You put baby sound asleep in his crib and do the victory dance as you walk away, only to hear her wake up 10 minutes later. At home, no one remembers the word “nap” anymore. Really, what is that? Your toddler’s bedtime feels more like a battle that only ends two hours later when he finally falls asleep.
Believe it or not, sleep troubles have the same roots for children of all ages. Good news is there’s an answer and a solution. Here’s the list and what to do:
Do you have a routine at home? If not, it’s time to start one! Routines make the day more predictable for your child. They transition better between activities, including sleeping, and gives them a sense of control over situations. Start by setting times for meals, naps and bedtime, and follow it for at least two weeks. Once your child is sleeping well consistently for a couple of weeks, it’s O.K to deviate a little from the routine once in a while. After all, we all have a life!
Is your child getting enough rest during the day? Contrary to common belief, naps improve bedtime. Children who are overtired have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and wake up very early. And beware: If bedtime comes around and your kiddo doesn’t look tired, he is! In fact, older children who are overtired act like they’re full of energy, almost bouncing off the walls. Put down a baby who’s so tired that he’s fussy, and set yourself up for no sleep. Lay them down regardless. If your child has outgrown naps, give them the chance to get some quiet time every day.
If your child always gets help falling asleep, it’s time to stop. Wether it’s holding, rocking, using a paci, feeding, or just laying with them in bed, children need the chance to do the work it takes to fall asleep. A great way to avoid sleep dependencies is to shape your routine so that feeding is the first thing you do when they wake up, and never the last thing you do before bedtime. For toddler kids this translates into not giving a bottle or even milk in a cup right before bedtime.
Your bedtime ritual may be inconsistent, too long or too short. It shouldn’t be less than 15 minutes and longer than 30 minutes, and it should be exactly the same every single night. A good example of a bedtime routine is bath time, feeding, pjs, brush teeth, read a story, lights out. For naps, use a mini version of your bed time ritual. Change them into more comfortable clothes, read a story and lay them down.
I encourage you to go back and look through you’r child’s typical day. There’s always a reason why your child has trouble sleeping, and we can solve it!