Does your toddler fight you every single night at bedtime? Do they wake up in the middle of the night demanding your attention? Are you feeling more and more frustrated and exhausted as the days go by? Do you desperately need to know how to get a toddler to sleep? You are not alone! At some point, just about every parent out there has had to deal with a toddler who either straight up refuses to sleep or one who struggles with sleep.
Most toddlers need on average about 11 to 14 hours of sleep which will include one or two naps during the day. The best way to tackle a toddler who won’t sleep is to get them into a consistent sleep routine. Work towards a routine that helps them to happily fall asleep on their own without your help.
Before You Begin…
Before beginning to work on how to get your toddler to sleep, it is important to rule out any problems they could have that could be preventing them from sleeping normally. For example, underlying health issues or even something as simple as teething could be making it difficult for your toddler to sleep. If there aren’t any underlying medical or health issues then you can maybe investigate whether there might be something happening socially that could be affecting your toddler eg. school, aftercare, family problems, etc. If you have ruled out all of these outside influences you can begin working on how to get your toddler to sleep through the night without you.
1. Teach Your Toddler To Fall Asleep Without You
Rocking your toddler to sleep can be amazing! But beware of getting into habits that don’t allow them to fall asleep on their own. For example, if your toddler can only fall asleep with their bottle, what are you going to do when they wake up in the middle of the night and their bottle isn’t there? Or what if they can only go back to sleep if you hold them or rock them? A big problem especially if you are tired and exhausted yourself! Teach your toddler to fall asleep on their own as early as possible and you will be well on your way to a good night’s sleep yourself!
It is true that toddlers thrive on routine and a consistent routine is probably the most important thing you can do to get your toddler to sleep through the night! Create a relaxing bedtime routine and stick with it. Routines give toddlers a sense of security and certainty and they feel safe and less anxious when they know exactly what is happening next. Toddlers and children with consistent bedtime routines tend to sleep longer and fall asleep easier.
3. Bedtime Activities
An over-excited toddler is just not going to sleep! Avoid high-energy games, TV programs and activities right before bedtime.
4. Warm bath
Studies show that toddlers who have a warm bath before going to bed not only sleep better but also wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day! The warmth of the water helps to warm and relax muscles and it also increases the core body temperature by a couple of degrees. When you take them out of the bath their body will go back to its normal temperature which lets the brain know that it is time to go to sleep.
5. Warm Milk
Warm milk helps us fall asleep because it contains a naturally occurring sedative in the form of an amino acid called Tryptophan. Obviously avoid sugary snacks and drinks or anything that contains caffeine before bed such as sodas, tea or coffee.
6. Bedtime stories
A wonderful bedtime story is very calming and relaxing. It helps kids to forget about the day’s worries and problems. It also allows for some very special bonding time with their parents which makes them feel loved and valued, as well as safe and secure. Why not download our free Winnie The Pooh PDF, Little Red Riding Hood PDF or My Father’s Dragon PDF to read to your children! My Father’s Dragon is especially loved by children who enjoy bedtime stories with dragons!
Try to create a quiet and peaceful sanctuary for your child. While we don’t have too much control over sudden and unexpected noises you can try to minimize everyday noise in your environments such as loud TVs or dogs barking. Being aware of sounds that disturb your child’s sleep can go a long way toward solving any sleep problems they might have. Heavy curtains, double glazing and closed doors can all help. You can also try using white noise to make any uncontrollable noise less noticeable and jarring.
Our bodies are naturally programmed to be awake when it’s bright during the day and sleepy when the light starts to dim. By exposing kids to bright light you suppress the production of their natural sleep hormone, melatonin. Make sure that you avoid any bright lights for about an hour before bedtime. This includes things like phones, tablets, TVs, and computers as well.
Sometimes something small could be affecting your toddler’s sleep. Find out if something is bugging them. Are their PJs scratchy, are they too hot, too cold? Are they hungry? Are they scared of the thunder or a weird shadow in their room? Are you maybe putting them to bed too early and they aren’t tired? Or maybe too late so they are overtired?
10. Stress and anxiety
Just like their adult counterparts, toddlers won’t sleep peacefully through the night if they are unhappy, stressed or anxious. Any kind of tension, such as parents arguing and fighting will make it harder for them to fall asleep and enjoy a good night’s rest.
11. Waking up during the night
It is normal for everyone to wake, or almost wake, several times during the night – for young children, the tricky part is to try to get back to sleep again. If your toddler makes a noise or cries when they wake up during the night try to avoid rushing in to comfort them as this will only wake them even more. It will also reinforce the pattern of waking up at night, especially if they know they can get your attention.
Try to leave them alone and usually, they will gradually settle down and go back to sleep on their own. Initially, this may take some time, as they will want and expect to get your attention, but gradually, if you stay firm, this period of time will get shorter.
Bedtime Stories and Fairy Tales To Read To Your Todders
Teaching your toddler to sleep through the night doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Creating a simple routine and sticking with it consistently might be all you need to get your toddler to sleep through the night.
Have you tried any of our ideas? Did you have any success?