It is usually inevitable that babies will become fussy when it comes time to sleep at night. This is sometimes seen in newborns, but many times it will happen when the child becomes older and more aware of his surroundings as well.
As babies grow older and begin to learn to play and watch TV, they sometimes want to continue with those activities at all times into the night and they become difficult to deal with when bedtime comes around.
Parents dealing with these problems will experience a great deal of frustration since it may take as much as an hour or two before their baby finally settles in and falls asleep. Meanwhile, your routine will be altered, you will wake up tired as you still have to wake up at the same time for work the next day and your patience and frustration level will be tested when nothing you try seems to work.
So what steps can a frustrated parent take to correct a fussy baby at bedtime? And, if you have not yet experienced this problem, what can you do to prevent it in the first place?
The most important technique to control bedtime fussiness, as well as fussiness at dinner time, bathing time, etc. is to setup a strict routine for the child. I cannot underscore the importance of having a routine enough for positive child development.
Children need structure and discipline in their lives, even at an early age. It is this structure that helps them adapt to school, work and life in general as they grow. It creates balance and a sense of responsibility that become the foundation for them as they face the outside world.
So when is the best time to start to set up a routine for your children? Well, the best time is now. Whether the baby is a few months old, a year old, or even older. It is never too early nor too late to start to set up a routine for your child.
If you are having difficulty putting together a schedule for the baby, just sit down with a paper and pen and list all the things that you would like to accomplish daily with your child. That list will include waking up, all the different feedings, play time, nap time, bed time and any other activity throughout the day that you determine to be essential. Map all these out with an exact time that they should occur and even if you have a tough time adhering to a schedule yourself. Force yourself to strictly comply with the set schedule. Not only will your child develop good habits, but you will get the side benefit of a better structure in your own life.
At the beginning it will undoubtably be difficult to stay within the schedule, but it is very important that you follow it religiously as it will instill a sense of structure in the baby that will begin to change his bad habits.
During the schedule learning phase, give yourself a time range for all activities rather than a strict time. In other words, wake up time might be from 7:00am to 7:15am and breakfast might start between 7:15-7:30am. As the child becomes more accustomed to the routine, the range can tighten up and wake up time will become 7:00am followed by breakfast at 7:15am. The flexibility is needed at the beginning since the baby is not used to the schedule and will likely be rebellious at first. As he adapts, it will become easier to adhere to a tighter schedule.
Within the daily schedule you should also pay close attention to the order of your child’s daytime activities. More physical activities, including play time should be moved up during the day so that the baby has had enough time to wind down by bedtime. As it gets closer to bedtime, give them activities that progressively build up to their sleep time. It is best to have nap time during mid day followed by play time. As the day turns into evening, have the activities become more sedentary, such as dinner time followed by watching their favorite show, followed by story time then bed time.
When this progression is built into their routine, babies will start becoming conditioned to a routine which leads to a peaceful and uneventful bedtime.
It is still important to find ways to stimulate the child throughout the day so they won’t be craving that stimulation come bedtime. Even with having a daily routine that they know they must follow, the baby still has to have plenty of time to work off his energy by playing and running around. They need to be able to play with their favorite toys and watch their favorite TV shows.
Also, introduce new stimulants into their lives. Take the baby out to the mall so he can play with other small children. Take him for walk around the block in his stroller so he can explore his surroundings and see new things. Take him to the park every once in a while. Sometimes, kids act out their own frustrations out of a need for change and they do so before bed time because they want new adventures and feel like they will be missing out on them by going to sleep. You can feed this sense of adventure as a parent by introducing these new activities little by little and keeping their interests peaked.
Learning to control bedtime fussiness and eventually eliminate it is all about creating a routine, introducing new stimulants and planning out baby’s daily activities. By taking a multi step approach that incorporates all these things you will create the foundation to shape your baby’s habits more positively.