Balancing Life with Healthy Sleep for Your Child

Once you’ve got your little one on solid footing with respect to having a healthy relationship with sleep, it can be challenging to test the waters and step away from the routine and schedule that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.  And really, when things are going well from a sleep perspective, who in their right mind wants to rock that boat?

When working with clients, I always ask for a minimum of three week’s dedication to a consistent sleep environment, routine and timing of sleep to give their little one the absolutely best chance of settling into a stronger sleep pattern, which will then become their norm. It’s important to consider that each baby, toddler or child is unique in terms of how quickly they will settle in and draw comfort from the new pathway for sleep and really, I believe that to be fair. When we consider rolling, crawling, standing or language skills, as parents, I believe we accept that each child will move at their own pace…same should be considered for sleep.

Once you are past that initial few weeks though, many families are ready to test the sleep waters…whether that means shifting the timing of a nap, having a nap on-the-go, or pushing bedtime a bit later. The time will come when attending a birthday party, a doctor’s appointment or family event will impact sleep routines and really, not each and every day can revolve around sleep. So, now what?

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The 80/20 Rule for Sleep

Simply put, it’s about finding a balance that allows you and your family to get out and “live life” while still respecting the healthy guidelines for sleep that your little one has come to rely on and draw comfort from. If we were to consider a week’s worth of sleep, 80% of the time you would continue to make sleep a priority. Your baby/child is still offered sleep at the times of day that best compliments their natural sleep rhythms and in an environment that is stationary and conducive to deep sleep. And the other 20% of the time, we don’t. We push a nap. Bump a bedtime. Catch a nap on-the-go.

The Result?  

It’s really depends on the child.

Robust sleepers don’t seem phased by a sidetrack to their regular routines. While it may take them a little longer to settle in for that nap on-the-go or down for sleep at bedtime, they are able to keep on track sleep-wise with very little impact.

Sensitive Sleepers tend to let you know what their threshold is pretty quick. It may be that deviating from their sleep norm doesn’t go as well as planned and it means for a more difficult time for sleep that evening and into the next day. You may find (through process of elimination) that a nap on-the-go isn’t a big deal, but that bumping bedtime just isn’t worth it. You’ll only know when you try.

The key to it all is to remain calm and confident in your approach and if things go sideways, get right back on track the following day and be sure to compensate with an early bedtime until they have settled in once again. It’s a reasonable goal to have “life” and healthy sleep intermingle successfully, and keeping that 80/20 philosophy in the back of your mind when planning life’s activities can lead to a much smoother road than you might have thought possible.

Written by a Good Night Sleep Site Consultant.

Good Night Sleep Site provides free child and family sleep support through FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We invite you to join our sleep community as we work towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site

Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Expert of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast and author of ‘This Baby Loves Sleep’. Alanna has established the world-wide brand of Good Night Sleep Site as being a #1 sleep resource for families and her and her team of sleep consultants strive in helping families (baby to adults) and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at www.goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram - @GNSleepSite.

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