Is there any reason NOT to schedule a toddler's sleep/activities? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 02-20-2012, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
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My DS is 22 months and since he was born we have allowed him to find his own schedule with sleep and how he goes about his day. We follow a loose routine in which I do mostly the same things in the same order every day, but there are no strict times for bed, waking, eating, etc. This has worked for the most part because I wasn't really working (only from home 4 nights a week) but I will be returning to full time work in september. I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to attempt to schedule his bedtime, waking time, and nap time so that by the time I return to work it will be a little bit of an easier transition. Obviously when he was a baby I fully believed that it was not a good idea to schedule things, but now that he's a toddler, is there any reason not to? My biggest concern is sleep, especially because he has been skipping naps even though it's obvious he needs one in the afternoon, so I was thinking that if he woke up around the same time every morning (instead of letting him sleep until whenever he decides to wake up, which really varies) he might be tired enough to take a nap.


I'm not planning on being a strict timekeeper or anything like that, but I feel like we really need a better routine because he's kind of all over the place right now.

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#2 of 5 Old 02-20-2012, 07:20 PM
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I think it's fine.  Around 18-20 months was when we put my oldest on a schedule of sorts.  Until then it was up when she woke up, lunch when she got hungry, bed whenever.  Then that stopped working for me.  So we started getting up at the same time every day, eating lunch around the same time, bedtime within 30 minutes either way of bedtime.  It took a week or so, but it ended up working great.  We were both much happier and DD didn't drop her afternoon nap, which she was starting to do with our schedule all over the place.  If you don't get overly rigid and go OMG it's 11am, lunch isn't until noon suck it up screaming starving kiddo, it's fine.

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#3 of 5 Old 02-20-2012, 10:51 PM
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I'm a SAHM and until 18 months I was anti-schedule. I have this fear of baby-training and it threw me into this stupid place where I would barely commit to a time for pretty much anything. But I kinda wish I had been more on top of things because I think now our lives would have been better. DD is about 26 months now and we recently have been having problems with her low weight so in the last month or so as a recommendation from our nutritionist we have been getting into a regular schedule. Otherwise a snack/meal or nap gets pushed and she goes into a seriously cranky mode. Lately I've been keeping notes on when she eats, sleeps and has meltdowns. After a couple weeks I noticed that she had a regular pattern and if we stuck to it we could avoid meltdowns entirely. Our big problem is that her schedule would change on the weekend or a holiday when DH would take over a lot of her care and mess it all up by staying at the park well into lunchtime because it seemed like she was having so much fun. So now we have basic milestones that we set ourselves by. It is a bit of a pain but far better than managing a meltdown. DH isn't a big fan but he can't really read her signals like I can.


One thing I will say though is to not wake in the morning on a schedule. Kids have a way of knowing the amount of sleep they need. I've found that if I let DD sleep and attempt the afternoon nap as scheduled she goes down JUST FINE and perhaps even easier. It doesn't seem to matter if there is a 3 or 5 hour gap between waking and nap time. Her naps are just a little shorter. With DD if the nap gets pushed everything gets pushed and it will throw off bedtime.

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#4 of 5 Old 02-21-2012, 10:52 AM
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I think it would be good to have a schedule at this age (we mostly do at 24 months) but i also think it is important to remember things are going to come up constantly that are going to mess it up. Or at least that is how things always work for us. Teething sets off a bad night and are you really going to wake them up from that nap at such and such a set time after a rough night? This is what always comes up for us. It seems like we get into a good grove for about a week and then something (company staying later then we liked, teething, a cough keeping her up at night, a skipped nap because she fights it about once a week) sets things off wacky. I think it is a good idea to have a schedule but to try to have an hour or so flexibility to it. Something that has worked well for us is to have a set amount of hours in her awake times rather then a time by the clock. So she is awake 5.5 hours before her nap and then 5.5 hours awake before bedtime. The end result is her awake between 6-7, down for her nap between 11-12 and her in bed between 7-8. I'm not even sure if this is technically considered keeping a schedule or if this is what people mean by NOT having one but if i were to set her up to nap/go to bed at a set time of day i'd have to always wake her at a set time of day and she does NOT do well being woken up haha.

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#5 of 5 Old 02-26-2012, 06:33 AM
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We started out being unscheduled, but have definitely felt that moving towards a schedule has had a huge positive impact. 


It is not a tight schedule to particular set times, but is basically the order in which things happen and I feel that the girls really enjoy having a general idea of what is occuring when.  They definitely note the order that I do things in even on the more micro level -- for example, in the morning I come in, give them hugs and kisses, open the curtains and turn on some music.  If things are not done in that order, they notice and I get some directive points and comments from them!


In our schedule, the girls will wake up on their own sometime between 6:30 and 7:30, then breakfast and bath and then playtime/activities until lunch at around 11:30-12:00.  Depending on how early they got up that day and their tiredness signs, nap starts anytime between 12:30 and 1:30.  They usually sleep 2.5 to 3.5 hours.  Then a small snack, playtime (usually outside if weather is agreeable) and dinner around 5:30-6.  Playtime follows until the getting ready for bed process starts (around 7-ish) with bedtime between 7:30 and 8.


A day that follows that schedule is usually guaranteed to be a good day, with a minimum of melt-downs. 

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