Top 5 sleep routine (and sleep training) tips for parents with small children

Top 5 sleep routine (and sleep training) tips for parents with small children

After many tears, trial and error, I'm happy to say that my three boys consistently sleep well each night. When you have more than one baby you quickly realize how truly individual each child is. Some children are more spirited than others, and each one has different needs and bedtime negotiation tactics! As parents, we know there isn't always one answer for all kids. 

After trying many sleep training methods with my second child and none of them working, I knew I didn't want to risk more sleepless nights with my third. I used the Calmmother feeding and sleep program to transition my third baby on a good sleep routine. It is much easier to gently put your baby on a sleep routine when it's the only thing they know, compared to breaking the well-established sleep habits of a toddler, preschooler or school-aged child. 

Our top 5 tips for sleep training babies over one year, toddlers and small children are below.

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3 things to create a consistent bedtime routine for children

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I can still remember my three boys were all under the age of 4 and putting them to bed. Developing and following a consistent feeding and sleep routine was an absolute necessity (mostly to preserve my sanity!). Even though my boys are older now, our bedtime schedule hasn't changed very much. Me being out of the house for an evening doesn't have an impact on our well-established bedtime routine because they know the drill.

These are our top 3 tips for creating and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine for children.

1.     Create bedtime routine ASAP! 

Hopefully you've figure out what sleep habits work for you and your family when your baby is a newborn or soon after. This is particularly helpful if you also have older children with their own scheduled activities. Know what is convenient and your preferences in terms of after school activities, your bedtime routine (dinner, playtime, bath time, snack time and story time), and what bedtime and breakfast times fit within your family's schedule.

If you have more then one child with varied age gaps, you may want to choose a bedtime routine starting point that is based on the youngest child. For example, if you have a a 15 month old and a 4 year old and bedtime for the 15 month old is 7pm, consider having the 4 year old start quiet time at 7pm, either playing quietly or reading in their room and go down for bed at 7:30pm. Staggering bedtimes helps mom and dad out and also allows for each child to get some individual parent time. 

2.     Be consistent

Whatever sleep routine you choose, make sure that you are executing it in the same order every night as often as possible. Little children do well when they know what is expected and what is coming up next. So having a snack follower by bath time, brushing teeth, story and then bedtime allows them to know what to expect next (and also less whining and asking for things outside of the routine).

3.     Do not negotiate

If you give an inch, they may try to take a mile. If you build a snack, drink of water or potty into the bedtime rountine your child can't ask to get out of bed for the toilet, a bedtime snack or a drink after you have put them to bed.

For potty training purposes, transitioning to a small snack before bed rather than a drink can be helpful to avoid accidents at night. See this post about potty training.

Visit our FAQs page about feeding and sleep for babies and children.

Feeding and sleep Q&A - When your baby stops sleeping through the night

One of the most common questions we receive is what you do when your baby is consistently sleeping through the night and then starts to wake up again. Here are our top three tips for making sure your baby gets back on track without having to deal with any tears!

Find our more about our baby feeding and sleep program here