Time for Sleep..A Guide for First Time Parents
By Ryan Sorensen
If you don't want to fight your two year old for space in your own bed, you must start early in establishing good bedtime habits. Good bedtime habits will allow your child the comfort that he or she needs to fall asleep in their own room by themselves. Good bedtime habits for your child are the gift that keeps giving because it pays off with better sleep and more comfort for you as parents.
First time parents always have anxieties about putting their child to bed in their own bedroom for the first time. Mothers may be anxious about their baby growing up so quickly and leaving the comfort of the bassinette that is right next to the bed. Both parents may feel uneasy about the baby being alone in a big dark room. The biggest cause of anxiety may just be the unknown amount of time it will take before your child goes to bed without crying hysterically before falling asleep. Hopefully some advice from a parent that has been through this stage already can help ease the anxiousness.
Bedtime is no different than anything else in a child's life. Children love habits and they need a comfort level with something before they will accept it. Schedules are very important! Try to put your child to bed at the same time each night, preferably before they are overtired and cranky. Overtired children aren't themselves and they are less apt to learn if they are crying or throwing a tantrum.
After scheduling a bedtime, make sure that you set up a bedtime "plan". This begins from the time that you tell your child it is almost bedtime. Consistency is the key. Make sure you set up a plan that is reasonable in time (not too long so as to get the child overtired and not too short that the child doesn't get to adjust from playtime to bedtime).
The following is the plan that we still use with our 4-year-old daughter (and our 2-year- old daughter) that works very well:
- Announce that it is bedtime.
- Diapers changed/pajamas put on.
- Brush teeth.
- Go into child's room (make sure before bedtime all necessary blankets, books, etc. are in the room).
- Sit down and read two books (let the child pick which two books).
- Turn on white noise sound maker.
- Turn off light.
- Sing two songs.
- Lay the child in bed, tell the child good night and leave the room immediately, closing the door behind.
This plan might not work for everyone, but it has consistently performed well for my wife and me. The key is consistency in the routine. Doing the same thing every night and at approximately the same time will allow bedtime to become another habit that the child will be comfortable with.
About The Author
Ryan Sorensen is a married father of two girls ages 4 1/2 and 2. During the day he works as a Controller for a Software Engineering Company in Troy, Michigan and is also co-owner of Jolie's Boutique (see http://www.joliesonline.com).
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