Toddler Sleeping Tips For Any Parent

Raising a toddler can be a trying time of your life as this is the age at which children become extremely opinionated. The “terrible two’s” are a well known hurdle to overcome during this stage. However one of the bigger problems that parents face is how to get their toddler to sleep.

Why Do Toddlers Have Trouble Sleeping?

There are two reasons why toddlers fight going to sleep:
1. Firstly there is simply too much for them to do and be excited about, especially if you have guests over at the house that night. Toddlers want to be part of the action and keep up to date with everything that is going on, as well as taking the time to practice all of the new skills that they have learned.
2. Toddlerhood is the age at which toddlers realize that they are separate from you, and that they are their own person. Consequently they want to assert their independence, and the easiest way for them to do this is by fighting you about going to bed in the evenings.

What To Do About Poor Sleeping Habits In Toddlers

The main methods you can use to get your child to sleep include teaching him/her to fall asleep on their own from an early age by leaving them to cry (within reason, of course), not letting them procrastinate when it’s time to go to bed, giving them a certain amount of choice about what story to read and what pajamas to wear at bedtime, being calm, but firm, and moving them into their own bed. All of these can help fulfill your child’s need to take part in the world as well as their need to assert their new found independence and develop their personality their own way. There is no escaping the hours that you will spend trying to talk your kid into going to sleep, but with methods like these this phase of development could be shorter.

Toddler Sleeping Tips: 12 To 18 Months

Typical Sleep At This Age

12 months olds are officially toddlers. However, this does not magically mean that they don’t need as much sleep as they once did. 18 month olds still need to get about 14 hours of sleep a day, 11 of which should be at night with day-time naps. The following age-related changes apply:

  • A 12 month old will probably still need two naps a day
  • An 18 month old, on the other hand, probably only needs one short nap an afternoon, a pattern that they could continue following until they are five or six

The transition from two naps to one short one can be quite difficult as your child adjusts to the new sleeping routine.

How You Can Help Your Child Settle And Sleep

At this age the best thing you can do is to keep up the good bedtime habits that you spent so much time developing during your child’s infancy. This includes:

  • Following a nightly bedtime routine
  • Have a consistent daily routine that includes bedtime and nap times
  • Ensuring that your child is able to fall asleep on his or her own

Routine is very important in the life of a toddler and is one of the best ways to ensure that your toddler’s sleeping patterns are adequate. If your child knows what is expected of him or her they are more likely to comply with bedtime routines, although resistance is unavoidable at this age. Your child should also not be dependent on rocking or breastfeeding to go to sleep – this is something that must be established before they reach toddler age.Toddler Is Sleeping

Potential Pitfalls

There are two main potential pitfalls to be aware of in terms of the sleep patterns of 12 to 18 month olds:

  • Firstly it is important to remember that the many new developmental milestones that these children are reaching cause them to be too excited to sleep – they want to keep practicing their new found skills. The answer here might be to leave them to cry it out or to give them some time a lone to settle.
  • Children at this age may wake and not settle again in the night either because there is a real problem, or because they want to play with you. Attend to their problems, but draw the line at entertaining them at night.

Approaches To Sleep Problems

One approach involves pacing with or rocking your child until he or she falls asleep. A variation of this is checking the child at set intervals, patting her and telling her it’s all right, but it’s time to go to sleep now, until they do fall asleep. A consistent pattern will eventually send them off.

The second potential approach involves making your child fall asleep on their own by leaving them to cry for gradually longer periods of time. Eventually they will be able to sleep easily.
The third method involves looking out for the time of night when your child shows sleepiness and making that their regular bedtime.

Toddler Sleeping Tips: 24 To 36 Months

Typical Sleep At This Age

There are two sleep patterns that can be expected in this age category:

  • Between their second and third birthdays, toddlers need about 11 hours of sleep a night and a single hour-and-a-half to two-hour nap each afternoon.
  • Most children this age go to bed sometime between 7 and 9 p.m. and get up between 6:30 and 8 a.m.

However, although this is similar to your own sleeping pattern, your child will still experience more REM sleep and will therefore wake up more frequently. Teaching them to soothe themself back to sleep is essential. If they can settle themself back to sleep it means that they won’t need to call for you every time they wake up unless there is a real problem.

How You Can Help Your Child Settle And Sleep

One of the methods for helping your child settle and fall asleep at this age involves moving them to a ‘big’ bed and praising them for being a big boy/girl when they stay in it. Children at this age need to start moving to bigger beds anyway, so you might as well include it in part of your sleeping plan. Toddlers at this age learn how to procrastinate, but luckily they have a limited imagination. So anticipate your toddler’s requests and incorporate them into bed time. Asking for water or for the window to be opened can then form part of the routine. You could also promise your child an extra kiss or tuck in “in five minutes time”. If they’re expecting you they may fall asleep before you get back.

Potential Pitfalls

The main pitfalls to look out for are the following:

  • Your child may start getting up more often once they have been moved to a big bed because it is easier – put them back to bed firmly and tuck them in again.
  • Your child will also become more resistant to bed time at this age – this is normal and no toddler will run happily to bed at night; be firm and make it clear that bed time is not negotiable.
  • Toddlers at this age often start being afraid of the dark and of monsters hiding under the bed – this is nothing to be worried about as it is a normal developmental milestone for a child.

Approaches To Sleep Problems

One approach, like mentioned above is rocking your child or pacing with them until they fall asleep. The second potential approach also mentioned above, involves making your child fall asleep on her own by letting them cry for a little longer. They will eventually learn to fall asleep on their own easier. Children at this age suffer from separation anxiety. One approach to this is by allowing your child to be active in decision making by choosing her own pajamas or by letting her sleep with a transitional object and leave on a night light.

The main thing to remember when it comes to toddler sleeping habits is that you are not alone. You are not the first parent who has had to face the problem of getting a child to sleep at night, and nor will you be the last. Many parents have had to deal with the problem before you and many more will have to deal with it after you. What that means is that there is a wealth of information available to help you get through this stage as well as many experienced mothers and fathers who all have advice about the best way to get a toddler to sleep at the right times. The real problem is looking sifting through all of the opinions to find a method that works for you.




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