One of the key elements in ensuring a happy, healthy sleep routine for you and your baby/toddler is a little flexibility (we all know how life can throw a spanner in the works after all!) – but could too much flexibility be a bad thing? Babies and toddlers thrive on sleep routine, it offers them a safe, reliable and consistent schedule that ushers in the close to a big day and signals the beginning of a whole new day of adventures. However; research in the field, coupled with my personal experience, has shown that consistency is the key to a happy sleep routine for your children and that too much flexibility can actually lead to disturbed sleeping patterns. Of course, absolute rigidity is a stark outlook: a Pesach seder at family or Shabbat dinner isn’t a bad thing, we need these breaks in the routine to keep us connected and fulfilled. But if continual interruptions to your child’s bedtime become a regular occurrence, the sleep cycle can become a nightmare!
An inconsistent schedule can lead to a variety of problems. Feeding at 10am one day and 1pm the next can trigger restlessness in your baby, especially if he/she has a sensitive temperament – and likewise, napping during lunchtime one day but not the next can lead to agitated night time patterns, throwing your baby’s established routine out for the next couple of days! But does this mean that everyday, day in day out, you have to follow the same pattern? Of course not! (Phew!). Flexibility in your baby’s routine is a good thing in small doses; it helps them to adjust to the ever-changing world around them and can introduce them to new and exciting experiences! The key to flexibility is a little goes a long way.
Remember, the big wide world can be overwhelming for your child at times. A well-established sleep routine can significantly reduce their level of stress and anxiety, leading to healthier, happier sleep for the whole family (after all, a good nights sleep for your child is a good nights sleep for you!). Keep this in mind when planning your week and the whole sleep cycle can be a fun, reliable and enriching experience for your family!
Happy (Flexible!) Sleeping!