Bedtime Routine and Sign Language

“Good sleep is like good nutrition–imperative for a healthy growing child!”

Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge advocate for making sure baby (and Mommy) gets plenty of quality sleep.  When baby is well rested he* is happy and that makes everyone happy!  It has been absolutely amazing for me to see the difference in my children when they are well-rested in contrast to when they miss a nap or don’t get their full 12 hours at night.  Their behavior is like night and day.

I have had numerous parents ask me for suggestions for a typically-developing child’s challenging behavior.  My first question is always this: “How much sleep does he get?”  Depending on his age, he should have 1 or 2 naps during the day  (children grow out of their morning nap around 16-18 months of age)  and sleep 12 hours at night.  That’s as much as 16+ hours of sleep.  That may seem like a lot, but when you stop to realize the rate that their brains and bodies are growing it’s really not too surprising.  (Oh, and the need for sleep doesn’t expire when they turn 3 or 4 or even 6! My 6-year-old is certainly not as sensitive anymore, but believe me, I can tell a big difference when he doesn’t get enough sleep, and it’s apparent in his school work and inability to focus.)

When babies and children sleep, their brains process and internalize all the information and skills they learned and experienced in the previous hours.  Some newborn babies can’t even last 45 minutes before they need to sleep again.  By the time they are a few months older they will need to sleep every 2 hours.  Babies typically start to organize their daytime naps and nighttime sleep around 3-4 months of age.  Phew–all this growing and learning is exhausting! Understanding this helps us respect the importance of naps and regular night-time sleep!  Good sleep is like good nutrition–imperative for a healthy growing child!

When I came across an article online about incorporating sign language into a child’s bedtime routine I thought it was a genius idea!  Some obvious and basic signs to add to your repertoire for bedtime would be: bath, brush teeth, book, milk, and sleep.  (click on the online ASL browser below and learn these 5 signs in less than 5 minutes!)

You don’t have to learn a whole new language in order to teach your child signs.  I literally started with 5 signs.  As my son learned those 5 I went and learned 5 more and then taught them to him through our regular day-to-day routine.  My go-to resource for learning signs is an online ASL browser that shows mini video clips for each sign.  You search alphabetically by choosing a letter from the bottom center of the page.  Once you click on that, a list of words with show up on the right side of the screen.  Scroll through this list of words to find the specific word you are looking for, then wait for a little video to pop up and voilà!

I will be curious to hear from those of you who incorporate this idea into your routine!  Happy signing…and sleeping!

~Michelle

*rather than write he/she every time I refer to the gender of the hypothetical child in these discussions I just chose one and next time I’ll switch it.

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Filed under American Sign Language (ASL), Parenting

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