Skip to main content

A Look at Bedtime - Babies and Toddlers

One of the questions I get the most is, "what does bedtime look like at your house?" And the short answer is that this changes based on the age of the child you're talking about. Every child, just like with anything, is different and has his/her own sleep patterns and rhythms. We as adults try to respect that and still make the routine work for us.

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

Maria Montessori's own influences certainly play a role in how we approach bedtime. Some quotes that we keep in mind around bedtime {from The Secret of Childhood} include: 

"He has need of and certainly should get, a normal amount of sleep, but it is necessary to distinguish between what is suitable and what is artificially induced. A stronger person through  suggestion can impose his own will upon one who is weaker. An adult who forces a child to sleep more than he needs is unconsciously forcing his own will upon the child through the power of suggestion." Maria Montessori 

"A child should be permitted to got to sleep when he is tired, to wake up when he is rested, and to rise when he wishes." Maria Montessori 

A look at bedtime with babies and toddlers in our Montessori home, how we choose to follow our child

So I thought I would share a little bit about what bedtime looks like for us. First up, babies and toddlers. And, remember, I'm no expert, I'm just sharing what has worked for our family. 

Babies

I think the key to our bedtime for any child in our family is routine. Children thrive on order and routine, especially young children. Babies are no different. We keep it short and simple. Dim lights in the evening, a bath (this might not be everyday depending on the baby's age, the younger the baby the more likely this is every few days), nursing and quiet. 

Now, a routine is not a strict schedule. When this routine happens varies a lot based on the baby's behavior. We are observing our child, getting to know him/her and following the baby's lead on sleep. This might mean an early bedtime one night and a later one the next. We are essentially following the child. 

What it doesn't mean is that we decide on a specific time for sleep. Or that we spend a ton of time trying to force sleep (tons of rocking/swaddling/nursing). We will of course attend to our baby's needs (so lots of rocking if our baby is contented and happy to rock) but not for the purpose of inducing sleep, for sleep's sake. 

Basically, we follow our baby's lead! 

A look at bedtime with babies and toddlers in our Montessori home, how we choose to follow our child

Toddlers

As our babies turn to toddlers, I have noticed that they do tend to settle into a schedule with sleep, where there is more of a "bedtime." But, we still respect their sleep needs. This is the phase where Gus is at right now. Generally, he is ready for sleep by around 8:00 p.m., generally. We again keep a simple routine for bedtime that helps him and us to recognize that our day is winding down. 

We do bath, books, nursing, bed. We try to start baths at around the same time each evening then do a family book reading time. Now, usually Gus is showing us he is ready to nurse and lay down. We observe his sleep and respect that, giving him support when he needs it. 

But, let's say we feel like he's ready, but we nurse and lay down and he's just not going to sleep. Then, we trust him. We aren't going to spend tons of time forcing him to sleep. We will just let him get up and play until he is ready. This doesn't happen a ton. Usually, he might play for another hour or so and then come tell us he is ready to nurse or sleep. 

This play can take place quietly. Morgan and I may play with him (if we are available) but often, he will just play by himself near us. We still keep the house dim and quiet at this time, but really we just trust that he understands his sleep needs better than we do. 

And, that's it! Trust, respect, routine. Next time, I'll share a bit of how bedtime looks with preschoolers and elementary age! It's a bit different, for sure! 

A look at bedtime with babies and toddlers in our Montessori home, how we choose to follow our child

Do you trust your baby or toddler to choose a bedtime? How do you decide when your child is ready for sleep? 
---

Comments

Niki Rix said…
What do you do about night time waking?
If they need me, we go to them. If they are happy, we let them be!
Becky said…
I love this! Thanks so much. It’s exactly what it looks like in my family with 6 mo. baby. Her “last wind” falls sometime in our evening routine every night, and sometimes it means she has a energetic bath, sometimes it means she is super interactive with the books and “together time” and other times it’s right after we nurse and she will want to move and climb or play by the bed until she cuddles in to nurse to sleep again.
Thank you for sharing this peek into your bedtimes! It works so well for us right now. It’s nice to know we have friends across the country in the same boat!(Especially when people who are nearest think i’m nuts.)
Amanda GL said…
We follow a similar method with our 13month old and let her nurse or play etc until she is ready for sleep but she has NEVER slept through the night. This results in several more late night nursings and mom often cosleeping on her floor bed. Any advice/insights?

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2019

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure!

2019 UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a variety of brands and new product finds! Just a reminder that no one child will be interested in all of this or needs all of this. These toys are just here to spark ideas and give you a feeling for some Montessori-friendly options available! 


So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 


First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created to…

Which Open-Ended Toys are "Worth it?"

As a Montessori parent, I try to provide a mix of materials in our home to engage my kids! That work that will spark joy, concentration, and repetition. It's not always an easy task, as Maria Montessori said, "Life is mysterious...only the choice of life can choose the work that the child truly needs. Therefore, the teacher respects this mysterious process and knows to wait with faith." So, there does sometimes feel like there is a bit of trial and error when it comes to choosing materials that your children need. 

For us, the right balance is easier to find when I spend time deeply observing my children. Watching their interests, sitting on my hands if I have to, letting them struggle a little with things, and letting them get bored. And what I have personally found is that here at home, a combination of open ended materials and more structured work have been the right balance. Open ended toys wouldn't necessarily be found in a Montessori classroom, but they are perf…

A Montessori Approach to Purging Your Toys

Becoming a Montessori family has been life changing in so many ways, most obviously with the amount and type of materials we use in our home. Once you see why having so many toys is a problem, or when you make the decision to move towards Montessori, it can be completely overwhelming. But, taking a Montessori approach to purging your toys is possible! And, it doesn't exactly mean that you have to throw away everything you have and start over with only expensive wooden toys. It will mean taking a hard look at what you have and whether it really fits with Montessori.


One note, however, Montessori is at its core about following your child's own path and respecting your child as a whole person. So, if your child has a toy, lovey, book, or whatever that your child super loves or is super attached to, but it doesn't fit Montessori ideals, don't take it away. Follow your child, that is more Montessori than whether or not you own some specific consumer product. 
How to Purge You…