7 things every parent should know about sleep

1. The single most important skill you can teach children is how to fall asleep on their own without any external help. It is a life skill that is just as important as learning healthy eating habits or the benefits of daily exercise.

2. Consistency is the key. Whatever your method, you need to stick to it. Bedtime and naptime have to be non-negotiable. Sleep is just as important to a child’s health as a nutritious meal.

3. A predictable bedtime routine is an important cue to let the child’s body know that bedtime is near and its time to relax and prepare for nighttime sleep.

4. A short naptime routine will help in creating a relaxing environment that will prepare a child’s mind and body toward the idea of naptime and ease the transition.

5. An early bedtime is the key to avoiding overtiredness and hyperactivity in the evening. Any time between 6 and 8 pm is ideal for most infants and toddlers to be heading for bed.

6. Think of sleep as a continuous 24-hour cycle. Whatever happens at each stage of the day has a direct impact on what happens for the next 24 hours. Think twice about skipping naps and allowing late night bedtimes. It will affect what happens at the next stage of the 24-hour cycle.

7. Infants who are allowed to fall asleep while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding often require this routine when they wake during the night. If possible, avoid letting your child fall asleep while feeding.

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