By Allison Davis
Whoever made up the phrase “sleep like a baby” obviously got lucky. The truth is that most babies don’t sleep through the night. In fact, many toddlers don’t either. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if your kid has a hard time sleeping at night, it could be genetic. In a recent study, it was found that while the sleep your toddler gets in the daytime may be based on environmental factors, such as too much noise or light, the amount of time your toddler sleeps at night cannot be easily controlled. That being said, the study did show there is a magic window of time at 18 months old in which you can defy genetics and get your toddler to sleep through the night once and for all. Here are some ways to help you out.
Image of toddler sleeping by sdminor81 via Flickr.
Set Up a Big Kid Room
If you haven’t already, now is the time to transition your child into his own room. With fewer distractions he will be able to focus more on the task of relaxing and falling asleep. To help make the transition easier, take your kid with you to pick out a big-kid mattress. It may not seem important at this young age, but the quality of mattress you put your kids on can actually have a big impact on their overall development. Not only that, but the more comfortable they are, the easier time they will have falling to sleep. In addition to looking at the mattresses, you can also have your kid pick out a new comforter or décor for his new room so he feels excited to be in his new space.
No Screen Time Before Bed
Pediatrician Dr. Claire McCarthy reports that you should shut off all screens, including televisions, tablets and phones, at least an hour before bedtime. This will not only help your toddler wind down, but it will also help regulate melatonin production.
Set a Bedtime and Routine
It is also important for children to get used to a set schedule. When they go to bed at the same time, their bodies come to expect it. They will fall asleep faster and with less effort.
Having a routine is also important. You should create a sequence of events that you do the same way every single night. This will teach them that when this routine starts happening it is almost bedtime and they need to start getting their minds prepared to sleep. For example, you can have bath time, brush teeth, then read a story and go to bed.
Consistency is Key
Whatever you decide to do to teach your toddler to sleep you need to be consistent. If you aren’t, they will try to work the system. For example, if you are trying to teach your child to sleep in his own room, walk him back right away if he comes to sleep with you in the middle of the night. Never make an exception because he will expect this to become the rule.
Reward Good Behavior
No toddler list would be complete without a little bit of rewarding good behavior. If your toddler goes to bed without a fight or sleeps all night long, give them a reward the next day. It can be something as simple as a sticker on a chart or an extra amount of story time with mommy and daddy. When you emphasize the good behavior instead of the bad, you will see that your toddler will try harder to keep you happy.