Columbus, OH -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/12/2014 -- For many parents, when it comes to baby and toddler care, a top concern is how to develop and implement an age-appropriate daily schedule. The right daily schedule helps a family’s day remain predictable, which can be a big help to mom and dad. But the right schedule can also improve a baby or toddler’s overall sleeping habits, not to mention ensuring that a child gets adequate daily meals!
However, baby and toddler schedules can be tricky - the wrong schedule can actually do damage to a child’s sleep habits, and can create sleep problems like early waking, late bedtimes, and over-tiredness. In many ways, the wrong sleep and feeding schedule is worse than no schedule at all! Nicole Johnson, Founder and Lead Sleep Consultant at The Baby Sleep Site, affirms this: “In my years of sleep consulting, I have seen many families who struggle with sleep for months, and for a number of them, the root cause of their children’s sleep issues is a scheduling problem.”
Specifically, says Johnson, schedules tend to go awry when parents miscalculate about naps: “I have worked with so many parents who don’t time up naps correctly, or who don’t understand what constitutes the best nap length. It’s usually the naps that wreak havoc on the schedule.” Johnson also asserts that less-than-ideal bedtime and morning wake-times can also create schedule issues. And finally, Johnson explains, ill-timed feedings can contribute to schedule problems as well: “Feedings need to be spaced far enough apart that a baby is taking a full feeding, but not so far apart that the child ends up hungry by the time bedtime rolls around - that will just lead to excess night waking, due to hunger.”
So, how can parents work towards creating an ideal sleep and feeding schedule - one that will contribute to long naps and sleeping through the night? Johnson shares her top 5 scheduling do’s and don’ts:
DO make sure your baby or toddler takes enough naps during the day, and that the naps are long enough. “Many parents assume that if their child sleeps less during the day, it will mean more sleep at night, but nothing could be further from the truth!” says Johnson. “A baby or toddler who takes the right number of naps for her age, and whose naps are long enough (at least an hour, for children 6 months and older) tend to sleep better at night.”
DON’T allow naps that are too early or too late. “In general,” says Johnson, “I recommend that once a baby is 4 months or older, there should be no morning naps before about 8 or 8:30 a.m., and no evening naps that go past about 5 or 6 p.m.” Johnson explains that this ensures naps won’t interfere with morning wake-up time or with bedtime.
DO strive for a consistent bedtime. “This is step one of creating a good schedule,” says Johnson. “Create a bedtime routine, commit to doing it every night, and work to make sure that your baby or toddler is going down for bed at approximately the same time each night.” This will help stabilize morning wake-up time, says Johnson, which in turn helps naps stay on track.
DON’T let your child be up for the day before about 6 a.m., if early morning rising is an issue. “Once a baby is about 4 months old, if early waking is a problem, I encourage families to treat any early-morning wake-ups that happen before 6 a.m. as night wakings,” says Johnson. “If you get a child up for the day at 4:30 a.m., it is guaranteed to throw the whole schedule out of whack.”
DON’T try to implement a rigid, by-the-clock schedule too early. Johnson explains, “Most babies are ready for a somewhat clock-based schedule by about 6 months, but many are not ready for it before then.” Instead, Johnson suggests that parents of newborns and young infants create flexible schedules that are based on sleep and feeding routines, and that are oriented around feeding and sleep windows of time, instead of fixed clock times.
For more scheduling help, please review The Baby Sleep Site®’s sample sleep and feeding schedules. There, you can access sample schedules by age, as well as feeding recommendations and tips about sleeping through the night.
For more information about how to help babies and toddlers sleep well, visit:
Join us for Sleep Training Boot Camp! All month long, The Baby Sleep Site®’s readers are working on solving sleep challenges. And for a limited time, all “Boot Camp Essentials”, like sleep consultation packages and e-Books, are 15% off!
About the Founder
Nicole Johnson is the President of The Baby Sleep Site®, which was founded in 2008. She began her journey to help moms cope with their babies’ sleep schedule by leading an internet-based message board. Her goal was for new parents to overcome their own sleeping challenges much quicker than she had. Following that, she created The Baby Sleep Site® (www.babysleepsite.com) and expanded her offerings to include e-books, articles, a blog, and customized sleep consulting. The feedback from around the world has been incredible. The Baby Sleep Site® enjoys almost 500,000 unique visitors per month, as well as over 1 million unique page views per month. Nicole and her team of consultants have personally helped almost 13,000 families overcome their babies’ sleep challenges. The whole Baby Sleep Site® team offers professional, sound support that works.
Nicole Johnson is available for interviews by phone, email and in-person. She can also offer supplementary content on various parenting topics.