Getting your toddler to have an established sleep routine is very important. As a mother of three kids, I’ve been where you are. It can be hard on the parent as well as the child to establish good sleep habits, but in the long run, you and your toddler will both be better off.
You do not want your toddler to get stuck in a bad sleep routine. For starters, outgrowing a bad sleep routine isn’t something that happens overnight, so if you already have problems getting your child into a sleep routine, don’t try to “wait it out” because it honestly will not get better. Start that routine now, and it will pay off in the future by giving you peace of mind. And your toddler will learn to be more independent while sleeping.
This article will detail several ways to get started on that sleep routine with your child.
#1: Stick with a Routine in the First Place
You want to have your child on a routine, so come up with a plan and stick to it every single night. Kids thrive on routine. Have dinner at the same time, followed by whatever activity they are allowed to, give them a bath or shower, brush teeth, read them a story and then put them to bed. If you only do those things sporadically, toddlers aren’t going to learn that bedtime is when you say it is, because they don’t have events that lead up to it as well as it being at the same time every…single…day. Start your routine and you may find that things click into place.
#2: Give Praise
Kids need praise, just like everyone else does. Praise makes us feel good about ourselves and gives us a feeling of accomplishment. Your child will feel those things too if you praise him or her. If your toddler has been having a hard time staying in bed, but one night he or she does stay in bed until the morning, give praise. Let your toddler know how proud you are that he or she stayed in bed all night and is becoming a big boy or girl.
#3: Put Them Back in Bed if They Get Up
My youngest son was forever getting up out of bed to come find me when he woke up in the middle of the night, and no matter how heartbreaking his little face made me look, I took him right back to bed. Sure, it may be tempting to take your child to bed with you, but in order for your toddler to live more independently, he or she needs to not be in your bed indefinitely. Once in a while is okay; kids need those special times. However, allowing your toddler to sleep with you every single night can be tiring on you and leads your child to develop bad sleeping routines.
#4: Be Supportive
Toddlers may have some valid problems about going to bed, so be supportive of those problems. If their room is dark, they may be scared. Invest in a nightlight to give them some peace of mind. There is nothing wrong with having a nightlight. It may help toddlers go to sleep faster and if they wake up in the middle of the night, they’ll have a light to help them fall back asleep or come find you if need be.
If they have a nightmare, comfort them. Soothe their fears away so they can get back to sleep. Nightmares are pretty serious stuff when you’re a little kid. A nightmare they had a couple of days before can keep them from going to sleep on a different night. Talk to them about their nightmare and help them work through it.
#5: Let Them Fall Asleep On Their Own
It may be tempting to crawl into bed with your toddler until he or she falls asleep, but that doesn’t help. That teaches your child that he or she can’t fall asleep unless he or she is curled up against you. No matter toddlers say, let them fall asleep on their own. In time, it will become completely normal for them to do so.
“Establishing healthy sleep habits: 24 to 36 months” Baby Center.
“Healthy Sleep Habits for Toddlers,” What To Expect.