Summer is officially over around here and it’s time to get back into a long-overdue routine! Whether your kids are going back to the classroom or daycare, starting virtual learning, or beginning homeschooling, having a routine in place helps EVERYONE.
In this episode, I’m discussing how to get your little ones onto a better sleep schedule for school, how to reintroduce a bedtime routine, and how to deal with daycare and their sleep schedules. Have a listen!
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Hey there, you’re listening to the, my sleeping BB podcast, which is all about baby and child sleep. I’m so excited to teach you how you can get your little one sleeping so that you can sleep too and enjoy Parenthood to its fullest. I’m Eva Klein, your resident’s sleep expert, mom of three founder of the sleep Bible, online coaching program, and lover of all things sleep. And if you’re looking for tangible solutions for your little one sleep, where you simply want to learn more, this podcast is for you. For more information, check out mysleepingbaby.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at my @sleepingbaby.
All right, let’s talk about reintroducing a bedtime routine or introducing one, if you’ve never had one before, because you see here in Ontario, kids are back at school this week, which is really exciting. Back at school after almost six months of being off. And so it is only natural that for our little ones to be at home no longer in daycare, no longer in nursery school or regular school for their routines to be a little bit wonky or let’s face it even non-existence, or maybe you do have your little one on a routine or on a schedule, but it is significantly later than it was when your kiddos were in school. And so now that your little ones are either going back to school or starting school very soon, we’re going to want to get them back onto a more proper routine. That’s going to work for the school schedule.
And by the way, this should apply to those of you who are choosing to homeschool or do virtual online learning because chances are, if your little ones are going to have some kind of structured learning environment online, their classes are still going to start first thing in the morning. So if your little one’s routine has been off and you need to do a little bit of tweaking or Ruby or rebooting listen up because this episode is for you. So here are my top tips for you. If you are looking to reintroduce or introduce for the first time, a solid routine and structure for your little one in anticipation of them going back to school or daycare. So step number one, if your little one has been on a later schedule where they have been waking up really late napping, really late, if applicable and going to bed really, really late, your first step is to start waking your little one up a little bit earlier than usual each day.
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So for example, if you know that your child is going to have to be up for the day at seven o’clock in order to be able to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get out the door and get to school on time or get to daycare on time. But maybe right now, he’s usually waking up around eight. I would start waking him up earlier and earlier by about 15 or 20 minute increments every couple days or so to let his body get used to waking up earlier and earlier. So today, if you are listening to this and you’re going, Oh my gosh, my kiddos got to start waking up earlier, start waking him up at seven 45. So 15 minutes earlier than usual. And then what that’s going to allow you to do is it’s going to allow you to shift his nap earlier so that you can then get him to bed a little bit earlier.
It all starts with that morning wake time. And then the day after that, or maybe two days after that, wake him up for the day at seven 30. So that this way, once again, you will be able to shift your little one’s nap time if applicable another 15 minutes earlier, which will allow you to bump bedtime 15 minutes earlier, simply trying to nap your little one earlier. If he’s waking up for the day later is likely going to backfire because he’s not going to be tired enough to be able to actually fall asleep nicely for his nap. If he’s waking up so late for the day, remember kiddos need to be up for a specific period of time before they’re going to actually be tired enough. And in sleep terms, build up and build up enough sleep pressure for them to be able to go back to sleep and sleep for, you know, a decent period of time.
So what needs to all come down to that morning, wake time. And so keep waking your little one up earlier and earlier until you get to your desired wake time, which for argument’s sake, let’s say that that’s seven o’clock. And then at that point you can hit the pause button and keep things consistent. Now, maybe on the weekends, you can let your little one sleep in a little bit later than usual, but I wouldn’t recommend letting them sleep in significantly later than usual, because that’s likely going to backfire Monday morning when your little one’s got to wake up at seven o’clock again, and he’s going to be bloody exhausted.
Now what’s also going to help with this whole process where you are shifting your little one’s biological clock earlier is to try to expose them to very minimal natural or artificial lights in those early evening hours. When presumably you’re going to want your little one’s going to sleep. You see light is a very powerful sleep tool because it tells our bodies when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to go to sleep. And so if you want your little one to start to learn or their bodies for that matter to search, to learn and understand that seven to seven 30 is morning. Then when you wake, wake your little one up for the day, make sure to open up the blinds, turn on the lights, expose her body to as much natural and artificial light as you can within reason so that her body begins to get the message that 7:00 AM is morning, and it’s not still nighttime.
And by that tone, I will also say that the opposite applies to the evening. And so if your little one is used to being up until nine o’clock every night, and you know, eight to eight 30 is still considered daytime by that hour, you know, eight to eight 30. Even if you haven’t completed the schedule shifting process yet, I would still encourage you to start to take your little ones inside, even though the sun might still be beaming, depending on where you live in the world, start to dim the lights. So, you know, try not to have all the lights on in your house, try to, you know, turn them off or keep them on a dimmer. So that it’s, once again, sending a clear message to your little one’s body. That that ime of day is now actually nine time. It’s going to really help expedite this process where we are basically shifting your little one’s biological clock earlier as if they are stuck in the wrong time zone.
All right, so that’s tip number one, tip number two is reintroduce a bedtime routine. Or if you don’t have a bedtime routine, if you never had one, even before this pandemic, then introduce one for the very first time. There is no better time, like the present to have a wind down routine for your little one, regardless of how old he might be. Three weeks, three years, six years, all babies and children benefit from having a wind down routine. In fact, when you think about it, you probably also have a wind down routine, right? I mean, I know that what I think about it, I have a bedtime routine for sure. I get into my pajamas. I wash my face. I put on my lotion, I brushed my teeth. I take my vitamins pretty much in that exact same order. And each of those steps basically cues me and cues.
My brain that sleep time is coming. Ultimately making it much easier for me to fall asleep. And so I do recommend that you introduce some kind of wind down routine. Now I know that a lot of parents tend to shy away from bedtime routines because they’re afraid of them. They think that they need to be this whole long, drawn out 45 to 60 minute long ordeal where it’s just this torture is never ending step-by-step marathon. When the reality is that that doesn’t need to be the case. You know, let me tell you something. My son who’s now going to be two very soon has had the exact same routine or a similar version of the routine since he was basically a month old. So I would, when he was a month old, I would nurse him and then I would change his diaper. And then I would, you know, take him into, well, our room.
Cause he was sleeping in our room at the time, swaddle him up, sing him a good night song. And I was able to put him down, you know, drowsy but awake with his pacifier while I was thinking the bedtime song. Now the routine has gotten a little bit more intricate now that he is too, it’s evolved. Let’s just say, and so now what the routine looks like is I get him into his pajamas. I give him a bottle, he drinks his bottle. While we read a couple of stories, he’s recently taken a huge interest in books. And so I’ll read him some books. I then put the bottle in the fridge. We say goodnight to it. He says goodnight to my husband and to my aunt, to my girls waves to everybody. I take him upstairs, get him into his sleep sack, sing to him a good night song, place them into the Crip.
That is his bedtime routine. And it does not need to be significantly more complicated than that. You just need to have a specific sequence of events that is going to cue your little ones that sleep time is coming, which by the way, research shows is going to make it much easier for them to settle at bedtime. And what’s actually really cool. There was a study that was done a little while ago, where they had a few hundred kids in the three week to six year range. So a pretty big range and they divided the kids into two groups. One group was the one group was the control group. So there were no changes in that group. The other group, they, the parents of these kids introduce it introduced a bedtime routine of some client within three weeks, three weeks guys, the group of kids that had a bedtime routine introduced, began falling asleep more quickly and had significantly noticeably less night wakings than the control group with no bedtime routine guys.
This stuff is really, really powerful. And so for my, my older ones, you know, my girls are now going, are almost and nine. And so they’re going into grade two and grade four. And so they’ve got a bedtime routine as well, where they get themselves into pajamas. They will read some books, have some quiet activities. You know, my older one likes to draw. She’s really gotten into drawing lately. And then I brushed their teeth. They brush their teeth, my younger daughter, I, you know, tuck in, still sing a good night song to her. And then, you know, my older one usually likes to draw a little bit. That’s her like relaxing activity that she likes to do by herself before she goes to sleep. And so she has a dimmer on, in her room so that she can draw quietly for a few minutes and then puts herself to sleep.
But I still say, give her a hug and a kiss beforehand. So, you know, that’s a perfect example, right? It’s really not so intricate. Sometimes my younger one will ask me to read her a story. Um, you know, if I’m reading a book to my son, to my almost two year old, she’ll want to hear a story as well. It does not have to be substantially more complicated than that. And so my suggestion would be to introduce a routine by having a specific sequence of events that you would find enjoyable as well. And so what I would also recommend is if, for example, if you’re introducing books or stories as part of the wind down routine that have a specific number on the number of books that you’re going to read so that the routine does not drag on and on and on and stick to that number, be firm about it, pick whatever number you’re comfortable with. If it’s two stories then by hook or by crook, your little one is getting two stories. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for a very big power struggle. So if you need to put those boundaries around some of those activities so that you ensure that your bedtime routine is enjoyable for everyone yourself included and that it doesn’t drag on, make sure that you do that.
All right. So tip number three is for those of you who are sending your little ones back to daycare. So if you are sending your little one back to daycare, make sure that you have open communication with your daycare about your little ones nap schedule, because those of you who have been following me and know what I stand for and know how important sleep hygiene is, you’ll know that ensuring your little one is napping when he needs to be napping so that he doesn’t get over tired. And so that he can sleep well at night is really, really important. And so I would just make sure off the bat to have open communication, explain to your little ones childcare provider, what kind of schedule that she is on, you know, maybe when she woke up for the day when she would typically be tired and see if there is any room for flexibility, with regards to their schedule.
Most of the time I find that daycares will work with you because let’s face it. They know that when your little one is well rested and on a great schedule or on the schedule that she needs, it’s going to make their job easier because then they only need to be taking care of a, a well rested baby as opposed to a cranky overtired baby. So it is definitely in everyone’s best interest, including theirs to have your little one on the schedule that she needs and just make sure to really have those lines of communication open, because if they’re your daycare provider, um, wants to be putting your little one on a schedule that you know is just not going to work, being able to sit down and talk to them about it and express your concerns and see what can be done and what kind of flexibility they can offer and what, and whether or not they can work with you is really going to go a long way.
And so I’m a big advocate of picking and choosing your battles. And this is about all that you’re going to want to choose that you’re going to want to pick because the alternative is to allow them to continue to let your little one sleep on a, not so great schedule and that can very easily impact the nights. And I’ll just give you an example. There was somebody in my online sleep coaching program, the sleep Bible who had her little one in a, a daycare center. I think this child was about 18 months and they had all the toddler’s napping once a day, around 1130 in the morning, which in my opinion is way too early. The main problem with that kind of schedule is that at 1130 nap means that they’re going to end their nap very early. Let’s say by one 30 or two o’clock.
And then this baby is going to be really tired for bed by six or six 30. And for your average working parent, putting them to bed for the night at six or six 30 is just not practical on top of that. Even if they are able to get them to bed for six o’clock, your little one might only sleep 11 hours at night and then wake up for the day at 5:00 AM. Well rested guys. This is about all that you want to be picking. And thankfully this member of mine did pick that battle. Did sit down with the director of this daycare center expressed her concerns explained why this was so problematic, not only for her child, but for the other babies in this group. And guess what guys, this daycare provider ended up switching the schedule because they recognize just how much of a problem it is. So pick and choose your battles. This is a battle worth picking and choosing and fighting for it because let’s remember sleep is everything.
So to summarize your little ones are all going back to some kind of school related routine, presumably. And so if that’s the case, you’re going to want you either introduce or reintroduce some routine and structure for your little ones. And so that means a start waking your little ones up earlier for the day. If they’ve been going to bed too late, and they’ve been on a later schedule B introduce or reintroduce a bedtime routine to help them wind down and see have open lines of communication with your daycare provider so that you can ensure that your little one when at daycare is on a fantastic wickedly awesome sleep schedule. That’s about it. Thanks so much for tuning in guys.
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a review and share this episode with a friend who can benefit from it. I also love hearing from my listener. So feel free to DM me on Instagram @mysleepingbaby, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org until next time, have a wonderful restful nights.
Want to get your little one consistently sleeping 11-12 hours at night so you can be a functioning human?