Getting your toddler to sleep

How to conquer the common toddler sleeping problems that keep your little one (and you) up at night

In Toddler

How to conquer the common toddler sleeping problems that keep your little one (and you) up at night

At a glance

Toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep to replenish their energy and grow

As they become more active and aware, getting toddlers to bed can be a challenge

 

Calming baths and bedtime stories can help establish a bedtime routine

Soothe night-time fears with cuddles, soft toys and a night light

As a parent you truly understand the value and importance of a good night’s sleep. It’s even more important to your little one. Sleep helps toddlers replenish their energy, and to grow.

Sleep problems in toddlers

While you may be able to function on six hours sleep, toddlers need around 12 to 14. Making sure they get that sleep, however, can be a problem. Your toddler not sleeping enough or waking up at night are common issues, but try not to worry. It takes time and patience to establish a routine that ensures they’re getting enough shut-eye. Some common sleep problems in toddlers are:

  • If they’re in their own bed rather than a cot with bars, they may keep trying to get out. It’s a new skill for them and they’ll love practising it
  • Some may not want to go to bed at all. They may feel like they’re missing out on something amazing (even if it’s just you relaxing on the sofa)
  • Once they’re asleep, they have nightmares. The first time your toddler has one, it can be scary for both of you. Rest assured - it’s a sign that their imagination is developing

“Get bedtime stories you like as well. You’ll soon know them off by heart, trust me.”

Toddler with toys in bed ready to sleep

How to get your toddler to sleep

Toddler sleeping patterns can differ from child to child. And there’s often a simple reason for your toddler not sleeping - and a simple solution. You’ll soon find what does and doesn’t work for your toddler’s sleep problems. Start by establishing a routine early and hopefully you’ll both get a decent night’s sleep.

  • Regular bedtimes and naptimes – Help them develop their own little body clock so sleep comes naturally and try putting them to bed at the same time each night
  • A bath and bedtime story – These can create a comforting routine to help you both unwind at the end of the day
  • Choosing a toy or book — It can help if they feel in control, so let them choose their bedtime toy or story. A familiar toy will comfort them as they start to drift off
  • Gradual retreat – If they need you in the room as they start to nod off, each night gradually move towards the door a little more until you’re out and they’re fast asleep too. This can take a few weeks, so be patient
  • Let them be – If they cry when you put them down, stay calm and try leaving them for five to ten minutes before going to them. Comfort them but resist the temptation to pick them up or bring them downstairs so they don’t expect it every time
  • Try a snack – Fight off any bedtime hunger pangs with a light snack (a small banana, a biscuit or milk) before they brush their teeth and go to bed
  • Turn on the light – Try a nightlight or leaving their door ajar to help soothe any fear of the dark
  • Keep them comfortable – Cuddles and reassurance should help with any fears or bad dreams and don’t forget to adjust their bedclothes to suit the temperature in their room

Of course, if you’re worried about their lack of sleep (or yours), seek a healthcare professional’s advice.

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