How to develop a sleep routine (changes in daytime sleep for 1-5 years old, procedures before going to bed...)

Sleep is a habit. The most common reason that parents are troubled by sleep problems is that they do not have a better grasp of the habit. For example, the sleep cycle is not established in time, did not master the "bedtime procedure" etc.

Changes in daytime naps

10-12 months: A small number of babies will gradually shorten the morning nap time. By 12 months or so, some babies no longer sleep in the morning. You can advance the time for him to fall asleep at night (about 20-30 minutes earlier), and the time for the afternoon nap can also be advanced accordingly. The fluctuating time of the baby falling asleep at night may last for a period of time, depending on many factors, such as the baby’s fatigue and the quality of sleep during the day.

13-23 months: The duration of daytime sleep during this month will gradually change. At around 15 months, about half of the babies (of course not all) only need to sleep once during the day, usually in the afternoon. The time for a nap in the morning will gradually decrease and eventually become only one sleep during the day. Although it may be difficult at first, most babies’ morning sleep habits disappear. At this time, if the baby is allowed to go to bed early at night, he will wake up energetically the next morning, and he will not want to sleep in the morning.

By the age of 24 months, almost all babies only need to take a nap during the day. This sleep is still of important physiological significance, allowing the baby to be energetic for the rest of the day.

Between 2 and 3 years old, most children still need to take a nap, otherwise, they will be restless and listless. Before the age of three, children need an average nap for about two hours. Of course, some are longer and some are shorter (in some cases even less than an hour). Although it can be adjusted flexibly under special circumstances, try to make your child's sleep regular during the day and night. Some children will resist taking a nap for a period of time. Even if the body tells him (you can also find it) that he needs a nap, he still doesn't want to sleep. If this happens, you can try to adjust the time to fall asleep at night to see if you can help your child rest better during the day.

The best way to know how long your child needs to sleep during the day is to see if he can regain his energy after waking up. There is evidence that sleep longer during the day helps to improve children's concentration and learning ability. Conversely, if the child always wakes up after a few minutes of sleep, his energy will be difficult to support the day. Before the age of three, children need to take a nap for one to two hours a day, and the time will be shortened after the age of three. Studies have shown that even after the age of three, 90% of children still need a nap.

3 to 5 years old, most children in this age group will fall asleep at 7-9 pm (if they sleep less or not during the day, they will go to bed earlier at night), wake up at 6:30-8 am the next morning. From the age of three or four, the child's daytime sleep time will gradually decrease.

At this age, pay attention to the sleep needs of children and develop good sleep habits. As the amount of sleep during the day decreases and the number of activity increases, some children sleep longer at night.

Get more benefits from sleep

How to calm the child to sleep? Different age groups may need to use different ways. Gently stroking the back is effective for almost any age. For a little baby, you can face him face to face, and the frequency of contact is consistent with his breathing rhythm. Pat him gently, kiss his forehead, or let him suck on a pacifier or finger.

"Bedtime routines" can be established as early as 4 to 6 months. This practice helps children prepare for falling asleep and rest, especially when they associate these routines with sleep. You can try to read stories, take a warm bath, get a massage, hum a lullaby, or play hypnotic music. When it's time for sleep, stop playing with your child, close the curtains, dim the lights, and put the phone aside.

You can choose some specific programs, but more importantly, keep in sync with your child's biological clock. When it is time to fall asleep, keep the child away from stimulation. Excessive stimulation will make the child irritable and increase the difficulty of falling asleep. Parent-child activities before going to bed must not be too vigorous, so as not to over-stimulate the child. Remember, seizing the rhythm of time is the key to healthy sleep. It is a good way to sit quietly next to your child and read a story for 10-20 minutes, but what you do is not the most important thing, what is important is when you do it.

Knowing this, many parents are willing to try to change their habits to make their children sleep better. Parents can make a care plan similar to the sleeping procedure. One parent can take care of the child at home, and the other can go out to do their own business or meet friends, and everyone takes turns to exchange. The specific plan can be adjusted according to the situation of the family and executed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. After the baby's biological clock is coordinated with the care plan, mom and dad are liberated. You can take your child to participate in various activities, and he will not be upset and cry. If the child can follow the regular plan 80% of the time, then there should be no problem with the appropriate adjustment according to the actual situation during the remaining 20% of the time.

It is inevitable that daily sleep habits will not be broken. Holidays or family gatherings may interfere with your baby's sleep routine. Every child has a different temper. Some children are very adaptable and easy to adjust to themselves in a changing environment, while others are not.

What you have to do is to obey your child's nature as much as possible and try to maintain a regular schedule. If you know that something may disturb his sleep pattern, let him rest before that so that the baby can better cope and adapt. If you are holding a family gathering, let your child rest as much as possible in the previous day or two, and minimize the influence of the gathering on his sleep routine. The more rested the child, the better his temper will be, the better his ability to adapt to environmental changes, and his sleep better.

How often can you disturb your baby's sleep pattern? It is acceptable to have once or twice exceptions that do not follow the sleep pattern every month. For example, because of holidays, birthday parties or other activities, you have missed or adjusted the time your child takes a nap during the day and bed at night. Most children who are well rested can adapt to this occasional change, but don't exceed once or twice a week, which is too frequent.

If the baby really deviates from the regular schedule, for example because of a visit from grandparents, or is sick, you can spend one night to "reset" the routine. The thing to do this night is to readjust and put the child on the bed a long time in advance. Because of the lack of sleep before, he may cry in protest, but you don’t need to respond to him. If you use a gradual transition approach, you will be frustrated because your child is already over-tired and wants to keep on getting extra attention. Try the "reset" method, it should solve the problem.

Deal with other sleep problems

There are other factors that can interfere with your child's sleep and need to be resolved by you and your lover. For example: Did you agree when you set the rules for your children? Is there a problem with your marriage, maybe because you are too tired to deal with it, but it has actually caused tension at home? Are you worrying about money, or stress due to other problems, which prevents you from devoting energy to cultivating your child’s sleep habits? If you cannot effectively solve such problems, you may sacrifice your child's good sleep.

In addition, children’s sleep difficulties may also be caused by health problems, such as intestinal colic, severe eczema or sleep apnea syndrome (in newborn babies, intestinal colic is one of the common causes of sleep problems). Your child may be unable to sleep because of short-term health problems such as ear infections that cause pain. If this happens, pay attention to the child’s immediate needs and follow the pediatrician’s advice to reduce the child’s discomfort.

How to view sleep correctly

When a child’s sleep has a problem, try to solve it. If it doesn’t go well, don’t be depressed. The whole family should reach a consensus and let the child go to bed and sleep on time. If your child’s day is mainly spent in a nursery or taken care of by a nanny, and you can’t be with him when he is going to sleep, then you have to make sure that the person looking after the child understands your thoughts and try to arrange the child's sleep plan according to your suggestions. As a parent, even if you can't do everything perfectly, don't worry and blame yourself. It is inevitable that children will not sleep well sometimes. If your child goes to bed late for one or two days (or even more), don't blame yourself. Get back on track as soon as possible and help your child to get back to normal sleeping habits. It is very important to deal with your child’s sleep problems effectively. This is not only about your child, but also about you, because his poor sleep will affect your rest. Meeting your own sleep needs (and of course your partner's sleep needs) is also very important, so that you can better take care of your children and family. Parents who are chronically fatigued are more likely to suffer from depression.

Remember: helping children sleep well is one of the biggest challenges of being a parent. If this is done well, it will bring huge returns to the children's health now and in the future. Many adults do not develop good sleep habits during childhood, and they will suffer from sleep problems as adults. Poor sleep is a learned behavior. If a child does not get high-quality sleep, he may not learn how to sleep well. Such sleep problems are likely to trouble him for many years. The sooner you start, the more likely it is to solve your child's sleep problem. Remember to ask your pediatrician for help, they will continue to provide you with support and advice to help you clear your doubts. In addition, many children’s medical centers have professional sleep-friendly professionals who can help your child sleep better.