Showing posts with label bedtime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bedtime. Show all posts

Monday, April 28, 2014

Strategies for Making Bedtime Smoother

Bedtime is simultaneously one of the best and worst times of the day. As parents, we are looking forward to getting our kids in bed and having a break. The kids are tired and cranky and most likely looking for ways to delay bedtime. We are also tired and less patient. How can we make this process as easy as possible?

1-Have a Start Time
You want to have a Consistent Bedtime, yes. You should also have a bedtime "start time." This is the time you start the process of getting ready for bed. The time you start this will depend on what you have in your bedtime routine and how long it all takes to get done. Give yourselves enough time that you can move through the routine comfortably without having to lose your cool in order to herd the cats--I mean, kids--along toward bed. Much of the time, our impatience as parents comes from us wanting our kids to move faster. If we give ourselves enough time, bedtime can go at a comfortable pace without having to be impatient. 

2-Have a Routine
Have a set routine in place for getting ready for bed. You can even have a set order--not just a "do these things" but a "do these things in this order" routine. This way, your children can do things more independently and with fewer reminders. If your children struggle to remember what to do and/or in what order, make a chore chart list, a chore card pack, or something similar that they can consult for help in knowing what to do.

Ideas to include in the routine are: go to the bathroom, get pajamas on, brush teeth, clean up messes from the day, read scriptures, read story, say prayers. 

See Bedtime Routine: Storytime for some more on our routine.

3-Work Toward Independence
No matter what it is, things can be easier when parenting if your child can be independent at it. This is when the chore charts I mentioned above can come in handy. 

Another aspect to your child being independent is that he has to be shown how to do things and you have to be patient while he learns. A painful process to observe is that of a child learning to put on his own clothes. It takes a long time and you just want to jump in there and do it for them. Take this into account with your start time. Have enough time that your child can do the things independently that he can do. As he practices, he will get faster. 

4-Stagger Bedtimes
Sometimes it helps to stagger bedtimes. There may be things you want to do as an entire family (for example, we do family scripture study and prayer), so you can do those things together and then put some kids to bed earlier than others. You can have older children quietly sit on the couch and look at books while you put younger siblings to bed. It makes it easier to start to reduce the number of children you are working with at bedtime.

5-Have Older Children Help
If you have older children, have them help the younger children with bedtime tasks. Brayden and Kaitlyn often read a bedtime story to McKenna at night, especially if one of us is gone at bedtime. You can put an older child in charge of inspecting teeth, of helping with clean-up, with reading stories, etc.

6-Make it Fun
If my children are taking longer than usual to get ready for bed, I try to make it fun by having a "Can you get the room cleaned in five minutes" thing. Sometimes it is a "If this isn't clean in five minutes I am coming down with the bag and anything not put where it goes is going in my bag game" (fun for me, not them). Beating the clock is always a nice challenge that gets kids thinking more about being fast and less about delay tactics. 

You can also offer incentives. We often save fun activities we have planned that are indoor for after the kids are in their PJs and all ready for bed. So if we want to play a family game or watch a show as a family, we have the kids go through the routine before the activity. They are always very fast workers when they are trying to get done with enough time for the activity to take place. 

7-Let Your Child Read
Once your child is capable of handling the freedom, allow your child to read for a few minutes before lights are out. This will get your child reading more independently, and it will also give your child something to look forward to once in bed. If your child can tell time, tell him the time to turn lights off and go to sleep. If not, you can go tell your child when it is time to turn lights out. I personally prefer to not allow the freedom until the child can tell time. 

Related Posts/Blog Labels:

What do you do that makes bedtime smoother at your house?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


  56 (80%)
  8 (11%)
  6 (8%)

Votes so far: 7

Facebook Results


41 votes 75 %

No 3 votes 5%

Sometimes 11 votes 20%
    Total of 55 facebook votes


    Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Bedtime Routine: Storytime

    Storytime has got to be one of the sweetest times of day. Child and parent snuggle up together to read stories before bedtime. If you are not careful, this treasured part of your routine can soon take over your evening and grow into a monster you aren't quite sure how to tame.

    On Becoming Toddlerwise suggests you do "...your storytime out on the couch or in your favorite easy chair and not in bed" (page 55). The reason for this suggestion is that the child then has somewhere to go--off to bed. The authors say if you do storytime in bed, you might never finish because there is no where to go.

    Now, "off to bed" is not the only way to accomplish this "how." Pay attention to the Why of this suggestion. The why here is to ensure you do not have bedtime delayed significantly because you are just laying in bed reading story after story.

    We actually started out this way with Brayden. We would lay in his twin bed with him and read him an unspecified number of books. Let me tell you, Ezzo and Bucknam were right! Sometimes storytime would last well over an hour--for a 21 month old. Now, an hour long storytime isn't necessarily a bad thing. The bad thing was bedtime getting pushed back significantly because an hour was not planned on. 

    We started reading stories on the couch, then going up to bed, saying prayers, singing songs, hugs and kisses, then good night. It was much easier to get out of the room. 

    However, we do currently read to McKenna in her room. We read in a glider. We also read alternately to the children in Brayden's bed currently (one night Brayden reads in there, the next Kaitlyn, etc.).

    Our version of "off to bed" is to limit number of stories. The child gets to pick X number of books to read before bed. This, to me, is the ultimate solution to avoiding bedtime being delayed. The number of books we allow to be chosen depends on the child and the night. It is typically about three books. However, Brayden often is two because he is reading chapter books...and for some of his chapter books, reading just one chapter takes about 45 minutes. The trick for you is to estimate about how long it takes to read the books your child is interested in, decide how long you read (shoot for at least 20-30 minutes!), and then decide how many books your child can choose.

    We also read stories separately with each child. For that reason, utilizing bedrooms makes a lot of sense. In the Read Aloud Handbook, Trelease recommends reading to each child individually so that books can be read according to that child's age and interest level (trust me, a full post on this will come). So McKenna reads in her room, then one reads in the family room, and one reads in Brayden's room. 

    Here is a breakdown of our storytime part of bedtime routine. I like to look at scannable lists, so I like to provide you with them.
    1. While Brayden and Kaitlyn get ready for bed and clean their rooms for the night, my husband reads stories to McKenna. He reads with her nearly every night. It is a special bonding time for them. I read to McKenna during the day, so she does get to read with me, also.
    2. Scritpures: We read as a family in the family room. We read from a children's picture book scripture. We then read one page from the actual scriptures. We also talk about what we read. We then have family prayer and McKenna goes to bed.
    3. My husband and I take turns reading to Brayden and Kaitlyn. One of us sits in the family room and one in Brayden's room. For example, I will read to Brayden one night in the family room, then Kaitlyn the next night in the family room, then Brayden, etc. We take turns by week for who gets to sit where. We both prefer the family room :) The child choose 2-3 books to read. 
    4. Once books are read, we say good night to the parent we didn't read with. The child then goes to bed and says his/her prayers. Then the parent he/she read with sings a lullaby, tucks him/her in, gives kisses, and leaves the room. 
    Okay, that was more than just storytime. That should give you an idea of how we juggle reading to three children separately and how we keep the length of storytime relatively consistent. Consistency is key to knowing how long you need for your entire routine so you know what time to star the routine to get to bed on time. This way, storytime can remain a treasure rather than a monster.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Preschooler Summary: 4 Years Old

    Kaitlyn is now four years old! As I write this, Kaitlyn is going on a few days in a row of seriously perfect obedience--and beyond. She is doing things before I even ask her to. So in my immediate mind right now, she is super fabulous! Read this with that in mind--no complaints from me!

    Kaitlyn's eating is the same as last time. Last time I told you she was a bit more adventurous, but that I wouldn't categorize her as "Adventurous Eater." She is the same as she was then. She will willingly try most things, but she has her list of things she just loves. 

    One difference over the last few months is she suddenly LOVES chicken. Up to this point, she has not been much of a meat eater, but she now really likes chicken. We went to Red Robin one day while on vacation and she got the kids meal with the chicken fingers. Their chicken fingers are real chicken that is breaded (good by the way), and she just loved it. 

    As I reported last time, during the last week of her last quarter she started to get out of bed on her own--but out of bed on her own at times that were not okay with me. 

    We tried removing privileges. That didn't work very well. We moved to rewarding instead. That worked quite well--but still not perfection. The clock I had in her room didn't have numbers, it just had lines. So I got her a clock with numbers and we taught her how to read what time she could get up, but she still wasn't quite getting it.

    So I went to the clock that turns colors when it is time to get up. I searched Amazon for "toddler clocks" and settled on this one: American Innovative Teach Me Time! Talking Alarm Clock and Nightlight (pictured above). Ever since, she has been perfect! I love that thing. The yellow face turns green when it is okay to get out of bed. You can set how long it stays green for.

    With naps, I must point out (even though I did a post on this last Friday) that she sleeps best for naps if she has some light in her room.

    She still has nap time each day, but she does not alway snap every day. Most days of the week, she falls asleep, but she will have 2-3 where she does not nap. 

    Playtime is good. She does independent playtime well. She plays with friends well. She plays with siblings well. She and McKenna now play lots of things together. One of their favorites is "Pony Party" with My Little Ponies. They also like to get out the play cupcakes and pretend like it is a birthday party. Kaitlyn has the sweet spot in the family because she has fun playing with both Brayden and McKenna. Plus, she gets to play "boy" games with Brayden and "girl" games with McKenna.

    Kaitlyn is still enjoying dancing. She is over her drama of pretending she doesn't like to go to dance. She does well in the class. It has had some good teaching moments. One day her teacher told me that she wasn't happy if she was not the first person to go when they were taking turns doing moves. So we sat and had a talk about taking turns and that she couldn't always be first and talked about the right way to be. She wasn't having a meltdown, but apparently she would stand and pout until it was her turn, which isn't the best way to be. Since then, she has been great about taking turns and not being first. 

    You might wonder how this ended up for her. She did well. My husband skated with her. At the end, she passed the class to move on, but we will put her in the same class again next time. It is the class Brayden was in, and is for 3-5 year olds, so I feel no need to move her forward until she is really comfortable and the teacher thought that was a wise decision.

    Kaitlyn is still very imaginative and still to the detriment of the truth sometimes. She likes to tell me how certain princesses sing outside her window and all of these adventures she has done. 

    Kaitlyn is quite obedient. Not perfect, of course, but good. She isn't the type to really test you hard (unlike my other two). She isn't really a limit tester. She is pretty easy going and quite obedient. 

    If there is any area Kaitlyn really needs work in, it is in her desire to help clean. When it is time to clean up, her creativity kicks in and she is off finding her way to excuses for not cleaning. If you give her a specific job, she will do it and will do it well. But if you just say "time to clean up" she will twirl her way to a corner with a book to read.

    We have variation to this for playgroup and dance class, but for the most part:

    7:30: Get up. Read a church children's magazine. Get ready.
    8:00ish: Breakfast

    9:00: Learning intro. Then some free play with McKenna.
    10:00: Independent Playtime
    11:00: Learning activity. Then more playing--possible 30 minute of or TV time.
    12:30: Lunch
    1:00: Play with Brayden
    2:00: nap
    4:00: up. Play until dinner
    5:00/5:30: Dinner
    6:00: Free play
    7:00: Start getting ready for bed
    8:00: In bed

    About once or twice a week, she plays or watches 30 minutes of TV.  I also have her help with chores.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Preschoolers and Bedtime

    When you get to the point of having a preschooler, you might not think bedtime is all that important--especially if you have a more flexible child like Kaitlyn (2.5). This is an incorrect assumption, however. I have already written a post impressing the importance of a consistent bedtime (see Consistent Bedtime ). In this post, I give concrete tips in association with your preschooler. These are tips from On Becoming Preschoolwise.

    I know I already wrote a post, but here are more reasons:

    • "When preschool-age children are not getting enough sleep, they are irritable, hard to manage, and have little or no self-control." While we were moving, Brayden and Kaitlyn were getting to bed late every night. My husband was working on our new house and for two weeks, I was putting all three kids to bed alone each night. This meant bedtime was late for Brayden and Kaitlyn consistently. I definitely saw a difference in the children's behavior. At first, I attributed it to them not seeing their dad much and missing him. I am sure that was partially true, but I think most of it was the over-tiredness.
    • "It is unfair to expect over-tired young children to behave like well-rested ones."
    • Children grow in their sleep. "Around three to four years of age is a time of growth spurts in children." I can definitely attest to this. From Brayden's 2nd birthday to his 3rd, he was wearing the same shirts. I found this amazing since he had been changing wardrobes every three months, followed by every six months thus far in his life. I erroneously assumed between age 3-4, he could do the same. Nope. Not only that, but he went through shirts in a matter of months once again. This is a big time for growth for your child.
    • "Well-rested children do not get sick as often as children who are chronically over-tired." I think this relates to all people, not just children. When you are running on low sleep, your body is not able to fight off infection as efficiently as when you have plenty of sleep. Once again, I turn to our moving experience. Typically, my husband and I rarely get sick. We both have strong immune systems. Our children often get colds as children do. During the time we were moving, my husband and I were both operating on a few hours of sleep per night for over two weeks. We both got really sick. Brayden and Kaitlyn got the cold a week later, though not to the same severity of my husband and I. McKenna got a tiny bit if a stuffy nose two weeks later. My point is this. Typically when a cold comes into our home, Brayden or Kaitlyn get it first. They are the ones around other children the most and the ones who haven't had as many colds over a lifetime to build immunity to. McKenna often soon follows. I will sometimes get a mild form of the cold, though not always. My husband rarely gets the cold. This time, I got it first with really bad symptoms. My husband soon followed, also really bad. Brayden and Kaitlyn got milder cases, and McKenna's was basically nothing to speak of. McKenna was the one getting her sleep. Brayden and Kaitlyn were getting less, though only by an hour each night. My husband and I were getting very little sleep.
    WHAT TIME IS BEDTIME? (page 104)

    • Your preschooler needs at least 10 hours of sleep each night. This does not mean bedtime is 10 hours before waketime. Sleep needs to be at least 10 hours.
    • Bedtime needs to be 11-11.5 hours before waketime. If your child wakes at 7 AM each day, your child needs to be in bed by 7:30-8:00 PM. This will give your child time to fall asleep. If your preschooler needs 12 hours of sleep, the be sure to start bedtime earlier.
    • Don't start your bedtime routine at what you want to be bedtime. Allow at least 30 minutes for your bedtime routine. Take note of how long your individual routine lasts.


    • Try moving bedtime back 15 minutes at a time each week until you reach your desired bedtime.


    • Choose a bedtime you can be consistent with.
    • If you need to be out late, hire babysitters when possible so you can remain consistent with bedtime.
    • Avoid roughhousing before bedtime; it can take children too long to wind down (though I must say, Brayden actually sleeps better when he gets roughhousing before bed).
    • Tell your child to go to bed--don't as if he wants to.
    • Help your child get ready for bed. Don't just send him off to get ready and expect him to do so until he has shown he can. You need to help him through the process of PJs, brushing teeth, bathroom, etc.
    • Read stories on the couch or in a chair--not in child's bed. When Bradyen was two, we did stories in his bed. Story time too FOREVER! We started doing it on the couch, then went to bed. This made story time much faster and more consistent in length.
    • Limit number of stories. We do three stories per night per child. If we need to read stories with both Brayden and Kaitlyn together, then we do three total so the time is the same.
    • If your child wets the bed, limit drinks after dinner.

    Sleep is very important for your preschooler. Just because he is older now does not mean that sleep no longer matters. Keep in mind the importance of sleep and also the difference between sleep quality and quantity. Consistent sleep routines and sleep times lead to better sleep quality. Think of yourself. Think of the difference in your attitude when you get enough sleep and enough quality sleep vs. when you get too little sleep and/or don't sleep well. Your child is the same. For more on sleep and your preschooler, see On Becoming Preschoolwise starting on page 114.


    Friday, July 3, 2009

    2 Year Old Sleep Problems

    A month after Brayden turned two, he started taking a long time to go to sleep at night. At the time, I attributed it to several factors. One is that a month after he turned two, it is the longest day of the year where we live. The sun goes down quite late. As I have mentioned, Brayden is a sun riser. I figured it was hard for him to go to sleep since the sun was still up. Another possible factor was that he had a new baby sister. Another possible factor was that he was in a new room and his bed was right by the window, which looked out onto the road. Brayden has always loved to watch cars go by. At this time, he didn't cry or put up any sort of fuss about going to sleep. He didn't get out of bed. He just sat in his window and talked to himself.

    Over the last couple of years, I have often seen moms post questions about their two year old suddenly taking a long time to go to sleep at night. After several of these questions, I started to wonder if there is something about a two year old that makes it hard for them to sleep. I wondered what would happen with Kaitlyn.

    Kaitlyn, most of you are aware, is and always has been a great sleeper. Kaitlyn loves to sleep. She doesn't mind naptime or bedtime. Despite this, Kaitlyn also started taking a long time to fall asleep after she turned two.

    Kaitlyn had several of the same factors. She had a new sister. She had a new bed. It was the longest time of the year again. She was in the same room, however, and didn't have a window. But Kaitlyn is not one who needs anything to entertain her; she has a very vivid imagination even as a two year old.

    One day I was talking with a friend about McKenna (unrelated topic) who told me her pediatrician says children need to learn to fall asleep about five times in their lives. She couldn't remember exactly. She knew one was at two months. One was at one year. One was at two years. She thought another was at 6 months and at 18 months. Then she couldn't remember the other. I have no idea where he came to this conclusion from, but I found it interesting. I often get questions about a 6 month old or one year old who is suddenly not sleeping well. There could be some truth to this.

    Kaitlyn also doesn't cry and doesn't protest going to bed at all. She is also really quiet, but sometimes as I go to get McKenna for her dreamfeed, I hear Kaitlyn singing in her room!

    So those of us with a two year old know that this is fairly typical, based on observation. The question is, what do you do about it?

    There are a few ways to go about it, and your answer is going to depend on your child's personality. By this point, you know your child well. You know if your child responds well to you re-entering the room or not. Here are some options for this situation:
    • Leave Her Be: One option is to just wait this period out. It doesn't last forever. Currently, Brayden goes to bed soon after he gets there.
    • Go Stop Her: She might benefit from you going in and telling her to go to sleep. You want to be careful with this, though. She might start to figure if she stays up, she gets extra visits from Mom. These visits will likely include extra kisses and hugs, perhaps even one more song. So she might start fighting sleep in order to get some more face time with her parents. Also, if this is an issue of learning to fall asleep again, then your visit will disrupt the learning process.
    • Tweak Bedtime: I think it is possible that many two year olds are going to sleep a little too late. Going to bed too late can lead to it taking time for a person to fall asleep. I have seen that even with myself currently. Be sure bedtime isn't later than your child needs it to be.
    • Combo: My guess is that most families would benefit from a combo of these suggestions. Fix bedtime. For the most part leave her be. If she is getting rowdy or getting out of bed, go in and gently tell her to go back to bed, but try to be unemotional about it. Just be firm and matter of fact. Don't be mad and don't be extra sweet and lovey. Watch the results of you going in closely. If it seems she is staying up even more, don't go in.
    In the end, don't stress out about this. Over some time, she will be back to going to sleep soon after her head hits the pillow.
    Related Posts/Blog Labels

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Toys in Bed

    Every so often, I get a question about the appropriateness of toys in bed. As in most things with parenting, this depends on your child. Not only does it depend on your child in general, but it depends on your child at the moment. At some stages, toys are a distraction from naptime. At other stages, they are something that seem to help naptime happen.

    Young Babies
    As a newborn, your child does not need any sort of toy in bed. You might have a mobile. If so, be mindful of the possibility that the mobile could distract from sleep. Some babies might look at it and get overstimulated or be so interested in it that they miss the sleep window. Others might look at it and peacefully slip into slumber.

    Both of my children had a mobile as a young baby. It wasn't a problem for either child. Our mobile has very mild colors. It also is just a mobile; it doesn't move or make music at all. If your mobile does move and/or play music, I would caution you against turning it on for naptime or bedtime. You don't want your child to become dependent on it for sleep. You want to avoid sleep props .

    You want to be sure you take the mobile down once your child can reach it. Brayden only had it for a couple of months, but Kaitlyn had it for quite a while (though I can't remember exactly how long).

    Older Babies
    You might put a stuffed animal in the bed with your baby. I did this with Brayden around 6 months. I actually started it with Kaitlyn from birth, but it was at the opposite end of the crib from her so it wasn't anywhere near her. If you do this, be sure it is a safe stuffed animal with no parts that can come off and be choked on (like buttons or eyes that could be pulled off). These stuffed animals are "friends" for my kids. They have never been a problem for sleep. Both of my kids would go to sleep without a problem. When they woke up, they would "talk" to the "friends."

    12-24 Months
    This is an age when any sort of toy can really start to become a distraction. Both of my kids still had stuffed animals in this age range. Kaitlyn (21 Months) likes to hug one sometimes as she falls asleep. She doesn't ever play with them before sleep. We have to set them up so they are all sitting along one crib rail. Then she goes to sleep. When she wakes up, she will play with them and talk to them. If I go in to get her right away, she is disappointed because she wanted to play with her babies.

    When we moved Brayden from the crib to his twin bed, I was really glad he had his "friends" that he was familiar with. When we moved him, he moved beds and bedrooms. I was glad for him to have something familiar to sleep with. We plan to move Kaitlyn this month sometime, also, and I am sure her babies will help with a smooth transition. See crib to bed transition for mroe on this.

    Also, Brayden has a love for one of his "friends" in particular. When he had his surgery last month, he was able to take that friend in the operating room with him. They bandaged him up just like Brayden. His bond with this stuffed animal helped him through this scary process.

    2-3 Years
    You can continue with the special friends. You might also start to think about something like a toy car for your child to play with. If you do give him a car, pay close attention to what happens. He might play with it for a few minutes then drift to sleep. But he also might play with it so long it takes him past his second wind and prevents sleep from happening.

    3 Years and Up
    During the third year, your child will likely start to drop the nap some days. Throughout Brayden's fourth year (ages 3-4), we have had to vary what does and doesn't go in his bed. At the beginning of his fourth year, he had nothing in bed with him for naps except for a blanket and pillow. That helped him to sleep better. As the year went on, he started to not sleep well for naps. So we gave him one to two cars and a couple of "friends" for a nap. That again got him sleeping well.

    Over the last 2-3 months (he is currently 3.5 months shy of 4 years old), he has moved more and more toward rest time rather than nap time. He now has one or two cars, his friends, and a few books. Some days he sleeps, others he doesn't, but during his nap or rest time, he is quiet and stays in bed without a problem.

    No matter the age of your child, whether or not toys are in bed with him is up to you to decide. There is no "rule" that says it is always okay or always not okay. If you see toys are a problem, remove them. If you see toys help naptime go more smoothly and happen, use them. Here are a few guidelines I would use:
    • Delay Introduction of Toys in Bed: I would wait until you see a need for a toy in bed before you ever introduce it. Putting it in earlier than the child is able to handle it is akin to giving a freedom too soon. If it turns out the toy is a hindrance to naptime, your child might be really upset when you take it.
    • Analyze All Angles: Before trying the toy in bed, be sure you analyze all other possible reasons for poor naps. You don't want to offer a toy when what your child really needs is more waketime. See sleep problems and optimal waketime for help in this.
    • Keep the Quantity Low: Your child doesn't need every beloved toy in bed with him. A couple will suffice.
    • Take Note of Effect: This might be a good time to keep a log (see log ). Before you give the toy, keep a log of how long it takes him to fall asleep and how the nap goes. After you give the toy, do the same. Then you can concretely see if it is helping or hurting.
    • Pay Attention: If the toy helps, pay attention to watch for it to become a problem. It can. If the toy becomes a distraction, remove it.
    • Avoid Props: I would avoid letting this become a prop. I would rotate toys if needed to ensure that your child will not be particular about which toy, book, or stuffed animal he has. I like to have my children able to sleep so that wherever they are, they can go to sleep. I don't want to have to remember to pack certain toys or items to help them sleep. If we are at Grandma's, I grab a stuffed animal she has there. Even though my kids have had the same stuffed animals for basically their entire lives, they are fine with having different ones. Monitor your child so you don't create a prop.

    Related Blog Labels:

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Consistent Bedtime

    image source
    Having a consistent bedtime is very important to your baby on up through child. Consistent bedtimes are important for adults, also. Be sure you keep bedtime as consistent as possible. The -wise books recommend you strive for at least 5 of 7 days in a week to have the same bedtime for your child.

    For some babies and toddlers, bedtime needs to be very specific. I have heard from readers who say that five minutes too late results in their baby waking up too early in the morning, but when bedtime is at the right time, morning wake up time is also at the right time. If your child is having difficulty making it to morning wake up time and you can't seem to figure out the reason, look into tweaking bedtime and find what is optimal for your child.

    Some people will keep baby up later in the evening in hopes of having baby sleep in later in the morning. This can work if the time you are keeping baby up until is his optimal bedtime. If, however, you are passing the point of optimal, you are most likely causing him to wake earlier than he otherwise would.

    For my children, bedtime has never needed to be exact to a minute as some readers have found, but they do not sleep any better if they have a later bedtime than they should. A few weeks ago when we were at the Emergency Room with Kaitlyn (see In Action: Benefits of Babywise III ), we did not get home until 11:30 PM. This was four hours past her bedtime. The next morning, she did not sleep in an extra four hours. She slept in an extra 30-45 minutes, but that was it. She did take a longer nap than usual the next day, but again, not four hours extra.

    I have found the same to be true with Brayden. With him, often a too late of a bedtime will result in waking earlier than usual. As he has gotten older, he might sleep in a bit extra, but not enough to make up the lost time.

    Take note that just because your child will wake at about the same time each morning even if bedtime is late doesn't mean he will sleep until the same time if bedtime is early. He should be pretty close, but he might wake earlier. With both of mine, they will basically wake up after their current perfect nighttime sleep length. For Brayden (3.5 years) right now, that is 11.5 hours. For Kaitlyn (21 months), 12 hours.

    Don't underestimate the need for a consistent bedtime for your baby/child. Don't overlook the importance of finding the right bedtime for your child. Bedtime is important to your day, just as are the other elements of your day.

    Related Posts:

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Baby Whisperer: Sensible Sleep

    image source
    In the book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, Tracy Hogg talks about steps to creating sensible sleep. This starts on page 172.
    • Start as you mean to go on. For more on this idea, see Baby Whisperer: Start as You Mean to Go On : In terms of sleep, just think through how you want your child to sleep in the long run. Everything you do teaches your baby. If you teach him that he needs to be rocked for 30 minutes before a nap, that is what he is going to need in order to fall asleep. I remember when Kaitlyn was 5 days old. For the first time, she wasn't just falling asleep. I sat down and started to rock her. Before she was born, I had decided we wouldn't start CIO until she was 3 weeks old. As I rocked her and she didn't fall asleep, I realized that was silly. Why would I teach her to need to be rocked only to take that away a few weeks later? That didn't seem fair to her. So I put her in her bed and braced myself. She actually went to sleep without a peep.
    • Independence is not neglect. I know we often feel guilty about teaching our kids independence, especially with our first child. But do know it is not neglect. You are doing what is best for your child.
    • Observe without intervention. Understand your baby's sleep cycle and observe and don't interfere with that cycle. Let baby fall asleep on own.
    • Don't make your baby dependent on props. This is anything from a pacifier, to nursing to sleep, to being held or rocked. Know that when you use these things, you are teaching your child to be dependent on them. Also, Hogg points out that a prop is different from a transitional object. A transitional object is something your child adopts; your child chooses and controls rather than mom or dad choosing and controlling. But this doesn't usually happen until 7-8 months old according to Hogg. Let baby discover how to calm herself.
    • Develop bedtime and naptime rituals. Do it the same way each time. See this post for more: Sleep Routine:
    • Know how your baby goes to sleep. Nothing works for everyone. You must get to know your baby, and that will take some time. This is a good time to use your log: BW Tips and Tricks: Keep a Log: and Problem Solving Tip: Detailed Log : I know some moms like to distract themselves during sleep training with earplugs or an iPod or something. Hogg recommends this (though she isn't really a CIO advocate, see below). My husband would try to get me to do the same. The problem I see with such a practice is that it doesn't allow you to get to know your baby. I have to know and monitor my babies cries. By listening each time, I get to know the pattern. I can also judge if something is wrong. So I personally like to listen and listen well (even though it is sad for me).
    Hogg does not advocate CIO, though she does advocate baby learning to sleep on own. I am honestly a bit confused as to her exact CIO policy because her method for baby learning to sleep does involve crying, though she says it doesn't. I am not really sure. If you are interested in trying her method, you will have to read her book and interpret it.

    Related Posts:
    Reader Comments/Advice:
    • Jasmine said...
      If you read her third book "The Babywhisperer Solves All Your Problems" you'll find a lot more detail and ways to troubleshoot. In fact she provides techniques to use besides CIO that help you with getting the baby to sleep without props. She does differentiate between what she calls a mantra cry (the noises/cry a baby sometimes makes when settling) which you don't rush into and a serious cry which you attend. The techniques used are the wind down routine, the shush/pat, and the pick up put down when appropriate. Anyway that other book helped me tremendously, and so has your blog. Thanks!
      September 15, 2008 1:25 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      Jasmine, that is good information. Thanks!

      September 22, 2008 3:29 PM
    • Jessica said...
      I echo Jasmine. From what I remember of Hogg's book her method including picking the baby up and when they stopped crying immediately putting them down. Didn't she say she had to do that over 100 times with one baby?I must admit that I am a rocker (a BW no-no) and I do not regret it. That is what is best for our family. To me, that is part of me being a mother, a very enjoyable part. I do understand why others do not rock. Each family, and child, are so very different.
      September 15, 2008 4:40 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      Thanks Jessica! You are right, you have to do what works for each baby.
      September 22, 2008 3:30 PM
    • Lorri said...
      Yeah her method is that they don't CIO ALONE. She says she is an advocate for your baby and that changing a routine for a baby- ie not rocking them any more etc- and then letting them try to figure it out on their own is not the way to do things.I have to admit, I tried her PU/PD method last week. My little one didn't have any problems falling asleep for naps or for night time-but once he woke up-he had a hard time getting himself back to sleep. So I thought that maybe him falling asleep on his own to go to bed might be a fluke.

      After doing that routine for a week I haven't seen a single bit of improvement like I did following Babywise. At this point he actually doesn't even fall asleep initially like he use to. I have learned that when I'm in the room with my baby when he is trying to sleep-he wants to be picked up. Hogg says that after they start crying, you pick them up until they stop and then immediately put them down-continuing the shush and patting until they've fallen into a deep sleep. I'm not sure how the babies don't then use that as a sleep prop-she doesn't explain that.

      Some kids though-like my scooter are social butterflies and if there is someone in the room with them-but that person isn't playing with them or picking them up-it makes them more mad and they won't ever go to sleep. My husband and I evaluated the past week. We decided that being in the room with little Scoots does more damage than having him fall asleep on his own without us in there.
      September 16, 2008 11:36 AM
      Plowmanators said...
      Lorri, thanks for more clarification--I think her initial idea of CIO and my initial idea of CIO. My son was the same as your son :)
      September 22, 2008 3:33 PM
    • bradysmom said...
      Jessica - I am a rocker too. However, I don't rock to sleep. I work, so I don't see my LO all day. I put him to bed and after he eats I put him on my chest and we sit and rock in teh rocking chair, while patting his back, for maybe a minute. I do this 1 - to see if there are any more burps in there; and 2 - that's my time to cuddle with him. I also feel like it helps him to just wind down and cuddle with mommy. I know BW says it's a no-no, but it's a very special time for me! And most of the time when I put him in his crib he's awake. Just my 2 cents! :-)
      September 16, 2008 12:29 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      Bradysmom, I don't think rocking while awake would be considered a no-no for BW at all.
      September 22, 2008 3:35 PM
    • Jessica said...
      Lorri - I have never understood how that particular method isn't considered a sleep prop either. I read another book (Lull A Baby Sleep Plan, I believe) where the author encouraged you to sit by your baby's bed and sing, read, talk, etc. them to sleep. She said that as long as your baby went to sleep in their own bed that it was not a sleep prop.Bradysmom - I have just recently gone back to work (this week) for 3 days and I know what you mean about wanting to cuddle with your little one. About the rocking, BW thinks it is fine as long as you are not using it to get your baby to sleep. That is where I part with BW. Frequently, I do rock my little girl to sleep and at times she doesn't want it, she will wiggle and want you to just lay her in her crib. I would say it is a sleep prop for her because when I go to sit in the rocker she starts crying but all I have to do is insert the pacifier and those little peepers close. Hopefully, I don't get razzed to bad for that, ha!
      September 16, 2008 6:06 PM

    Saturday, June 7, 2008

    Poll Results: What time is your baby's/child's bedtime


    6:00-7:00 PM: 27 votes (11%)
    7:00-7:30 PM: 52 votes (21%)
    7:30-8:00 PM: 54 votes (22%)
    8:00-8:30 PM: 60 votes (24%)
    8:30-9:00 PM: 28 votes (11%)
    9:00-9:30 PM: 9 votes (3%)
    9:30-10:00 PM: 6 votes (2%)
    10:00 PM or later: 6 votes (2%)

    Total of 242 votes

    Related Posts:

    Thursday, May 29, 2008


    I get a lot of questions about what time should be considered bedtime. Generally speaking, your bedtime will be after you 7ish PM feeding. There are exceptions for some families. Here are some things to consider when setting your bedtime:
    • Bedtime happens before the dreamfeed. So if you feed at 7 PM, then dreamfeed at 10 PM, your bedtime would be after your 7 PM feeding. You would just then wake up your baby, feed him, and put him right back down.
    • What is your waketime and how long does your baby need to sleep at night? If your baby wakes at 7 AM and is a 12 hour a night sleeper, you need to have bedtime at 7 PM. If your baby wakes at 7 AM but is a 10 hour sleeper, then bedtime is adjusted accordingly.
    • The time of your last feeding. For the baby, bedtime will come shortly after that last feeding.
    • Amount of waketime needed between feeding and bedtime. This will likely depend on the napping situation. If your child is down to two naps and has a liquid feeding at 7 PM, he likely doesn't need any additional waketime. But if he has an evening nap, he might need a short waketime to be tired enough to go to bed.
    • In setting your bedtime, make sure it is consistent from day to day. Pick a time that you are willing to be home to enforce.
    • Consider your family's situation. I know moms whose husbands don't get home until the early evening. Some of those moms have a later bedtime for baby, and consequently a shorter waketime. For Brayden's first year of life, my husband was finishing his last year of college and also working to support our family. He didn't get home until 8:30 a few nights a week. Brayden's bedtime was 9:30 so he could have time with his dad. Once my husband graduated and worked normal hours, Brayden's bedtime moved up. Remember, your schedule serves you. Kaitlyn's bedtime has basically always been between 7-7:45 for her lifetime because we don't have that extenuating need we did with Brayden.
    For Toddlers
    • You can tweak these same principles for your toddler. Be sure he is getting 10-12 hours of sleep at night.
    • Make sure you start your bedtime early enough that he can go to sleep at a good time.
    • Adequate sleep is vital for a cooperative, happy toddler. Take note of your child's actual bedtime and make sure it is aligning with your optimal bedtime.
    • You can have nights that are different, but try to keep it so 5 of 7 days are a consistent bedtime.
    Related Posts:
    Reader Questions:
    • Kate said...
      Some days my 4 month old doesn't nap well and by the end of the day she is just exhausted. Her last feeding is at 7:30, so I try to keep her up until that time, but she will be really fussy and sometimes even fall asleep then I wake her at 7:30 to eat. Do you think on those days I could feed her a little early and put her to bed earlier or what would you do? Thanks
      May 29, 2008 5:51 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      Kate,I would feed earlier and put her to bed early. If this starts interfering with your morning waketime, then I would shoot for a nap right before bed instead, but if she will go down early, that is a good idea.
      May 30, 2008 3:09 PM
    • Jennifer said...
      From day 1, my baby's most awake time has been after 9 pm. She first slept through the night from midnight to 8 am. I know bed time is supposed to be earlier, but when she wakes up for her last feeding, she is WIDE awake (so I've never done a dreamfeed). She's 15 weeks now and I've been waking her up at 7:15 am every day for a few weeks and she's going to sleep around 10 pm now and I still have to wake her up at 7 am. Do you have any suggestions on how to move up her bed time? If I was able to do so, would I add in a dreamfeed? I'd appreciate any suggestions. I love your blog!
      May 29, 2008 10:57 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      Jennifer,Your daughter is at the age the dreamfeed is often dropped, so I wouldn't add it in. If I were you, I would just put her down 10-15 minutes early for a week and see how it goes. I would then move it up another 15 minutes the next week, etc. until you get bedtime where you want it. If you think you can, you can do the move every 4ish days instead. Just feel it out and see how it goes. Good luck!
      May 30, 2008 3:11 PM
    • Haley said...
      My son is 6 1/2 months old. He has five liquid feedings a day on a combo 3 to 4 hour schedule. He is on a combo schedule because sometimes he is ready to eat at 3 hours and sometimes he doesn't want to eat yet. We start our day at about 8:30 am so our last feeding ends up being at about 9:30 which means he gets to bed at about 10:30. Is this too late for him to go to bed? I see all these posts about bedtime being at 7 or 8 pm and I just don't see that happening for us ever. Our schedule works fine for us especially since my husband doesn't always get home early and wants to play with him before he goes to bed. But I guess I am wondering if I am doing something that I will regret later. Any suggestions or is what I'm doing fine?
      June 2, 2008 9:44 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      Your child is getting 11 hours of sleep, which is in the 10-12 hour goal you want for nighttime sleep. Many people with an earlier bedtime also have an earlier wake time. So their kids are going to bed at say 7:30, and waking at 7 AM. As you drop naps, you will most likely need to move bedtime up a bit earlier. Do what works for your family. :)
      June 2, 2008 11:15 PM
    • May said...
      I am always a little confused about bedtime feeding. Should I count the sleeptime starting at the beginning of the last feeding and ending at when he wakes up next morning?Moreover, I wonder about the last feeding time. My son Alex is into his 14th week. His bedtime is around 10pm, now 9:45pm and he generally wakes up around 5am now. He generally woke up from his last nap around 7:30 pm or 8:00pm. That gave me 1.5 to 2 hours before his bedtime. Should I put him to bed sooner? Should I feed him again before his bedtime? If I do not feed him again before his bedtime, he would have 9-10 hours without food.
      June 15, 2008 4:47 AM
      Plowmanators said...
      May, I would feed him around 7:30/8:00 when he wakes, then put him in his PJs and do a bath or whatever it is you do at that time of night, then put him to bed. I would then wake him at 10 PM, feed him, change diaper if needed, then put him right back down. If that seems to overly disrupt him, I would just let him sleep through and see what time he wakes in the night. He is old enough that 9-10 hours without food is just fine for him.
      June 16, 2008 10:26 AM
      May said...
      Thank you for the suggestion. Now I have a new problem. I have been feeding him around 8:30 or 9pm, and put him to bed around 9:30pm. Alex kept waking up at 2:30am or 3:30am during last two nights. Seeing him frantically putting his fist into his mouth, I fed him both nights. He ate a lot. But my doctor's nurse said that since he had been sleeping through night, I should not feed him during the night. Should I just let him cry himself back to sleep around that time? Before this episode, he had been sleeping through the night, albeitly getting up early at 5am sometimes. Could it be my milk supply not enough? Or could it be that I brought him to my mother-in-law's place for a day, he had too much stimulation?
      June 17, 2008 5:23 AM
      Plowmanators said...
      May, It could be overstimulation. It could also be a growth spurt. I personally don't like the notion that if they slept through before, they will never be hungry again in the night. Some try to feed their growth spurt in the night. If you think he is hungry, I would try to add feedings in the day, or feed him at night. I wouldn't ever let a baby go hungry.
      June 26, 2008 11:05 PM
    • Kate and Robbie said...
      I need help. I just found this blog...sent straight from heaven i swear!! I know this post is anyone reading this at all?? Ive just started baby Dr. strongly disagrees with it for some reason? But we are doing it anyways...My 2 and half month old doesn't nap very long though out the day with the "3 hour routine". We notice at night, his first stretch is always the longest...about 4-5 hours. So we have his bed time till about 9:30 (having feeding at 8, bath time, then bed). Is this too late? I read about these Moms who have their kids down at 7 pm, and I wonder how their baby actually makes it through the whole night? Will mine ever? he seems to wake up all the time at night even...with his wakeup times a bit speratic, sometimes 5 or sometimes 6, or sometimes 7? Am I doing something wrong. Help!!!
      June 25, 2008 10:12 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      Kate,Babies that go to bed at 7ish are older than yours OR they go to bed at 7ish but then eat again around 10ish. It takes time, but through consistency and effort, you can do it! Look through this blog at all the posts. Be sure to look at this post: Starting Babywise Late:
      June 26, 2008 11:09 PM
    • BethL513 said...
      I need help with bedtime please! Our 6 week old has been doing great on Babywise since day 1, but after our 4:30pm feeding, things seem to fall apart and change day to day. I nurse and have to supplement after each feeding due to weight gain issues. At 4:30, I nurse on each side and then she takes a 3oz bottle of formula. The last week or so she seems to get hungry again by 6:30 but if I give her 4oz at 4:30, she spits up. She also won't take a nap after the 4:30 feeding. If she does, she won't go down again until much later also throwing things off. So, so far it's working for us to wake up at 4:30, eat twice and then go down at 8ish.At the 6:30 feeding (ideally 7) she takes a 4-5oz. bottle of formula. We then start our nighttime routine of quiet wake time, pajamas or bath, some rocking then to bed by 8.I then wake her up at 10pm and feed her. However, she is VERY sleepy and I can get a full nursing in but she refuses the bottle. When that happens, she's up at 2 starving and will nurse and take a bottle and then sleep until I wake her at 7:30. if I'm lucky enough to get her to take a bottle at 10pm, she'll sleep until 4ish, only nurse and then get up at 7:30. My question is, I hate tanking her up in the middle of the night and having 3-7:30 being her long stretch as that's the feeding we'll hopefully be elinating soon, so I want her nice and full at 10pm but if I struggle too much to make her take the bottle, it just wakes her up and she's hard to get back down. Should I continue what I'm doing and let her get full at 2 and reevaluate at 8 weeks or rearrange our afternoons/evenings and try to get her to take a feeding right at bedtime (8ish) and see what happens? I worry that she'll wake up at 12 and 5 which I'm hesitant about since the 7:30 is working out so well.I wish she would nap from 5:30-7 but she just won't. She'll either scream awhile and fall asleep at like 6:15 or she'll go right down and then not want to sleep until 9:30 or so.Any advice welcome! She'll be 7 weeks on Monday.
      July 24, 2008 2:30 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      Beth,I would put her to bed earlier. Like 7:30. Then maybe she will have had enough sleep to wake more at 10. She also might just not be one to wake at that time. Kaitlyn wasn't at that age. She refused to wake. I fed her around 8ish I think then put her to bed and she woke twice in the night. It isn't ideal, but she slept better that way. I just had to go to bed soon after she did so I could get some sleep :)
      July 25, 2008 2:29 PM
    • The Burkes said...
      This blog site is an absolute treasure! Thank you so much for being willing to serve others with your experiences and advice!! I've passed it on to several Moms. Our LO is 2 months and is sleeping 10 hours through the night. We started BW from day one. Her dreamfeed is at 10pm and most mornings I have to wake her at 8am. Before the dreamfeed I feed her at 8pm. My question is after we drop the 10pm feeding is 8pm still an acceptable bedtime? During this 8pm time she'd eat, stay awake and then be put down? Is that how bedtime works...or should it be feed at 8pm and put her straight down (like dreamfeed)? I hope I'm clear.
      August 22, 2008 1:48 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      You could do it either way based on what your baby needs. What we did was feed, change into PJs, story, prayer, bed. So, there was waketime but not usually as long as other waketimes.
      August 28, 2008 7:53 AM
    • Kelly said...
      My daughter is 7 1/2 weeks. We've been doing BW since birth. She does great except for evenings. Her schedule is 6:30a, 9:30, 12:30 , 3:30, 6, 8:30, 11. She only has 45 min of waketime during the day feedings. After 6 she very rarely naps until 11. I've tried feeding every 2 hours, moving the 11:00 up, using a swing, using a pacifier...Occasionally she'll sleep for an hour somewhere in there but that's rare. This has made establishing bedtime difficult since she doesn't really go to sleep until 11. Did either of your children have an evening fussy time? How would you suggest handling it?
      October 21, 2008 1:53 PM
      Plowmanators said...
      Kelly, Kaitlyn definitely did not have a fussy time. Brayden did until we started BW. I would persevere and keep trying. Try not to stress abou it but keep working on it. Hopefully by now your baby has improved. The first three months are the hardest, so as your baby approaches the 3 month mark, hopefully things are improving.
      November 12, 2008 11:33 AM


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