Many parents I know, including myself, have struggled when it comes to bedtime. Some parents are conflicted as to what is an appropriate nap and bed schedule, so that is a good place to start. Make sure the parents and the au pair are all on the same page with the nap and bedtime schedule. Generally speaking (and sometimes my brother calls me an expert just because I have six kids), I have some experience in this area. I am probably an expert at making mistakes, but I still appreciate the vote of confidence. Thanks, Randy.
Anyway, as a general rule, and also depending on your child’s personality, kids can and should take daily naps until they go to school, and some kindergarteners really need a nap too! The nap itself can morph from many daily naps as an infant to one or two daily naps for toddlers to two or three weekly naps for a five-year old. As a rule, try to create the proper atmosphere in the house, as well as rely on routines to provide consistency and therefore security to little ones. When they know the same thing is going to happen every day at around the same time, that they can count on the same person being there when they wake, they actually enjoy the security of the nap and the same holds true at bedtime.
If you are able, make bedtime the same each night. That is, the same time and the same routines. After dinner is cleaned up and the kids have had a little while to play or sit with mom or dad, a warm bath followed by story and songs is the perfect way to send them off to dreamland. That is all well and good, but we all know not all kids will accept the end as just that. If your little one continues to give you a hard time or demand attention after bedtime, be firm, telling them that it is bedtime and you will see them in the morning. Above all, do not make the mistake of staying in the hall or continually checking on the child. Let them settle themselves to sleep once you know their needs are met. It will result in a better night sleep for all!
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