You schedule your children’s soccer practices, school activities, and play dates—but don’t forget to schedule their sleep, too. Setting your little one up with a consistent nighttime routine will give the whole family a better night’s sleep (and hopefully end the “I don’t want to go to bed!” tantrums). Follow these rules for sleep schedule success.
Rule #1: Know how much shuteye your kid needs
The first step in establishing a sleep schedule is determining when bedtime should be. Use this guide to ensure that your child is hitting the sheets with enough time to get the recommended amount of sleep for his or her age. If your tot’s bedtime needs tweaking, make gradual adjustments (moving it 15 minutes earlier each night, say) until you’ve fixed the problem.
Rule #2: Keep the same bedtime.
If you frequently switch up what time kids go to bed, they can feel like they have jet lag. No wonder they get cranky! Just say “no” to pleas to stay up late—yes, even on the weekends. Kids sleep better when they have a regular bedtime, and the consistency helps prep their bodies for bed so that they can fall asleep faster.
Rule #3: Create a ritual.
Establishing a calming, pre-bed routine for a child at a young age will help your tot wind down, leading to better sleep and fewer middle-of-the-night awakenings. Running through the same activities every evening sends a cue to the brain that it’s time for sleep. For little kids, this might include taking a bath or singing lullabies, while older kids may prefer to listen to music or read a book before bed.