10 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Child’s Screen Time (Part I)

Since my May Parenting Resolution is to get the use of electronics under control, I figure I would start by explaining why I believe it’s an important thing to do, and why May is the perfect month to get this started.

There is no question about how the advancements in technology have brought numerous benefits to our daily lives. We can coordinate family calendars, connect with friends and family who are miles away, easily control our finances, buy almost anything from the comfort of our own home, have access to information 24×7…

However, as new technology evolves and transforms, many studies are finding strong links between screen time and a variety of behavior problems in children. Those studies don’t necessarily prove causation, just correlation. Despite the inconclusiveness of recent studies, I believe it’s paying attention to them.

1. Unhealthy Sleep

Electronic stimulation, such as that from watching TV, using the computer, playing video games, using the iPad… has been shown to interfere with sleep, both falling asleep and staying asleep. Using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can negatively impact your sleep.

When our children (and us) use electronic devices right before bed, the artificial blue light that these devices emit interferes with their circadian rhythm (a.k.a. their body’s internal clock). This suppresses the release of melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone), which makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Using these devices right before bedtime, also delays the onset of REM sleep (deep and restorative sleep). All this adds up to chronic sleep deprivation and poor sleep habits.

Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation, which can lead to serious health issues down the road.

2. Poor Social and Relational Skills

Research shows that an excessive use of technology can create social disconnection, negatively impact the development of social and relational skills, diminish our children’s understanding of how to engage with others and read non-verbal cues.
In a recent UCLA study they observed that kids who were deprived of screens for five days got much better at reading people’s emotions than kids who continued their normal screen-filled lives. Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues is one of the costs – understanding the emotions of other people. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills
Kids with phones and tablets, with smartphones and headphones. Group of teenage girls is using gadgets.

3. Increased Aggressive and Defiant Behavior

According to Psychology Today, what’s often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus. When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and external environment, so little demands become big ones. You may have seen your child having a complete overreaction and utter agitation to a simple request.

Electronic use creates hyperarousal in our children. The constant firing of neural pathways created by this hyperarousal suppresses the function of the brain’s area that regulates their mood. Our children become angrier, and meltdowns and tantrums actually become their go-to coping mechanism.

In addition, children who are exposed to violent online content (videos games, TV shows, and movies) tend to have more aggressive behaviors and reduced moral development.

 

I will continue addressing the 10 main reasons why we should control our children’s technology use in the next few days. Stay posted!

Much love, Diana-

 

Baby Gear

iBaby Care M7 Baby Monitor

This monitor is outstanding. It is Wi-Fi enabled so you can always look at your baby on your own phone (iPhone and Android). It has full HD imaging, and 360 rotation capabilities. It projects a very nice moonlight soother on the ceiling to help your little one fall asleep. The price tag is elevated, but it is definitely worth!

Owlet Smart Sock 2 Baby Monitor – Track Your Infant’s Heart Rate & Oxygen Levels

This monitor was a Godsend to my husband and I when we brought our preemie twins home. We weren’t to concerned about having a camera to look them constantly, but we wanted to be able to listen to them at all times.

Most importantly we wanted something that would alert us should they stopped breathing. We were used to having hooked to several monitors that would alert us and the medical stuff should something went wrong. Having this monitor definitely helped us sleep better at night.

 

Halo Sleep Sacks

Bedding such as pillows, thick quilts, comforters, pillows, sheets, stuffed animals, and blankets pose a suffocation hazards. To keep your baby warm, try a sleep sack or other sleep clothing that doesn’t require additional covers. When choosing a sleep bag, make sure the width of the neck isn’t wide enough for your child to slip himself completely in. Halo has wonderful sleep sacks, in fleece for the winter, and cotton for the summer.

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #8: Fill Up Their Love Tanks

Connection & Communication

“Bedtime is often experienced by children as a form of separation, so children need the reassurance of connection to help them let go and sleep well. It’s also a time of day when feelings tend to bubble up that haven’t been processed in the day, so for positive parents, it’s actually one of the most important times of day.”

Kate Orson

Bedtime is the best time to connect with your children. I know it’s probably one of the most difficult ones, because by the time bedtime comes around, your energy levels are extremely low and all you want to do is get it over with, sit back and relax.

However, positive parenting at bedtime is an investment on your relationship with your child and on his emotional wellbeing. Every night, when you tuck your child into bed and wish them a good night, you have a unique opportunity to connect with her and make her feel your love. This connection will also help erase any uncomfortable parenting moments from the day, any conflicts with your child, or any tension.

I must confess that since my third daughter was born, my bedtime routines haven’t been as good as they were when I only had the twins. They are more rushed than I’d like to, and some days I don’t have the time or energy to do everything I love to do with them at bedtime. But, this month, I am focusing my energy on getting back on track on connected and soothing bedtimes, because I know the tremendous impact it has on my children’s mood and desire of cooperation.

 

Hispanic father reading book to daughter
Hispanic father reading book to daughter

 

My recommendation is to communicate with your child at bedtime. With babies, it will be a unidirectional communication, you will talk to them about your day, about what they did, about what’s coming the next day… With older kids who can actually maintain a conversation, it will be a bidirectional exchange. You can tell them about your day, ask them about their day, check how they’re feeling… You share and they share.

Bedtime is  a time to listen to our children’s feelings, deepest fears and worries, whether directly in conversation, or indirectly, through our child’s behavior. So, don’t miss this opportunity!

 

One very special thing that I do every night with my daughters, is to sing them the same song since they were little, as I cuddle with them. For one of them is ‘Twinkle, twinkle”, for other is “You are my sunshine”, and for the other one, surprisingly is the “ABC song” in English and Spanish.

How do you connect with your children at bedtime?

Much love, Diana-

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #7: Remain Calm

This is one of the most difficult things to do as parents. We all have triggers that make us react in ways that we later regret. One of the keys to have a smooth morning routine is to remain calm in the face of mishaps, mistakes or delays. If we have implemented the first 6 hacks we’ve covered until now, remaining calm will be much easier. Here are some tips to accomplish it:

1. Breathe Intentionally

When things start to unravel and your plans of a smooth morning start going out the window, take a breath, so you don’t make an already chaotic situation much worse. The best way to find your calm is through intentionally controlling your breath.

Start by observing your breath just as it is. Notice where the air flows through your body– upper chest, lower belly, front, back, sides. After you do that, start intentionally taking several deep breaths into your belly. You can put your hand on your tummy to feel how it fills up with air. After that, take several breaths into your upper chest and lungs. Let the air flow slowly out of your body. You can close your eyes as you do this intentional breathing.

This exercise doesn’t take a long time, just a few seconds. The goal of intentional deep breathing is to activate your parasympathetic nervous system which initiates the relaxation response, lowers heart rate, decreases blood pressure and slows down your respiration. Most people experience a sense of calm after doing this exercise, and feel more in control of their emotions.

Stressed-out-Mom.jpg

2. Take a Break

If breathing alone doesn’t work when things start to get crazy in the morning, take a step back. Don’t add into the problem the problem by escalating the level of chaos and stress. Often chaos escalates unnecessarily and builds momentum because we leap into irrational action without logical considerations.

The best thing to do at this time is to excuse yourself for a bit, and regain your objectivity. Make sure you leave your baby in a safe place, like an empty crib or a baby swing; leave your toddler in safe area such as their bedroom or a baby proof living room; leave your older kids in a place where they can’t hurt themselves.

This will let you think through the situation and come up with constructive solutions to get things back on track. You want to rejoin your kids when you can be the voice of reason, and continue leading them into a peaceful morning.

3. Identify and Manage Your Triggers

Triggers are things our child does, says or feels that lead us an involuntary negative response, such as yelling, getting angry, shut down, spanking out of anger and even out of control sometimes. Your response to your triggers can feel automatic and completely out of proportion.

Our parenting triggers are often associated with things from our own upbringing, and from our past experiences. The most important part of addressing your parenting triggers is to realize that you’re not really reacting to your child’s behavior. You are having a strong emotional reaction because of the meaning that behavior has to you and based on your own past experiences. Instead of focusing on your child’s behavior, you should focus on what is happening within you.

ItMama_75177_1.jpg

I will cover this at a later time, so we can dive into the power of triggers and how we can overcome them. For the moment, focus on identifying your triggers and write them down. Then stop yourself in your tracks we you are faced with a situation that triggers you.

You may not know yet why you are being triggered, you may not know how to avoid them, you may not know how to re-parent yourself or re-wire your brain to get them under control, but you certainly can spot them and you can stop yourself before acting out on them.

4.  Keep Things In Perspective

Some situations spiral out of control because we only focus on negative side of what’s happening. For example, our child may have taken a shower, put on her pajamas, and maybe forgot to brush her teeth. We then overlook all the positive things she’s done and we hone in on the one thing she hasn’t done. This makes our child feel confused, angry and without any desire to cooperate the following morning. Focus on the positive, on what was accomplished, and celebrate your child for that.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. You know that not all the tasks on your child’s morning routine are equally important. Some of them can remain undone for later with no major consequences. Don’t make a rule out of this, but cut them some slack when appropriate.

5. Control What You Can Control and Let Go of What You Can’t Control

There’s no need to waste your energy trying to solve problems that are completely out of your control. Identify and resolve the issues you can solve and let go of those you can’t. The best course of action is to brainstorm possible ways to go around the problem, and think of ways to avoid falling into the same mistake in the future.

Accept that things might not be smooth every day

This is a hard one for most of us, but sometimes you will have to accept that there’s nothing you can do to avoid some nights taking the wrong turn, bedtime being delayed, showered not happening, nighttime reading being cut short… It will happen sometimes!

For example, your already bathed child pours milk on himself, your baby has a poppy explosion as soon as you put him in his crib, your blow dryer stops working as you’re blow drying your daughter’s hair… Things happen, and it’s not the end of the world. Acknowledge the situation and accept if for what it is, and move on.

7. Smile and Break The Tension

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

Having a positive attitude is half the battle in any chaotic, out of control and stressful situation. Putting a smile on your face might sound like an idiotic or pointless solution to a moment of morning craziness, but it is not. By smiling, we are not dismissing the seriousness of the situation, we are simply breaking the tension to make things more manageable.

Smiling alone helps release all those wonderful feel-good neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. This release relaxes your body and  lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Thus, the simple act of putting a smile on your face can have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental state.

Furthermore, according to many scientific studies, the neurons in our brains have a synchronizing feature that keeps you in sync with who are you interacting with. Therefore, if our children see us smile, they will smile as well, improving the atmosphere in our home.

When smiling is not enough, we break the tension caused by a morning mishap, by adding fun. Yes, I am not crazy! I know it may sound counter productive to introduce a fun activity in the mist of your morning chaos. But believe me the stress released during the activity will make you and your children drain the stress and be more focused to accomplish the remained of tasks on your morning charts.

Have-A-Family-Pillow-Fight

Therefore, when smiling doesn’t work, break up the tension with fun – start a pillow fight, engage in a tickle fight, put on music and dance like crazy people, play tag around the house, tell a joke… This doesn’t have to last more than a few minutes to completely transform the atmosphere in your home.

I hope these tips will help you remain more calm in the mornings. What other things do you do to avoid or dissipate stress?

Much love, Diana-

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #6: Bedtime Routines and Kid’s Charts

 

“Sleep patterns and sleep routines matter because they have both long-term and short-term implications for health and cognitive development. […] If it sets a pattern in the way you treat sleep or bedtime, these patterns may last your whole life unknowingly.”

– Lauren Hale. MD, Preventive Medicine

Calming, Bonding and Safe Sleep Rituals

Sometimes, it is easy to forget your little people are actually a little person with thoughts, feelings, and expectations of their own.  If you are consistent in your parenting, children very quickly begin to anticipate the natural flow of the day based on what you have done in the past.

Our children should not associate sleep with feelings of abandonment, fear, desperation, anxiety, punishment, excitement, or stimulation.  Instead, sleep should be associated with feelings of tranquility, relaxation, love, trust, restfulness, empowerment, and peace.

Developing a soothing and calming routines that helps your child transition from awake to sleep is an essential part of your sleep training process. Setting sleep routines can improve sleep quality and quantity for infants, toddlers and older kids; and it’s a fantastic way to bond and cuddle with your child. A child’s sleep routines could affect her sleep pattern throughout a lifetime. Your goal is to teach your child the process to fall asleep and to help her feel safe, secure, and comforted.  If the feeling around bedtime is a good feeling, your child will fall asleep easier.

pexels-photo-54547.jpeg

Consistency

Don’t change your child’s routine every day, but let it evolve as your baby grows. For example, your bedtime routine with your newborn might involve giving him a bath, massaging him, putting him in his pajamas, giving him a bottle (or nursing him), rocking him a little, and putting him in the crib. By the time your child is 9 months, it might evolve to giving him a bath, massaging him, putting him in his pajamas, giving him a bottle (or nursing him) while you sing to him, giving him his lovey and putting him in the crib. By the time your child is 2 years old, it might evolve to giving him a bath, putting him in his pajamas, brushing his teeth, reading him a book, giving him his lovey, and putting him in the crib.

Don’t start anything that you are not willing to continue down the road. If you know you don’t want to co-sleep, don’t bring your baby to your bed. If you won’t want to have to rock your baby to sleep when she is two years old, don’t do it when she is 2 months old. If you don’t want to have to nurse your baby to sleep in the middle of the night, do not nurse him to sleep at bedtime. Be aware of the associations that you create with sleep from day one, and make sure you only establish healthy and sustainable ones.

Keep Electronics Away

As I mentioned in my previous post, there is a major connection between time in front of the screen and sleep disorders. Avoid television watching, video game playing, and other exciting activities the hour before bedtime. Do not allow children to have a TV in their bedroom, and do not allow them to watch TV prior to bedtime.

Children who watch a lot of television, especially at bedtime, and those with a television in their bedroom are more likely to resist going to bed, have trouble sleeping, wake up more often, and have a poor quality sleep overall. Watching television tends to stimulate children, whereas for adults it can be relaxing.

Do not allow children to watch violent television programs. They can contribute to restless sleep and nightmares (among other things). Similarly, video games can impact a child’s quality and amount of sleep. Do not allow children to play video games anywhere near bedtime and always check the appropriateness of the rating.

Child-Using-A-iPad-615x375

Bedtime Routine Charts for Toddlers and Older Kids

Once you’ve decided on the best schedule for your child, get him involved in choosing the steps she wants to add to the bedtime routine. Do not offer her options you are not comfortable with; for example, watching TV before bedtime or mom lying on the bed with her shouldn’t be an option.

Once you both have come up with a routine, create a mural with pictures of the different steps of her bedtime routine and go with her over it, every day. Before you start implementing the new routine, practice every step and take a picture. Once you have all the pictures, stick them in order on a large piece of paper, with the help of your child. You can also add numbers to each part of the routine.

Get your child as involved as possible in the process of making the picture routine mural. For example, your child can help you stick the pictures on the paper. Make sure you put a time for each of the steps in the bedtime routine, and create a beginning and end time for the whole routine.

BEDTIME ROUTINE CHART

When the mural is done, hang it close to the bathroom or bedroom so that she can see it when she starts the bedtime routine. During the first days, walk her through the pictures during the day, and tell her what the steps are going to be at night. At night, let her lead the process of getting to bed. Ask her, “What do we have to do next?” She can then go to the mural and tell you what comes next. Every morning, praise her for following the routine the night before.

I hope this was helpful!

Much love, Diana-

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #5: Safe and Soothing Sleep Haven

Soothing & Safe Bedroom

This might seem an obvious thing to say, but sometimes our kids’ bedrooms are not exactly a calm and soothing place. Try to keep it organized and minimized the amount of toys and stimulating games to a minimum.

You want your child’s room to be dark. On a scale from one to ten, ten being pitch black, you want your child’s bedroom to be around a seven or eight on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being pitch black. If you decide to leave on a night-light, make sure it’s not too bright, but gives enough light for your child to see his surroundings.

Your child’s bedroom should be quiet and away from the main activity area of your home. You don’t need to be whispering while your child naps or sleeps, but she shouldn’t be exposed to loud noises while sleeping.

 

 

child-sleeping-bed_mojyk2

Keep your child’s bedroom between 68 to 72 degrees F, since he will have a more restful sleep. Higher temperatures have been proven to increase the risk of SIDS in infants and babies, so make sure your baby is properly dressed and keep that temperature. The best way to see if your baby’s temperature is adequate, touch his chest, underneath his clothes. If his chest is warm and fine, that means he is fine, even if his hands or nose might be cold.

If your child is still a baby, dress him in flame-resistant and snug-fitting sleep clothes. You can cover your baby with a sleep sack if the pajamas are not enough to keep him warm. When choosing a sleep bag, make sure the width of the neck isn’t wide enough for your child to slip himself completely inside of the sack.

Keep the bedroom aired. Avoid exposing your baby to tobacco smoke, and do not smoke or let anyone smoke around your baby.

The Bed (or Crib) Is For Sleeping

World renowned sleep hygiene experts recommend that your child uses the bed for rest. It is best if your child doesn’t use it for doing her homework, for watching TV, for playing with her iPad… Doing non-sleep activities in bed can be bad for your child’s sleep.

The more things her brain associates her bed with, the less it will think of sleep when she is there. Our goal is to help our child’s brain to develop a strong association between bed (or crib) and sleep, so as soon as her head hits the pillow, sleep is the first thing in their mind

Don’t use bedroom as punishment. Sleeping area should be for sleeping, not for time outs. Their bedroom needs to be a secure, loving time, not a place associated with punishment and withdrawal from the family.

The crib is the only place where you leave your baby on his own, therefore you should make sure it’s 100% safe and soothing. Do not use your child’s crib for time-outs, to control tantrums, or for disciplining.

Additionally, do not use sleep itself as a punishment (i.e. if you don’t eat your dinner, I’ll send you to sleep earlier). Never use sending your child to sleep as a threat. You want your child to have a positive association with sleep.

Electronics – Free Bedtime and Bedroom

children-using-ipad-at-night

The use of electronics use should stop at least an hour before bedtime. The use of devices such as smartphones, computers, iPads and TV before bedtime will alter your child’s sleep negatively in the following ways:

  • These electronics emit blue light, which is believed to be particularly important when it comes to establish your child’s internal circadian rhythms and their internal sleep clocks. The blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, which is necessary for your child to have a restful sleep.
  • These devices engage and stimulate your child’s mind and keep him awake.
  • When your child wakes up in the middle of the night, and goes to check her phone, iPad… her brain will be stimulated again, making it harder for her to go back to sleep.
  • The use of electronics causes children to sleep less and be excessively tired the next day, which could have serious repercussions to their health, mood, weight, productivity, learning and development.

In our home, we do not allow any electronics in the bedroom. We have a common charging station in the study room where all the electronics are connected at night.

A note on safety

Additionally, there’s another good reason not to allow electronics in your child’s bedroom that has nothing to do with sleep. With the increasing risks of online predators, it is safer if your child doesn’t have the chance to do online activities at home without your supervision. We restrict my daughters’ computer use to their homework room (which is right by the kitchen), kitchen and living room. That’s it!

In addition to restricting the place in the house where they can use their computers and electronics, we have also installed parental control software that prevents them from accessing websites, chat rooms or youtube videos with adult content. We have created the same restrictions on all of their devices and Netflix accounts.

 

I hope this was useful and will help you provide your child with a soothing sleeping area.

Much love, Diana-

 

 

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #4: Drain Energy and Get Ready For Bed

Sometimes we forget that our children spend most of their day sitting on a chair in school. Recess time is usually very short, and it’s difficult to burn a lot of energy at that time. When we pick up our kids from school, they are usually full of energy, a little agitated, some may have meltdowns… that is totally normal!

They may be mentally tired, but they have a lot of built up energy from having limited movement and from having to be paying attention for a long time. They need an outlet for all that energy once they’re out of school. We need to make sure our children have interesting, stimulating, age-appropriate, and varied activities during the afternoon, including physical activity and fresh air, so that they can burn up energy, exercise their bodies and mind, and be looking forward the wind down time at night time.

My daughters practice a few physically draining activities during the school year, such as archery, running, swimming, dance and American Ninja Warrior. They also practice a few mentally draining activities, such as viola and robotics. These activities are great to help them burn up their energy and free their minds from their school work.

We need to be careful though, not to make these after school activities another source of stress for our kids. We want our children to feel more relaxed after engaging in an after school activity. They should get a chance to play, make new friends, socialize with new people, have well-rounded experiences outside of academics, and learn something new.

We don’t want these activities to be another point of contention, or something that, instead of helping our kids be happy and disconnect from school, will cause them frustration or stress. Make sure your child loves the activity they are participating in, and be aware of over scheduling them. Over-scheduling may lead to unnecessary pressure on kids. Over-scheduling is really about having our children’s schedules so packed, that they don’t have time to be children and have free play.

Family Playing Soccer In Park Together

When they are not busy with after school activities, my daughters get together with friends and play outside. There is no need for structured activities, children can enjoy their time and drain their energy by running around the neighborhood with friends, going with their parents to walk the dog, going for a family bike ride, playing tag in their backyard, or simply jumping on their trampoline.

With our busy schedules and homework load, sometimes it is difficult to plan unstructured physical play. However, we should make a conscious effort to do a physical activity with our children, at least once or twice a week. It can be a great bonding experience!

If we help our children release all the pent up energy they have from their busy days in school, they will be more likely to want to relax at bedtime. Recent studies have shown the importance of roughhousing with your kids. A few minutes of roughhousing after dinner can have a tremendous positive impact.

What activities do your kids do? What do you to physically engage with them? How do they drain their energy during the afternoon so they are ready for bed?

Much love, Diana-

8 Simple Hacks for Stress-Free Bedtimes

As we near the end of March, I continue with my resolution of improving our family routines to have a more peaceful and connected life with my daughters.

Bedtime routines are not only important to help your children develop healthy sleep habits. Children who have irregular bed times are more likely to have behavioral issues than children who have a regular bedtime routine. Most important of all, bedtime is a specially important time to connect with our children and help them go to sleep feeling unconditionally loved and accepted. Bedtime gives us a daily opportunity to build a strong relationship with our children.

parents-sleep-guide-reading-together-in-bed

Many families struggle to keep a consistent bedtime routine. Many moms and dads are so exhausted by the end of the day, that their patience is gone, and they find themselves wanting to get it over with and have some alone time to relax. Additionally, worn out from a busy and day, our children seem to wind up at the end of the day. Therefore, bedtime becomes a struggle, instead of a relaxed time to finish the day.

However, we should do our best to keep this time as calm and smooth as possible. The first step is to have routines in place for each of our children. Consistency and a clear structure help children feel safe. When our children know that the same thing happens each night before bed, they don’t have to worry about what’s coming up next. In the next few days, I will share with you some tips on how to set up bedtime routines for each age.

Just like I did with Morning Routines, I will go over 8 simple hacks for smooth and peaceful bedtime routines. In the next few days we will cover each of the following hacks:

  1. Complete Tasks As The Day Goes On
  2. Keep Everything As Organized As Possible
  3. Set Up Before Kids Get Home
  4. Drain Energy And Get Ready For Bed
  5. Safe and Soothing Environment
  6. Bedtime Routines and Kid’s Charts
  7. Remain Calm
  8. Fill Up Their Love Tanks: Connection & Communication

Much love, Diana-

Stress-Free Mornings Hack #3 – Well-rested

“Your life is a reflection of how you sleep, and how you sleep is a reflection of your life.”

– Dr. Pelayo, MD, Pediatric Neurologist  

Our mornings become chaotic when our children and ourselves aren’t well rested. We become moody, we forget things, we are rushing from the start because we’ve hit the snooze button one too many times. Being sleep deprived is one of the worst things we can do as parents, so make sure you hit the sack as early as possible, and make sure your kids do so as well.

Sleep is important, for it affects everything and everyone. Having worked with hundreds of families and being the mom of two premature babies, I know what a difference sleep makes for their development, growth, and improvement. Sleep profoundly affects the quality of our well-being in a manner that is unrivaled by almost any other factor. Sleep deprivation affects our parenting style; our relationship with our partner, family, and friends; our work; our health; and our outlook on life.

pexels-photo-573253.jpeg

Lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood and the ability to learn and retain information, and it may increase the risk of accidents and injury in the short term. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality. The negative effects of sleep deprivation are even more severe in children. Thus the first step to a good health (and easier mornings!) is SLEEP.

Check out my article with guidelines of how many hours of sleep children need at every age.

“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”

– E. Joseph Cossman

Sweet dreams! Much love, Diana-

 

Child Sleep and Daylight Savings (Spring Forward)

3 Ways To Help Your Child Adjust to The New Time

By Diana Blanco. Founder, Smooth Parenting.

The beginning of daylight savings is getting closer and many parents are wondering what to do to maintain their baby or toddler’s sleep habits, despite the time change. We ‘spring forward’ to Daylight Savings Time (DST) on Sunday, March 11th 2018* at 2a.m. by setting our clock forward one hour. This means clocks are moved forward by one hour at 2:00a.m. standard time, and the time becomes 3:00a.m. daylight savings time (DST).

Child sleep challenges are not uncommon during daylight savings time adjustments. Still, there are some general tips that you can follow to have a smoother transition, regardless on how you decide to adjust your child’s schedule to the new time:

  • Continue your bedtime and naptime routines. The regular and familiar routines you follow when putting your baby to sleep should be maintained.
  • Keep your baby’s nursery dark, so the daylight (and nightlight) changes do not interfere with his/her sleep.
  • Carry on promoting positive sleep associations.
  • Remember that consistency is still key.

In addition to these measures, there are three basic approaches we can follow to help children with the transition, that you will find below.

Those of you with “early risers” will probably be better off not doing any adjustments in your child’s schedule. Your child will automatically start waking up 1 hour later (according to the new time – DST), which will probably be a blessing to you.

1. Gradual ‘Pre- Spring Forward Day’ Transition

On Wednesday, March 7th, you do two things:

1st) Wake up your child’s 15 minutes earlier, from her last nap of the day. For example if her last nap of the day is usually from 12:30pm to 2:30pm. On Wednesday, March 7th, she should sleep from 12:30pm (same time), to 2:15pm (you wake her up 15 minutes earlier than usual).

2nd) Move your child’s bedtime back 15 minutes each night. For example, if your child’s normal bedtime is 7pm. On Wednesday, March 7th, she should go to sleep at 6:45pm, 15 minutes earlier than usual.

Your child’s whole daily schedule the following day moves back those 15 minutes.

This way, you will have shifted your baby’s schedule back by one hour by the time you have to move your clock forward one hour. Therefore, your baby would be in his normal schedule the first day of the Daylight Savings Time.

See the chart below for guidance. Note that this chart assumes child’s current bedtime is 7pm and waking time is 7am.

Date Transition Steps Current Time (Standard Time) New Time (Daylight Savings Time)
Wednesday, March 7th Wake up your baby from her last nap of the day 15 minutes before than usual. If she normally wakes up at 2:30pm, wake her up at 2:15pm. 2:15pm 3:15pm
Move back your baby’s bedtime by 15 minutes (From your usual 7:00pm to 6:45pm) 6:45pm 7:45pm
Thursday, March 8th Move back your baby’s daily schedule those 15 minutes, from the night before. 6:45am 7:45am
Move back your baby’s bedtime another 15 minutes. 6:30pm 7:30pm
Friday, March 9th Move back your baby’s daily schedule those 15 minutes from the night before. 6:30am 7:30am
Move back your baby’s bedtime another 15 minutes. 6:15pm 7:15pm
Saturday, March 10th (Spring Forward Night) Move back your baby’s daily schedule those 15 minutes from the night before. 6:15am 7:15am
Move back your baby’s bedtime another 15 minutes. 6:00pm 7:00pm
Sunday, March 11th (First Day in Daylight Savings) Regular waking time 7:00am, under the new time (DST) 6:00am(Doesn’t Apply) 7:00am

2. Gradual ‘Post- Spring Forward Day’ Transition

The day after the daylight savings time starts, Sunday, March 11th 2018, your baby will most likely wake up one hour later than usual (based on the clock).

That day, you have to wake her up 45 minutes later than her regular schedule. For example, if her regular waking time under ST was 7am, with DST that becomes 8am. However, you will not let her sleep until then. The first morning after the DST change, let her sleep only until 7:45am (45 later than her regular waking time).

Starting then you should make sure your child’s naptime and bedtime are 45 minutes later than her regular schedule the first day; 30 minutes later the second day; 15 minutes later the third day; and by the fourth day, she will be adjusted to the new time.

The whole daily schedule adjusts to those changes accordingly. By doing this, your child would be going to sleep and waking up at his regular times, based on the Daylight Savings Time, by Wednesday March 14th.

See the chart below for guidance. Note that this chart assumes baby’s current bedtime is 7pm and waking time is 7am.

Date Transition Steps Current Time (Standard Time) New Time(Daylight Savings Time)
Sunday, March 11th (Daylight Savings Time in Place since 2am) Let your baby sleep 45 minutes over her regular waking time (7am in our example) 6:45am(Doesn’t apply!) 7:45am(This is the current time this day)
Move your child’s bedtime 45 minutes later than her regular bedtime (7pm in our example) 6:45pm 7:45pm
Monday, March 12th Let your baby sleep 30 minutes over her regular waking time (7am in our example) 6:30am 7:30am
Move your child’s bedtime 30 minutes later than her regular bedtime (7pm in our example) 6:30pm 7:30pm
Tuesday, March 13th Let your baby sleep 15 minutes over her regular waking time (7am in our example) 6:15am 7:15am
Move your child’s bedtime 15 minutes later than her regular bedtime (7pm in our example) 6:15pm 7:15pm
Wednesday, March 14th Wake your child up at her regular waking time (7am in our example). Continue the day with your child’s regular schedule. 6:00am(Doesn’t apply! Old Time) 7:00am

3. Immediate Transition

The day after the daylight savings time starts, you follow your baby’s regular schedule based on the Daylight Savings Time. Therefore, on Sunday March 11th, 2018 you switch your child ‘cold turkey’ to the new time and follow her regular schedule.

You will most certainly have to wake your child up in the morning, since for her it’d be one hour too early, and go on with her day as usual. This option tends to be harder on children since (like adults) they would be ‘loosing’ one hour of sleep the first day.

Regardless of the approach you decide to take, remember that every child is different and they will adjust differently to changes in their sleep schedule. It takes several days to adjust to the new times, so be prepared for your baby to want to wake up later than usual on occasions, to be crankier than usual during the afternoon, and/or to be sleepier during the first days of the transition.

Be patient, loving and consistent to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

Much love, Diana-

 

__________________________

*2018 Daylight Savings starts:

  • Sunday, March 11th at 2 a.m. in the United States and Canada
  • Sunday, March 25th at 2 a.m. in most parts of Europe
  • Sunday, April 1st at 3 a.m. in most countries of the South Hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand…)

For a full list of the DST start dates around the globe, click here: http://www.worldtimezone.com/daylight.html