Your child’s sleep habits affect your family in a number of ways. Not only does a well-rested infant, toddler or preschooler perform better at activities throughout the day, she’s also more pleasant, less cranky and she’s likely well-behaved. Additionally, a well-rested child makes for a happy household, non sleep-deprived parents and a happier mood all around.
A healthy sleep schedule is vital to the overall happiness, health and intelligence of your overall family. When your child doesn’t sleep; you don’t sleep. Lack of sleep hurts your immune system. Your family is at greater risk for becoming sick, for not performing tasks as well as possible and for being more stressed compared to families in which children sleep well.
Creating a Sleep Schedule
If you’re interested in creating a sleep schedule for your child, experts have some great suggestions. According to Kids Health, it’s pointless to try and establish a sleep schedule with a child younger than six months. At six months, however, it’s okay to let your baby fuss a little at bedtime. It’s okay to let them go to sleep on their own without you rocking them to sleep. It’s okay if you don’t get right up in the night to feed the baby; she’ll probably go back to sleep.
And don’t be afraid; many babies don’t scream when you lay them down to sleep while they’re wide awake. My husband and I have been putting both our girls to bed at the same time every single night and at the same time during naps every day since they were six months old and they’ve yet to cry. They might play or coo or talk for a while, but they always go to sleep within a few minutes. Now they’re five and two-and-a-half and both are great sleepers. In fact – they’ve never even gotten out of bed on their own for anything other than to potty, and then they go right back.
Sticking To It
Many parents express difficulty in getting their kids to go to sleep on their own, no matter their age. While there is no standard answer to the age-old question of how to get your kids to stay in bed, I can suggest that you just stick to it. It’s a rule, just like brushing your teeth before bed. Again, there’s no one way that works for everyone, but I can offer you what worked for us. We’ve found that simply explaining things to our children in advance and reminding them of it each night is enough.
For example, bedtime is 8:00. We tell them at 7:00 that it’s time for bath, then we will get out, put our pajamas on, brush our teeth and hair and read a book. After our book, it’s time to get into our bed, say our prayers and close our eyes. There’s no getting up. It always worked for us.
Anticipate Your Child’s Needs
Another expert piece of advice is to anticipate your child’s needs. If you know yours is likely to ask for water, have a cup sitting by the bed in wait. If yours is likely to need to use the potty – again – let him know that since he needs to potty so many times, he simply won’t get anything to drink after dinner. You might be surprised how quickly your child learns to listen.