Nighttime Routines, Co-sleeping Transitions, and More
API's Eight Principles of Parenting are recommended companion readings as the foundation and context for all of our research-based resources.
Nighttime parenting doesn't end when a child sleeps through the night for the first time. When thinking about changing the nighttime routine as your child grows, follow her cues. Sleep disturbances may still appear during times your child is stressed, which still includes the stress of navigating "invisible" developmental milestones at each age.
Getting adequate sleep is always important to provide the energy for growing children to navigate the increasing daytime demands with more social and learning time. Some children continue to prefer co-sleeping, sometimes into their elementary years, while others move on to their own room.
Tips on Nighttime Routines
- Sleep routines will continuously change as the child grows and matures. Keep your sense of humor and remain flexible.
- Help your child learn to recognize and honor signs of tiredness and set bedtimes to match and serve those needs.
- Continue responding to nighttime fears and upsets as real, rather than excuses.
- Bedtime is a natural time for verbal children to process their day in lengthy conversation. Consider building in extra time to allow for this time together.
- When the time comes for a child to transition to her own bed, make sure that the transition is gentle and that parents respond to any feelings of fear or upset experienced by the child
- Young children who have their own bed often go to sleep more willingly when parents lie down with them in their bed until they are very drowsy or until they go to sleep. Children outgrow this need when they are developmentally ready and will happily go to sleep on their own
- Older children may still enjoy a brief snuggle time with parents before bed
Free Resources from the API Library and Publications
- Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally - one of API's Eight Principles of Parenting
- Read Nighttime Parenting and the Anxious Child on APtly Said (blog)
- Battling the Monsters
- Medical Reasons for Fear of the Dark
- Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone - James J. McKenna Ph.D.
- Nighttime fears in children: A guide for the science-minded parent - Parenting Science