Should a Child Be On a Nap Schedule? Or Not?Sep 08, 2023
We know those sleepless nights can be a real struggle. It's like a never-ending cycle of diaper changes, feeding, and trying to get your little one to sleep.
Then we add in all this conflicting information when it comes to putting a child on a schedule.
Do you follow waketimes?
Are sleepy cues the right guidance?
Do we need to force a kid on a schedule?
I think we dive into the answer to the question "Should my child be on a Schedule?" It's time to explain what we mean by schedule.
There are TWO main types of schedules. There are TIME-BASED schedules where a child has naps based on times only regardless of length of naps or time of wake up. Then there are WAKETIME-BASED schedules where a child has naps based on waketimes applied to time of waking.
These are BOTH schedules of which is appropriate for a type of child. When we do find the right type of schedule it can be to start for establishing a schedule for your baby can make a world of difference, and we've got the evidence to back it up!
So, surprise, surprise, the answer is YES. Every child should be on SOME type of schedule based on not just their gestational age, but also what their sleep needs (or their capacity for sleep).
Understanding Circadian Rhythms
First off, let's talk about circadian rhythms. These are like our body's internal clocks that tell us when it's time to be awake and when it's time to sleep. Babies, however, are not born with fully developed circadian rhythms. They're like tiny humans trying to figure out the whole sleep thing.
Quality sleep matters.
Now, here's where the schedule comes into play. Research shows that babies need both quality and quantity of sleep for their growth and development. Without a schedule, they might take short naps throughout the day, missing out on the deep, restorative sleep they really need.
Predictability is key.
Ever noticed how things seem to go smoother when your baby knows what's coming next? That's where predictability comes in. Studies have found that having a schedule helps babies fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer. It's like telling them, "Hey, it's naptime," and their little bodies know exactly what to do.
Here's another cool thing. Babies don't naturally know how to regulate their sleep cycles early on. But a schedule can help teach them. When they have a routine, they start to learn when it's time to sleep and when it's time to wake. It's like sleep training without the tears.
Better nighttime sleep
Who doesn't love a good night's sleep? Well, schedules can help with that too. When your baby naps well during the day, they're more likely to sleep longer stretches at night. Imagine not having to wake up every hour to soothe them back to sleep—that's the power of scheduling!
Healthy growth and development
Last but not least, let's talk about growth. Sleep is when your baby's body does a lot of growing and repairing. So, when they get the right amount of sleep, it sets them up for healthy growth and development.
In a nutshell, schedules are like magic for your baby's sleep. They help them get the rest they need, they make life more predictable (and easier for you!), and they set the stage for better sleep habits down the road. Sure, it might take a bit of time to establish, but trust us, it's worth it.
So, if you're tired of those sleepless nights, consider giving scheduling a try. It's like giving the gift of better sleep to both you and your baby. And remember, consistency and a schedule that is biologically aligned is the secret sauce to making it work!
If you want to dive deeper into the world of baby sleep schedules and get expert tips, stay tuned for our upcoming webinar. We've got your back, tired moms!
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