I’m an expert when it comes to caffeine science and energy drink safety. With my expertise, I help people survive sleep-deprivation. However, it’s also important to treat the root cause. Have you ever tried to convince a toddler that, yes, in fact, it is Bed Time? Do you dread waking up at midnight and 3 am to take care of a newborn? Getting better sleep means needing less caffeine. This is why I decided to team up with a fellow Mompreneur for some sleep tips for newborns and toddlers.
Meet Erin Meinel, Sleep Consultant
As the wife of a first responder, I have been no stranger to struggles with sleep…and having to stay awake when fatigued. Early in our marriage, my husband worked third shift and got plenty of overtime. Between working and trying to sleep, there wasn’t much time for anything else. We tried all the tips and tricks in the book. He’s now working second shift, still gets a TON of overtime, but now also has to wake up earlier than he’d prefer to help care for our two little boys. We are now part of the “2 Under 2” Club, having both a 22-month-old and a 4 ½-month-old. I thought our schedules before kids were crazy; fast forward a few years. We NEEDED to make sleep a priority so we could function during the day, both to make a living and to care for our children.
Between prioritizing sleep in our household and utilizing some of Danielle’s caffeine hacks to maximize our efficiency and energy when we are awake, I guess you could say we have gotten pretty good at juggling all the things!
I thought that having a background in early childhood development and education would serve me well when I became a mom. It did, and has, with many things…just not sleep! I had no idea there was so much science behind newborn and infant sleep, nor was I aware this was something I needed to learn about when I became a parent…until I was in the thick of it. After the birth of my first son and experiencing the sleep deprivation that accompanies life with a newborn, I became motivated, wait, let’s find a better word – INSPIRED – to help other new parents find their way out of this form of torture.
Building a Healthy Sleep Foundation
Infant and child sleep has become my passion, and I’ve now made it my life’s work to help educate other new parents about newborn sleep, as well as teach them how to lay a healthy sleep foundation right from the beginning of their little one’s life. And, don’t worry, if your baby has passed that stage and is still not sleeping, I work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers as well.
I worked to become a certified infant and child sleep consultant and started my business, Lake Country Sleep, one year ago in July 2019. It has been wonderful to work with so many awesome families, both local and from around the US, who now also sleep well and can juggle all the things! With teaching your child healthy sleep hygiene, you are instilling a skill that will benefit them throughout their life, and it is never too late to get started.
Not only is it good for their health and well-being, but it is beneficial for yours too.
Benefits of Quality Sleep in Children
- Appropriate growth and development
- Immune system support
- Heart health
- Improved attention and behavior
- Improved memory and learning
- Overall mental and physical wellbeing.
Benefits of Quality Sleep in Parents
- Improved mood
- Mental stability (did you know that sleep deprivation plays a HUGE role in Postpartum Depression and Anxiety?)
- An improved relationship with your partner
- Reduced stress
- Cognitive clarity
- Overall mental and physical wellbeing.
How would you like to be able to lay your child in bed, walk away knowing that they will fall asleep on their own within minutes (reap the benefits of quality, consolidated sleep all night long), and you have the rest of the evening to do as you wish? It sounds pretty great, right? It is possible!
Developing Your Custom Sleep Plan
After considering your child from a holistic perspective (age, stages of development, personality, schedule, etc.) as well as the needs of your family (work/childcare schedules, preferences, etc.), I write a sleep plan that encompasses all of that along with the following four cornerstones:
The room where your little one sleeps should be so dark that you cannot see your hand in front of your face. Anyone struggling with early morning wakings? Especially in the morning, when the sunlight starts to stream in, you may hear your little one arousing. The light that enters their retina signals their brain to start releasing cortisol, the hormone that wakes us up. If you must use a nightlight because your child has vocalized that they are afraid of the dark, it should be a red or orange light that doesn’t interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm.
I always recommend setting the nursery temperature between 68-72 degrees. We sleep best in a cool environment when we can snuggle up and get cozy. Check out my blog post “The Ultimate Dressing Guide for Sleep” for a free downloadable infographic about what your child can and should wear to bed.
I know, I know, you want your baby’s nursery to be THE CUTEST and as soon as you found out you were pregnant you probably started planning that adorable little bedroom right away. However, I want you to think more along the lines of creating a sleep sanctuary for your baby rather than something bright, bold, and stimulating. We want it to be just the opposite – calming and sleep-inducing. Check out my blog post, “Creating the Perfect Nursery” for more details.
Regardless of age, a bedtime (and nap time) routine is a must. Routines, after doing them day after day after day, signal our brains that the looooooong stretch of nighttime sleep is coming. Over time, you may even notice your little one starting to yawn as you zip up their pajamas or rub their eyes as you change that last diaper of the day. Check out some free sample bedtime routines here and read about “Creating the Perfect Bedtime Routine” here.
For all things sleep, please make sure you check out my blog – get to know me a bit more and my philosophy and approach to pediatric sleep, as well as plenty of other posts full of useful information. Make sure to follow along on both Instagram and Facebook where I offer tips, tricks, and even more helpful content.
Let’s get sleeping.
And when we can’t, let’s get caffeinated.