“Turn off my brain”

The first time our son said “Mommy can you help me turn off my brain” my heart felt like it weighed 1000lbs. I scooped him up and gave him a huge hug. We chatted for a bit and I introduced a few techniques to teach him how to stop the racing thoughts he was experiencing (more on this later).

Our son has always been a young one that thought things through or over thinks. I have had to have many conversations with him that his friends have just not asked. Saying things like “that will not happen” or “do not worry about that” just does not work.

Here is an example of something he has said:

I am giving him his snuggle before bed and he was about 5 years old. I was going out with a friend that evening. He says “what happens if you do not come home?” and I reply “I will”. Then he says “what if you do not?”. Knowing him I then said, “Your Daddy will take care of you”. You can imagine the next question, “what if something happens to Daddy?”.

Okay, time to pick up my heart off the floor and cancel my night out.

That would have been one solution. Instead, we talked about the plan of who would care for him if something happened to one or both of us. This helped him and he was able to go to sleep. Taking the time to process and not get frustrated was key in this situation.

It does seem like a number of these conversations come up at bedtime. I could be extremely frustrated by bedtime stalling but instead, I choose to see that bedtime is when he lays there and thinks. (This could be a family trait 🙂 )

 
So what do I do to help him??

Well, I have taught him some strategies to change his thought patterns. How do you do this with a child?

1. Hear what he has to say.

2. Be Empathetic: “that sounds scary”, “wow that is hard”, “that is a yucky thought”.

3. Offer comfort: “would you like a hug”.

4. Get him to think about something funny or guide him to happier thoughts.

5. Turn on a guided meditative story so he has something else to focus on.

6. Check in after a few minutes to let him know I am there

7. Move on

 
Some additional strategies:

1. Talk Time: Have a time you set aside each day for your child to discuss anything that is bothering them. We do this at supper.

2. Worry Box: your child can write down or draw (or have you write down) their worries and put the papers in a box.

3. Worry Dolls or Rocks: Give your child a small rock or doll to tell their worries too. Then the item gets placed in a safe place (under their pillow or and the dresser). The item takes the worries from the child.

4. Deep Breathing: “smell the flower and blow out the candle”.

5. Guided meditation: There are a number of good apps that can help you teach your child how to meditate or you can lead by example.

 

If you have a little thinker and would like more support feel free to join Parenting Foundations Membership or book a free 15-minute call to learn how you can work with Brenda from Parenting Foundations.

The Colour of Noise

The Colour of Noise

We often hear of the effect white noise can have on you or your child’s sleep. Who knew there are other colours of noise?? Not me. My guest blog post today is from the amazing Jerylin Gan, Ph.D. about the colours of noise.


Have trouble sleeping?  A toddler who wakes whenever you accidentally step on that creaky floorboard?  Just hate the sound of those damn chipper little birds at 5 am?  Then someone’s probably recommended playing white noise in the background.  Maybe in the form of a fan, a mp3 of a waterfall, or one of those sleep sheep stuffed animals that play a heartbeat as well.  

From my experience, white noise is wonderful.  Both my kiddos and husband will wake at the drop of a hat.  But you know what I’ve found works better for me?  Pink noise.  That’s right.  There’s more than one colour of noise!

There’s white, pink, brown, gray, and violet noise (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colors_of_noise).  The difference between the colours is how loud certain frequencies are.  Low frequencies sound low to human ears; high frequencies are higher pitched.  “Noise” is when you play a lot of frequencies at the same time.  White noise is when all frequencies are played at the same volume.  Pink noise is when lower frequencies are played slightly louder than the higher frequencies.  Brown noise is when lower frequencies are played a lot louder than higher frequencies.  

And though it’s hard for most people to tell the difference between the different colours of noise, they’ve been shown to have different effects on people. What might be soothing for one (e.g. the sound of a vacuum to my friend’s baby) might sound awful to another individual (e.g. the sound of a vacuum to me).  So experiment!  Try to see if you like white, pink or brown noise.  See which noise might help you sleep better.  See which noise will help you concentrate on a task!  

Jerylin Gan, Ph.D.

You may wonder who is Jerylin Gan, Ph.D.? Well, let me fill you in. Jerylin is currently an amazing stay at home mom with a passion to ensure her children are getting the much-needed rest they require. Jerylin has a BA in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UC Berkeley, PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior from the University of Washington, Seattle and she did further training at Cornell Medical School. She is my go-to person when looking at the science behind a number of studies we see popping up on social media.

Originally posted June 21, 2016 

Updated and re-posted Nov 23, 1018

Dream Feed: To Recommend or Not?

Dream Feed: To Recommend or Not?

As with all things related to babies, there are many opinions about a dream feed. This post is based on my experience; however, I realize it may not be the same experience for you.

Lets first start with the basics…

 

What exactly is a dream feed?

A dream feed is when your baby is asleep and you pick the baby up while they are sleeping and feed the baby. You can do this both by bottle and breast.

How can a baby eat while sleeping?

The best way to explain this is that it just happens! When the nipple is placed in babies mouth they will suck.

When should I offer a dream feed?

If you choose to do dream feed, I would recommend that you do it about an hour before your child’s typical wake up for a feed or as close that as possible. Hopefully, this is close to when you would typically go to bed. If not, I would do it just before going to bed.

What is the goal of a dream feed?

The goal of a dream feed is to extend your child’s ability to stay asleep for a longer period of time. Children that are waking due to hunger at an earlier time can benefit from a dream feed.

What is your opinion of a dream feed?

I find that dream feeds are an absolute crap shoot! They can work for some babies and be a fail for others.

Personally, I recommend that dream feeds are used with caution. I find babies that are offered the dream feed for a long time, come to depend on that feed and have a difficult time extending their ability to stay asleep without the feed.

For us, our little man would wake up during the feed so it did not work.

I have had many clients that were doing a dream feed. Most of the time their child started waking up slightly before the feed was offered.

The clients that did have success with the feed used it for a short period of time to help their little ones extend their sleep and then I encouraged more calories during the day to reduce the need for a night feed.

Should you try offering a dream feed?

If your little one is not able to sleep for more than 3 to 4 hours after 4 months of age you could try a dream feed to see if it will help. If your child is sleeping for 5 to 6 hours I would not recommend a dream feed.

I do find that it is best if you wait until your child naturally wakes up. When you wait until your child naturally wakes up you are going by your child’s needs versus what you believe your child needs. Do not underestimate these wonderful little humans!

Night Waking: How do I respond??

Night Waking: How do I respond??

Your little one has been sleeping for an hour or more and now appears to be waking up… Now What???

Before you feel like running out the door there is a way to respond that may assist your little one with getting back to sleep in a timely fashion (in some cases 🙂 ).

Time

When our little ones wake up we often run to them which does not give our little ones a chance to try to go back to sleep. Sometimes we actually end up waking our little ones up because they were making noise or moving around in the REM stage of sleep. When we run in we end up waking our littles.

Now, Am I saying you have to wait 10 to 15 minutes? Nope, 2 minutes will do. If you can wait 5 to 10 minutes there is no harm. I was never able to wait so I do not expect others to wait.

If time does not help them I would move on to the next step.

Presence
There were a number of times that as soon as I walked in the room our son would roll over and go back to sleep. This was after I jumped up and rushed to prepare a bottle. I learned to go in first before preparing a bottle.

If you go close to your child and they are still in distress then I would move on to the next step.

Voice
This is when you state your nighttime phrase, shush, talk lightly, sing or hum to your child. If they calm then you slowly reduce how much you are saying to give them a chance to get drowsy. If they just get upset then talk, sing, hum or shush until they go to sleep.

If this does not work after a minute or 2 then move on to the next stage.

Touch
This is when you reach into the bassinet or crib and provide the soothing touch your child responds to. Sometimes all you need to do is to put your hand by or on your child.

If this does not begin to calm your child after a minute or 2 your move on to the next step.

Pick up
Some children get very agitated when waking up and try as you may, they will not go back to sleep after trying all the previous steps. I would then pick your little one up. I would give them comfort. When your little one is calm I would lay him/her back in the crib. You may have to start back to step one if your child starts to scream.

What if you have tried all the above steps and there is no change. Every time you put your child down the crying starts. Well, you have a few choices. You can hold your little one a little longer until he/she is in a very drowsy state or asleep. If you choose this path, know that it may take longer for your child to go back to sleep without assistance.

I was perfectly fine with the sleep teaching process taking a longer period of time. If you believe that you or your child would be better off if your child fell back to sleep faster I would recommend that you do not respond to your child right away. You may have more intense crying for a shorter period. I would then move to a timed check-in approach to sleep teaching.

If you have any additional questions please ask in a private message, on the website or in the private Facebook group.

Have I ruined my child’s sleep?

Have I ruined my child’s sleep?

I will often get asked if a child’s sleep is now ruined because a parent had to sleep with the child or had to offer more support.

There are times when my little man puts things into a perspective way better than I can. Last night he was struggling with going to sleep, Thank You Day Light Savings! When he really struggles my husband or I will lay with him.

As we were laying there I was holding him (a great big snuggle and a hug). We were listening to a guided meditation about a Koala Bear that was not able to go to sleep (here is a link to it). The meditation was talking about how the bear was not able to lay still in his bed. My little man said to me “someone needs to hold that bear down”. I laughed to myself. Then I realized that my little man understood what I was doing. I was holding him down to help him sleep. After he made that comment I was even happier about the fact that I was able to assist him and he knew exactly what I was there for.

A short time after our snuggle our little man was able to go to sleep. Does this mean I will have to do this every night? No, it does not. After children have mastered the skill of falling to sleep with minimal assistance they often do not want you there. There will be a time or two thousand, that they require extra support. There is no harm to offer the support. Some children may need you to slowly remove the support and others will adapt quickly without issue.

The point of this post is to remind you to do what you feel is right for your child. Slowly but surely you will get them to be doing exactly what is best for them.

Take care and as always, Be the Parent you want to Be!!