DIY Kid Sleep Hack: Sleepy Time Clouds

DIY Kid Sleep Hack: Sleepy Time Clouds

bedtime sleep hack for kids, kids sleep, essential oils for sleep

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using my links.

This is my DIY Kid Sleep Hack: Sleepy Time Clouds Recipe

Do your kids have trouble falling asleep at night? Is bedtime a struggle? Is your child having trouble winding down at night?

I created this “Sleepy Time Cloud” Recipe when I was working as a children’s counselor at a residential treatment facility for women who were addicted to drugs and alcohol (the mom’s & children lived at the facility). Many of the children (and moms) had trouble calming down before they went to sleep. I was desperate to find something that could help them relax before bedtime. As a play therapist, I knew I wanted to come up with something that would be playful and fun yet relaxing at the same time.

Ingredients for essential oils for sleep and anxiety recipe:

  1. Cotton Balls
  2. Lavender Essential Oil
  3. Small Container

How to use lavender oil for sleep:

Lavender essential oil is a great natural remedy to help children & adults calm down before bedtime. Even though essential oils can be a bit pricey, they are the best way to consume the lavender smell (other products like cheap lavender candles contain chemicals that can produce negative effects such as headaches and agitation). A little goes a long way with the essential oils, you only need a couple drops.


You want to make this recipe for the first time when your child is calm. Do this in the daytime or early evening when you have time to practice how to use the sleepy time clouds that way when bedtime comes around they will be pros!

Step 1:Get the ingredients all together listed above.

Step 2:Tell your child that you have a fun recipe called Sleepy Time Clouds that they get to make that will help them relax before bedtime.

Step 3: Let your child put a few (2 or 3) cotton balls in the small container. Give them choices to help them feel empowered, “Do you think we should put 2 or 3 cotton balls in here?”.

Step 4: Put 1 drop of lavender oil on the cotton balls (it comes out fast). If they are old enough, show your child how fast it comes out and tell them that they can put 1 or 2 more drops but they have to do it very slowly. (you don’t want the lavender smell to be too overpowering). The good news is-if they mess up and put a ton on, you can try it again with new cotton balls or disperse those cotton balls amongst other containers so the scent won’t be too  strong. [The goal is for this to be a playful and bonding activity not a power struggle session, let them have fun with it].

Step 5: You and your child will practice DEEP BREATHING using the sleepy time clouds. SMELL THE CLOUDS IN THROUGH YOUR NOSE AND BREATH OUT SLOWLY THROUGH YOUR MOUTH. Explain to them in a playful tone of voice that you don’t want to breathe out too fast because you don’t want the clouds to blow away, but you do want to blow a little wind on them. Repeat 5 times. Check in with your child to see if they notice if they feel more relaxed or not. Also ask them if the scent smells good to them or if it is too strong. If it is too strong they can use less oil on the next batch.

*Encourage your child to try this activity but if they do not like it or the smell bothers them then DO NOT make them do this. This is only suppose to be a helpful and fun activity not a forced activity or punishment for previous bad bedtime behavior.

Step 6: Let your child try this out at bedtime. Help remind them how to take proper deep breaths (breathe deep in through your nose and breathe out SLOWLY through your mouth) & repeat until your child feels calm & sleepy or they don’t want to do it anymore (it is their choice).

Other Options:

I hope you and your children have fun with this playful and peaceful bedtime activity!

If you have an infant and are looking for an infant bedtime routine see my other post The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine and A Gentle Approach to Sleep Training

The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine

The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine

calming bedtime routine for infants, baby sleep, infant sleep, bedtime routines

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using my links.

This is the ultimate guide for creating a bedtime routine for infants.

The definition of a routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.

Research supported idea: Babies need consistent and predictable environments to help them feel safe.

You want your baby’s bedtime routine to be CONSISTENT and PREDICTABLE.

Here is an example of an infant bedtime routine that I am currently using with my 7 month old baby.

The bedtime routine is going to be affected by the rest of the baby’s day, so hopefully you have a daytime schedule for your baby as well. You want to make sure that your baby has enough to eat during the day and that they took the amount of naps that they need during the day so that they can sleep their best at night. An overtired baby will be fussier and take longer to get down to sleep at night.

If your baby is on solid foods, be aware of the types of foods that you feed your baby late in the day. Certain types of foods may upset your babies tummy at night or make them poop.

6:00 begin bedtime routine: Pick a time that works for you to begin your bedtime routine each night. Ideally, 2 hours before you want your baby to actually be asleep. For me, this was 6:00. Beginning at 6:00 you want to be aware of the types of stimulus that your baby is getting from the environment. At this time you want to turn off all of the televisions and dim the lights in the house. Be aware of your voice tone and try to have a calming tone of voice rather than a playful one with your baby.

6:30 bath: Be aware of the lighting in the bathroom, you want it to be bright enough to see but dim. You want to set the mood for your babies bedtime. A nice way to do this is to put some lavender essential oil in a diffuser in the room where you are giving your bath. Sometimes you may not feel like giving your baby a bath but if you can make yourself do it you will thank yourself later. The key to getting yourself to actually give your baby a bath is to have a bathtub set up that makes it easy on you. If you are struggling leaning over the bathtub trying to make sure your baby is not slipping and sliding you are not going to be able to stick with the every night bath routine. Here are some bathtubs that I recommend for different ages/home set ups:

0-3 months baby in a small bathroom sink: you could use this tub

0-3 months baby in a half farmhouse sink: you could use this tub

0-3 months in a farmhouse size sink: this tub

When babies can start to sit up with a little help these tub seats are game changers and make life a lot easier

These kneeler pads can also save you serious pain from kneeling at the bath tub

Taking a bath with your baby on occasion is a nice bonding and relaxing activity for both mom and baby but obviously not something you want to do every night. If you have had a long day with your baby and you are feeling stressed but still have a while before you put your child to bed, put your baby in the bathtub with you and let them splash and play around, it is a win win for everyone! When getting out of the bath with your baby, I suggest you place a towel on a bouncing chair and then place the baby on the bouncing chair while you dry off.

7:00 lotion massage: turn calming bedtime music  (this CD is my favorite) on and put lotion (this is my favorite) on baby. Infant Massage is very good for babies brains. This video shows you how to do infant massage to help your baby calm and help their brain grow.

7:10 bottle then snuggles & rocking with music, then bed (sometimes my baby is asleep by 7:30 and sometimes it takes him a little long until 8)

*Remember: Try to keep as many things the same as you can (the same music, the same room, the same bed, the same time etc)

*Since my baby was born I have played the same song each night at bedtime (I just recently introduced the calming CD I listed above). No matter where I am, if I play this song I swear my baby starts to yawn. He knows that this song means bedtime. I use this song and now the CD as well for putting my baby down for naps during the day. Creating strong sleep associations in the brain is the KEY!

I hope you and your baby enjoy trying this calming bedtime routine! 🙂

Why I choose to exclusively bottle feed my baby and how I feel about it 7 months later…

Why I choose to exclusively bottle feed my baby and how I feel about it 7 months later…

benefits of bottle feeding, bottle feeding, exclusively bottle feeding

Many people debate whether it is better to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby.

I want to start off by saying that I think that breastfeeding is a wonderful thing to do and I have read that it is very healthy for babies. I am writing this article not to persuade you one way or the other, but to explain why I choose to exclusively bottle feed and examine the child development principles that helped me make this decision.

Is it OK to switch back and forth between baby formula and breastfeeding?

According to the research: babies need consistency and predictability. Where I used to work, my office was located in a  daycare and I saw many babies who were breastfed and struggled to take the bottle even when it was breastmilk that the mom had pumped. If you breastfeed and also give your child a bottle and it works for you, great! But in my experience, babies often struggle with this inconsistency. I knew that I did not want to be the only one who could feed my baby and I knew that sometimes I might want a break and I wanted my baby to not feel confused by having a bottle instead of the breast.

Feeling guilty about formula feeding:

Research supported idea: Culture plays a large role in the choices we make. I think that many women feel like if they do not breastfeed or they try and it doesn’t work that they are less of a woman or less of a mother. I think that this stigma is important to be aware of and should not influence someone on whether or not they should breastfeed. I knew that I was going to make an informed decision for myself and I was not going to let what others would think of me sway my decision. Also, I think some men or husbands try to influence a wife to breastfeed and I think that it should definitely be a woman’s choice (considering it is her body).

Are formula fed babies healthy:

Research supported idea: Breastmilk has all the nutrients the baby needs. If….the mom has good nutrition and this is not my strong suit. I spent 9 months feeding my kid crap (woops) and I figured formula had to be better than that. But in all seriousness, if you are a nurse or doctor I’m sure you could could school me on how breastmilk is nutritionally better for your child, but I decided the pros of formula feeding outweighed the cons.

Formula feeding can actually increase bonding between the mom and the baby:

Research supported idea: The mother’s mental state will directly impact the babies mental state by way of the “Mirror Neurons”. A short explanation of this complicated brain process is that if a mom is stressed the baby will feel the stress. I have had many moms and clients tell me about their struggle with breastfeeding. Some moms even explained to me that at times they felt so stressed by breastfeeding they actually felt disconnected from their child due to the pain, discomfort, and difficulty they were having with the process. I felt like I would be able to be more emotionally present and happy if I did not have to deal with the stress of breastfeeding and that this would be a positive thing for my baby.

How to stop your milk from coming in:

I choose to not breastfeed right from the beginning and was hoping that I could prevent my milk from coming in. My doctor told me to bind myself to try and help the milk from not coming in or coming in less. WELP that didn’t work. The milk did come in but I took pseudepherine and it went away pretty quickly after that. The cabbage did nothing for me FYI. Over the past 7 months there have been a couple of times that I felt a little sad that I did not breastfeed and that I was having FOMO (fear of missing out) of breastfeeding haha. BUT overall I can confidently say that I believe I made the right decision for myself and my baby.

There are so many benefits of formula feeding:

  • There have been so many times that I have been able to hand my baby to a relative or friend while I am feeding my baby so I can do something like go to the bathroom, get some food, take a warm bath, take a nap, etc. and those times have made it SO worth it. On other occasions, people have wanted to feed my baby and I had to politely decline the offer because I wanted to feed him myself. Just because I was bottle feeding didn’t mean that I did not want to take an opportunity to bond with my child. BUT, overall there have been MORE times that I was happy to have some help.
  • When deciding to bottle feed I liked the idea that I would not have to “pump and dump” if I drank alcohol and I also liked the idea of being able to drink alcohol when I wanted. (I think I was feeling deprived after the whole 9 months of having none—not one sip-I could go on a soap box about moms who think its okay to have any alcohol during pregnancy but that’s for a different post-sorry if you are one of them). BUT what I soon realized after having my baby was that THE LAST thing I wanted was something that would make me more tired. I realized alcohol was not as appealing as I thought it would be. HOWEVER, on a rare occasion there have been times that I wanted a drink and I did not have to plan it around breastfeeding or pumping, which has been nice!
  • I have been able to eat WHATEVER I want and take whatever medicine I need without having to worry about it affecting the breastmilk. Right after giving birth I was able to take some serious pain meds and my after birth pain was very tolerable.
  • At the beginning when my baby was not sleeping through the night at all, I was able to have my husband do the night shift occasionally and I was able to get some sleep. I was able to get naps during the day while relatives watched him. Sleep deprivation is real and any extra sleep I have been able to get has been so helpful.  I have wanted to be emotionally positive for my baby and playful with him and when you are at your wits end because you have had no sleep this is so hard to do.

Overall: I am happy with my decision and I feel like my baby has gotten what he needs emotionally without breastfeeding. If you are breastfeeding or have breastfed or deciding to in the future- my hat goes off to you, you are a rockstar and I admire your hardwork and dedication! If you are contemplating exclusive bottle feeding however, I hope you feel more informed and hopeful about this option!

15 Must Have Baby Items!

must have baby items, newborn essentials, baby registry*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using my links.

15 Must Have Baby Items!

What are the essential baby items needed?

  1. These velcro swaddles : I was SO worried that my little one was going to suffocate because of his swaddle but these swaddles seemed to fit away from the mouth more than all the others (and I tried a TON).  Also, all you do is put your baby in and velcro it shut, it is SO easy and I did not worry about it coming undone.
  2. This swaddle once they get a bit bigger: I like this swaddle because it keeps their arms down and prevents them from waking up due to the startle reflex. My baby started sleeping REAALLLLY well once I started using this swaddle.
  3. These pacifiers: my baby never really took to a pacifier until I tried these, then he LOOOOVED THEM and everyone’s life was 100% better, seriously. Make sure that as your child grows older you replace these pacifiers with the next age up, same brand.
  4. The DocATot is a must because it makes babies feels so secure and snug.
  5. This carseat and stroller combo: it is by far the lightest and easiest (and trust me if you have a heavy baby like I do you will be needing all the help you can get)
  6. I have this highchair and I love it, EXCEPT for the fact that it is not on wheels which reallllly is annoying. It is very light and easy to carry around the house (unless your child is in it). This highchair is a another great option that is on wheels if you want to safe yourself some sanity.
  7. These are the bath items that will get you through the first year of life. This bath is great for small sinks and great for newborns. This bath is great for a bit larger a sink and is SUPER soft on sweet newborns skin. It also prevents them from slipping and sliding when they are super tiny. This bath fits well in a large farmhouse sink or bath tub. This bath is great for when babies can sit up. It will safe you a lot of back strain because you don’t have to catch them slipping and sliding every second.
  8. These bottles are CRUCIAL. I exclusively bottle fed (see my other post to find out more about bottle feeding) and these are the best bottles. I had expensive bottles that I registered for and got rid of them because they let to much air in when the baby tried to feed which gives babies gas which makes them very fussy. These are the BEST bottles and they are SUUUUUPER CHEAP. I literally have a hundred of them. Just make sure that you buy nipple replacements according to the child age because the flow speed is different for different ages. My baby was taking FOREVER to drink a bottle and I realized I needed to get a faster flow nipple and the problem was solved.
  9. These burp cloths…they aren’t the cutest (but they are plain white so they go with everything) but they are the best. Trust me, when you are wiping up spit up you want the heavy duty stuff.
  10. This Snotsucker (AH!)..I refused to register for this because I thought it was NASTY but trust me, when your newborn has a stuff nose and it is affecting their ability to breath and you worry they are going to stop breathing- you will do anything to give them relief and this is the only snotsucker that actually works. Also you can wash it which you cannot do with other bulb ones out there..ew.
  11. A bouncing chair. I like this one if you want to go for the pricy but stylish option or I also like this one it is cheap and if you live in a 2 story home you could have one upstairs and downstairs. These chairs are excellent for when you just need somewhere to put your baby while you need to do something (like go to the bathroom or take a shower). I also use mine as a place to set my baby after I give him a bath. These things will save your life. If I had my way, I would buy one for every room.
  12. This is the diaper pail you need BECAUSE you can use regular trash bags (have you seen the diaper genie refill bag prices…seriously? rip off!) these diaper pails do not smell at all!
  13. This is the best basinette to have next to your bed and the DocATot fits inside of it (which is how my baby liked to sleep). This is a great co sleeper as long as your bed height works with it.
  14. A dozen of THESE teethers …I have tried a TON and this is the WINNER by far! your welcome. honestly you might as well buy a dozen and have one in every room of your house, in the car, and in every purse.
  15. I saved the best for last. If you are bottle feeding, you need this bottle maker. I have one upstairs, one downstairs, and one grandparents house. This machine will save your life.


A Gentle Approach to Sleep Training

A Gentle Approach to Sleep Training

sleep training, cry it out method, gentle sleep training

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.

What you need to know about child development and child neuroscience when deciding how to “sleep train” your baby:

I am writing this post to share my method of “sleep training” that I created based on some fundamental concepts of child development.

What is the cry it out method?

I have had numerous people tell me that they sleep trained their child by putting their child in their own room and “let them cry it out” or “turned off the monitor and didn’t come back until the morning”. These people have explained to me the great successes that they have had with this method and that their child is sleeping through the night after doing these things.

A note to cry it out advocates:

If you are one of these people and are reading this post, I appreciate you caring enough to share the ways that have helped you and your baby get sleep in hopes of helping me as well. Every mom has the right to their own choices & methods of parenting. With that being said, I am going to explain why I have chosen to not use the cry it out method.

Child Development concepts I used to create a sleeping plan for my baby:

Child Development Concept #1: The most important lesson a baby needs to learn in the first year of life is that the world is a safe place and that their needs will be met.

  • If babies needs are met promptly, they learn that they are loved and worthy of love
  • If babies needs are not met promptly, a baby learns that they are unworthy of care and that others are not to be relied on for help and support.

Child Development Concept #2: Babies need warm, consistent, prompt, and reliable caregiving

Child Development Concept #3: The caregiver must be the external stress regulator for the infant so that they can eventually learn how to regulate/soothe themselves. Basically, a child must be deeply dependent before they can be independent.

Here is my no tears sleep training/gentle approach to sleep training:

When I brought home my baby from the hospital I slept in the guest room with my baby right next to me in a queen bed in the DocATot. I am a very light sleeper and do not roll in my sleep and so I knew I would not roll over on my child. I also made sure that the blankets were not anywhere near my child. If you take sleeping pills or are intoxicated in any way, co sleeping and bed sharing is extremely dangerous. Also, please read the Academy of Pediatrics Sleep Guidelines for safe sleeping. I slept with my face literally on the edge of the DocATot because I was terrified my child would stop breathing. I wanted to hear his breathing the whole night (I think I will be more relaxed about this on baby #2, maybe haha). This set up worked out great for me because I could meet my babies needs immediately. I swear mom hearing is like a superpower though, you can hear a whimper from miles away (it really is incredible). Also, once my husband when back to work (a short 1 week later- boo paternity leave stinks) he was able to sleep and be rested for work.

Once my baby started sleeping for longer portions of the night I was able to bring him into our room and had him in the Halo Basinette in the Doc a Tot right next to my bed. Now, my baby is in the bed with me in his own spot (and he is out of the swaddle and DocATot because he can roll over and I do not want him to suffocate on these items). I actually love having my baby in bed with me, it makes life SO much easier.

I support co sleeping and bed sharing!

Yes, I said it CO SLEEPING and BEDSHARING. It is important that you make sure that the bed is big enough for your baby to have their own space and you take precautions so that your child does not roll off the bed or get rolled onto. Bed rails, bumpers, and Swaddle Me by Your Side Sleeper are a good options. My favorite idea is turning a crib into a bed side car. See picture below that I found on pinterest, pretty sweet.

I’m not sure if this will work for me because my mattress is thick and it would not be the same height. If anyone has any suggestions on how to have a side crib the exact height of a very thick mattress and high bed please leave those suggestions in the comments below! 🙂

I know many people think that the baby needs to be in their crib and in their room at some point and at some point you may just need to “let them cry it out” or “turn off the monitor” and then they will be sleeping through the night in just a few times of doing this. Trust me, I have contemplated doing this many times when I just wanted my child to “sleep through the night”.  However, I can’t bring myself to do this for several reasons.

Crying it out method pros and cons:

First of all, I am aware that if you let a baby cry it out and turn off the monitor you will eventually achieve the outcome you are wanting (for the child to stop crying and eventually go to sleep). In psychology this method of behavior modification is called “extinction”. People who tell me that this method works are right… BUTTTTT…there is a major BUT…. BUT what if what you are teaching your child is that their voice does not matter, that their needs will not be met, that the world is not a safe place, that when they need comfort no one will comfort them. What if they cry so hard and for so long that they start to dissociate. Dissociation is a typical response to threat and it is a form of freezing-as in the fight, flight, or freeze types of fear responses. Dissociation is when someone shuts down mentally and emotionally in order to survive. Some babies even cry so hard they puke..which is the ultimate fear response. What if you are creating stressful mental associations related to sleep that could last the person for a lifetime? Think about how many people have trouble sleeping as adults, as well as how many people have trouble with dysregulation, children diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety disorders, etc.

Benefits of co sleeping & bed sharing:

When you look at sleeping practices around the world, the US is one of the few countries that believes in putting their child in the crib in their own room. Many other countries and cultures co sleep. If you think back to hunter gatherer days (I love evolutionary psychology) a baby would be right with a mom in the hut and would not be sleeping in a separate room. I just don’t think that we were created for such distance from our caregivers. I think all signs point to the fact that we should be close to our young (in the daytime and the night time) and meet their needs promptly and consistently.

How long do I plan on co sleeping or bed sharing?

I am confident that eventually my child will feel safe enough to sleep alone. I will pay attention to my child’s cues and when he seems ready I will encourage his independence. I anticipate when I do make the change of having my child sleep in a separate room, it will be a transitioning period and I will be sensitive to his needs. Right now, it is working for me and my baby. I am able to lay down with him and put him to bed early and then I can leave the room and watch him on my Nest Camera until I am ready to go to bed. Some nights my baby sleeps a good chunk of the night and other times he wakes up a few times. When my baby whimpers I am able to put the pacifier back in his mouth to see if this calms him and if it does not then I can feed him if I think that he is hungry. I believe that babies can sleep for extended periods of time during the night but I do not think that they should be expected to sleep all night every night. This is because babies often have regression periods where they are having changes in their development. Babies may wake up in the night when they are having a growth spurt and are hungry, when they are teething, sick, etc. and bed sharing makes it so easy to be able to meet their needs swiftly and get both parties back to bed.

My goal is to share how I believe co sleeping and bed sharing is beneficial to the caregiver and the baby and not to shame anyone about their sleep training methods.

If you used this method and you seem to be having no problems with your child’s behavior I’m sure that your child will be fine. However, if you are struggling with your child’s behavior and it seems that your child is struggling with regulating/calming themselves down, it may be that you need to make some repairs in your relationship with your child. Many moms have told me that they have done the cry it out method or the turn off the monitor method but they felt so bad about it and hated hearing their baby cry. I encourage you to listen to your gut and that motherly feeling you experience you when you hear your baby cry.  Crying is actually a helpful tool that babies use as their way of communicating that they are: hungry, tired, or needing emotional comfort and attention.

Now with all that being said, I reserve the right to change my mind and change my “sleep training” methods as I navigate momhood, but as of now, I feel like I am doing what is best for me and my child with child development and child neuroscience concepts in mind.