Preparing for Daylight Savings Time

dreamstime_xs_41465602Just about the time when your kids have the “perfect” sleep schedule, daylight saving time comes or goes and that changes everything. It’s that time of year again! The end of daylight saving time causes kids to wake earlier than usual and generally throws off naps and bedtime schedules. Whether you have an infant, toddler or young child, your kids’ sleep schedules are tied to their internal clocks and when they’re used to going to sleep. They’re not necessarily tied to what time the clock says it is. As you look forward to Halloween, it’s time to think about your preparations for “falling back” again.

This year, we fall back on Sunday, November 5. At 2 a.m., we’ll move our clocks back one hour, reverting to standard time. We’ll gain back that hour we lost in March when we switched to daylight saving time. As our days get shorter, it gets darker earlier in the afternoon. We recommend that you  get your kids adjusted to the time change by Saturday, November 4 so that you have one extra day of “wiggle room” before the kids head back to school or daycare or you head back to work on Monday.

Preparing your child for the time change is really quite simple. When you shift your child’s schedule gradually, as opposed to a one hour adjustment all at once, you can minimize exhaustion and frustration. Begin with bedtime on Sunday, October 29. Move your child’s bedtime forward by 15 minutes every other night so that by November 4, you’ve worked your way to the new time.  Make sure that you shift wake times, meal times and nap times accordingly. A slow and steady adjustment will be easier for you and for your child.

All of this is quite simple if your child has a solid foundation for good sleep habits. A few quick reminders for things that are really important no matter what time of year it is.

  • A super dark and cool bedroom is the best in environment for sleep.
  • A bedtime routine of 20-30 minutes and nap routine of 10-15 minutes helps your child transition from awake time to sleep time.
  • When the sun rises earlier, resist the temptation to start your kids’ day before 6 a.m.

If you keep these things in mind and start a week prior to the actual time change, you’ll be in good shape when 2 a.m. rolls around on Sunday, November 5.

Safe Swaddling Soothing for Babies, Great for Sleep

Halo’s 3-way adjustable SleepSack Swaddle is simple to use, safe, and adjusts to your baby’s sleep style.

Swaddling is an age old practice that dates back thousands of years. When the American Academy of Pediatrics came out in the early 1990s with its recommendation that all babies should be positioned on their back for sleep, swaddling became standard practice. Swaddling helps calm fussy babies and helps all babies sleep soundly and just a bit longer. While keeping your baby warm and cozy, swaddling mimics the womb-like environment that your baby experienced for nine months. Swaddling is one of the most soothing things you can do for your baby during the first two to three months of life.

With the important role swaddling plays in infant sleep, it’s no surprise that there are endless ways to make the “perfect” swaddle. We often recommend Halo products, because they make the process so easy! No tricky techniques are involved, and you can always rest easy knowing your baby is snug and safe. For more than 20 years, Halo has dedicated itself to putting the health, safety and well-being of babies first.

Depending on your preference and your baby’s sleep style, you can use Halo’s 3-way adjustable SleepSack Swaddle to bundle the arms in, with hands-to-face or with one or both arms out for older babies who are almost ready to transition out of swaddling. When you’re at that stage, you can move on to the Halo SleepSack Wearable Blanket. Not only does it replace loose blankets in the crib, but it ensures your baby stays cozy all night long.

Safety tips to remember when swaddling and transitioning:

• Place your baby on his or her back for all sleep during the first year.

• If your baby gets overheated, use a lighter weight swaddle or remove a layer of clothing.

• Swaddle snugly (above the level of the hips) to eliminate the risk of your swaddle becoming a loose blanket in the crib.

• Discontinue swaddling by 12 weeks or whenever your baby begins to break free from the swaddle or shows signs of rolling over.

• When you’re ready to transition, swaddle with one arm out for a few days. When your baby adjusts to one arm out, bring the other arm out. Your baby will learn to use his or her hands or arms to self-soothe. There may be a few days of fussiness as your baby adjusts to this new way of sleeping. Don’t let that discourage you. Your baby needs those free arms and hands to assist with rolling over back to front or front to back.

• Last but not least, no matter whether your baby sleeps in a swaddle or sleep sack, make sure that it’s the appropriate size for your baby’s age and weight.

*Disclaimer: Pea Pod Sleep Consultants received products from Halo in return for an honest endorsement of their swaddles and sleep sacks. Our recommendation is not contingent upon products having been received, but is based solely upon product merit.

Travel Sleep Tips for Babies & Toddlers

Are you looking forward to vacation but worried that your great sleeper will regress while you’re away? Here are a few tips to be mindful of, wherever you are headed:

  • Make certain that your child is well rested with a regular nap and bedtime schedule before you head out of town. If you’re traveling through more than one time zone, it’s helpful to make some adjustments to your sleep schedule before you leave.
  • Hotels have a limited number of cribs. If you’re not taking your own crib, make sure that you call ahead to reserve one well in advance of your vacation week.
  • Book sleep-friendly accommodations. A separate room in a house or an adjoining hotel room is ideal. If you plan on room sharing, improvise by bringing along a portable coat rack and hang a blanket or dark sheet from it to create a room divider.
  • Create a vacation sleep environment similar to what your child has at home. Pacifiers, blankies, toys, loveys, bedtime books, bring them all! Don’t forget your child’s favorite pajamas and sheets, along with the night light and sound machine.
  • Although vacations aren’t meant to be rigid and structured, try to stick to your child’s nap and bedtime schedule. Allow for plenty of downtime and plan your excursions between naps. You’ll have a happier child rather than a wired, tired child that challenges you at night.
  • If you know that you’re going to miss a nap, aim for an early bedtime. If you know you’re going to be out past your child’s normal bedtime, be sure to get the nap in that day. Either way, don’t panic! If you’ve established healthy sleep habits before leaving town, it won’t take long to get back on schedule when you return.
  • Build in a day or two of cushion on the back end to provide plenty of time to get back on track before you really have to be back on a regular schedule.

Last but not least, relax and enjoy. It’s meant to be a vacation!


Top Tips for Hiring a Sleep Consultant

dreamstime_xs_68352440There are a lot of people who claim to be sleep consultants these days, and when you’re a tired parent, it’s easy to hire the first person who says they can help. Not so fast! Before you hire a sleep consultant, be sure to do a little research to make sure that the person you are hiring is truly the right fit for you.

These top tips for hiring a sleep consultant are an easy place to start. Remember, every child’s sleep challenges are unique, and the right sleep consultant will help overcome these challenges in accordance with your parenting beliefs and values.

1) Ask about education and training
There are people who claim to be sleep consultants after reading a few books. There are people who claim to be sleep consultants after raising a challenging sleeper. There are sleep consultants who have taken an online course but have had no interaction with real educators or real families.

In reality, there are less than a handful of four- to six-month programs that lead to sleep consultant certification. These programs are live, interactive, and intensive, and require you to work with real families struggling with infant, toddler or preschool sleep issues prior to obtaining certification. Aside from being a certified sleep consultant, ask your prospective consultant about their other professional credentials.

2) Be sure you can choose an approach that is right for your family
There are many ways to resolve sleep issues but there are some consultants that have only been educated about one approach. What’s right for one family is not necessarily right for another family. One size does not fit all. Look for a consultant who can offer you several approaches and one that encourages your input to determine an approach that’s a good fit for your child and your family.

3) Get a personalized, tailor-made sleep plan
There are some consultants who have one sleep plan for each age group and that’s it, regardless of your unique issues. There are consultants who cut and paste. Make sure that you’re getting a sleep plan that’s personalized for your child and family.

4) Find out what sort of follow-up support is offered
Yes, there are consultants who will quickly email you an inexpensive sleep plan. Be cautious about purchasing a plan that does not offer follow-up. Your consultant is your coach as you implement your sleep plan. His or her ongoing motivation, support and follow up are critical to your success.

5) Look for websites, online reviews, or social media sites
Although you never really know people until you’ve met them, a website with client testimonials does tell you that your consultant is serious about his or her business and has clients to back up their stated experience.

6) Be sure goals and time frames seem realistic
While there are occasional star sleepers out there, they’re often the exception rather than the norm. Make sure that your consultant conveys realistic outcomes and time frames for your child’s situation.

7) Learn if there is a network of support
While there are some sleep issues that are easily and quickly resolved, some situations are extremely challenging. It’s best to find a consultant who is capable of tapping into a network of sleep colleagues to collectively solve unique challenges.

How to Deal with Night Terrors & Nightmares

bed-1299479_1280It’s easy to confuse night terrors and nightmares, especially if your child has never experienced either of these scary sleep disturbances. They’re actually quite different from one another. Learn the facts about both and how you can help a child experiencing either night terrors or nightmares.

Night Terrors

A night terror is a partial waking from a state of deep sleep. It might be exhibited as agitation, screaming, kicking, thrashing, mumbling, sitting, standing or sleep walking. As scary as these episodes are for a parent, they are emotionally harmless for a child and he or she will almost always return to deep sleep.

Common characteristics of night terrors

  • Your child appears frightened, panicked with eyes wide open but cannot be awakened.
  • They occur during the first few hours of sleep.
  • They usually occur between the age of 18 months and 6 years.
  • Episodes may last 10-30 minutes.
  • Your child won’t remember the episode the next morning.
  • They run in families, so there may be a genetic component involved.
  • Overtiredness is often a trigger.

Helping your child during a night terror

  • Wait for your child to stop thrashing around, and gently guide him or her back to bed if they are not in it.
  • Protect your child against injury due to falls, bumps or thrashing.
  • Do not shake, shout, or attempt to wake your child during an episode.

When to contact your child’s pediatrician

  • Your child exhibits drooling, jerking or stiffening during an episode.
  • Terrors interrupt sleep on a very regular basis.
  • Terrors last longer than 30 minutes.
  • Your child has daytime fears.
  • Your child does something dangerous during an episode.

Night terrors are scary but they are harmless. They do not indicate that something is wrong with your child, but are natural events associated with normal sleep development during childhood. Eventually, your child will outgrow them. You can help prevent them by maintaining a regular nap and bedtime schedule and by not allowing your child to get to an overtired state.


Nightmares are bad or scary dreams that awaken a child. The child is usually afraid to go back to sleep. Children have nightmares about realistic dangers and/or imaginary fears, and their fears usually relate to their developmental stage. Toddlers can awaken afraid of a separation from their parents; preschoolers have nightmares about monsters, snakes and spiders; and school-aged children may have nightmares about real dangers or death.

Common characteristics of nightmares

  • They occur during the second half of the night (during REM sleep).
  • They are very common.
  • Children can recall the details of the bad dream.
  • Children will awaken afraid, tearful and often have difficulty falling back to sleep.
  • Children want and need to be comforted to get back to sleep.
  • By about age 7, kids begin to comprehend that nightmares are bad dreams and not reality.

Helpful tips for parents when your child has nightmares

  • Reassure your child that it’s just a bad dream and that everything is OK. Cuddle and comfort your child.
  • Leave your child’s bedroom door open when he or she attempts to go back to sleep.
  • Don’t dismiss or downplay your child’s worries if he or she wants to talk about the nightmare the next day.
  • If your child forgets about a nightmare, don’t raise the topic.
  • If your child dreams about the same thing repeatedly, evaluate possible sources of fear (stress, frightening movies or TV shows, encounters with insects and animals, etc.)

Consulting your pediatrician

Occasional nightmares are normal and not a sign of emotional disturbance.  Children with a vivid sense of imagination tend to have nightmares. If your child experiences a traumatic event, or has a high level of daytime anxiety with recurrent nightmares, it’s best to seek professional advice.