How to Ease Toddlers into a Healthy Sleep Pattern
Having a toddler can be quite the adventure. Everyday they’re learning and exploring the world a little bit further. Sleep is an important factor in early childhood development, so it’s imperative to make sure you’re little one is getting the rest they need in order to thrive.
Toddlers need approximately 12—14 hours of sleep a day, but getting them to settle down can sometimes be a challenge. Establishing a nightly routine is the best way to help ease your toddler into a healthy sleep pattern. If you’re not sure where to start, seek inspiration from this article that offers 4 tips to get your toddler sleeping soundly.
1. Have a Designated Bedroom Space
For all humans, big or small, sleep is one of the most vulnerable states to be in. In order to achieve a true restful sleep, a young child must feel secure and relaxed in their environment. While it may be tempting to let them stay cuddled up on the couch or in your own bed, it’s best to wake them up and bring them to their own room when it’s time to say goodnight. Additionally, if your little one gets upset in the middle of the night stay with them in their room, rather than your own, to ease them back to bed. This will reinforce the idea that their bedroom is in fact a safe and good environment to sleep in.
2. Use Security Objects
Security objects, otherwise known as transitional objects, help children relax and feel comfort on a physiological level. Toddlers go through many transitions like having their first bed, and in some cases, their own room. Some children may be left feeling unsure about these changes, so having a security object to take to bed can help sooth them. An example of a security object could be a soft blanket, a special stuffed animal, or perhaps a night light. Allowing your toddler to pick out their own bed sheets and mattress cover while shopping can help make their bed a fun place to be. Sometimes, a child’s own bedding can serve as the security object.
3. Set Limits and Enforce Them
Children are known for developing their own nightly rituals such as saying goodnight to all their toys and stuffed animals. However, this can sometimes be a way for a child to delay their bedtime for a little extra play. Setting limits and sticking to them is another great way to help your toddler learn when it’s time to go to sleep. This can be done by giving a child a countdown to get settled into bed, or establishing rules such as no noisy toys after a certain hour. Turning off technology and putting it away at least 30 minutes before bed help brain functions settled down and get ready for sleep.
4. Maintain a Bedtime Pattern
Having a consistent bedtime routine is one of the best ways to help toddlers learn how to unwind and get ready for bed. This can include light play with quiet toys, bath time, reading a book, and a goodnight kiss. However, if the pattern is not maintained, it will not be effective. If older siblings are in the house, have them assist with and encourage the routine to diminish distraction. Be sure to outline exactly what to do for babysitters, and challenge yourself as the primary caregiver to stick to it every night.
By the age of 2, toddlers are able to understand basic patterns and routines making it the perfect time to establish a nighttime pattern. By following a bedtime pattern every night your child will know what to expect and how to act. This consistency will help them feel relaxed and secure, and they will be able to fall asleep much easier. Even if you’re not at home, do your best to stick to the routine. When settling down in a new environment, having the familiarity of a bedtime pattern may make it easier.
By Rachelle Wilber
Rachelle is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber
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