt their sleep. Here is how I see it. You need to do what is best for your family. Usually a well-rested mom, dad, and baby is also good for the older siblings. It means you are more present and less sleepy during their day. Also, sometimes being part of a family unit means giving up a little yourself to help someone else out. That is what we are asking of your daughter, but just for a very short time period. If you remain completely consistent this process with your son should not take very long. It also possible his middle of the night wakings are already waking her up anyway. If so, then a little more disruption for a few nights will overall equal zero disruptions in the long run.
How do we stop our 3-year-old from getting out of bed 17 times after we’ve said goodnight (with a myriad of excuses: "I’m thirsty", "I have to go potty", "I want daddy", or just "I’m out of bed!”)?!
I love this question! I get this one a lot from parents, and it is definitely fix-able! I also love it because you just have to admire the persistence of a 3-year-old (ok, maybe not when he’s woken you up for the 17th time that night).
I suggest you buy a wake-up clock. I like the Ok to Wake Clock or the Hatch Baby Rest Night Light. The wake-up clocks change colors at the wake-up time you set, letting your little one know it is morning time and ok to get out of bed. This clock can work with some babe’s as little as 18 months old and helps with earlier risers too. Spend a few days talking with your child about the clock, teaching them how it works. When your child comes to you before it is time to wake up gently return them to their room, explain how the clock works to them again, using simple terms like, “When the clock turns green that means it is time to wake up. It is not green yet, so it is still night-night time. Go back to sleep.” There are two big things to keep in mind. First, consistency is key. Toddlers see the world in black and white so it is important that you are extremely consistent when you introduce the new clock so they can learn and understand how it works. Second, you must remain calm and patient. If you become emotionally invested it will not only be harder for you, but it will be harder for your child to learn the rules since they will start reacting to your emotions rather than focusing on the new rules they are trying to learn.
With a 3-year-old you may also introduce a rewards chart, if that is something you like to use in your home. This can help reinforce the new rules. The reward must be valuable to your 3-year-old and it must be immediate. For some children a sticker in itself does the trick! Every time your child sleeps through the night without getting out of bed they receive a reward upon waking up. If they don’t make it through the night without getting out of bed they don’t get the reward. You can be your child’s cheerleader through this. If they don’t get a reward you can say, “That’s such a bummer. I can see you are upset. Let’s try again tonight!” and then move on with your day.
If you think you need more help and want to discuss what a private consultation with Hillary Catherine looks like, please feel free to send her an email. Disclaimer: Hillary Catherine is not a medical professional and the information provided here should not be considered medical advice. Always consult a doctor before beginning any sleep training with your child.
I am pregnant with my second child and am very nervous for how my daughter is going to react! Do you have any tips on how to prepare her ahead of time? Or maybe some advice on what I can do once my son is born?
We have some ideas for things you can do now to help prepare her; as well as tips for easing your daughter into life with a sibling!
How to Prepare Your Older Child Before Baby Arrives
- Talk about it: Talk about the growing belly and the baby. Get them involved in the conversation. Ask them questions about the baby. Have them ask you questions.
- News of the pregnancy usually raises the question "where do babies come from?". Remember to keep your explanation age appropriate. There are excellent books, which can help you explain for every age.
- Run through a variety of scenarios around when the baby arrives so that it won’t be a source of anxiety for your toddler. Discuss ‘what happens when mommy goes to the hospital to have the baby’ and how that will impact your toddler.
- Prior to the due date, it is important that you explain to your child who will be with him while you are in the hospital. Planning ahead for the hospital days is very important. Decide who will be with your child, who will bring him to visit Mommy and baby at the hospital. The child must be prepared in advance and be confident he will have a person to rely on.
- Mommy might go to the hospital in the middle of the night – but that’s ok. When you go to school that day you can tell all of your friends that you will have a new baby brother or sister soon.
- Approach the situation through the eyes of a toddler and try to ease their concerns in advance.
- Give them their own baby: If a child does not already have one, get them their own baby. You can practice taking care of the baby with your child. The child may even use this baby when their new sibling comes home. When you change the baby, they can change their “baby”.
- Look at their baby pictures/videos: show your child a picture of them as a baby. Tell them about them when they are little and how happy you were to have them.
- Read lots of books. They are a great way to help a child anticipate the arrival of a new baby and what they can expect.
- Hype it up/Make it positive: Talk about how they are going to have a new baby to love and how they are going to be the best big sister/brother. Make them feel special.
- Get others involved in older child’s care: The older child will need to rely on others as there are times when mom has to be with the new baby. Start this before the baby arrives to ease this change and transition.
- Hold off on any big changes or transitions: if possible try to not make big changes right before the baby is expected (i.e. potty training, moving to a big bed). If there is a change that needs to be made such as a bedroom change or a change in childcare/daycare try to do this 2-3 months prior so there is not all this change coming at the same time as a baby.
Introducing Your Older Child to Baby
- Have them come to hospital!
- Have another loved one hold the baby or have the baby in the nursery when your toddler arrives so that mom can give plenty of kiss, hugs and one-on-one love and you can meet the baby together.
- Ask them if they would like to “hold” the baby or give the baby a kiss. Make it positive and praise them. Don’t force it if they don’t want to. Tell them that the baby already loves them.
- Some children refuse to see the baby; they should not be forced. Do not be concerned this will not affect his future interaction with the newborn. Have the older child give the baby a special gift and give the older child a gift from you to let them know that you still have a special relationship.
- If possible involve your child when it is time to take the baby home, this will give him a sense of belonging and importance.
I loved the sleep tips Hillary shared last week about getting your baby to sleep soundly while on vacation! We're traveling a lot this summer. Do you have any other tips for traveling with a baby?
When booking your flight, plan your flight around your baby’s schedule and plan your seating ahead of time. Try to get the bassinet if possible and try to stay as close to the front as possible. This avoids the battle to get to the back of the plane and the wait to get off on the other end! If you can afford to, book the baby their own seat and keep them in their car seat. Well worth the extra money!
Call the airline to find out if they offer any help to parents with infants, especially if you are traveling on your own.
Some airlines offer passes to get through the security lines, some airports offer family lines which tend to be shorter and if you ask nicely at the security line, they may even point you to the first-class security area.
You have to make a list! Think of everything you use on baby from morning 'til night. Will they have any of these items where you are going? Can you get it there to avoid packing?
Before you set foot out of the house, double check your hand luggage! Do you have diapers, wet wipes, pacifiers, everything for feeding, bottles/nipples/formula, extra clothes for you both, a few toys and a blanket.
Dress sensibly! Those days of wearing skirts and heels on a flight are long gone!
As for items to pack, here are some must-haves:
- a small first aid kit
- a lightweight blanket for the flight
- large muslins for protecting baby from the sun
- a breast pump if applicable
- disposable changing pads, which can go in your handbag and be used anywhere
- 2 extra onesies that are the easiest to get on and off, in your hand luggage for baby, and at least one clean t-shirt for yourself
- a few large ziploc bags to store any stained clothing or bibs
- extra diapers and wipes for the flight in your hand luggage including antibacterial wipes (don’t pack 100's of diapers, you can buy diapers everywhere. Some companies will even deliver to your destination)
- a few compact toys if your baby is a bit more active. Some suggestions are a small baby proof mirror, a plastic toy for chewing or teething ring, small finger puppets, touchy feely books, musical toys – although maybe keep this one hidden on the plane for the sake of the other passengers.
- Bring your Baby Bjorn in your hand luggage. This can then be pulled out anywhere/anytime and may even help the baby to sleep if feeling fussy and you can walk around the plane or airport without actually holding the baby!
Pre and During Flight
Don't leave getting to the airport or to the gate to the last minute. We all know that those last-minute mishaps happen with baby and if you leave yourself loads of time, it is much less stressful.
You know your baby. If you lay baby down on a disposable mat and let them wiggle around before the flight, giving them a chance to stretch their legs, they may scream the place down when you put them back into their carrier to board the plane. If so, then don't get them out. But if you know they will enjoy the time, especially if they are already crawling, let them crawl away while you are waiting to board.
Keep baby sucking on something for take off and landing if they are awake. Boob, pacifier, bottle! Be prepared to give extra boob or milk as baby gets dehydrated during flying. So can you, so hydrate!
If you know when you get to the other end, you then have a 1hr car journey, think about one of you sitting in the back with the baby. It will save a lot of stress if you can catch baby before he/she starts to wail! Have a few toys on hand to keep them amused and of course bottles/pacifiers, too!
Once You Arrive at Your Destination
Keep your schedule light for the first few days of arrival if you can. See how baby settles.
Ask the hotel if they offer crib sheets or just bring your own.
If you are entering a different time zone. Don't try to change baby's routine in one hit. It will take a little while to get them used to the new time. Aim to adjust by an hour or two a day if you can.
Traveling with baby is almost never as stressful as you think it will be and is mostly a pleasant surprise. Try to stay upbeat and not get too anxious. I think your attitude is just as important as all the hints and tips we've mentioned here. Enjoy your trips!
I am pregnant with my first baby and while I am nervous about the delivery process, I am most anxious about those first few days and weeks at home post-baby. Do you have any advice to make that time any less-stressful?
1. Slow Down! Respect that this is a time for healing. Your body has just been and is going through so much, from birth to making milk, and you simply cannot resume your normal pace in those early weeks home with baby. Give yourself permission to let the laundry go or leave the house a mess and simply be with your baby. Better yet, assign those tasks to a willing helper.
2. It’s all about the baby! A wise doula once told us your baby is completely unaware that you don’t know what you are doing. They need to be fed, sleep, kept clean, and held. That is it.
3. Prepare in advance! Make and freeze meals, load up online grocery delivery orders with easy to prepare foods, staples, and grab and go, protein-rich snacks. Some good ones are nuts, cheese sticks, veggies and hummus, rolled up cold cuts, etc. Also arrange to have help either from family or through hiring. Postpartum doulas are an amazing support for new moms and surprisingly affordable.
4. Trust your instinct! You are connected to this baby in a way no one else is. If something feels right but a well-meaning passerby tells you otherwise, trust your instinct.
5. Be kind to yourself! You are new to this and you will only be able to do so much. Put away the guilt about what you feel you ‘should’ be doing to achieve super-mom status and just focus on loving your baby and keeping yourself in a positive place. Your baby is going to be more settled if you are content. It’s a virtuous cycle!
6. Lean on your friends! Your friends - whether they live near or far, exist in online communities or live in your neighborhood - will be a crucial support in these early weeks and months. They provide a sanity check on everything from illness, loneliness, marital problems, to the run of the mill baby drama. And if they live locally, they can also provide companionship during those sometimes endless and monotonous days with a newborn. Seek them out and make those connections. It will make life so much easier!
I am unhappy with my current pediatrician and would like to find a new one before baby #2 arrives. This time around I plan on meeting with different providers before committing to someone! Do you have any suggestions on what to look for in (or what to ask) a new doctor?
Lots of parents begin interviewing pediatricians because they know it is something they should do, but once they get in the office they quickly realize that they don’t know what they should be asking! To help, I’ve outlined 3 questions to ask when interviewing your pediatrician as a guide to help you get through it. You want to chat with the doctor and make sure you feel comfortable – you will be asking a lot of questions of this person over the years, some will be serious and some might feel a bit silly, and the last thing you want to be worried about is that your doctor is judging you. Ideally, this practice will be a medical home for your child both in sickness and in health and you want to feel a connection.
1) How accessible are the pediatricians of this practice?
When you call with a question, are you routed through an advice nurse before you can connect to a doctor? Do you have the ability to email, text or phone them? How do they handle out-of-hours concerns? How do they coordinate sick visits?
2) Do they have conveniences that will help you?
Some that might benefit your family are: walk-in hours, extended hours, sick and well-waiting rooms so that a doctor’s visit doesn’t feel like a guaranteed sick day in your imminent future, and dispensing basic medications so you don’t need to drag a sick child to the pharmacy.
3) Does the pediatricians run their practice in a way that will make you and your baby feel comfortable?
Does he or she take their time with you? Is the space designed to make children feel comfortable? Does the doctor believe in educating families along with treating them? All of these points will make visits to the doctor infinitely more pleasant and helpful for you as a parent.
Finding the right doctor is important but always remember you aren’t locked into a contract! You can always switch providers so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.