If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may have heard me mention that a well-adhered-to sleep schedule is an essential part of ensuring your child gets enough quality sleep.
In fact, by now you might have heard me say it a few dozen times.
I’ll just throw it out there once again, really quickly, and then we’ll move on. Schedules are your child’s best friend when it comes to getting to sleep, staying asleep, and getting the quality rest he needs.
However, as every parent knows, schedules are great in theory, but life has a way of laughing at you and your carefully laid plans as it throws traffic jams, work emergencies, illnesses, social events, and anything else you can imagine into your meticulously arranged calendar.
Which means that we can’t always get our kids to bed on time, and can therefore have some difficulties when we need to adjust their schedule.
Infants, of course, can’t tell us verbally when they’re feeling tired, but they do throw out a number of signals, not all of which are as easily recognizable as yawning or crying. Keep your eyes peeled for these subtler clues.
● Squirming or arching their back
● Clenching fists
● Rubbing their eyes or ears
● Pulling their knees to their chest
The challenge with newborns and infants is that they use these signals to convey a number of different messages, so take into account how long it’s been since their last nap, when they last ate, and any other irritants they might be trying to communicate to you.
Toddlers, on the other hand, can actually tell you when they’re feeling sleepy. The only problem is that they hardly ever do. They would typically rather do anything besides go to bed, and they’ll deny being tired right up until the point where they collapse.
(This is a common issue with potty training as well. They get so involved in whatever they’re doing that they don’t want to break up the party for anything, including going to the bathroom.)
I know a lot of parents who have a “wait and see” attitude towards naps and bedtimes, but it’s important to look for signs of sleepiness, because trying to put them down too early will typically cause them to get frustrated and develop a negative association with bedtime, whereas allowing them to get overtired can result in difficulties getting to sleep and staying asleep.
So, just like with your newborns, you’ll have to do a little detective work to determine if it’s time for a snooze. Signs to look for include…
● Clumsiness and lack of coordination.
● Short temper
● Tugging on hair and/or ears
● Fussiness and irritability.
Like I said earlier, prevention is your best defense against a cranky, sleepy child, so make their sleep schedule a top priority.
As they grow older, however, they’ll need less sleep and you’ll have to pick up on their visual cues to know when they’re genuinely growing out of their naps, and when they’re just fighting their sleepiness so they can stay up and play.
If you and your little one are having trouble with naps, bedtimes, or any other sleep-related issues, maybe it’s time to try The Sleep Sense Program™. It’s helped over 57,000 kids to sleep through the night, sleep in their own bed, and do so without relying on pacifiers, bottles, rocking, or nursing! Click here to get your free sleep assessment and get started tonight!