There are a few simple tactics that will help your toddler to sleep and avoid any problems in the future. A sleeping routine for your toddler doesn't need to be treated as a military-precise regimen, but can be a positive cornerstone for a healthy lifestyle. A good day is built on a strong foundation of sleep after all!
If your toddler is constantly getting up and calling out for you, it's just their way of delaying the inevitable but can naturally be the source of irritation for parents. Firstly, make one hundred per cent sure that nothing is genuinely wrong and then spend a little time with them to make sure they are comfortable and settled. It has been proven that some adults' anxiety and abandonment issues may have roots from being separated from their parents at an early age so it's important to acknowledge them. Show them that you love them and ensure them that you are close by, but also make it clear that night time is the time for sleep. Educating toddlers about sleep time is as important as the final goal of getting them to sleep on their own.
Develop a sleep time routine with your toddler. This extends past the actual time itself: make sure that you do the same things every night. These may include things like having a bath, reading them a book or talking about the day. Make sure they've gone to the toilet and brushed their teeth. It's not the time to engage them in videogames, movies, play time or anything else that may stimulate them. Be clear about what is happening. Say goodnight naturally, and put them at ease before you leave the room.
It may take some time to settle on a suitable bed time for toddlers. Because all children and house and family situations are different, you may need to adjust you toddler's sleep time slightly rather than exactly follow the same time as your friend or neighbour's. Get your toddler to slow down and don't let that second wind take hold!
If your child complains of the dark, invest in a night light which will help them initially. Some toddlers will only need to use them for just a few months before you are able to phase them out.
Tell them how proud you are. On the flip side, it’s best not to acknowledge toddler’s bad behaviour the following day.
If your child calls out during the night, try your best to ignore them as on many occasions they will be able to settle themselves. The same rule applies with putting toddlers down to sleep in the first place: try your best to make sure their concerns are genuine and only then, should you go to them. If you go at their every whim, they will soon take advantage of it so while difficult, trying to ascertain their concerns is crucial.
Some toddlers will grind their teeth during sleep. This may be loud and concerning, but don't worry too much. If you feel that it is excessive, seek advice from your GP who will be able to help you determine if there is a greater problem - though this is rare.
Sometimes toddlers may be genuinely hungry, although night time eating should be discouraged once they enter their toddler years. There are a number of ways to phase out night time eating. These include shortening feeds for breastfed babies, and then cutting that down to less nights per week. Use this same analogy but apply it to volume for bottle-fed babies. Obviously, they are still growing, so make sure you temper this with their growing daily food requirements.
If they get up help them back to bad with little, or ideally, zero fuss. This may take a number of times, but persist with it and stay calm! Some parents suggest erecting a child gate if the problem gets out of hand, but our experience shows that results and sleeping through the night will come if you stay consistent, positive and calm.
Make sure you lavish your child with praise if they stayed in bed and went to sleep. Tell them how proud you are. On the flip side, it's best not to acknowledge toddler's bad behaviour the following day - it won't help and the focus should be kept on keeping things positive.
Talk to other Essential Baby members about sleeping in our live forums.