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It’s science: helping your child fall asleep may mean listening to your heart

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For many moms, getting your toddler to fall asleep can be a long, daunting process that never completes. You spend hours upon hours—upon hours—helping your child drift off to dreamland, only for them to wake up crying, forcing you to try all over again. You use all different types of techniques you’ve read in parenting books.


But, for some kids, all they need is their mama to lie next to them, even if that means you’re frustrated and drained.

Whether or not you should stay with your kids until they fall asleep is a hotly debated topics among experts and parents. Some say that laying with your kids will hurt their sense of independence. Others believe it will help forge a closer bond.

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Or, in some cases, there isn’t much of a choice at all: As certified sleep specialist Rachel Gorton said for Motherly when her son began having trouble falling asleep, “I could let go of the expectation that my son should be a completely independent sleeper. Or I could continue to allow myself to feel frustrated that he wasn't responding the way I wanted.”

But what do researchers say about lying down with your kids until they fall asleep? It seems the opinions are mixed.

According to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, one of three common sleep problems in young kids is the need for help falling—and staying—asleep. This could mean lying down beside them or driving them around in your car in order for them to catch some shut eye.

The child, in turns, learns to associate the person or activity with going to sleep, thus “becoming their pillow,” and may be unable to fall asleep if their “pillow” is missing.

This is known as “sleep-onset association,” according to experts at the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.

Your child may want you next to them because they love you or because they’re scared or worried. Scour the internet, though, and you find other experts who say teaching your kid to sleep on their own, and to self-soothe, is vital to their growth and development. There’s a concern that children will become dependent, and unable to function on their own.

But that’s not necessarily true: Research shows attachment is not harmful to your child. According to a 2012 study published in the Korean Journal of Pediatrics, sensitive and responsive parenting helps your kid become more confident, more independent, more stable and more secure.

Conversely, the authors of the 2012 study suggested parents who are detached—both at bedtime and otherwise—limit opportunities for exploration and inhibit their kids’ ability to “develop their potential and stable personalities.”

This, of course, isn’t to say that every parent can or should lie down with their kid until they fall asleep. That may not be what’s best for that family. But, as Gorton said from both her professional experience and experience helping her son re-establish better sleep habits, you just have to follow what your loving heart says is best for your child.

“It’s reminded me of the crucial role I play in my son's life, not just at bedtime but as the person who gives him confidence throughout life. I am his constant,” she said. “I am the person he looks to when he is scared. My child simply feels safe with me. So for now, I can give him the peace of mind that all is well, that he can relax, that he can breathe deeply and go to sleep.”

Embracing that truth, mama, will help everyone have sweet dreams.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Chances are, social distancing boredom is starting to set in. You've cleaned your home, watched your favorite Netflix movies (several times), cooked several meals from your stockpile and you've managed to do this all while homeschooling your little one. Good job, mama!

While we can manage our own boredom, trying to keep our kids entertained has been a real challenge. These days our saving grace has been a host of indoor activities, and now, neighborhoods are creating "bear hunts" to help kids minimize boredom even more.

The idea was inspired by the children's book We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury and is exactly how it sounds. You walk around your neighborhood in search of stuffed bears in windows. Put simply, it's the perfect way to get fresh air while practicing social distancing. Even more, it's the perfect distraction that unites neighborhoods and families.

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To get in on the action, visit the "Going on a Bear Hunt" website to find out where the bears are near you or how to start the hunt in your town. Once you've decided your path, sing "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" song to add some fun to your experience.

Shanna Bonner Groom, who spearheaded the recent bear hunting initiative in the Stewart Springs neighborhood of Murfreesboro, Tennessee told TIME that she got the word out by posting the idea in her neighborhood's private Facebook group after seeing it floating around on social media.

"Within hours, everybody was responding and wanting to join in," she said. "Everybody's trying to enjoy this time at home with each other but do social distancing at the same time. So we're trying to come up with some fun activities."

The bear hunt isn't stopping in the United States, in fact many have spotted bears in cities as far as London and New Zealand.

"To the parent (it's gotta be a parent) who came up with this idea, THANK YOU. Explaining to a 4-yr-old why playdates aren't allowed anymore is heartbreaking, so "Going on a Bear Hunt" during our walks is the distraction we needed," says London-based mama, Daniele Hamamdjian.

Indeed, the world needs as many furry friends as possible right now.

News

Social distancing is hard on parents, kids and grandparents, but there is good news on the coronavirus front: New data reveals the restrictions and recommendations keeping people apart during the pandemic could be working. As the New York Times reports, new data from a company that makes internet-connected thermometers, Kinsa Health, is "making it clear that social distancing is saving lives."

Kinsa hosts a map of fever levels across the U.S. to track feverish illness levels across the U.S. Right now the map is suggesting that "due to widespread social distancing, school closures, stay-at-home orders, etc. feverish illness levels are dropping in many regions," Kinsa notes.

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The company adds, "This does not mean that COVID-19 cases are declining. In fact, we expect to see reported cases continue to surge in the near term, but it may indicate these measures are starting to slow the spread."

At the beginning of this week, more than three-quarters of the country showed a significant decline in fevers (Kinsa has about 1 million thermometers uploading more than 150,000 temperature readings per day).

The results of early social distancing protocols can be seen when comparing different regions in the U.S. Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco, tells The Los Angeles Times that early social distancing measures taken in California "happened closer to the introduction of the virus, so you haven't had as many generations of transmission. So there are fewer cases per capita in the population."

Rutherford is cautiously optimistic that the Bay Area will not see as many cases as New York because it seems like the early social distancing measures are working (if people keep abiding by them).

Up the coast, Jeff Duchin, Seattle & King County's Public Health Officer, says "The bottom line here should be that what we're doing now appears to be working, that we should in no way take these findings as an indication to relax our social distancing strategy, that we need to continue this for weeks."

President Trump agrees and wants people to stay home until April 30, and Virgina's Governor wants social distancing to continue in his state until June.

It's a long process and a challenging one—but it's working, mama.

News

Winter is over and the world is beginning to bloom again. Mamas with April due dates can consider themselves lucky to be so in sync with Mother Nature. Being born during this month of renewal will have a lasting impact on springtime babies, because science shows your birth month matters.

Keep reading... Show less
News

Since March 12, 6-year-old Kira Neely hasn't been in school or seen much of her grandpa, whom she's very close with. Since she was a baby the duo have been inseparable, and although they live across the street from each other, not being able to spend time together because of the coronavirus pandemic has been especially hard on the family.

To help ease the pain, and get some much-needed exercise, the grandfather and granddaughter started having dance-offs, a fun dance competition where each person stands on their side and shares their favorite dance move one at a time.


"Kira loves her Papa so much and they've now started daily dance-offs since the virus is keeping them separated," Kira's mom, Sherrie Neely said in a Facebook post. "My Dad is turning 81 years old next month and I've never seen him dance, but he's really putting forth great effort and has some special moves!!!!"

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Other activities the family shares include kicking a soccer ball across the street to each other in their Nashville, Tennessee neighborhood, and from time to time Kira makes chalk artwork in her driveway for her grandparents to see from afar.

"The fact that we can still get outside and have fun from a distance means everything to us, and helps to give us a sense of normalcy in such a crazy time," Neely told Today. "I'm so thankful Kira will always have these memories of her time with her Papa."
News
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