3 Tips to Build a Consistent Sleep Schedule for Babies and Toddlers

  • March 9, 2016

Spring is almost here! And if you’re like me, that means bike rides and playing outside and windows open…..and spring cleaning. (Yes, it’s no fun, but there is nothing like a burst of good cleaning to make you feel like spring has sprung both outside and inside your home!)

But did you know that spring cleaning isn’t just for your house? You can “spring clean” your baby or toddler’s sleep habits, too; in fact, I always think spring is a great time to work on sleep coaching. One great “spring cleaning” step that’s easy to take is to work on your child’s daily schedule.

Keep reading for 3 easy steps you can take to brush the dust off your child’s schedule and make it spic and span again!

3 Easy Steps To Build a Consistent Sleep Schedule For Your Baby or Toddler

1. Establish a (mostly) regular bedtime. First, work on getting your baby or toddler to bed at about the same time each night. This doesn’t have to be exact (in fact, there are times when my team of consultants will actually recommend moving bedtime around, based on naps). A 30-minute bedtime window is fine. But sticking to that bedtime window is important – if your little one’s bedtime is erratic, it can have big repercussions when it comes to behavior and to overall sleep quality.

2. Establish a regular “wake-up window”. Your baby or toddler’s morning wake time is important, too – it sets the schedule for the entire day. If your baby or toddler isn’t awake within the designated “wake up” window (which should, like bedtime, be about 30 minutes long), then it’s a good idea to wake her up. If she wakes too early, then try to keep her content, but avoid getting her up and out of bed until it’s wake-up time. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re having to frequently wake your baby from sleep in order to stick to the schedule, you may need to rework the schedule itself. Waking your baby from sleep should be a temporary solution, not a long-term one.

3. Establish ONE regular nap time. Once you have a pretty consistent bedtime and wake-up time going, work on establishing a consistent time-frame for ONE of your baby or toddler’s naps. Note the “one” – you don’t want to jump from zero consistent naps to working on 4 or 5, as that will only serve to stress you and your baby out! Instead, start working on just one nap initially. The first nap of the day is usually the best one to work on. It tends to be the longest and most restorative nap, and as long as your baby or toddler is waking at about the same time each day, it should be pretty easy to time it up. Once that nap is fairly consistent, you could start work on the first afternoon nap.

Of course, all of this is much easier to put on paper than it is to actually accomplish. You may need some extra resources to help you work towards a better daytime nap and feeding schedule. The Baby Sleep Site® Members Area is a great place to start; it’s a giant virtual library packed full of schedule resources, including:

  • a custom, members-only schedule maker — simply input your child’s age and wake-up time, and you’ll get a custom schedule complete with naps and feeding times!
  • digital access to my nap-focused ebook, Mastering Naps & Schedules
  • How To Put Your Baby or Toddler On A Nap Schedule, a tele-seminar featuring yours truly!
  • Short Naps – When, Why, and How To Lengthen tele-seminar

Learn more about membership HERE.

In the meantime, for immediate nap & scheduling help, try downloading my free nap guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes. It’ll outline 7 typical nap and schedule problems, and offer tips to help you correct them. It’s 100% free and available instantly, which means you can put the tips in it to work as early as your child’s next nap!

This post contains affiliate links.

If you found these tips to help get your baby or toddler on a consistent sleep schedule helpful, please share them on Pinterest!

Spring cleaning isn't just for your house - you can spring clean your baby or toddler's sleep habits, too. In fact, we think spring is a fabulous time to work on sleep coaching. From establishing a regular bedtime routine and wakeup time, to building a consistent nap schedule, these easy tips are your ticket to creating a consistent sleep schedule for your baby or toddler.

And if you’re looking for more sleep tips and tricks, please follow our Sleeping Children board where we share all kinds of fabulous advice!

Nicole Johnson is the President of The Baby Sleep Site®, which was founded in 2008. The Baby Sleep Site is the internet's leading resource on baby and toddler sleep with over 1 million visitors each month. Nicole and her team offer professional, sound support that works. Maybe they can help you, too!