Worries about Sleep time for babies and young children abound. You can’t be a parent without agonizing about bed-times. The topic of naps and how long they should last can lead to heated arguments. When I went out to work, and my husband stayed at home, his most heinous crime was leaving a napping baby for hours while he enjoyed the peace! This led to near-divorce, as at bed-time, we were confronted by an un-sleepy one-year-old.
The Age-old Debate: Who’s In Charge?
The other side of the coin is, of course, having a too long gap between that after-lunch sleep and the moment of putting Baby down for the night. There is a strong temptation to avoid the disagreeable task of compelling your infant to go down when he or she is wakeful and complaining by keeping on letting the growing baby dictate its own bedtime. Once this type of tyranny becomes a habit, parents themselves are likely to wind up sleep-deprived. Quite apart from the fact that babies need a lot of sleep in order to grow and develop healthily.
It all comes down to the dreaded establishing of a routine. Yes, life might lack spontaneity when bedtimes are a matter of strict schedules, but take it from a parent who learned the hard way. Getting into that bedtime routine habit is a surefire formula for a happy family. You will naturally need to be flexible during the baby’s early months. The frequency and quantity of feeding, varying activity-levels during the day and the discomfort of teething will mean that a fixed bed-time is well-nigh impossible. However, by the age of two months, you should really be aiming at bedtime of no later than nine p.m., preferably soon after eight p.m.
The Exceptions to the Rule
It is true that there are babies, toddlers and school-age children who sleep little, waking at a hideously early hour, and resisting naps entirely. For their parents, we can only have endless sympathy. In some instances, obtaining sleep coaching help from outside experts is the way forward. Many parents ultimately report that the months or years of wakefulness abruptly and mysteriously end, and the child becomes a healthy sleeper.
Of course, no two humans share the same sleep behavior. This is abundantly obvious in many families where night-waking is not necessarily just confined to children. When a parent blogs in their study at 4 a.m., and where one adult prefers an earlier bed-time to the other. For every fellow blogger who is advocating regular bed-times and getting-up times. There are several who stand firmly by their belief that children should only surrender when they are actually sleepy, and that midnight is not an unreasonable bed-time.
The realities of life will kick in as kick in they must, and those heady anarchic days will have to come to an end once Junior begins attending nursery or pre-school. Rather than have a severely stressful build-up to the day when early rising becomes obligatory, plan six months or more ahead. Establish that earlier-to-bed pattern for everyone’s sake. But even before that first attendance at kindergarten, you will want to introduce your little one to his peers at playgroup. This, of course, means abiding by the play group’s timetable which usually calls for an early arrival time. Playgroups function around a nap mid-morning, something that directly won’t work for you if your baby’s sleep habits are all over the place, and he or she is a late riser.
There is a reason for the age-old proverb: Early to bed, early to rise…
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