A structured routine is the only proven way to maintain a sleep routine for your children. Doing a few nightly rituals will ensure they get in the habit of winding down, giving their little bodies a chance to allow sleep to come naturally.
Kids need structure. And not just little kids, but youths of all ages. When they are older, the structure is designed for them. Get up, eat breakfast, go to school, come home, do homework, eat dinner, then bedtime. There are variations but ultimately, the routine is there.
For infants and toddlers, you are solely responsible for setting the tone for their routine. And it profits both of you. The baby feeds at a certain time, and you have time to do your stuff in between. Diaper changes otherwise are peppered in, but a baby’s schedule is largely based on when the sleep and when they feed.
A sleep schedule for a one-month old baby will be close to the same as a newborn sleep schedule. The logic behind this, if you established a firm routine with the newborn, it would carry over through the early months of the baby’s life. Then again, it's all theoretical, since no two babies are alike.
When should you start a sleep schedule for a baby?
Experts say with any childhood behavior, the earlier you can begin establishing a routine, the better. For the first two years of a child’s life they learn a fantastic amount about the world, about life, and about the way things work. If they learn that a scheduled day is a good thing, then it becomes ingrained. If they learn a day without any structure is acceptable, then they will be unruly, uncontrollable, and inevitably, will become resentful, disrespectful older children.
If you have done the right amount of personal scheduling for your baby, it will be evident when their toddler sleep schedule comes into focus. They will carve the nighttime events that they have grown to expect. Bath time, story time and bedtime will be asked for, because they are familiar. Familiarity is a staple of a child’s universe. The new, the different, may seem interesting, but they will always return to what they know best.
How to establish a sleep schedule for a baby:
There are a handful of tried and true methods to help set a nighttime routine, that will evolve into a common routine. It is important that if you do these, you do them every night. Your steadfast resolve to keeping the nighttime program will be replicated by your child.
1. Having a set bedtime and a set wake up time is the first step in getting your little one on the right path to a quality night’s rest. Their pre-sleep ritual should consist of quiet and relaxing things. A nice bath, followed by a quietly read story with a neutral plot, and dimming the lights more and more as bedtime grows closer.
2. A lot of kids are wired right before bed because of their sugar intake during the night meal, or whether they were given caffeine. These are both things to avoid. Kids already have plenty of energy. They don’t need caffeine. Sugary drinks can cause nighttime accidents while sleeping, so unless you have the best overnight diapers, limit how much they drink in the later hours of the day. And the evening meal should be tasty and nutritious, but also not loaded with complex and processed ingredients that will metabolize as sugar in their blood.
3. With all young kids, having a dim light on and maybe some soft music is good for drifting into a restful slumber. Repetitive music works best. For a sleep schedule for baby, this is also done with a white noise machine, or something that resembles their mother’s heartbeat in the womb.
4. Kids can never get too much sunlight, but don’t let them burn. Sunscreen is always a good decision. Vitamin D and the sun’s natural disinfecting properties will profit your child’s health and wellbeing. And the sun will sap their energy, making bedtime that much easier.
5. Naps are good but keep them short. Unless you want your kid on a night shift sleep schedule, letting them nap during the day should be done very carefully, and never too close to their normal bedtime.
There are other ways to establish a nighttime schedule and good tips on how to fix sleep schedule that has been damaged by a sudden, erratic day change. Moving to a new place, long vacations and the kids staying with a relative that doesn’t adhere to your schedule, can ruin all your hard work. It is going to be up to you to repair it quickly if it is damaged. Are there any ways you have established, and maintained, your little one’s sleep schedule?
About The Author:
Rachel Burns is an experienced copywriter and photographer with a design diploma. She works with startups, entrepreneurs, bloggers and companies from around the world. In addition to writing articles and promotional materials, she enjoys hiking, reading, cooking and spending time with her family.