When Benjamin Franklin said: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” he wasn’t talking about babies!
When working with families to get sleep on track (or back on track) more often than not, parents have a hard time with my encouragement of an early bedtime. I understand thats its really hard to wrap your head around putting your baby or child to bed before the sun even goes down. Trust me, I honestly do get it but it wouldn’t be something that I would ask families unless I knew all the benefits of an earlier bedtime.
Babies and children up to a certain age really have no concept of “time”. Yes, there are times throughout the day which are biologically better for babies and children to be sleeping but when it comes to going to bed, if your child is tired, why do we have this misconception that we need to put them to bed at an hour in which we feel is a “normal bedtime”? Why do we keep pushing them?
We need to understand that our little ones need more sleep than we do. 4 + month old babies can sleep up to 12 hours a night with up to 4 hours of sleep during the day! Babies have so much more going on developmentally than we do as adults. They need that much sleep!
The more we push our kids, the more overtired they can become in turn, making it much more difficult to fall asleep and then stay asleep throughout the night. As I mentioned above, kids don’t really have a concept of time. They don’t know thats its 6PM or 9PM, all they know is that they’re tired. An earlier bedtime will not cause an earlier wake up in the morning. It will actually encourage a later wake up time and a much better quality/restorative of sleep throughout the night.
I know that for many families, an earlier bedtime may not be feasible due to work schedules, etc. I always suggest that on weekends and days where it is possible, don’t hesitate to put them to bed early. While we can’t “catch up on sleep” we can always keep our children better rested when we are able too.
The bottom line, don’t be afraid of an early bedtime! It will not only help your child be better rested, it will help the family as a whole.