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Toddler sleep problems

preparing for a sleepover

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You have countless reasons to be proud of your toddler but sleeping at night may not be one of them. Dark circles under your eyes are testament to your nocturnal awakenings and while your friend was smugly telling of her newborn who already sleeps through, you were busy contemplating how long you’d get for forcibly shutting her up – at least you’d get a better night’s sleep in prison…

Toddler sleep problems are not uncommon but there are ways you can help encourage good sleeping habits and achieve that elusive eight-hour stretch (of sleep, not jail).

preparing for a sleepover

Toddler sleep problems can be resolved with routine

One of the best ways to promote a healthy sleeping pattern is to introduce a routine. Rather than letting your child stay up until she shows signs of tiredness, take her to bed at the same time every night.  Eventually her body clock will become tuned to this and she’ll be ready to fall asleep at that hour most nights.  It’s also good to have a before-bed routine. If each evening is the same – bath, pyjamas, milk, teeth brushed, story, bed – she’ll soon recognise these activities as a sign it’s nearly time for sleeping.  It also gives toddlers a chance to wind down after a busy day.

There absolutely nothing wrong with staying beside your child while she falls asleep and if you’re happy to do so then carry on.  However, if you have other children to put to bed, a mountain of ironing to do or just crave some adult time before you crash yourself you may want to get out of the habit. A popular way of doing this is to move a little closer to the door each evening.  Your child might not even notice you’re doing it but will gradually learn to settle without you being right next to her.  This offers the comfort of having you nearby while she learns to fall asleep independently.

Alternatively, give your little one a goodnight kiss and leave the room. If she gets up put her back in bed, say goodnight again and go back downstairs.  Repeat as many times as is necessary and offer praise when she does stay in bed.  Controlled crying is a sleep training method that everyone seems to have an opinion on.  For some it’s a necessary evil and for others it’s just not an option.  If your child starts crying when you leave the room, don’t immediately return.  Leave it a few minutes before going back in to comfort her.  Gently but firmly tell her everything is ok and it’s time to go to sleep then leave again.  Each time you leave wait a bit longer before checking in.

Toddler cannot get to sleep

Once your toddler is able to fall asleep on her own she is much less likely to need you in the early hours, as she now knows how to get herself back off to sleep.  If you do hear shouts from the next room, call back that you’ll be through in a minute.  Make sure she knows you’re there but give her a chance to fall back asleep on her own.  If you go in straight away you might wake her up more and it’ll take longer to settle her back down.

Don’t expect results overnight but you will get there in the end.  Remember that your child will eventually grow out of sleep problems; she won’t still be coming into your bed every night when she’s 15 years old.  And when your child does finally sleep through the night whatever you do, don’t spoil it by going in and poking her to check she is ok!





About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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