You may have seen this meme a time or two:
All jokes aside, the scenario shown in this meme are expected and totally normal for young children! The ability to “sleep in” does not typically occur until later on in childhood, closer to around school age.
Therefore, the most ideal way for your child to catch up on sleep or recoup from a late night or skipped nap, is to provide your child with an early bedtime. They truly are magical! And when I say early, I mean early. Usually between 6-7:30 pm for infants and toddlers, or even earlier if need be.
If your child goes to sleep much later than this and sleeps well, awesome! However, this is not usually the case for most families. We have all seen our children act wired and absolutely bonkers before bedtime. When this happens, it usually means they’ve hit their second wind and have missed their “sleep window” or their most optimal time for sleep. Pay attention to the clock when this occurs and practice implementing bedtime 30 minutes or so before this occurs. The most common cause of night wakings and early wakings is a late bedtime.
When I talk to most parents about early bedtimes, they are usually very skeptical, and that’s okay. Some common misconceptions regarding early bedtimes are that;
MYTH- Your child will wake up earlier- That is actually not the case! Early bedtimes = later mornings. Later bedtimes= early mornings… and usually a cranky rest of the day. I see this time and time again with children. If your child skips their nap, had a later night, or was up frequently from a cold, follow up with an extra early bedtime to cushion lost sleep.
MYTH- You need to keep your child awake or up late in order for them to sleep- This is also not true. Sleep begets sleep, meaning that by keeping your child awake, you are likely to end up with an overtired child which results in a child who fights sleep even more.
Additional benefits of early bedtimes;
If your child was once going to bed later than the times mentioned above and was sleeping fine but is now fighting bedtime, taking longer to fall asleep and/or is waking early, definitely move bedtime up! Late bedtimes work, until they don’t. Our personal preferences don’t always align with our children’s internal clock. You will likely see an improvement within a few days to a week of maintaining an early bedtime.
It can get you through a nap or sleep regression and can make the difference between surviving the day and total chaos.
Here’s a list of some notable sleep regressions that your child may experience;
4 months old
9 months old
12 months old
18 months old
2 years old
Every child has different sleep needs, so while some children may only struggle with naps, others may have increased night wakings and simply don’t want to sleep. Remain consistent and it will pass!!
If you’re looking for one-on-one help with your child’s sleep, please see my sleep services page if your child is over 4 months of age. If they are younger than 4 months, consider my guidebook The Newborn Nest. The methods in this guidebook had my daughter sleeping 12 hours by 13 weeks.
Remember mama, you’ve got this!
One mama bird to another