We’ve all been there- you finally feel like you’re on track with your sleep habits, and all of a sudden it feels like you’re back at square one. There are so many things that can disrupt a child’s sleep schedule. Whether it be a vacation, a break during the school year, an illness, or a time change, these can all throw a wrench in your routine. It can feel almost impossible to get your child back on a sleep schedule when it takes a hit!
Getting back to good sleep habits is so important for your little one. Not just for them to return to a solid and predictable sleep schedule, but also for their body, brain, and growth and development. Getting good sleep is vital, especially for growing little ones! So today, we’re showing how to get your child back on a sleep schedule.
How To Get Your Child Back On A Sleep Schedule
1. Adjust Your Child’s Bedtime
Let’s say your kiddo is on summer break, has been going to bed at 9 or 9:30 most nights and back-to-school time is around the corner. You need to get them back to a more typical bedtime. Try bumping up your child’s bedtime by a few minutes each night until you’ve reached their ideal bedtime. Give yourself enough time to slowly adjust their bedtime so that by the time school starts you’re back to normal.
When it comes to choosing their bedtime, early is best. Although your child may want to stay up late, there are many benefits to an early bedtime. Hitting the hay on the earlier side will lead to fewer overnight wakings, a more secure bedtime routine, less bedtime resistance, less early wakings, better overall sleep, and lifelong healthy sleep habits. (Plus, it leaves more “me-time” for you!)
2. Bedtime Routine
Does your child have a set bedtime routine? Bedtime routines are key in signaling your child’s brain and body that it’s time for bed. If you don’t have one established already, now is the perfect time to set up a basic, simple bedtime routine to help your child get back to a good schedule.
Bedtime routines may sound like extra work- but they will make your life so much easier. Incorporate relaxing activities with your little one to help make them sleepy, and it can be a special way for you both to bond. Bedtime routines encourage consistency and healthy sleep habits. They can warm your child up to the idea of bedtime if they get to do special activities that they enjoy, like reading stories, solving puzzles, or having a special small snack. You’ll have an easier time getting them down and they will be more likely to fall asleep quickly.
3. No Screens Before Bed
Screen time before bed and too much screen time, in general, can cause a lack of sleep and many other sleep issues. The Mayo Clinic states “The more time spent watching on a screen, the more likely children are to have trouble falling asleep or have an irregular sleep schedule.” Screen time has many detrimental effects on childhood growth and development- not just sleep. Read more on how screen time can be harmful to children.
Limiting screen time in the last hour before bedtime can significantly affect how easily your child falls asleep and their overall amount of sleep. When your child (or you!) is exposed to blue light before bedtime, it can impact their melatonin production and circadian rhythm. Limit the screens and opt for play dough, legos, stories, or any other non-tech activity close to bedtime.
4. Relaxing / Quiet Time Before Bed
Finding a relaxing and quiet activity to do before bed is a great way to get your child back on schedule. Start your quiet activity 30 or so minutes before bedtime. You can do something like reading a book together, crafting, painting, or anything that doesn’t involve a screen and is calming. A great activity for school-aged children is to do a puzzle together as a family. It’s a great way to have some fun family time in a relaxing environment.
5. Create an Optimal Sleep Environment
Kids and babies have a much easier time falling asleep when their environments are set up to encourage REM. There are many baby sleep products and toddler sleep products that you can use to achieve a more relaxing environment. Tools like white noise machines, blackout shades, and essential oils can make a major difference in your bedtime routine.
6. Wake Up at the Same Time
Another way to get your child back on their typical sleep schedule is to ensure they wake up at approximately the same time every day. I know it can be so hard to wake a sleeping kiddo, but it’s the best way to start their daily clock and get them back on schedule. It may take some time to adjust, but they’ll be back to a normal wake-up schedule before you know it.
Need More Help Getting Your Sleep Back on Track?
Some sleep issues require all hands on deck! If after trying these tips you’re still struggling with getting your child back on a solid sleep schedule, please reach out. We’re happy to have a sleep consultation with you to see if we can get you back on track.
At Sleep Shore, we offer one-on-one sleep consulting for newborns, infants, and toddlers. We’re here to help you solve whatever is keeping your family up at night. Sleep is essential, and our goal is to get that back for you. See what this mama had to say about our sleep services below:
“Our son Aiden (2 y/o) was struggling to self-soothe and fall asleep on his own. We went to Molly and she immediately provided us with tons of information on how to help Aiden fall asleep by himself. She was soooo supportive to me every night when I was worried/stressed about whatever was happening with Aiden – she was always available to me and provided us with advice and coaching my husband and I on what to do and what not to do. Thank you Molly for helping us get back on track!!!”
-MOM OF A 2-YEAR-OLD