There are many methods for getting children to sleep. They all work in different ways. My daughter actually inspired me to invent this method. It may have been done before, but if it has, I sure haven't heard of it. If I had, it just may have helped avoid some sleepless and restless nights prior to the idea. My hope is that my experience will help other parents get their children off to sleep and dreaming peacefully at night.
One night, my (then) four-year-old daughter was very restless at nap time. I knew she was tired, but she just could not sit still. Call it normal child restlessness or the urge to avoid sleep at all costs - who knows? Whatever the reason, I knew I had to do something about it.
First, I tried reading her favorite Dr. Seuss book "Fox In Socks", which was generally a nap time favorite. However, after the story was over she was still fidgeting and she also did so throughout the entire story. I wondered what to do next. "Hmm", I thought to myself. I then tried gently massaging her neck and shoulders, which tends to help on days like this. Nothing.
I was forced to think deeper and get more creative. I had it! I laid down beside her and whispered softly in her ear "Close your eyes and pretend you're a pretty butterfly flying high in the sky." She smiled. And closed her eyes. Success! It worked. Within mere seconds, she was fast asleep.
Since that day I used the same technique on all of the children many times, with success (until they got old enough that they didn’t want or need it). Each time, I would give them something new to think about. It became somewhat of a game. They’d eagerly await their nightly or nap time suggestion with a look of anticipation on their innocent little faces. Despite the regularity, the looks on their faces were priceless each and every time.
I noticed that the suggestive thoughts helped them sleep more soundly. Did they dream them? Did they give them peace? I can't say for sure, but I know that once they had their thought, my kids always slept without tossing and turning and would wake rested and cheerful for the day to begin. They would also drift off to sleep extra fast, seemingly eager to picture the thoughts in their heads.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
As a mother to children of various ages and stages, I have studied and dealt with various aspects related to children and sleep. My nannying experience with kids of varied ages also contributed in that regard. So, how much sleep do babies and children need and are your kids getting enough sleep? Read on to find out.
How Much Sleep Do Newborns Need?
A newborn baby may or may not form an exact pattern at the start. It may even out more after a couple weeks. It is true that newborns are likely to spend around 16 - 20 hours of the day sleeping. But, keep in mind that those hours are not always consecutive and shouldn’t last more than 3 hours at a time. Newborn babies need to eat often, at least every 3 hours, sometimes sooner. Do not skip any feeding times.
Sleep Tips and Advice For 3-6 Month Old Babies
From 3 to 6 months, a baby may sleep 5 hours all together during the day and 10 at night. 6-8 of the night-time sleep hours might be consecutive. From 6 - 12 months, a baby should sleep around 3 hours during the day and 11 (in total, not consecutive) at night time.
To encourage good sleeping habits from the beginning, wait just a couple moments after babies (older than 3 months) cry to respond. The reason for this is that the baby may not always need you. The crying may be occurring in the baby's sleep. If after a couple moments the baby is still crying, then check the basic needs, such as diaper changing, feeding, burping, or replacing the pacifier.
Try not to turn on lights or play with babies too much when checking on them at night. Too much stimulation can cause babies to think that bedtime is still playtime. You should instead be teaching the baby that night time is bedtime, so it’s clear that time slot is for sleep. This will help your baby sleep better. If your baby is crying more than a few moments, be sure not to ignore him or her. This is a sign that something is needed.
Sleep And Babies 6 Months and Older
If the baby is over 6 months, there should be no feedings in the middle of night. Simply comfort the baby for a couple minutes at the crib-side so the baby can ease him or herself back to sleep. Comforting might be patting or rubbing the baby's back. Remember not to actually pick the baby up (unless they are in distress) or it could set a pattern of the baby wanting to be held and played with by you every night.
This can be difficult to do, but isn't good for a baby's sleep habits. A baby needs to be able to sleep soundly. Change the diaper or replace the pacifier if necessary. Also, of course, keep an eye on your baby for safety purposes. Never let a baby cry longer than a few moments, as crying is an indication something is wrong, even if you can’t figure it out. Remember that this is a baby’s only way to communicate.
How Much Sleep Do Kids Ages 1 - 5 Need?
By this age, you should have a bedtime routine established for your child, such as taking a bath, brushing teeth, and then reading a story. If the routine, whatever it is, is followed every night, bedtime should run fairly smoothly. The exact routine is not important, as that will vary from family to family and maybe even child to child. What matters is that you have some routine and that it is followed at a certain time each night.
Kids ages 1 - 3 sleep around 10 -14 hours. Some of those hours may be during the day for certain kids, while others may sleep all of them at night and skip a nap. Not all kids need a nap during the day, so if your child does not seem to easily fall into a nap routine, consider taking away nap time altogether and possibly opting for an earlier bedtime. Neither way is the best way for every single kid. All kids are different.
From ages 4 - 5, 10 -12 hours of sleep is average. Like the younger set, what time those hours are received is not as important as the fact they get them. For instance, one of my kids at age 4 would take 3 hour long naps, while another, when 5, didn’t nap at all. Not all kids are the same in this regard.
As long as a routine is established, it matters not whether kids have a daily nap for some of those hours or the hours are all taken at night. As long as kids are getting a normal average of sleep hours, there should be no concern. However, if kids ages 1 - 5 are awaking several times at night, the pediatrician should be consulted.
How Much Sleep Do Kids Ages 6 - 10 Need?
Elementary-aged kids need about 9 to 11 hours of sleep. An exact number of hours can be established by paying attention to your child. Irritability or hyperactive behavior may indicate the need for more sleep. Not enough sleep can actually worsen conditions such as ADD or ADHD. For this age, most of those hours would occur at night.
Don't forget that even kids beyond the toddler stage will need some quality time with parents before bedtime. Even though children can read on their own at this stage, they might still like a bedtime story. Some may prefer to read to you. Others may prefer to play a game of some sort with you before bedtime. All of my children liked to play games before bed at this age, but two always preferred to read to themselves, rather than be read to.
The activity itself matters not as much as the quality time and the routine. It's also a great idea to have little talks with kids before bedtime. This can be a good time for private one-on-one discussions about any worries on the child's mind or just wishes the child has, or anything else he or she wants to say. This can relieve tension, which is a great mood relaxer for bedtime. If your child has problems falling or staying asleep, be sure to contact the pediatrician.
How Much Sleep Do Older Kids or Teens Need?
Most teens need about 8 or 9 hours of sleep. The problem with that is that they may not get it. Some may be up doing homework late at night. Others might be talking on the phone, emailing friends from the computer, or texting friends from their cell phone. Also, during adolescence, the body goes through physical and hormonal changes that may cause lack of sleep. If your teen seems restless or unable to sleep, it is best to see a doctor to determine if there are any sleep issues that can be resolved.
To ensure that they get their sleep, you may have to establish rules about appropriate times for homework, computers, and phones. Sometimes you'll have to do this more than once. Since teens are almost adults, they may feel as though they can do what they want. However, until they are 18, you are still responsible for their well-being. Be sure they get adequate sleep. It is essential to their grades in school, as well as their overall well-being.
Figuring Out Individual Sleep Needs
Each child's sleep requirements will depend on more than one factor. For one thing, not all of them will have exactly the same requirements because each person is different. However, there are ranges or average amounts of time that each child will likely fall between, depending on their age and other variances. Sleep patterns for children should also be discussed with the child's pediatrician.
If your child is having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting too much sleep, try some of our other info on sleep and contact your child's pediatrician.
"But if we move, how can I see my friends?" "That's a really long way away from Granny's house. When do I get to see her?" These are some of the questions kids may ask when moving. They will likely be dealing with many difficult transitions. As a parent who has dealt with this type of scenario more than once, here are some of my best positive parenting methods for helping kids transition during a move.
Be quiet and listen. Before explaining a multitude of things about your move, listen to how your child is feeling. Take him for a walk or relax in the backyard and just let him say what he feels. Sometimes just letting everything out, knowing someone hears you, is helpful. This also gives you some insight into what is needed to help him feel better. It's easier for kids to transition when they know they are heard and that their concerns matter.
Find solutions for keeping in touch with friends and relatives. If you're only moving across town, it should still be relatively easy to keep up with friends and relatives that once lived nearby. But if your child will need to leave them in another state or country, alternative solutions will be needed. Email, Facebook, a cell phone, or messenger apps are just some of the ways to keep in touch. Be creative and figure out what works for your child, depending on age and preferences. It's easier to transition to a move when familiar people aren't out of reach.
Be sure the child knows the reasons for moving. Even if they don't express it, children might feel like a move is their fault. This can especially be true if the move is due to divorce or similar situations. Make the transition more smooth by explaining to your children the reasons for the move. Make sure they know that the move is not their fault.
Remain positive about the move. Regardless of the reason for moving, keep it positive. Represent the good aspects of moving to your child. It's alright to discuss some of the things the family doesn't like about moving. But don't forget to also talk about the good things. Are you closer to a nice, new school? Closer to family? Maybe there is an area attraction the kids would enjoy. It's easier to transition when the good things about it are made obvious.
Be understanding. Sometimes no matter what you say or do, a child is going to be unhappy about the move, at least at first. Lend an ear and an open mind and heart. Even if it isn't possible to go back to the way things were before, your child needs to know that you understand his feelings. You can tell him your concerns as well and how you are dealing with them. You can also just be a shoulder and source of comfort.
In time, your child will very likely transition to the move and before you know it, he'll have new friends to hang out with. The important thing is that you be there for him until he does.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Positive Parenting Tips: How to Show Kids They Matter
For whatever reason, kids can often feel as though they are the odd one out - that no one understands them. You know full well that your kids matter. Show them just how much with some positive parenting. Most parents do care and want their kids to know that, but some just aren't sure how to put feelings into action.
Give them choices. Although you may want everything to go a certain way, kids should be a part of family decisions, too. Sometimes - maybe many times - not everyone is going to agree on things. Let the kids decide what to do whenever possible. This shows them their thoughts matter to you. When kids know they matter, they may be more inclined to respect your wishes for decisions you must make.
Respect their opinions. Even when their opinions differ from yours - and they will sometimes - respect what your kids think. Things don't always have to go their way. But let them be individuals. Sooner or later your child is going to grow up. He needs to know his voice matters to be respected in the world outside your home. Even inside the home, your child's opinions and insight should count.
Give them freedom. There are limits to this for safety reasons, of course. But give your kids some freedom. They don't need to be right next to you at every moment. Trust them to do age-appropriate tasks without your assistance. It can be a parental instinct to be a mother hen or a father lion. That's part of being a parent, but if we don't let them do some things for themselves, they will never learn.
Let them teach you about their favorite things. You may be old and wise, but kids have so much to teach us adults. Listen. Let your child know that her interests are important to you. Sometimes what kids are interested in don't line up with those of their parents. Still, you need to be supportive of your child's individuality. Don't try to force your interests on him and don't attempt to keep him from his unless they are harmful in nature.
Show affection even when they misbehave. Even when kids misbehave, they still deserve your love. Discipline must take place. But that doesn't mean a hug isn't in order. In fact, that may be exactly what the doctor has ordered. Show your child his feelings matter to you by still showing affection, even in difficult times.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Many times successes and failures in school can be traced to educational responsibility. Is your child in charge of his success – or failure when it comes to learning? If you find yourself helping too much or taking the blame for his achievements (or lack thereof), you may not be giving your child enough educational responsibility.
Provide access to a variety of study materials. When children have ready access to books and other educational materials, it's easier for them to become naturally in tune to learning. You don't have to spend large sums of money if you don't have it, but try to have things around that are helpful to their education. Manipulatives, educational videos, and hands-on science kits are great tools, in addition to books. Some libraries will loan out these items if you cannot afford to purchase them or would just prefer to be able to return them when finished.
Never do their work for them. When your child is seemingly having a nervous breakdown, it's easy for some to just give the answers. Do not do this. Instead, give your child some time to calm down and encourage him to try again. You can help for explanation purposes. But allow the child to complete the work on his own. Educational responsibility is easier to come by when it is a natural habit in the household.
Incorporate independent study. In addition to any homework, kids need to study things on their own as well. This could be additional information for what they are working on in required studies. But it may also be a free topic the child is interested in. Encourage your kids to learn new things, be it the history of a fad or more knowledge in required subjects. You may need to make the suggestion or first steps. But in time you will see your child start to automatically do this on his own. The desire for independent study is a good sign your child has some educational responsibility.
Allow room for mistakes. Remember that your child is not perfect. Remind him of this as well. Mistakes are okay. They give him a chance to learn and grow, and are a huge part of educational responsibility. When kids can recognize when they are wrong and need some extra work, this is a sign of responsibility. Let them discover those things within themselves.
Encourage your child's interests. When your child has an interest in something, encourage him by providing study materials for that subject. Take him on field trips or play games related to the interest. If your child wants to be a fireman, take him to a firehouse. If she wants to be a doctor, take a hospital tour and buy medical books at her comprehension level. Whatever your child is interested in, encourage (without forcing) him to learn more about it. Let your child tell you what he learns and also what he already knows as well.
Let them take responsibility for accomplishments and mistakes. When your child fails a test, do you blame yourself for not pushing him or do you point out to your child what he may have done to receive better results? The answer should be the latter, but many parents will take the blame for the mistakes of their kids, which can lead to them being irresponsible.
Do not force learning or use education as a punishment. Never say to your child things like “If you don't clean your room, I'm going to make you do algebra!” This teaches the child education is a bad thing. She is not going to be responsible when it comes to learning if her thoughts about it are negative. Always make learning a positive experience and offer it freely, rather than forcing the child to participate.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Your child is special and unique and should be taught accordingly. We all face the struggle of trying to get our children to memorize their facts and do their homework. We spend so much time searching for a better answer. I like the method of using a child's interests to enhance learning. While I can't guarantee you that my answer is the only answer, I can guarantee you that it's at least worth a try. Your child will definitely have fun and probably learn some things along the way.
So, what is this secret method? Well, it may not be a secret, but sometimes we don't think about it. What I suggest doing is keying in on your child's interests to form your lesson plans. This can work for homeschool or just plain studying. First, you should make a list of the top ten things your child enjoys the most. Next, using this list, think of ways you can use these interests to help your child learn. Here's an example of a miniature plan for a child named Johnny.
Find your child's key interests and use them to teach him lessons. Johnny enjoys swimming, playing basketball, video games, visiting the park, climbing trees, and many other outdoor activities. Johnny is struggling in multiplication and division. He also hates to read. His mom decides to take him to the park and play a game of basketball with him. During basketball, she asks him "If I can make 3 baskets in 5 minutes, how many baskets can I make in fifteen minutes?" Well, Johnny is confused, so his mom says, "All you have to do is see how many 5s it takes to make fifteen by skip counting first." Johnny's answer is 3, so his mom then says "So, if I make 3 baskets 3 times, what does that give me. You can count by 3s." When Johnny answers "9", his mother is very happy.
Keep up the rhythm to enhance learning skills. In Johnny's case, his mom continues to play games like this with him, being sure to show him visually what she is talking about. For reading, Johnny's mom purchases a few different computer games that enhance reading and comprehension games because Johnny likes video games. Since he likes games with action, she makes sure that all the games have plenty of that. The video games are played at least 3 times per week. She also makes sure that Johnny has fun practice for both subjects every day. Sometimes the games she makes up are the same and sometimes they're not.
Keep it fun and consistent. As you can see, Johnny's mom has begun to draw on her son's interests to get him more interested in learning. It's just as simple for you to do the same. Your games can be simple or complex. Gear the complexity around you and your child. Don't make learning seem like a chore. Make it fun and your child will view it as such. During homework time, play little games with the homework problems. Just be creative at all times, always drawing on your child's interests. When your child starts to get excited wondering what you will do each day, instead of groaning about the homework, that's when you know you've made a real difference.
Babysitting is a fee many parents will be faced with, but how high is too high? Are nannies, childcare facilities, and babysitters charging too much these days? To answer that question, I looked into my own personal experience, not only as a mother, but as an experienced nanny. Here are the conclusions I came to and why. Some may agree and some may not.
Children are a parent's responsibility - However, sometimes parents have other responsibilities that must be taken care of, such as employment, that do not allow for our children to be in our presence. Sometimes parents just want to have fun without the kids. Whatever the case may be, responsibility of the children needs to be delegated to someone else (the nanny, babysitter, or childcare or daycare facility) for a period of time that a parent will not be present.
You get what you pay for - A parent knows how hard it is to care for children, so why should we expect someone to want to care for our children in the proper manner, without compensating that person to do so? Good childcare often comes with a price. Ever heard the old saying "You get what you pay for"? It applies very well to the service you should expect from your babysitter or nanny. babysitting fees might be high, compared to what you’d like to pay. But there’s generally a reason for that.
But that nanny is cheaper! - If you hire two nannies to watch four kids on two separate days for the same number of hours and pay one of them two dollars per hour and the other eleven dollars per hour, which one do you think is going to work the hardest and want to come back? Of course, it would most likely be the one who got paid eleven dollars per hour. This is not always going to be the case, as some people will be a good nurturer and hard worker regardless. But it is definitely something to consider. Someone who is only being paid two dollars per hour to watch four children might watch the children well, but do you think that person will want to go the extra mile? Probably not. They might even just plop the children in front of Disney Channel the entire time because the money is not worth the effort of organizing activities, cleaning up messes, and doing other things.
You asked for this, the care provider is doing a difficult job - Aside from that, remember that caring for children is hard work. Any parent knows that. We may act like it's easy in front of family and friends, but in all reality, it is the hardest job in the world. You have to constantly make sure everything is clean and neat, while at the same time making sure that everyone is fed, changed (or uses the potty), and happy. You have to find time to play with, and possibly teach, the children while still keeping things in order and tending to the occasional bump, fall, pants wetting, tantrum, or more. While it is fun and rewarding, it is still hard. This aspect should not be forgotten, in regards to paying your sitter.
Your children deserve quality over risky business - Furthermore, these are your children. They deserve quality care, which is sometimes not given when the pay is too low. Children are not capable of caring for themselves, thus the reason for the nanny. Most parents care deeply for their children, so why would a parent put their child's life at risk just to save a buck? Yes, I said their life, because if a sitter is charging a lower rate, that sitter may not have any first aid training, which is vital when caring for children.
Rates will vary depending on the area you live in, so use your best judgment to decide what's fair. Just remember not to short your nanny because she might just fall short on caring for your children properly.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Summer Banks, Contributing Writer
I am not a fan of doctors, antibiotics or modern medicine for everyday ailments. There is a need for traditional medical care, in some cases, but I honestly believe parents often rush children to the doctor for a dose of quick fix medicine before they allow the human body to heal naturally. When I chose to practice alternative health care with my four children, they started healing faster and getting sick less often, but there was a speed bump in my way – the school system. Children are only allowed to miss a certain number of school days without a doctor’s note. Natural healing takes longer than healing with modern medicine, so I needed to address this issue from the moment I enrolled my children in public school.
Talk with the school principal, school nurse and your child’s teacher about alternative health care. From the onset, I talked with my children’s principal, school nurse and teacher about my choice to avoid modern medicine. This is a tricky subject because many people don’t understand alternative health care, especially when it comes to children. I made sure to ask how many days missed the school system allowed before requiring a child to repeat a grade. Different states have different guidelines, so ask and note the days allowed in a health care journal.
Learn the rules of sickness and school. Too many parents take children to the doctor for medication and send their child back to school the following day. This exposes other children in the school to germs, viruses and bacteria. There are two main rules of sickness and school every parent should remember.
If every parent keeps these two rules of alternative health care in mind, fewer children will get sick.
Contact your child’s teacher for work on the first day missed. No child wants to spend three or four days out of school only to have tons of work to make-up when they return. Contact your child’s teacher on the first day missed and ask for homework. You may have to make a trip into the school to pick-up the class work, but some teachers will simply email the worksheets so you can print them out at home.
Allowing your child to heal naturally boosts immunity for life so never feel guilty about choosing alternative health care for your child, but be prepared to face a brick wall when it comes to days missed. Communication is the best tool any parent can use to keep their child on track in school.
Summer Banks is a medical assistant who practices alternative health care choices with her family. Her four children have not taken a single antibiotic in more than five years.
Are your kids bored out of their minds? Just need something free to pass the time? Maybe you're broke but still want to have fun. Either way, these five free ways to have fun with kids are sure to entertain.
Sing Silly Songs Together
Yeah, yeah I know this may sound old-fashioned. But try it. It's great for laughter and helps bring families closer together. This is especially good after a really long day. A family karaoke night is always fun as well.
Play Tag In the Rain
If it's raining outside, no need to stay inside unless there is severe weather. Play a free, fun game of tag in the rain with the kids. It adds a fun element and also teaches kids to appreciate the beauty of mother nature.
Explore the Neighborhood
Do you know what your neighborhood looks like? The full details - not from a car window. Take a stroll around and explore things with the kids. You might be surprised at the nature and landmarks you can discover without being contained by four doors.
Weed Out and Donate
This may seem an odd thing to put on a list of fun things to do. But kids really enjoy knowing their unused items can help others. Go through clothing, books, toys, etc and see what can be given to the less fortunate. Keeps the kids busy and it also helps someone out.
Family Talent Show
Everyone has something special they can do. One kid might be able to sing. Another may be an artist. Maybe another is into fashion. No matter everyone's interests, they can all be combined to create a fun family talent show. You can charge admission with play money for effect.
"Mommy can you wash my water?" That has to be one of the funniest things any of my kids ever said to me as a toddler. She was about three. Wash water? Isn't water already clean? What's the funniest thing your toddler ever said to you? Here are some of the funniest toddler quotes in my family.
So, what was washing the water all about? She wanted me to dump out the water and make it even colder. With seven kids, and also the fact that I am a former nanny, I have heard plenty of interesting things from toddlers.
Another that sticks to me is the time my then 4 year old son was sitting on a playground swing. He's now a teenager. At the time, his fear of the swing moving with him in it was still present. He knows my profession and knew I had the laptop at the park. I go to push him and he says "Don't push me, Ma! You really need to write that article!"
Horse or Dog?
Then, there's the first time my oldest daughter (then a year and a half, now an adult) met a horse. It was the Juneteenth parade in Denver and the policemen were there with their Clydesdales. They were welcoming petting. So, toddler in arms, I pet one horse's beautiful mane. I tried to get her to do the same. She looked at me crazy, looked the horse up and down, and looked back at me exclaiming "Uh, uh Mommy! That's a BIG doggie!"
This next one is more of a funny name for something. For some reason, my second oldest had these favorite shoes when she was 4 years old that she liked to call her "dockies". None of us ever figured out why she called them that.
I recently hung a curtain over the archway that connects the kitchen and living room. I then tied the curtains back so that the space stayed open. My 4 year old then says to me "Mommy, you put that there because the kitchen cooking is open." Apparently, she looks at the kitchen as a restaurant.
Leave your funny toddler quotes in the comments section below.
Last updated 2/19/2022
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The Upstream Parenting method will help you learn how to connect with your children, raise them to be independent thinkers, and how to gently guide them to succeed on their self-chosen path. Upstream Parenting is a proven child and growth-focused method that has been put to use with all six of my children, as well as with countless kids I've nannied over the years.
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