Finding the Transitions

Dylan is just now getting to the age where I have a lot of experience with kids. I’d only ever cared for a couple of kids younger than him, but the older he gets the more experience I have. There are some things that are different about older babies or that I want to do differently with an older baby that isn’t right to do with a younger baby, but I’ve never been through the transition before.

The one on my mind lately is naptimes. I prefer to use routines for mealtimes and naptimes. I’m not talking about a rigid schedule but just a routine flow to the day. It provides a lot of peace for children to be able to predict the flow of time and to be in a consistent rhythm. This involves getting up at a consistent time, having predictable broad activities during the day, and encouraging naptimes at consistent times, all based on the interests and natural rhythm of the child. Now, this isn’t right for tiny babies. For the first few months of life, it’s completely go-with-the-flow while the baby is just settling into ou own pattern. Then sometime later, say at 9 months old, the baby is definitely old enough to be in a routine. Somewhere in the middle there is the right time to start helping create the routine, but I’ve never had to find that transition time before. I’ve always either had babies who already had a set routine or I’ve come into a home where the baby was clearly old enough and was ready to get a routine.

Dylan has been having some fussiness in the evening (especially since the evenings are so dark now), going to bed at night at inconsistent times, and waking in the middle of the night some, all of which I think signals a need for more sleep consistency. I’m sure of it now, but I’ve spent the last month or so thinking, Now? What about now? Any day now… Now? It’s been funny to me to experience being so unsure about whether to start that yet or not. There have been other situations where I’m not confident about where the line is between tiny baby and older baby, and it’s fun to be experiencing this middle ground of baby-hood.

I have seen so many children respond so positively to sleep and meal routines that I don’t think I could be talked out of it. But still, I’m interested to hear your take on sleep routines. Does your kid have a bedtime? Set naptimes? What sets the pace for your days or lets you know when it’s time for sleep?