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Sleep & Nutrition

Sleep and Nutrition

Getting sufficient sleep and timely nutrition will help your toddler, preschooler, and school-aged child to have better self-control and attitude, which will naturally lead to better behavior.  These basic needs must be met in order for your behavioral measures to work with your child.

Sleep Training

Sleep training can start during the first year of your child’s life.  By 4 months of age, most babies are capable of sleeping through the night from about 7 PM to 6 AM every day.  This is accomplished by teaching a baby to go to sleep without a parent’s assistance or involvement.  Training an infant to have healthy sleep habits is a parent’s first opportunity to lead.  This training can lead a child and his family to enjoy harmonious and healthier days and nights.  To achieve this degree of order in an infant’s life requires the consistent input of effort and energy on the part of the parent.  Without this parental leadership, some degree of chaos sets in sooner or later as the infant is led by his erratic impulses rather than by his wise parents’ direction.

Besides, sleep is necessary for good health at all ages.  For more information, take a look at  What the Research Says about the Benefits of Sleep for All Ages.

Why Is Sleep Training Necessary?

Teaching healthy sleep habits early in your child’s life will be easier if you start later, and they more likely to persist.  You might ask, “Don’t all babies know how to sleep?”  Yes, and some do a better job than others.  Most babies, however, do not know exactly when they should sleep, or how long they should or can sleep.  Driven by whims of curiosity, infants seek to stay awake as long as possible, fighting the urge to sleep until fatigue conquers, and then after a brief catnap, they go at it again.  While this may be an OK pattern during the daytime, many babies continue into the night with shallow napping and cranky displays of exhaustion.  If parents simply know what to expect of an infant, they can guide him to a healthier sleep habits.  Some of the benefits of sleep training include:

  1. A parent’s first opportunity to lead the child to health living.
  2. A child’s first opportunity to submit to the parent’s leadership.  As the child feels the benefits of healthy sleep, she comes to appreciate and comply with her parent’s directive.
  3. A happier and healthier baby, who learns how to sleep more deeply, more soundly and for longer periods with naps and during the night.
  4. Better rested parents who can think more clearly and implement their parenting plans without frequent distraction.
  5. A healthier marriage, as each parent is less fatigued and frustrated.
  6. More orderly home life with predictable mealtimes and child activities.
  7. Ultimately a better rested toddler and preschooler whose temperament is more genuine and less compromised by fatigue.

In order to train your child to be a good sleeper, you must know what to expect of him or her.  Take a look at Sleep Expectations to guide you in setting sleep goals for your child.

Healthy Nutrition

A child’s eating habits can be a source of much conflict between parent and child.  Taking the proper approach to teaching good eating habits can make all the difference.  Simply stated, “It is not a parent’s responsibility to get the child to eat.”  That’s right, healthy children will eat according to their needs and never under feed themselves.  It is a parent’s role to simply provide healthy foods in a controlled pleasant setting and to be a good example.  For more details, this Guide to Healthy Eating will help simplify your efforts in encouraging your child to eat well.  Start early and the process will be easier and smoother.