Children of all ages need a good night’s sleep to be at their best. Yet bedtime can be a hassle for toddlers. They often throw tantrums instead of climbing into bed each evening. There are several reasons toddlers resist bedtime. They may feel as if they are missing out on fun by going to sleep early. Some toddlers also fear the dark and do not want to be left alone in their room without their mommy or daddy. To keep your young child healthy, he or she should receive 11 to 14 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period. This should include one to two hours of naps and approximately 10 hours of nighttime sleep. If your toddler is struggling to meet these goals, follow the below tips.
- Make a Routine
The basic bedtime routine should include a bath, reading time and then sleep. You can adjust the formula slightly, but keep in mind that the more pre-bed activities you add, the less sleep your child will get. Your toddler’s bedtime should be the same every night. Do not let your kid push for an extra 15 or 30 minutes of activity. Even if he or she seems wide awake, your toddler may actually be overtired. A consistent routine should also help your child’s body prepare for naptime. Eventually, your toddler will get used to napping at a certain time of day. If your child frequently has trouble falling asleep during naptime, consider moving the nap to later in the day.
- Make Sure Your Kid Is Comfortable
Once it is time for bed, tuck your toddler in and check that he or she is comfortable. This should reduce the chances of your kid getting out of bed during the night. A soft mattress is key. A top mattress buying guide should help you find the ideal bedding for your child.
- Limit Sugary Snacks and Screen Time
Some children need a pre-bedtime snack before they fall asleep. Avoid sugary sodas or candy, as these will just make your kid hyper. Opt for a glass of warm milk or some cheese and crackers instead. The light from computers, televisions, smartphones and tablets can also keep toddlers awake. The American Academy of Pediatrics thus suggests turning off these devices 30 minutes before bedtime. They should be kept out of your kid’s bedroom, as well.
- Soothe Your Child Following Nightmares
Of course, getting your toddler into bed is just half the battle. Kids may wake up during the night, especially if they have a bad dream. To reduce the chances of your child having a nightmare, make sure his or her bedtime routine is a happy one. Avoid any movies or books with scary themes. If your child does wake up screaming during the night, do not tell him or her that the nightmare was imaginary. That is not comforting to a toddler who believes the dream was real. Instead, reassure your child that the monster in the dream is gone. Once your toddler has relaxed, you should leave the room and let your kid fall back asleep. Do not stay in the room for an extended period of time. Reading another book or giving a long explanation about the nightmare will just stimulate your toddler and keep him or her awake.
- Do Not Respond to Every Cry
Your toddler may also call out for you at night because he misses you and does not want to be alone. It can be tempting to run into your kid’s room every time he or she cries. Yet this can be exhausting for you. Instead, create a set schedule of how often you will respond. Start with going into the room every five minutes, then gradually increase the amount of time between visits. Your child should eventually fall asleep on his or her own.
Bedtime can be stressful for parents of toddlers. However, the above steps should help both you and your young child sleep soundly.