Toddler Sleep Issues SOLVED

Toddler Sleep Issues: An expert on how to get a child to stay in their bed, squashing fears, and putting a stop to the drawn out bedtime routine for good.

You’d think we’d get it by now: As soon as you’re feeling all confident, totally nailing this parenting thing – BOOM! – kid turns on a dime and the wheels. fall. off.

It recently happened to us: Our easy-peasy 15-minute bedtime routine and good sleeper turned into an all-night-long two-week sleepless battle with a 2-year-old. At our wits end, we called Kimberly Walker, founder of Parenting Unlimited. With a background in psychology and social work, she’s been successfully teaching parents how to implement healthy sleep habits for more than 15 years.

She’s based in NYC but willing to travel – Kimberly does phone consults and/or home visits. We thought we needed the full-on overnight treatment and are here to tell you she solved our sleep problems in one 45-minute phone call. We call her the sleep whisperer.

We polled our inner-circle for the biggest toddler sleep challenges they’re facing and put Kimberly to the test. And she nailed it.

Ahhhhhh… my child climbed out of the crib, and we are so not ready for a toddler bed. What to do?

If he’s climbing out of the crib, the only safe thing to do is put him in a bed. Yes, he may start roaming the house in the middle of the night at first, but you can teach toddlers to sleep in their beds:
1. Start by writing down a bedtime routine and being very firm about it.
2. Do not cave to all the things they pretend to need. If you have a toddler that is crying because she “can’t fix her blankets”, yet she was able to climb out of the crib, that is quite suspicious!

My daughter has decided she’s afraid of the dark/monsters/a wolf coming in her room. She refuses to go to bed and wants one of us to stay in her room until she falls asleep with the lights on. Dying here.

Sometimes children this age really are scared. And sometimes they are using the word “scared” because they know it works. Let’s assume honesty here and move towards validating your child’s feelings.
1. Tell him everyone gets scared sometimes and it’s okay to feel that way. Have him repeat after you many times… “I feel scared, but I’m okay.” Throughout the day and before bed, ask him over and over, “What do you say to yourself if you are feeling scared at night?”
2. If the above isn’t cutting it, get a special “monster” spray bottle, fill it with water, and keep it by his bed. Anytime he “sees” a monster, he can spray it and say “shoo shoo, monster” and the monster will go away. Some kids need to physically feel they have control.
3. No matter how much they beg, do NOT stay in the room until your child falls asleep (unless you are okay with that becoming part of your bedtime routine every night). Repeat the mantra, “I know you feel scared, but you are safe in here, and everything is going to be okay.” By leaving the room, you show them that you know they are safe, and kids are likely to absorb this certainty from you and internalize it. Sitting with him night after night sends the message that you don’t think they are okay without you.

We transitioned to a big kid bed, and our son gets out and comes in our room all. night. long. We don’t engage and walk him back and put him in bed, only for this to be repeated pretty much until morning. This zombie needs help.

There are some kids who will actually stop with this behavior if you go with the plan of walking them back to their room over and over. However, there are the other kids who will come in JUST so you can walk them back to their room and do not care if you do it 100 times a night. If you are the parent to one of those spirited kids (lucky you!), it’s time to put up an extra tall gate at their door so they can’t get out. Some kids this age are not psychologically developed enough to have self-discipline at 2am when they are half asleep and want mommy and daddy. Think of the gate as an extension of the crib – a boundary that both reminds and commands them to stay in bed. You may have a few nights of tantrums, but stay strong. It’s no different than throwing a tantrum because they want out of their carseat, another cookie, or one of the 1,000 things toddlers throw tantrums over!

My child was recently moved to a toddler bed, and he goes down fine and stays in his bed until… 4:30am, when he comes in our room ready to party. We walk him back, but there’s really no sleep for anyone once that happens because he’s back every 5 minutes. Help!

The easiest and best solution for this is an “okay to wake” clock. I like this one for it’s simplicity (red means stay in bed, green means okay to get up). It gives them a sense of empowerment, control, and pride – which is the ultimate emotional trifecta for a toddler.

My bedtime routine takes HOURS. She wants one more book, one more hug, anything she can think of to procrastinate. How can I stop the madness?

Your bedtime routine needs to be short, sweet, and EXACTLY the same every night. Choose how many books you are going to read: 1, 2 or 3 but always the same. If you choose 2, then read ONLY 2 books every single night. It’s helpful to write out a routine, and here is an example:
Brush teeth
Go potty
Climb in bed
Read 2 books
Give hugs/ kisses/ tuck in
Say goodnight and turn the lights off

When she starts to ask for one more book, one more hug… look at your routine. If it’s not on the routine, the answer is NO. You can respond with “It’s sleep time, and you can have _____ in the morning.”

If the above is not working, take pictures of every step of the routine and post them in a chart. This drives home visually the bedtime routine for your child, and as long as you don’t cave or deviate, she will stop asking when her asks never work!

16 Secrets To New Sibling Bliss

Smooth the way for a house full of brotherly (or sisterly) love with these tips and tricks. ? @jessicasurgenor

newsibYou’ve got a baby on board – again. Smooth the way for a house full of brotherly (or sisterly) love with these tips and tricks.

And remember, transitions are hard for everyone, no matter your age.

Before Baby

  • Introduce the baby in your belly only once you really start showing. As you well know, 40 weeks is a long time to wait. Now imagine you’re three.
  • If the hospital allows sibling tours before the baby is born, bring your little to see the digs. If your doctor allows you to bring your kiddo to an appointment – and you think she’s old enough – take her with you to hear the heartbeat.
  • Read. Read. Read. Some of our favorite books about new siblings include: I’m a Big Sister & I’m a Big Brother, One Special Day, Babies Don’t Eat Pizza, We Have a Baby, Julius, the Baby of the World, and our most favorite – Twigtale’s custom version really drives the message home.
  • Point out all of the brothers and sisters in your life. Make play dates with friends who have babies.
  • Be honest. Brothers and sisters are awesome – eventually. Explain that when babies are first born they cry, feed, and sleep a lot.
  • Buy a baby doll. Let your little guy hold the doll, feed the doll, dress the doll. Kiddos learn through play.
  • Don’t potty train, ditch the pacifier, or undertake any unnecessary transitions before baby’s arrival. A lot of big sibs will regress after the baby comes home – and you don’t want all of that hard work to be for naught.
  • If you have to move kiddo #1 out of her bedroom or crib, make the move well in advance of the baby’s arrival – two to three months minimum. Let your big kid be involved with “designing” their new space by letting them pick colors, bedding, art, etc.
  • Prepare your child – as much as you can – for what will happen to them when you go to the hospital. Hype up the extra special time she’ll get to spend with (insert awesome grandparent or caretaker). And try to keep disruptions to his day-to-day schedule to a minimum while you’re in the hospital.

Saying Hello

  • The first time your littles meet could be as emotionally charged for you as it is for your older child. Know yourself and your big sib – it’s okay to decide not to bring him to the hospital, where everything can feel overwhelming, especially just after giving birth.
  • If you do bring the big sib to the hospital, make sure your baby is in the bassinet and not in your arms. Give your big sib the space to discover the baby.
  • Before the birth, have your older child buy a gift for the baby to bring to their first meeting. In turn, have a gift waiting for the big sib from the baby. We promise, this exchange will become a thing of family folklore.
  • If your big sibling is old enough to understand the concept of a birthday, let them throw a “birth”day party for the baby, complete with cake and balloons that only she can truly enjoy.

Welcome Home

  • Some pediatricians suggest unlimited access for the older child to the baby (within reason, of course) to ward off bad feelings. In other words, don’t treat the newborn like a precious untouchable.
  • Give your big kid “responsibilities” connected to the baby. We had ours in charge of burp cloths – every time there was a dribble, they helped dab it away.
  • It will be hard to do, but remember to schedule one-on-one “special time” with your older child. If possible, make a plan to do something out of the house (i.e. far away from the baby monitor).

? @jessicasurgenor

The Babysitter Checklist

Everything a sitter needs in case a not-going-to-happen emergency actually happens. ? @preciouspoppets

paint-kid-dogYou’ve scored a sitter, a hard to get 7:30 p.m. reservation, and shimmied your way into your pre-baby jeans. Things are looking up for Saturday night.

Head into the evening completely worry-free by completing this babysitter checklist: Everything a sitter needs in case a not-going-to-happen emergency actually happens.

After going over all of the info with our sitter, we  like to leave ours on the front hall table or the fridge, for easy access.


  • Full name, age, date of birth, + current weight of each child.
  • Medicines + allergies for each child.

Contact US

  • Home address + phone
  • Your cell + partner’s cell (we always ask to make sure they are both programmed in their phone before we leave)
  • Where you are going (name) + number

Emergency HELP

  • Neighbor name + address + number
  • Pediatrician name + number
  • Local emergency numbers in case 911 doesn’t work with sitter’s cell phone provider


  • Bedtime for each child + lights out routine
  • Food + snack instructions
  • Wi-fi password

Print It, Fill It Out, & Put It On The Fridge

Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Explained

An expert on getting your vagina get back to its former, er, pre-baby self, in terms of tightness – or in case that sounds too porny – the ability to not pee your pants.

The first time we heard a friend casually mention vagina therapy, our minds went all over the place. Is that like a hoo-ha facelift? Does it involve asking your vagina how it really feels? And of course the biggie: Oh God should I be doing that, whatever that is? Turns out it’s a casual term for pelvic floor rehabilitation, which can help your vagina get back to its former, er, self, in terms of tightness – or in case that sounds too porny – the ability to not pee your pants.

So meet our experts: Niva Herzig, the founder of Core Dynamics Physical Therapy in Englewood, New Jersey and her associate Jennifer Byers. They’re basically the pelvic floor fairy godmothers, and withstood our burning (and slightly embarrassing) questions in the interest of a clear, open, and no-secrets guide to something so many women are too shy to ask about. Here’s the deal…

1. How Do I Know If I Need Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation?

If you’re experiencing one or more of the following – treatable! – symptoms: Peeing when you sneeze, pain from a C-section scar or episiotomy, pain (or loss of sensation) during sex, any sort of groin pain that results in difficulty walking, lower back pain, prolapse (when an internal organ drops down from its original place), or similar issues.

2. Am I Being A Diva About My Vagina If I Want To Go?

A LOT of women treat issues like occasional incontinence, aches and pains, or difficulty with sex as just part of their new life as a mom. But that’s not the norm! It’s common, yes, but it’s not how you have to live. There is help!

3. Won’t These Issues Just Get Better With Time?

Sorry to say but the opposite is true. The longer you let pelvic issues go on, the longer you don’t work on any symptoms or treatments, the harder it is to get rid of them. Things become chronic, which makes them more difficult to reverse.

4. Isn’t It Kind Of Embarrassing To Do This?

Niva and Jen hear their patients say over and over: Am I the only one with this problem? Hardly. The fact that pelvic floor clinics exist are proof enough! You’re not alone and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

5. OK, So, What Exactly Goes On In Pelvic Floor Rehab?

If you’re dealing with peeing your pants all the time… they’ll use techniques to increase your muscle strength and endurance via pelvic exercises (think: holding and resting for specific amounts of time.) They may also use biofeedback, which measures your muscle activity via an internal sensor (think: a smaller version of an ultrasound wand that goes inside you) or surface electrodes – that then reflect what’s going on through a graph on a computer screen. While you might be able to cheat during kegels on your own, you can’t cheat with biofeedback – you see (or hear) when you’re contracting or relaxing. There will also be “homework” exercises like wall squats and step-ups to help coordinate your pelvic floor muscles during daily life.
If you’re dealing with vaginismus (i.e. involuntary tightness during sex)… There will be manual therapy – like stretching and soft-tissue massage down there – to increase pelvic floor muscle flexibility. They also may introduce a dilator, which is exactly what it sounds like – and is used to desensitize via treatment with a gradually increased size as you progress. (Sexy, right?) Biofeedback will also be at play here – you’ll be able to see on the screen what happens while the dilator is inserted. And yes, they will show you sex positions that are best for your pelvic floor. (Think: A personalized, wellness-focused Kama Sutra.) And of course, at-home stretches for your inner thighs and lower back, as well as additional dilator work.

6. Can’t I Just DIY Fix This With A Bunch Of Kegels?

Everyone says to practice Kegels by stopping the flow of urine, but you can achieve that by squeezing lots of other things in your body. You have to learn to isolate the pelvic floor appropriately. So yes, there’s a chance you’re doing them wrong. Also, it’s quality over quantity. So many people are overdoing their Kegels because they think the more the better, but they’re often fatiguing their muscles and making things worse. As Niva says – I would never do 100 kegels – I mean, would you do 100 sit-ups a day?

7. So… How Long Til I Can Sneeze Without Paranoia? (Or Get My Old Sex Life Back)?

You know it’s going to be different for everyone, but Jen and Niva have seen that patients typically see a change in about 6-8 visits – and that they tend to treat patients over the course of 3-6 months.

8. And How Much $$ Are We Talking?

While costs will fluctuate depending on where you live, these appointments will generally run in the $100-$300 family. And yes, as you suspected, they’re always one-on-one. Depending on your insurance situation, a pelvic floor clinic may offer a sliding pay scale or, even if they are out-of-network, be willing to accept assignment on certain insurance plans. If you’ve already met your deductible, some insurances will start to reimburse you for your sessions (usually at 50-100%) under your physical therapy benefits.

9. How Come Nobody Talks About This?

Mom groups talk about the best organic formula, what to do to stop the crying, but it’s not so much about taking care of themselves. We take newborn classes on how to diaper and swaddle, but no one talks about keeping your body healthy, functioning, and pain-free. In an ideal world, women would come in to a pelvic floor clinic at least once during pregnancy and again postpartum, and insurance would cover it all.