The National Parenting Center

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Sleep: Your Child & You





Broken nights and too little sleep are parents’ most common complaint. I am going to deal with some of the ways you might be able to prevent nighttime from becoming problem time in your household.

The times at which we fall asleep and wake again have a lot to do with habit. Staying up late means staying up past our usual bedtime, and if you always get 8 hours, you’ll come to feel you need them, where in other circumstances, you could feel just fine on 6.

Your baby and child is going to set into habitual sleep patterns as well, and it’s worthwhile to try and work out the kind of habits you’d like him to form before he has time to form other ones.

Some people like an organized household in which children go to bed and get up at pretty regular hours, and either take naps every day or not at all. Others prefer more flexibility. You can have whichever you decide, as long as you do decide. What you probably can’t have is a mixture.

If your child gets into a clockwork routine all year, you’ll have to shed your vacation plans to fit with it. But if you have him around every evening till he falls asleep on the couch, he won’t take kindly to being banished at seven because your boss is coming for dinner.

Penelope Leach, Ph.D., is one of the world’s most respected (and best-loved) developmental child psychologists. She is most widely known for her best-selling books on child development and parenting. They include Babyhood, Children First: What Society Must Do — and Is Not Doing — for Our Children Today, the classic Your Baby & Child: From Birth to Age Five (now in a new edition for a new generation), and Your Growing Child: From Babyhood Through Adolescence.

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