When we realized we were giving new meaning to the “drowsy but awake” idea (as we stretched out for just a minute next to our chattering toddler’s crib), we knew it was time to talk to local sleep expert Jill Parker from Little Dreamers Consulting. She shared with us how parents can support sleep for younger children, and talked about how sleep habits change over time.
The first thing parents need to do to support sleep for young children is to make sleep a priority, and that starts with understanding children’s sleep needs at any given age. While everyone is different, here’s a guideline you can go by:
With those needs in mind, start by keeping a reasonable bedtime for your child. For toddlers and young children, sometime between 6 pm – 8 pm is ideal, because it sets a child up for consolidated sleep without allowing them to become overtired and catch that infamous ‘second wind.’ The added bonus of an early bedtime is that the adults then have some time to themselves!
As your child gets older, maintain the bedtime routine. Too often we’re tempted to keep our children up later at night to spend some time with them – but that time isn’t always of quality. Instead, create a 30-minute bedtime routine the whole family can enjoy; not only will it help your child unwind and get ready for sleep, it’s a great way for working parents to spend time with their child at the end of the day. Keep in mind: the more consistent your routine and expectations are, the more consistently your child will sleep. So ensure, as much as possible, that sleep happens in the same environment and at the same time every day.
Sleep habits also change, as kids get older. Babies will transition to fewer naps; toddlers start to test the boundaries at sleep times; older children use stalling tactics; and parents mistakenly think their child can handle being awake much later in the evening. When these changes happen, it doesn’t take much for sleep times to spin exhaustingly out of control. The key to avoiding this pitfall, and minimizing the effect of changing sleep habits, is to consider your child’s sleep needs and to stick to your routine. And remember: if things do get off track, the good news is that it is never too late to make positive changes to your baby’s sleep routine.
Yo mama! The right accessories can affect your little one’s rest as well. We find these promote sweet dreams: