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Do you want more sleep?   Yes! I need more sleep.

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  1. Juliet says

    I would also like to see some clarification on what is consistent. I aim for 7pm for my 12 month old, but depending on how the rest of his day has gone he sometimes goes to bed 6.45 or 7.15. Early bedtimes are often recommended, so is earlier than normal more acceptable than later than normal? Babies aren’t robots, so there will always be variation from one day to the next, but how much is considered acceptable?

    • Emily DeJeu says

      @ Juliet – don’t worry at all that ‘consistent’ means ‘exactly the same every night’ – it doesn’t! We generally tell people to aim for the same 30 minute window each night – so it sounds like you are hitting that perfectly 🙂 I think that when you’re sleep coaching, it’s a good idea to be a little more rigid, since you’re trying to set new habits, but if your guy is sleeping okay, then I’d say this 30-minute window sounds pretty great!

      Thanks for coming, Juliet! 🙂

  2. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Katharine — I’d say that’s very consistent, especially given your baby’s age! We wouldn’t expect perfect consistency, or anything close to it, at 6 months, since a baby is still sorting out naps and learning how to consolidate sleep at night and stay awake more during the day. So a one-hour window for bedtime is just fine, IMO. What you’ll probably find is that, within the next few months, those naps will sort themselves into more predictable time slots during your day, which will then make it easier to have a pretty regular morning wake-up time as well as a bedtime.

    Sounds like you’re a great mom, Katharine! Keep up the good work!! And thanks for commenting 🙂

    @ Aly – oh, yes, the jack-in-the-box thing. Maddening, isn’t it? The transition from crib to bed was always tough in my house, because my kids just LOVED popping in and out of bed!! Glad to hear, though, that the help you got through the site worked, and that your little ones are sleeping much better – such good news!

    As far as getting them on the same schedule – that’s tough now, but I’ll bet you’ll find that as they get older, their schedules look increasingly similar. Is your 15 month old still on 2 naps, or has she transitioned to one? Once she’s firmly in the ‘one nap zone’, then it should be easier to have your older daughter take a rest during your younger daughter’s nap time, and then (hopefully!) you can get them into bed at roughly the same time.

    Thanks for commenting, Ally! 🙂

  3. Ally says

    I did notice that the actual study was done in 7 year olds who are not likely to be napping! But the comment was then made that particularly 3 year olds have inconsistent bedtimes and as Alison pointed out that could well be related to the transition to no nap. We are in the middle of that at the moment and getting my daughter to sleep before 9 is near imposible.She is a total Jack-in-the-Box! She is almost 4 and her behaviour is clearly linked to how much sleep she gets! But thanks to some hard work, some help from Nicole and a little bit of luck she and her 15 month old sister both sleep through the night pretty much every night. Wish I could get them in sync though!

  4. Katharine says

    How consistent is consistent, as far as bedtime? My 6 month old is still on the program where she can only stay up about 2 hours at a time, so all her naps and sleep times vary depending on when she wakes up each day. But she is almost always going to bed between 6:40 and 7:40. Is that too big of a range to be considered consistent? And if so, how do you recommend getting consistent when we are limited to 2 hours up but all naps are inconsistent lengths?

  5. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Alison — I love these ideas! Good for you, for coming up with a system that works. 🙂

  6. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Alison – that’s a fair point, I think – causation and correlation are very different things. (That’s one thing I managed to retain from my college stats class! 😉 ) And, to some extent, I think you’re right. But I do think there’s a lot of truth in the notion that consistency is an important factor for high-quality sleep. So much of a child’s sleep is based around predictable patterns – that’s why nap and bedtime routines work well.

    As for your daughter’s situation — here’s a word of advice that you can take or leave. I’d suggest that on the days when your daughter naps, you wake her up to ensure that she’s not napping too late in the day. I have to do this with my younger two kids – they both nap sometimes, but not always. But if their naps starts to go too long, I always wake them up, so that we can stay on track for bedtime. As for the early waking — maybe try putting her down for a nap earlier on those days, but again, wake her up if it’s going late. Just some friendly advice, if you do want to try to make bedtime more consistent during this nap transition.

    Thanks for weighing in here, Alison — yours was an insightful comment! 🙂

    @ Heidi — sounds to me like you’re doing things right, by trying to stick to a routine and trying to limit her naps so that they don’t interfere with bedtime. These are all good steps!

    Let me ask – do you want to change this, or is it working okay for you? Sounds like you may be to the point where you’re okay just accepting this, and working with it, which is great! If you do want to work on this, though, we can help. We have a toddler e-book that has lots of good resources (http://www.toddlersleepswell.com).

    Thanks for commenting, Heidi, and for sharing a little bit about what you’re dealing with right now. Nice for moms who are in the same boat to know that they’re not alone! 🙂

    @ Ingrid – this sounds tough! Do you know if he’s napping well at daycare or not? 45 minutes is a little on the short end for a nap… Is his morning nap longer? That one would ideally be at least an hour.

    As for whether or not he’s getting quality sleep – that’s a good question. I don’t think that being a restless sleeper is necessarily a bad sign; that’s probably just the way he’s wired. Do you see any signs that he’s not getting enough sleep? Signs like rubbing eyes/yawning during the day, seeming grumpy or irritable, seeming dazed or ‘hazy’, etc? If not, then he’s probably just fine.

    As for the head banging — I wrote an article not too long ago on that very topic. You can find it here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/toddlers/toddlers-weird-self-soothing-behaviors-explained/ Short version – the head banging is nothing to worry about unless your son is actually hurting himself, or unless you think it’s interfering with the quality of life or with his ability to fall asleep/stay asleep. There are some tips in that article on ways you can deal with the banging, if you feel like you need to.

    Hope this helps, Ingrid! Thanks so much for commenting. 🙂

  7. Alison says

    Heidi, my daughter is the same way. We did make some progress not letting her nap at all (although she still naps at school) and with a sticker chart. What helped us a lot with the sticker chart I think is first doing one for something she was good at and we could remind her about more often (we did saying please). Also I made it a pyramid, and she gets a prize for filling a row with stickers (a few M&Ms); the first row is just one line, then two etc. She now sleeps through a few nights a week, but is still inconsistent. And that is just the way she is I think!

  8. Ingrid says

    My 11 month old is a restless sleeper. He also moans a lot in the middle of the night and bangs his head against the crib a lot! He can do this for 1-2 hrs long! Does this mean he’s not getting the quality sleep? I leave him alone until he cries out loud. Is there a way to help him improve the quality of his sleep? His bedtime is at 645 so I’m not sure where I can improve. Naps are 45min-1hr x2. At daycare it’s worst. Thanks!

  9. Heidi says

    I agree that these 3 key ingredients are important but still find it a struggle with my 3 year old that we stick to the same routine night after night and yet on average it takes 1-1/2 hours for her to fall asleep! I limit her nap to 1 hour during the day. She still wakes at least once during the night for a drink of water and on a good night she will sleep 10 hours. I have tried numerous different things to try and help her (always making sure to give it enough time before switching anything) but I am to the point that I think this is just the type of sleeper she is!

  10. Alison says

    My 3 year old has an inconsistent bedtime because sometimes she takes a nap and sometimes she doesn’t; also sometimes she’s up at 5:30 and other times 6:30 (and this seems independent of bedtime). I suspect that this study was not careful to control for the fact that a lot of kids are in the process of dropping their nap around age 3. It also seems to me that kids with behaviour problems are likely to be harder to get to bed. In other words, I doubt very much that the study shows causation, only correlation, and so we should take the results with a big grain of salt!