Early bedtimes, naps help nighttime sleep for babies
It seems counterintuitive but to get a kid to sleep better at night, you should have them on a regular nap schedule and an early bedtime. That's included in this excellent roundup of sleep recommendations in Slate that had me nodding my head.
Part of the problem, the article notes is we look at kid sleep issues through adult eyes. But babies who are overtired do not fall asleep, they get jumpy and wound up.
And I can't tell you how many mothers I know who ended the daytime naps in the hopes of having a worn-out kid at night time. But in a study conducted by sleep expert Marc Weissbluth, 3-year-olds who napped slept around 10.5 hours per night. So did 3-year-olds who didn't nap. The difference was that the nappers were much more pleasant to be around!
When an adult has insomnia, the article notes, they are told to push back their bedtime an hour later so that they can fall asleep faster. If they wake in the night, and don't fall asleep right away, they are told to get up and do something boring to make falling asleep again easier. But it's the opposite for babies. Earlier bedtimes and a low-key response to night wakings are what's called for.
The recommendations are:
- Keep the bedroom dark and quiet to wind down before sleep.
- A regular routine (such as bath, nurse, books and bed) that is followed religiously so the kid can relax and know what's coming next.
- A regular bed time and nap time.
- Minimal response when they wake in the night. No getting them up to wear them out again, keep things quiet and low key.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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