Congratulations! Your little newborn baby has grown big and strong over the last 12 months and has become a toddler. The toddler stage typically occurs when your child is between 12 and 36 months of age. While all of the new things that they are learning is exciting to think about as their little personality is becoming more and more apparent, it doesn’t mean that your job is done.
While they are reaching new milestones and growing developmentally every day, they will still face challenges that you will need to be them for them while they go through it. One of these is a problem with sleeping. All parents want their child to sleep well, whether that means through the night or just being able to doze off easier at bedtime.
With that in mind, we wanted to share some ideas that you might want to consider using to help train your toddler to sleep better as well as some common sleeping issues and ways you can resolve them. So, if you’re ready…
Let’s get started!
Ways to Help Them Get Better Sleep
As your child gets older, there can be more and more things happening during the day that can keep them from getting the best sleep possible at night. Our kids are growing up in an age where a tablet is as commonplace as a storybook was when you were a child. These new experiences and technologies can really take a toll on their sleep cycles. Here are a few easy things that you can do to help them off to dreamland much better.
Turn the Technology Off
In November 2017, a study published in Pediatrics discovered that toddlers and adolescents can be vulnerable to disruptions in their sleep caused by the glow coming from screens. Now, while the emitted blue light that comes from a screen can disrupt anyone’s sleep patterns, this is particularly true in children, whose eyes and brain are still developing. The blue light causes melatonin, the sleep hormone to occur much less when compared to adults that have been exposed to the blue light. This means that they are likely going to be getting fewer hours of sleep, delayed bedtimes and a poor-quality sleep.
Send them to Bed With the Right Supper
Ah tryptophan, you can be both the reason why we pass out after Thanksgiving dinner and a great way to help our little ones sleep well through the night. What we mean is that some parents will try to feed their child some extra servings of fruit before bedtime. However,
feeding your little one a dinner that combines protein and carbs, such as toast with natural peanut butter, can form amino acids that act like tryptophan, which as we all know can tire us out after Grandma’s Thanksgiving dinner. There are other foods that you can use as well such as yogurt, cheese, bananas, poultry, tuna, and eggs.
What is Their Environment Like?
Allergies can definitely be a reason why your little one isn’t getting a good night’s sleep. Allergens that can cause itching, congestion or overheating can keep them from falling asleep or even staying asleep. If you feel that they may be suffering from allergies, use organic cotton pajamas and sheets that are breathable and considered low-allergen. Also, get them tested for allergies to be sure.
Both kids and many adult love video games, and when you have a toddler, it can be hard to limit the amount of time they spend looking at a screen but when and how much they play can affect their sleep. In 2007, Pediatrics published a study showing that if a child played video games an hour before going to bed, it showed a significant amount of sleep disruption, Now, we’re not saying that you should take away video games entirely, but if they are going to play, make sure that it is a few hours before bedtime to reduce the disruption
More and more research indicated that to get the healthiest night’s sleep, sleeping should be done in complete darkness. This research indicates that any light pollution, whether it is from a light, a night light, or a too-bright alarm clock can disrupt the regulation of hormones, which affect your sleep as well as immune system functions.
If your child, like many children, is afraid of the dark, you can put a nightlight in the hallway and once they are asleep, turn it off or purchase a night light that shuts off on its own after some time. Using blackout curtains or a sleep mask, made for kids who tend to wake up much earlier from sunlight streaming into their rooms.
Create A Special Routine
Creating a bedtime routine with your little one. This can help them feel the love that you have for them, and also help them relax. A routine that you can stick to with your child, that includes a comfy place for you and them to enjoy a good story, as well as a soothing chat to help calm them down and help, make it easier for them to drift off to sleep and have a good one at that.
Common sleeping issues and solutions
Having a hard time falling asleep is common for any toddler. With so many things to do every day, it can be hard for their bodies to come down and get into a proper sleep cycle. However, there can be many issues that may not be caused by how much activity they had during the day or if they missed their nap.
While many of the sleep problems your little one may have had when they were a newborn may go away on their own, some sleeping issues can be universal without regard to your child’s age and then there are some that are specific to them being a toddler. Knowing the kinds of sleeping issues that they can go through once they have become a toddler and how to help them through it can lead to them sleeping much better. Some of the common sleeping issues with toddlers are listed below, with tips on how you can help them.
Popping up – It can be a great day developmentally once your little one has put the crib behind them and starts sleeping in a big-kid bed. However, this can lead to what is typically called Jack-in-the-box behavior. Basically, when you lie your child down for bedtime, they will spring back up and out of bed causing you to tuck them in again. This can be a real problem with some toddlers, who may think that it is a game.
To handle this, what you need to do is be more persistent than they are. Every time they pop out of bed, calmly and without saying anything, put your child back to bed. What you don’t want to do is get upset, react or engage with them. If they see that they can get a reaction out of you, they will continue to do this time and time again.
Naptime Interruptus – Naptime can be gold not only for your little one but for parents as well. When your little one becomes a toddler, there can be some big changes that they will go through. When they reach between 15 and 18 months old, the two naps a day they may have been taking will change to one and then eventually be done all together around three to four years old. The changes can take quite a toll on your little one, which can lead them to be cranky, overtired and more bedtime issues.
To help them transition, you can create quiet times for your child where they are playing with a puzzle or looking at a book. These activities can help them rest and not use all of their energy before bedtime which if they do will lead to a tougher time sleeping through the night.
Sleep stalling – Your little one can be a pro when it comes to stalling their bedtime. Whether they ask for one more drink or just one more story, just one more kiss for them and their favorite stuffed animal, it can turn a sometimes simple bedtime into a long drawn out process.
This can be very common for many toddlers, so while this can be very frustrating, it is normal. In order to help reduce the stalling that they can do and move them off to slumberland its best to stick to a routine. That way they know that when you get to a point where you are either finishing up a bedtime story or cuddling with them for a few minutes, they understand that it’s time for bed and that way they are less likely to stall.
Separation anxiety – Any parent with children knows that separation anxiety can start with their child when they are around 8 or 9 months old. Many parents can see it crop up again once their little one is around 18 months and then again at around two years of age. When it happens, you can feel terrible about leaving your little one crying at daycare, but at bedtime, it can be a real issue.
To help your little one feel ok with you leaving their room at bedtime, stay relaxed and confident when you lay them down, if they see that you are worried or anxious when you lay them down, they will begin feeling that way too. One thing you definitely do not want to do is sneak out of the room after laying them down. This does more harm than good. Let them know you’re leaving. Say good-night as you leave the room so they know.
Wide-awake bedtime – Every parent goes through this one at least once with their child. It’s time for bed, you’ve gone through the normal routine with your little one and they show no signs of being ready to fall asleep. This issue is incredibly common when you have a toddler. It happens because of their schedule.
To help avoid this, if you have a toddler that still takes naps, you should change their bedtime to a later start time, instead of what their normal time may be. For example, if your toddler still takes a nap, they should get at least 5 full hours between waking up from their nap and when they go to bed. That way when you put them to bed, they have had enough time to use a lot of the energy that might keep them up.
Nightmares – As your child grows up, their little imaginations will blossom as well. While this is an exciting thing to have happen to them, that imagination can also cause your little one to have nightmares or in some cases, night terrors. Nightmares are very, very common for children while they are a toddler that it can have a major effect on their quality of sleep as well as yours.
To help, when they wake up in the middle of the night from a nightmare, you want to make sure that you comfort them and help them through their fears, but what you don’t want to do is overreact to them waking up crying and afraid. If you seem upset, it will only make them even more upset. Remain calm and neutral and it will help your little one calm down, feel reassured and relaxed enough to go back to sleep.
Early riser – While it’s not a problem for every toddler, there are some toddlers that wake up so early that it can become a real problem for some families. The reasons why they wake up can vary from not needing as much sleep during nap time or when morning comes, they are excited to start their day or their room is too bright.
While the last one can be solved with a good set of blackout curtains, one thing that has been shown to help toddlers wake up later is a toddler clock, Simply put, these clocks display lights or symbols that can let your child know whether it’s time to stay in bed or if it’s time to get up.
How You Train Them is Up to You
While we have made a lot of suggestions on how you can train your toddler to sleep better through the night, the method that will work best for you and your toddler is up to you. We hope that our suggestions can give you some ideas when it comes to helping your own child.