Toddler sleep issues | Top 5 solutions
As tempting as it may be to explain to your child why they should have used the toilet before getting into bed, or remind them not to drink too much water before bed, or scold them for losing their favorite toy, it's best to avoid lecturing them at bedtime. Instead, deal with these issues in the morning. The less attention you give to these excuses, the faster your toddler will go to sleep.
When dealing with toddler sleep issues, it's essential to be patient and remain calm. Try to keep the bedtime routine consistent and establish healthy sleep habits. By doing so, you can help your toddler get the rest they need and ensure a peaceful night's sleep for the whole family.
Dropping a nap too soon.
If your 2-year-old suddenly stops taking a nap, it's a good idea to evaluate their life and your own. Has anything changed recently, such as the arrival of a new baby or the addition of a new playgroup? Are you neglecting the wind-down ritual, arriving home late for nap time frequently and rushing your 2-year-old to bed?
It's important to ensure that you're not late for nap time 80% of the time, as 2-year-olds quickly develop FOMO (fear of missing out), and being overtired can fuel the desire to skip naps and play instead.
Having a new baby can make the wind-down ritual more challenging, but just as you don't need to kick your toddler out when you wind down your baby, you don't need to kick your baby out when you wind down your toddler. If your naps are out of sync, you can bring your baby to your 2-year-old's room while reading them a story. If your baby needs to be fed, give your 2-year-old the task of turning the pages and make a "ding" sound when you need the page turned.
You can also tell your toddler that the new baby is going straight to bed after they get into their own bed, so that there is no jealousy around mommy time.
If your 2-year-old has dropped their nap and is experiencing the "terrible twos," it's likely that overtiredness is contributing to this behaviour. The benefits of a nap on your child's emotional state can be lost with the early dropping of the nap, and many toddler sleep issues can be caused by being overtired
Moving to a big bed too soon.
Many toddler sleep issues can be traced back to transitioning to a big bed too soon. If your toddler is not attempting to climb out of the cot, there’s no need to rush the transition. Parents often view the move to a big bed as the next fun phase or as a necessity for the new baby, but if your toddler is not a good sleeper, a big bed can make things worse.
Instead, consider buying a second-hand cot for the new baby, which is a cheaper alternative than seeking professional help to solve your toddler's sleep issues. Additionally, you can borrow a bassinet, which will give you a six-month window before you need to move your baby to the cot.
Most toddlers will sleep comfortably in their cot until they are close to three years old. So, if your toddler is content with their cot, there's no need to rush the transition. In fact, a second cot can be the solution to your toddler's sleep issues.
Early wake ups.
Are you having trouble with your toddler waking up at 5am and coming to your room to wake you up or asking for breakfast? One of the reasons for this could be over-tiredness, so try putting them to bed earlier. Another reason could be that their nap is too long, so try cutting it back by 15 minutes. It's also important to make sure that your child's diet has enough protein, as a lack of it can also cause early wake-ups. Additionally, if the sun is streaming into their room, it could be disrupting their sleep. If your toddler is old enough to sleep in a big bed, consider using a sleep trainer clock from Sleepytot or try the Ooly, which can help them stay in bed until a reasonable time.
Night wake ups.
Toddler’s who still wake at night are more common than you think! If while your toddler is sleeping they are waking for a bottle of milk at night, you dentist will thank you for stopping this habit.
Either replace the milk with water for a few nights, or cold turkey cut the milk and re-settle your toddler. Again check their diet and check they are not over tired when they go to bed.
Consider how they get to sleep for their nap and in the evening, are they relying on milk at these times also?
Without positive parenting, toddlers push back, dig their heels in and demonstrate their stubbornness!
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"Kelly has been fantastic, having an older child (3 year old) I was skeptical but she helped so much. Her tailored gentle approach was fantastic and the communication was great. Being a Mum too it was nice knowing she had been there with her children. Thanks so much Kelly." ~ Francine
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
Our Baby Sleep Program helps tired parents TO DEVELOP HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS BY FOCUSING ON NAPS, SETTLING AND NIGHT SLEEP.
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