Common Sleep Issues in Toddlers
Toddlers (children between the age of 1-3) will face some difficulties going to sleep, since this is a phase in their lives where naptime decreases, playtime increases and so does their separation anxiety. This often takes a toll on both the toddler and the parent leading to meltdowns and often ends up with the parent giving up and letting child fall asleep later than they should or in front of the television. Understanding your child’s behavior is key to finding a solution to their sleep issues. Here are some common sleep problems that toddlers face and how parents can help combat them.
According to Stanford Sleep Medicine Center, “Behavior modification plans may address some sleep issues…Using scheduled awakenings, positive reinforcement, and other techniques may be helpful in some cases of sleep disorders”. Toddlers need 11-13 hours of sleep every day, here are some common problems you may run into while getting your toddler to sleep: –
- Nightly tantrums-
Toddlers might have meltdowns when told to go to sleep, this indicates that they do not want the day to end and want to spend more time playing around with their parents.
- Not wanting to stay in bed-
Toddlers initially have a tough time staying in bed due to which they tend to cry out for their parents or try to step out of their crib/ bed. This can be hazardous for them.
- Taking forever to fall asleep-
This can occur in toddlers due to too many naps or a lack of a sleep schedule.
Between the age of 2-3, toddlers start to develop an imagination which can cause them to make up monsters under their bed, thus, nightmares are common in toddlers.
- Tendency to wake up at inconsistent times-
Toddlers may tend to wake up at midnight or really early in the morning. This occurs because as soon as they complete a sleep cycle, they might wake up to find themselves alone. They cannot go back to sleep by themselves.
- Trouble taking naps-
Toddlers between the ages of 12-18 months may have some pushback to napping, this is a sign that they’re ready to cut down their naptime to one nap every day.
Thus, we all can say that putting your toddler to bed isn’t an easy road but these solutions could help fix the problem. Solutions to these problems are:
- Establish a bedtime routine:
This means being consistent with nap timings and establishing a ‘wind down routine’. This ‘wind down routine’ may include warm baths, massage, brushing their teeth then play some soft music while placing them in their bed/cot. This will help your toddler be relaxed enough for bedtime.
- Food before bedtime:
Avoid giving sweets to your toddler post evening, as this causes them to be hyper active in the night. If your toddler complains that they’re hungry at night, try giving them a bowl of cereal and milk before bed (make sure you brush their teeth afterwards).
- Dealing with Nightmares:
Nightmares are fairly common in toddlers. The best way to deal with this by comforting and reassuring them. As soon as they relax, wish them goodnight and encourage them to go back to bed again.
- The positive conditioning method:
This technique can help toddlers (over 12 months) or older children get used to going to sleep without you in the room. It can also be used whenever your child wakes in the middle of the night. Be prepared for your child to take a long time to settle when you first start. You can use strokes or pats instead of kisses if your child sleeps in a cot and you cannot reach them to give them a kiss.
- Put your child to bed when they’re drowsy but awake, then kiss them goodnight.
- Promise to go back in a few moments to give them another kiss.
- Return almost immediately to give a kiss.
- Take a few steps to the door, then return immediately to give a kiss.
- Promise to return in a few moments to give them another kiss.
- Put something away or do something in the room then give them a kiss.
- As long as the child stays in bed, keep returning to give more kisses.
- Do something outside their room and return to give kisses.
- If the child gets out of bed, say: “Back into bed and I’ll give you a kiss”.
- Keep going back often to give kisses until they’re asleep.
- Repeat every time your child wakes during the night.