September 19th, 2022

 

Having trouble getting your toddler to fall asleep and stay asleep at night? You’re not alone:

Many parents find their toddler’s bedtime to be the hardest part of the day. Children this age often resist going to sleep, especially if they have older siblings who are still awake. The good news is that there are ways you can try to help make bedtime go more smoothly.

 

Sleep expert Autumn Dettmann says it’s pretty common for toddlers’ nighttime sleep to become disrupted when they make their “big nap transition”:

The average age to transition from 2 naps down to 1 falls between 15-18 months. This transition can take a lot of time to iron out and if we aren’t compensating with an earlier bedtime during it, overtiredness can rear it’s ugly head!

 

Eventually, youngsters give up their naps altogether. Pediatrician Claire McCarthy has some ideas to help them out with that transition:

Most children give up naps between the ages of 3 and 5. If a child can stay up and be pleasant and engaged throughout the afternoon, they are likely ready to stop. Some crankiness in the late afternoon and early evening is okay; you can always just get them to bed earlier.

One way to figure it out, and ease the transition, is to keep having “quiet time” in the afternoon. Have the child go to bed, but don’t insist on sleep; let them look at books or play quietly. If they stay awake, that’s a sign that they are ready to stop. If they fall asleep but then end up staying up very late, that’s another sign that the afternoon nap needs to go.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests trying these seven tips to help toddlers develop good sleep habits:

1. Set up a quiet routine before bedtime to help your child understand that it will soon be time to go to sleep. Use this time to read them a story, put on quiet music, or give them a bath.

2. Be consistent. Make bedtime the same time every night. This helps your child know what to expect and helps them establish healthy sleep patterns.

3. Let your child take a favorite thing to bed each night. It’s OK to let your child sleep with a teddy bear, special blanket or favorite toy at this age. This often helps children fall asleep, especially if they wake up during the night. Make sure the object is safe and doesn’t have any choking hazards like buttons or loose ribbons. Stuffing or pellets inside stuffed toys can also be dangerous.

[Reminder: No objects of any kind are allowed in an infant’s crib.]

4. Make sure your child is comfortable. Take care of child’s needs before bedtime so they don’t use them as reasons to avoid going to sleep. They may want a drink of water, a light left on, or the door left slightly open.

5. Do not let your child sleep in the same bed with you. This can make it harder for them to fall asleep when they are alone.

6. Avoid returning to your child’s room when they call out. Instead, try the following:

• Make sure they are safe and well before bedtime. If they are safe and well, there is no need to go into their room while they sort out how to get themselves back to sleep.

• Keep in mind that children’s main goal is to get you to appear. So if you appear for any reason, even just for “checking,” they will expect you to come each time they call out.

7. Give it time. Helping your child develop good sleep habits can be a challenge, and it is normal to get upset when a child keeps you awake at night. Try to be understanding. A negative response by a parent can sometimes make a sleep problem worse. Keep in mind that children need the time and opportunity to find out how go back to sleep on their own when they wake up during the night.

 

Being consistent, staying patient, and avoiding the scenario depicted below is probably the best advice of all. Parents who have concerns about their child’s sleep hygiene are encouraged to talk things over with their pediatrician.

 

 

 

(Google Images)

 

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