Although not all parents do so, I believe that keeping children on a routine sleep schedule helps build structure that babies and toddlers need. Because our oldest is now three years old, we are a bit more lax with him, but the twins follow the same schedule every night.
Tips for following a schedule:
- As the kids get older, don’t let them take really long naps.
- Have dinner ready at the same time every night.
- Limit snacking and drinking after dinner.
- Play, read and, give lots of attention to the children after dinner.
- Have bath time at the same time every night. We give baths between 6:30 and 7:00. If it gets too late, they usually get crabby.
- Allow a few minutes after bath time for running off extra energy.
- Read to them in their beds.
- Play music as a timer, and once the music has stopped, it is time for bed.
- Kiss them good night, and tell them you’ll be listening and checking on them.
It is also important to let babysitters know that your children are on a schedule, and ask them to try and adhere to it. Your kids will feel more comfortable having a familiar schedule, especially if they are unfamiliar with the sitter. This will definitely help you in the long run!