New parents hear lots of advice about helping their babies sleep. As a baby and parents get to know one another, patterns typically emerge and everyone finds a rhythm. However, babies become toddlers and with that transition comes sleep changes. Some children show little sleep disturbance as they grow, but many new toddlers begin struggling with sleep. The unpredictability of toddler sleep sometimes takes parents by surprise. However, these changes are normal and won’t last forever. As you navigate your toddler’s changing sleep patterns, here are some ways you can ensure that your child gets the rest he or she needs.
Establish a Rest Time
While not true for every child, toddlerhood is a typical time for children to stop napping daily. This change in sleep routine is definitely a key factor in toddler sleep disruption. Establishing an afternoon rest time is one good way to provide your child with the opportunity to sleep or rest daily. Instead of enforcing a nap each day, explain to your child that he will spend time playing quietly in his room each afternoon. How many activities you provide him is up to you. Some parents choose to only offer books and puzzles while others give the child full access to his toys. Whatever you choose, prepare for a learning period as your child explores the boundaries of his new routine. However, after a short time, your established afternoon rest will become a time of calm and relaxation for your child that will fuel him until bedtime.
Stick to Your Routine
This is certainly advice that is often easier said than done. However, it greatly benefits your child’s sleep habits if you prioritize your daily routine. Most importantly, look for ways to keep wake-up times, nap times, and bedtimes the same each day. Keeping those intervals regular helps your toddler’s body establish rhythms and encourages her to get sleep at the appropriate times. Additionally, work on maintaining a simple routine around your toddler’s sleep. For example, perhaps at bedtime you get on her pajamas, brush her teeth, read her a story, and then sing her a song. Keeping that routine in the same order each night will signal to her brain that it’s time for sleep and help her settle in.
Start Bedtime Early
While this can be difficult for families where both parents work, giving your child plenty of time to wind down from the day is essential to good nighttime rest. Toddlers aren’t good at sudden transitions, so moving from racing around or wrestling to bedtime will probably end poorly. Instead, begin dimming lights and speaking more softly about an hour before bedtime. Reserve rowdy games and screen time for earlier times of the day. Use evenings for reading books, listening to calm music, and taking warm baths.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New
Often, when parents are trapped in a difficult cycle with toddler sleep, it feels as if there’s no way out. Instead of feeling trapped, try to think creatively. Remember that no childhood stage is forever, and just because you hold your child’s hand as he falls asleep or read a few extra books doesn’t mean you will have to do that forever. Be patient with yourself and with your child as you figure out your new normal together.
Giving your toddler the confidence and encouragement to sleep well independently can be a long process. After all, it is a skill just like all the other important things they are learning. However, with the framework laid out above, you will be well on your way to a peaceful night’s rest for everyone in your home. Are you looking for childcare that will reinforce healthy sleep habits for your child? Consider Legacy Academy Woodruff Road. Call or visit today for more information.