Before I had my son, I noticed 2 things: there were parents who either didn’t believe babies and toddlers need a set bedtime or believed that it was so difficult that it was impossible to give babies and toddlers a bedtime.
After I had my son, and even until this very day, I get negative feedback and a lot of disagreements when it comes to my son’s bedtime. When I was pregnant with him I read a lot of parenting books and watched a lot of YouTube videos that talked about the importance of good sleep habits. I also read about strategies to use to successfully instill good sleep habits in children.
As soon as my son was born I started trying to teach him the difference between night and day, because infants are automatically confused about night and day. To do this, I simply kept my room dim and quiet during night feedings and diaper changing. As soon as it was morning time, I opened the curtains, made the house bright, turned music and the tv on and made sure that there was a clear distinction between night and day.
When he was about 3 months I started a bedtime routine with him that he actually still follows (and keeps me accountable with) until this very day. He was sleeping through the night and understood the difference after just a couple of months of sleep training. I am not trying to brag or put any judgment on anyone’s parenting choices. I just want to explain my experience with my son’s bedtime and the benefits that I experienced in giving him a bedtime at a very early age.
The number one benefit is that you have a higher chance of instilling healthy sleeping habits in your child’s life when they get older and even when they become adults: Many parents would let their kid(s) sleep at any time while they’re toddlers and then have a hard time getting them to sleep early when they start grade school, because they’re already used to sleeping at their own time. It’s best to teach children to sleep at a certain time at the very beginning of their lives, because when they actually have to wake up early for school they are already used to sleeping at a certain time.
Another benefit is that parents can have some time to themselves: A bedtime does not only benefit kid(s) it also benefits parents. When kids go to sleep late or at the same time the parents go to sleep, this could actually put stress on the mother, father, or both. Everyone needs some type of break from parenthood. When I would put my son to bed at 8 or 8:30 it would then be my time to relax and watch a movie that’s not G rated or animated.
Giving young children a bedtime could also help with discipline: If your child has a bedtime, you can use staying up a little bit later as an incentive for good behavior or anything of your choosing.
A final benefit is that you can avoid the cranky and frustrating moods of babies and toddlers when they’re sleepy and unable to appropriately express themselves: If kid(s) are already used to sleeping at a certain time, you’d have a chance to avoid the sleepy cranky mood by just putting your child to sleep before the frustration even begins.
I’m sure that there are many other benefits to giving babies and toddlers a bedtime, but these are the few that I experienced with my own child.