Splashing on the beach. Ice cream before dinner. Concerts in the park. Summer is filled with wonderful experiences for families. Less wonderful, though, is trying to get your overtired kids to sleep when the sun is still shining and there’s so many exciting things to do. Dealing with a cranky baby or toddler who’s off her sleep schedule can be a challenge. Fortunately, Nicole Johnson, founder of The Baby Sleep Site, has shared this great guest post filled with useful suggestions for getting your kids to sleep at a normal hour.
Dialing Back Those Overly Late Baby and Toddler Summer Bedtimes
by Nicole Johnson, President and Founder of The Baby Sleep Site®
Summer is here! But while summertime can be fun, those long, lazy days of summer may be seriously messing with your baby or toddler’s inner sleep clock. The combination of relaxed schedules and extended hours of sunlight can spell disaster for your child’s usual sleep schedule.
Today, we’ll take a look at how you can dial back those overly late summer bedtimes and help get your baby or toddler to bed at a reasonable hour. Keep reading for details!
Here’s Why Your Child Isn’t Sleeping Well So Far This Summer
Now, it’s important to remember that there are two possible reasons your baby or toddler is resisting her normal bedtime over the summer:
- Your baby or toddler really is tired and ready for sleep, but is fighting it due to long summer days and fun summer playtime.
- Your baby or toddler really isn’t tired at her usual bedtime; the longer days and shorter nights have reset her internal clock.
It’s important to make the distinction, because each of these demands a different response. You don’t want to put a wide-awake child down for bed; nor do you want to let your child get overly sleepy.
Dialing Back Overly Late Summer Bedtimes
Once you know why your baby or toddler is resisting bedtime more than usual this summer, you can decide how to respond.
If you think your baby or toddler really isn’t tired enough for bed at his usual bedtime…
…then one option to deal with the bedtime delay is to simply embrace it. Set up a “downtime” routine in the evening, in which your baby or toddler works on puzzles, looks at books, or does some other quiet activities. Set bedtime 30 minutes to an hour later than usual, and allow this quiet time to be a long, slow wind-down before you finally put your child to bed. Doing this will reduce frustration for both of you.
If you know that your baby or toddler really IS tired at her normal bedtime, but is simply resisting sleep…
…then you’ll definitely want to take steps to get your child in bed at the usual time, in order to ward off overtiredness. Here are two things you can try:
- Have your child nap earlier: Depending on the age of your baby, you can try shifting naps earlier so your baby or toddler is more tired at bedtime, which (ideally) will mean she will sleep regardless of the sun being up. (Of course, you don’t want to time the nap so early that your child is overtired by bedtime… it’s a delicate balance.)
- Darken your child’s room: To promote an earlier bedtime, AND sleeping later in the morning, try darkening your child’s room using room-darkening shades. Be advised, however, that the results of darkening your child’s sleep environment aren’t instantaneous. You need to start your quiet and darkened activities up to an hour before bedtime, and you need to allow at least a few days or a week for the room-darkening to re-set your baby’s sleep clock. Having a darkened room does extend night sleep later in the morning, too, since those room-darkening shades will prevent early-morning sunlight from waking your child.
For more sleep help, including sleep through the night tips you can put to use all year long, in every season, check out my free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night! This e-book is 100% free and is available instantly, which means you can put the tips inside to work as early as your child’s next bedtime!
Nicole Johnson is a married mother of two wonderful boys and owner of The Baby Sleep Site. When her eldest son was born, he had a lot of sleep problems – he would wake every one or two hours, all night long! She got busy and thoroughly researched literature and scientific reports until she became an expert in sleep methods, scheduling routines, baby developmental needs, and more. She overcame her son’s sleeping issues in a way that matched her own parenting style, and knew it was her mission to help other tired parents “find their child’s sleep.” If you have your own sleep issues, Nicole and her team at The Baby Sleep Site® can help! Learn more by visiting www.babysleepsite.com, or by following The Baby Sleep Site® on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.