I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday
Mar062013

Spring Ahead: Help Kids Adjust to Daylight Savings Time

This is an updated re-post of my popular Daylight Savings Post from last year. Get a jump on it, folks!

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On Sunday, March 10, the clocks will jump forward one hour for Daylight Savings Time. Without fail, this biannual clock-changing ritual cues a chorus of complaints from parents. For parents of babies, tots, and preschoolers, “springing forward” and “falling back” aren’t just hassles—changing the clock can quite literally can undo the hard work you’ve put into your child’s sleep routine.

Many moms and dads of young kids find that DST changes throw off kids’ bedtimes and naptimes. An hour’s worth of time change is a lot for little bodies to handle, and some particularly sensitive kids (or those who are already overtired or undertired to begin with) can take days—or weeks—to adapt.

Want to help your little one take the time change in stride? Here’s how to “spring forward” without missing a beat.

(For this example, I’ll use a 7 am wake-up and a 7 pm bedtime. I realize that many kids wake and go to bed at different times, so adjust as needed for your personal situation).

  • When the clock moves forward in the spring, the most common complaint from parents is that kids won’t go to bed “on time.” It’s not hard to understand why: When the clock reads 8 pm, your child’s body thinks that it’s 7. When 9 or 10 pm rolls around and kids still aren’t tired, parents get understandably grumpy.
  • The key to helping your child fall asleep at his normal time is waking him up earlier in the morning. See, if he sleeps until his body's regular wake-up time (say, 7 am) on clock-change day, the clock will read 8. If you try to put him to bed that night at 7 pm, his regular bedtime, only 11 hours have elapsed since he woke up, and he’s not likely to be tired enough to go to sleep. This is especially true if he slept a bit later than normal that morning. DST occurs on a weekend, so that’s not uncommon for parents to let their kids sleep later than normal. Sleeping in on weekends isn’t a big deal, but when you add the time change, things can quickly go awry.
  • Beginning a couple of days before the change, start waking your child 30 minutes earlier in the morning, and putting her to bed 30 minutes earlier at night. Make corresponding adjustments to nap(s) by moving them 30 minutes earlier as well. In this example, that would mean waking your child at 6:30 am and putting her to bed at 6:30 pm.  It may sound extreme, but remember, it’s only for a couple of days.
  • On the morning of DST, wake your child at his normal wakeup time. If he normally wakes at 7 am standard time, wake him at 7 daylight time. (This will actually be 6 am, according to his body clock, but you’ve prepped him for this change already with a couple days of early wake-ups.)
  • Offer nap(s) at the normal times. No need to make adjustments here.
  • Having woken up at 7 am, she’ll be ready for sleep at her normal bedtime. No DST adjustment required.
  • If you’re starting last-minute and you don’t have time to prep your child a couple of days before the time change, no problem. Just remember to wake your child at his normal wake-up time on clock-change day. He will be tired, because he “lost” an hour of sleep. But he will be ready to snooze at his regular bedtime and you won’t have a wide-awake kid bouncing off the walls while you’re trying to watch Weekend Update on DVR.

Daylight Savings Time, done!

I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

My new e-book Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers & Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades is available now!

Monday
Mar042013

Tune in: Talking to Teens About Sex

Let's talk about sex, baby. I mean, let's talk to our kids about sex. If you cringe at the thought of "the talk," tune in to Parent to Parent tomorrow morning at 7:45 a.m. Pacific Time. I'll give tips on how to make talking about sex tolerable--and why it's so important to keep the lines of communication open. (Parent to Parent airs on KING 5 on Monday mornings, channel 6/16 in Western Washington.)

I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

My new e-book Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers & Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades is available now!

Friday
Mar012013

Counting Sheep February column: Help for early risers

For the past several months, I've had the honor of writing a new sleep advice column called Counting Sheep for Metroparent magazine. Here's my February column about a perennial sleep question that I answer often: how to help a toddler who wakes at the crack of dawn.

I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

My new e-book Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers & Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades is available now!

Monday
Feb252013

Teen tooth-whitening: What to know

When an editor asked me to write an article about teen whitening for kids, I gladly took the assignment. But I had no idea that whitening treatments for kids were so popular—or so potentially dangerous. As it turns out, tooth-whitening kiosks are springing up at malls and salons across the country, and parents can purchase professional-strength bleach to use on children at home. But done improperly, bleach can damage young gums, enamel, and tooth pulp (ouch!). If you're a parent sorting through the whitening dos and don'ts, check out my article in this month's MetroKids magazine: Teen Tooth Whitening Tips: What to Know Before You Reach for the Bleach.

I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

My new e-book Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers & Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades is available now!

Friday
Feb222013

Ask Malia: Choosing my child's best bedtime

Is bedtime the wrong time?How do I know what time is appropriate for my child’s bedtime each night? Is there a rule of thumb for a bedtime that correlates with age?

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Great question. Finding your child’s ideal bedtime—the time when he’ll be primed to doze off quickly without a fight—is a major win. It make day-to-day life easier for your child, eliminates the need for many kinds of “sleep training,” and helps head off sleep troubles down the road, especially the pesky problems caused by overtiredness and undertiredness. At least half of the sleep questions I receive from parents involve a bedtime that’s either too early or too late. If your child isn’t sleeping well, finding the right bedtime can make a world of difference.

Is there a rule of thumb for bedtime, based on a child’s age? The short answer: sort of. In general, babies and young toddlers usually do best with a bedtime between 6 and 8 p.m., while preschoolers and early elementary-age children (many of whom still require 10 hours of sleep per night) seem to fare well with a nightly lights-out time between 7 and 9. But these guidelines are just that: guidelines. These two-hour ranges aren’t especially helpful when you’re trying to pinpoint the best bedtime for your unique child. And simply picking a generic bedtime (say, 8 p.m.) that isn’t correlated with your child’s individual need for sleep is a recipe for a mess.

To zero in on your child’s best bedtime, employ a little math. Don’t worry, it’s easy math. First, determine how much sleep your child needs in a 24-hour period. Then, subtract that total from 24 to arrive at the number of hours your child can comfortably stay awake during the day. Then, beginning at his wake-up time in the morning, count through his waking hours (not counting naps) until you reach his daily awake-time limit. Voila, you’ve found his best bedtime.

I describe this process in detail in my latest e-book Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers and Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades.

Don’t be shocked if your child’s ideal bedtime is much earlier—or later—than you thought it should be. It may not even fall within the guidelines that I mention, above. It may be earlier or later than your neighbor-sister-friend-babysitter puts her kids to bed. The important thing is that it’s the right bedtime for your child—and that you know what it is.

I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

My new e-book Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers & Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades is available now!