One day a parent and I were chatting about her infant who suddenly started waking in the middle of the night to eat. She was worried because the pediatrician had told her that he shouldn't really need to eat in the middle of the night anymore. I asked her about the night, "When you feed him does he eat? How is his mood after?" She explained to me that he seems hungry and after she breastfeeds him he goes right back to sleep. I assured her, "It sounds like that's just what he needs. Often infants will eat more or less as they are growing and if it is meeting your needs and meeting his needs there is nothing to worry about. If it's something that bothers you then we can talk about what other options you have." She continued talking about it, "No, it doesn't bother me. If he is just waking to eat and hungry, I can feed him. Plus I've been making a lot of milk lately. I was pumping and got excited at how much milk I had." Her husband and I laughed and we all remarked at how if you just slow down and think about it, this sounds just like a growth spurt. She said, "How did I not put that together? He's more hungry and I'm making more milk. He's growing. I guess there is nothing to worry about then." I explained to her the concept of shark music, fear that sometimes gets in the way of our ability to see our individual child in this individual moment. We laughed and the little guy only woke for about a week, then the growth spurt was over and he slept through the night again.
Books about potty learning can be a great way to start talking about and to introduce using the the potty. Sometimes we adjust the words to the individual child or our family word choice. But using real words and talking openly is crucial to supporting our children's growth. Books are a good way to begin your potty talk so children don't feel any embarrassment or misgivings about using the potty.
A few books we enjoy:
"Potty" by Leslie Particelli – This is an Our Neighborhood favorite. It is a simple and descriptive cartoon book about a friend learning to use the potty.
"No More Diapers for Ducky" by Bernette Ford and Sam Williams – This is a cartoon duck and pig story. It’s not technical or overly accurate but simple and well loved.
"Where’s the Poop?" By Julie Markes – This is a silly favorite where an animal hides it’s poop on each page and the child puts his poop in the potty. It can make adults uncomfortable, but can be helpful for children who feel uncomfortable or embarrassed regarding their bodily functions.
"Everyone Poops" By Taro Gomi and Amanda Mayer Stinchecum– This is a silly favorite that talks about where different animals and people poop. It can make adults uncomfortable, but can be helpful for children who feel uncomfortable or embarrassed regarding their bodily functions.
Boys will stand up to pee at any point once they have made the connection. It is probably easiest to introduce your son to stand-up peeing closer to or after his second birthday when he has more balance, height, and control. It is likely that once he realizes he can stand up to pee, he may no longer want to sit down on the potty. This means if he hasn’t become accustomed to knowing when and how to poop on the potty, he will begin pooping in his diaper. We recommend trying to choose the time of the day he is most likely to poop and asking him to sit down. It may be a challenge but you can remind him, “Even daddy sits down to focus and poop sometimes.” Setting a specific potty try time, will make it routine rather than a struggle each time.
Establish a flexible schedule based on what your have observed from your baby and your family's needs. Then build clear routines to help your baby begin to understand when it is time to begin relaxing, blocking out all the distractions, and closing her eyes for rest.
When you look closely at your family schedule, you may find it challenging to find 14 hours a day for your child to sleep. Finding time for your little one to sleep, however, is crucially important. Try to plan for 80% of their sleep to be at home. If you have multiple children, this may become even harder but plan ahead. You can do your best to synchronize multiple children’s nap times. Take a broad look at the set things in your schedule like work hours, standing appointments, weekend commitments, and things that aren’t flexible. Then work to prioritize night time sleep and naps. Remember as we propose on our main sleep page, section society often has a negative view of sleep. If you are not prioritizing your healthy sleep because you're over-scheduled and overstimulated at night, your children are likely to have the same challenge.
Set a Bedtime
Once your family schedule is clear, you can set a bedtime. Most often infants and toddlers go to sleep for the night between six and eight pm. As your child’s habits begin to develop you may want to adjust that schedule 15 minutes earlier or later to try to help match your child’s natural clock. The more consistency the better when it comes to bedtime. Research shows a lack of a consistent bedtime is related to behavior problems.
Plan Your Routine
We recommend planning a quick and simple bedtime routine that will help your child calm down from their play and communicate it is time to sleep. From the moment you begin the routine, try to keep your voice calm and quiet. Your routine should be about 5-15 minutes in length. A 5 minute nap time routine should be derived from the slightly longer bedtime routine. In your routine you can include stretching, breathing, putting on lotion, picking out pjs, reading one story, saying goodnight to special objects or people, singing a song, goodnight kisses or hugs, and other calming and connecting activities. Routines get added over time so keep it simple to start.
Try to Prevent Your Child From Becoming Overtired
When young children are tired but the environment is too stimulating for sleep, they learn to keep themselves awake rather than listening to their body’s signals that they are tired. This is like an adult who is working to keep themselves awake to drive at night. When finally settling down to bed you feel wired. When children get overtired they work to keep themselves awake. Then when they try to sleep they are unable to settle. The best thing to do is prevent your child from becoming overtired. If your child becomes overtired try to offer a little more flexibility and empathy until they get back to their normal schedule.
One mom’s example of a bedtime routine for her one year old (10 minutes): You pick pj's, I sing 'Twinkle, Twinkle' as I help you into your pj's, you cuddle into my lap for a short story, we do three deep sleepy yawn breaths, a tight hug and quiet I love you, then I leave the room. Naptime: you cuddle into my lap for a short story, we do one deep sleepy yawn breath, a tight hug and a quiet I love you, then I leave the room.