Toddler Sleep Issues
As a mother of two toddlers and from working with families, I completely understand the challenges that toddlers place on us when it comes to bedtime! The stalling tactics, tantrums, over excitement and tears!
The toddler stage is a time when your child starts to understand what they can and can’t control – and while this is an important developmental process, it can bring with it problems such as toddler bedtime battles. There are other reasons why bedtime may become difficult too – perhaps your child is scared of being left alone, fearful of the dark, overtired or just doesn’t want to miss anything going on in the house! Whatever the reason for your toddler bedtime battles, here are some tips to help.
Develop a consistent, calming bedtime routine
Bedtime is much easier for your toddler to accept if they know exactly when it happens and what happens. Develop a routine.
–An example of a good routine starts with bath time, getting into PJs, cleaning teeth, cuddles and a story and a final trip to the toilet before lights out. Stick to the same routine every day and your toddler will soon learn when playtime is over.
–A bedtime routine should take no more than 30 minutes
Prepare the bedroom
Be aware of your child’s needs during the night and prepare their bedroom accordingly. If they are scared of the dark leave the door open a crack and the landing light on (but ensure it is not directly lighting the bedroom). Get rid of any toys that may appear scary in the dark such as big teddies, ensure the room is clutter free and basically a boring as possible as this is great for inducing sleep. If they use a potty, leave it somewhere easy to find in the night.
Give your toddler choices
Often toddler bedtime battles are simply your child’s way of exerting some control over their life. By giving them some choices you let them feel they are in control and they are more likely to go to bed without a fight. Be careful to limit the choices to two options though, such as “Thomas the Tank Engine or In The Night Garden tonight?” Asking “Which book do you want to read?” could be used as a stalling tactic while your child goes through their entire library twice before they make a decision!
Give enough cuddles for the night
Sometimes children just want to spend more time with you, so before bed make sure you give them enough cuddles and your time to last them all night. Talking about their day and what you’ve got planned for the next day can also help, as it reassures your child that you’ll still be there in the morning even if they don’t see you during the night.
Avoid stimulating activities such as playing on computers, watching mind stimulating programmes or playing rough and tumble at least 2 hours before bedtime
Be firm, but calm
If your toddler still doesn’t settle at night, try to remain as calm as you can. Toddlers thrive on attention so shouting or making a fuss will only encourage them and lead to further bedtime battles. Tell them you will only come back twice and stick to it. When you return don’t talk to them, sing or have cuddles; just check they are okay and say its bedtime then leave the room. If your child appears in your bedroom later on take them back to their own bed; letting them sleep in your bed will only start another bad habit and give you another toddler bedtime battle to deal with!
Very importantly Bedtime is non-negotiable – Always stick to the rules.