After years of working with parents, some common questions always seem to pop up. Here are answers to a few...
How much sleep does my child really need?
A “sleep debt” is central to many sleep issues in infants and toddlers. I have my clients keep a sleep log. This one tip is so simple but can be invaluable when it comes to monitoring your child’s sleep. Using your own sleep-deprived brain to keep track of your child’s schedule is totally unreliable! Each day, write down all wake, eat and sleep times. Take note of your child’s demeanor and the technique you used to put them to bed. Having a written record helps reveal patterns so you can understand what works best for you child.
If your child is not getting enough total sleep each day, move their bedtime earlier to make up for it. This will be their new bedtime. If they seem extremely overtired, you may need to implement an extra early bedtime for 3-5 days – 30-minutes earlier than the new bedtime - to overcome the sleep debt and get them back on track.
What time should my child go to bed?
Bedtime depends on how long your child napped, how long they can be awake without becoming overtired and their demeanor. Generally, kids under 2 years old should go to bed between 5:30 and 7:00pm. Generally, kids 2-5 years old should go to bed between 6:30 and 8:00pm.
My toddler simply won’t settle down at night for bed, what can I do?
First, make sure they are getting enough total sleep in their day. When kids don’t get enough sleep they get overtired which makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Often overtired kids are described as “wired” and “bouncing off the walls.”
Turn off TVs, tablets and phones at least one hour before bed. The blue light in device screens can prohibit release of the essential sleep hormone, melatonin.
Remember, good sleep habits are just that – habits; the more you practice, the better you get. So get your child on a consistent daily schedule including plenty of sleep. Once the schedule becomes a well-engrained habit, you are on your way to having a happier, healthier child.