Bedtime routines are one of the issues that cause the most doubts for parents who come to us.
If, on the one hand, it is commonly accepted that having a routine is good for everyone (parents and babies/children), on the other, many parents struggle with what to do and how to know if the routine they have is the ideal routine for their child.
After many questions posed to me and Aurora, here you go, 3 surefire tips for your rest and success in the “arduous” task of helping our most loved ones to sleep:
1. Have a stable routine.
A good routine is one that can be applied in 99% of the nights.
This scares many parents, but, to better understand, a routine is a series of recurring activities/actions that are done in the same order. If it is wearing pyjamas, bedtime story and good night kiss it is always pyjamas, story and good night kiss. If the night is at grandfather’s house, the grandfather will start by pyjamas, tell the story and kiss him/her good night. 😉 The child’s/baby’s bedtime routines are not fixed to places or people. But they must have a fixed order of activities. Until they have a fixed routine with good results, avoid exceptions. Be consistent.
2. Promote the appearance of natural sleep before starting the routine.
The outcome of the routine depends more on the existence of natural sleep than on the duration/type of activities of the routine itself.
Starting a routine with no sleep is like starting the party on an empty stomach. The routine should include some care for the child’s environment that favours the appearance of natural sleep, for example, the reduction of ambient and natural light 2 hours before bedtime. (Close blinds, use only weaker lamps and with warm tones (yellow), avoid digital screens without blue radiation filter and with a lot of brightness, etc …)
3. Do not make too many changes to the routine (even when it is not yet properly tuned).
We know that a routine is good (it works) when, regardless of the time it starts, it ends with the same result, that is, a child sleeping peacefully.
Many parents try many different strategies each night, a little out of desperation, perhaps. However, a routine is only a routine when it is stable. And, regardless of age, no more than one slight change to the routine should be introduced every 3 or 4 days, at the risk of causing the opposite effect, which is to let the child agitated and anxious due to the lack of stability brought about by replication of the daily routine. So think carefully before making changes, choose carefully and think long term, but when you do introduce them, be consistent (at least a few weeks) until you see the result.
If there is one thing that all parents of young children fear, it is that day when the schools notice the presence of lice in the classroom! Even with all the care that is taken, there are things that are almost impossible to avoid and having lice among school-age children is one of them. For us, parents, to be able to survive this plague, I leave here some important information and advice.
First and in order to better know how to act, it is good to know a few things about these little friends of the heads.
Lice are animals that live exclusively on human heads (they do not infest pets, for example, nor do they spread throughout the body, not even the furriest!). There are other types of “bugs” that can live on body hair and in other specific areas, but they are not the same lice that inhabit our children’s heads (nor even our own heads).
They live their entire life cycle on a hairy head. They are unable to fly, jump and even walk nimbly on a flat surface. However, they are very fast to move in the hair (up to about 4mm / second). For this same reason, contamination always occurs through direct contact between hair and hair, or hair and objects that then come into contact with other hair.
For example, tight hugs and head-to-head kind of roleplays are some of the games that can lead to the direct transmission of the plague. Changing hats, indiscriminate use of other people’s combs, changing hair clips and hooks or sharing pillows/beds are examples of contamination by objects.
Lice do not transmit any kind of disease and only cause a lot of discomfort due to the itching. This itching is caused by an allergic reaction to your saliva, which is extremely irritating and is left by the lice with each new meal on our scalp. Well, lice feed exclusively on human blood! The itching may not appear early in the infestation, but it will eventually appear. It can also remain present after the definitive resolution of the infestation, precisely because it is an allergic reaction and is not exactly caused only by the presence of lice.
To avoid other complications, children’s nails should be kept short and if necessary, cotton gloves can be used for sleeping to prevent the formation of wounds and infections on the scalp caused by scratching. It is a good time to go back to using baby shampoos, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and soothing to the scalp.
Outside the head, lice survive less than 24 hours, dying quickly from dehydration. In general, lice live for about 1 month. These bugs reproduce by eggs (nits) that are effectively attached to the hair. Depending on the hair colour, these, although smaller (less than 1mm), can be more easily identified, first because they do not escape and second because they look very well in dark hair. Nits are oval, elongated and range from white to a coffee-milk colour. They differ from “dandruff” in that they are firmly attached to the hair, is difficult to loosen or move. After laying eggs, nymphs (non-adult lice) are born between the 6th and 10th day. Nymphs reach reproductive capacity (laying eggs/nits) 9 to 12 days after birth. Each adult louse can place up to about 10 nits per day.
An adult louse measures up to about 3mm.
Detecting them early and taking immediate action is the most effective way to control this pest. Over the years, countless ways and “methods” to solve this plague have appeared, but the truth is that since the mummies of Egypt until today, these insects have always known how to survive. The truth is that in a school context, re-infestation often occurs before the first wave is resolved. This is due to the life cycle and the hatching time of the eggs.
Any and all treatments must / should be repeated between 7 to 14 days after the first application. Nits are very resistant and must be allowed to hatch in order to kill the lice that have been born, preferably before reaching adulthood. In our temperate climate, nits are placed between 3 to 5 mm from the scalp, so nits that are more than 1 cm from the scalp have already hatched (are empty) or have died and will not be born. Nits do not come loose after hatching, so it is possible to have nits in the hair (more than 1 cm from the scalp) and no active/present infestation. This is especially important for the most concerned mothers and fathers.
The only way to loosen the nits is by physical pressure, picking or using thin metal combs (results in straight hair better). These can take up to 6 months to disintegrate and loosen on their own. All products that “promise” the elimination of lice, refer almost exclusively to live lice and nymphs (as) and are not exempt from contraindications or adverse effects. This is almost always due to the fact that our scalp is very permeable to chemicals and potentially reactive to all foreign substances since it is already reacting to lice saliva from the start.
For this same reason, and to make sense of the popular saying: “blacksmith’s house, wooden skewer”, here at home, the method of choice is electrocution. Yes, I’m serious! There are already several types of electric metal combs on the market that work with a low voltage (usually a 1.5v AA battery) and that are limited to electrocuting 6-legged friends. It is important for the hair to be very dry and untangled, and to pay special attention to the area close to the ears and the top of the neck, the rest is just to ensure that all the hair passes through the comb and that it runs through all the hair preferably quickly but effectively.
In curly, or thicker hair, it may be necessary to make locks of hair in order to ensure that all hair passes through the comb. In thin and straight hair (blessed genetics here at home) it is quite fast. This is an effective way to control the infestation. However, as with all other methods, a single passage does not arrive, it is important to keep doing it over the days and as long as the school/classroom infestation lasts. It is not necessary every day, but if the infestation is active at school, it doesn’t hurt to do it every time you come home in order to prevent a new louse from spending the night laying new eggs and the infestation to remain active as well. in our home. Despite the higher initial investment, it still seems to be a good solution since it is a unique investment that can be used by all family members. The only care is to do a good cleaning of the comb between each use, removing all hair and / or impurities accumulated between the teeth of the comb. Wiping with an alcohol wipe can help.
Bed linen (mainly pillowcases) must be washed above 60ºC. At this temperature, both lice, nymphs and nits (eggs) are eliminated. More delicate objects such as hairpins or hair clips can be kept closed for more than 24 hours to ensure that they have no pets alive during the next use. Care must be taken to eliminate hair from all combs, brushes, hooks, hats, etc … in order to ensure that no eggs/nits will hatch in the meantime. Although uncomfortable, this type of pest does not require school eviction, and the school must be alerted so that the entire community can take due care of surveillance.
Each child has different needs in terms of adapting to new realities/routines.
Entrance to the nursery/garden /kindergarten is always a source of concern for parents.
A good option is to plan a few days of adaptation where you stay with him there. Evaluate, for yourself, if he is integrating and help him do it: helping to find toys, showing all the rooms, establishing trusting relationships with caregivers, introducing other children …
Another important aspect is our example: our children react instinctively like ourselves, that is, if we are anxious, they will show signs of anxiety, if we are suspicious of the people who will be their main caregivers, they will not trust those people, etc.
So I recommend that you take a deep breath, trust that it will go well, leave your watch at home on those days (go without schedules to leave or return), focus on your child and help him discover everything! He will give you all the signals you need to assess how you need to plan ahead!
As soon as you see that he is integrated, establish a goodbye routine (kiss and hug, for example) and leave. This may not happen on the first day or the second, but it must happen sometime. Mark at the calendar the deadline, the last day, for him and for you.
Never try to start thinking about leaving if you are not sure that it is the best decision and that you are going to leave (and leave him there). When you start the goodbye routine it should be a point of no return from which you should not hesitate or go back.
When you leave (alone), if your heart gets tight, it’s normal! If you want to cry, cry, throw it all away! Life is made up of stages and this is just one more. Above all, it is very important that you make sure that, deep down, you know that you are doing the best for your child! So prepare yourself and make your own adaptation to the new reality, but without interfering with his (and preferably without him realizing).
There is no way to avoid them, but we can always work around them. In those days when everything seems to be a cause for tantrums, try to constantly change the subject.
Example: -I do not want to dress up -Do you want to eat toast for breakfast?” -I do not like the sweater -Do you know that we’ll go to the beach tomorrow? -I want to take the car lane to the nursery school. -Can you help Mommy to carry this heavy briefcase?
It seems tiresome (and it is) but it is better than put up with an endless tantrum in the morning. For some reason, the English nicknamed them “the terrible 2” …
As soon as you introduce foods other than milk. If the baby is being breastfed, ensure that the mother stays well hydrated, especially during the hottest days of the year. Up to 6 months, exclusively breastfed babies do not need anything else, not even water.
If the baby is being fed with industrialized milk, ensure that the preparation of the baby is strictly followed by the indication of the amount of water and powder written in the package (do not forget that the measuring spoons must be shallow). You must ensure that you use good quality water and that it is not contaminated.
I suggest it be bottled water, preferably low mineralized (ideal for milk preparation) and balanced with pH 7. In order to avoid problems, the ideal is to vary in the brands, within those that present neutral pH (7), since its constitution in minerals is very varied. I suggest using small bottles to avoid possible contamination over time.
Letting go the pacifier doesn’t have to be a drama. The trick is the previous preparation.
1 °. Set the last day. (It should be 2 or 3 months (minimum) for preparation)
2 °. Define the process. (Eg: Give to Santa, Go hang in the garden tree for the storks to take, etc.)
3 °. Start detachment: a) reduce the amount of time that the child has the pacifier and encourage her/him to withdraw it from her/him mouth; b) begin to show the difference between babies and grown-ups; c) gradually limit free access to the pacifier that should be reserved for tantrums and sleep time; d) from times to times simulate the loss of the pacifier (not finding it at bedtime, for example)
The child should be encouraged to either give or deliver the pacifiers (all of them) on the last defined day. During the whole process, it is important to evaluate the child’s reactions and to praise all the active attitudes that the child demonstrates (ex: “Great, you took off the pacifier), but avoid highlighting the passive ones (ex: do NOT say “Great, you spent all day without your binky”). It’s important that all caregivers are aligned in the way they act.
For a child, the adult world is full of “dangers” and its innate curiosity, as well as the lack of notion of consequence, causes many “accidents” with children. This leads me to the definition of an accident: an unexpected and inevitable event that causes physical, emotional, or material harm. That said, are all the “accidents” with children, real accidents?
The child who gets caught on a closing house door … is it an accident? The adult who shares the home with the child could not have that door protected or it lacked supervision? Do not think that I am an apologist for children to live in bubbles and without any danger around, but if it is true that the child should be taught to protect himself when he is close to a possible danger, it is even more certain that it is up to the adult, to protect and avoid possible “accidents”. We should be always aware of all possible dangers to the eyes and the natural course of a child’s daily life, we must avoid the greatest or more easily accessible dangers to children and teach them to live together and protect themselves from all (including those we avoid, either by protection or by elimination). That is, we must always and first of all identify with the danger to the child and how to avoid it, then protect it, eliminate it or supervise the first contacts.
For example, I have a small glass top table in the living room (near the sofas). Even when my little ones did not talk (but they already crawled) when I began to show them the danger of the glass and how they should do before they got up (when they were crawling around the table). From an early age, they learned to look up first and/or put their hands over their heads before thinking of getting up and even identifying where the glass was. I did not protect or withdraw, but I taught them and supervised them all while they made their first “paths” around the room. I did not avoid all the hits, but there was never anyone more worthy of attention… And with each bump, we restarted the teachings. Without entering into the wrong transfer of responsibilities, like, starting with: “look what you did! Didn’t I tell you that you can’t do that!”.
Never forget that the responsibility lies with the ADULT! What we can/should do is (after calming/caring for the child), is go back to the beginning: “Look here! This is dangerous! You can hurt yourself! You must always do this” … Show him/her how, alert him/her and supervise next times!
Lots of “binkies” (pacifiers) in the freezer! (and change it several times for a cold one…)
P.S. Stay away from healers from the drug store. If it’s too complicated ask for some smoothing gel for teething with chamomile and apply it with your very clean finger and let the baby bite you because it helps relieve the discomfort.
P.P.S. When it is the first tooth it doesn’t hurt to let him/her bite you, with the followings it’s better to give them the teethers. It is also time to stop buying silicone pacifiers or bottle teats and start buying rubber ones (they are more resistant to sharp teeth). There are certain types of silicone that are already resistant to the bite, do not break so easily and are more elastic. If you can pull by the bottle teat/pacifier and stretch it, then this silicone is resistant to teeth. This should not stop you from paying attention to any signs of wear and tear that may occur in the meantime.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The pacifiers must be thoroughly dried before going to the freezer. If they get ice on it they should not be given directly to the baby.