Five tips for helping your toddler to sleep
Most parents hope that once their child reaches the toddler stage and doesn’t need to be fed so frequently, getting up in the night might be a thing of the past, however in many cases, the opposite is true.
Toddler sleep problems are extremely common, and whether the problem is getting them to bed in the first place, or getting them to sleep through without waking you up, it can all add up to many frustrating and exhausting nights. Fortunately, there are many solutions that will help both you and your little one to get a more restful night’s sleep. Follow these 5 top tips and soon you’ll both be sleeping like a baby.
1. Routine is the key
One of the problems that toddlers face when it comes to sleeping is that they don’t know how to switch off and relax. You can help to resolve this problem by keeping the couple of hours before bedtime as quiet and calm as possible, with a gentle winding down routine that makes your little one feel safe and ready for relaxation.
A bath, followed by a story before kissing the stuffed toys and tucking them in, and a lullaby with the lights off is one example of a simple but effective routine. Toddlers have to have a set bedtime so that their body starts to expect to sleep at a particular hour. An earlier bedtime is best since if your little one gets overtired, they will find it more difficult to sleep because of the cortisol and adrenaline that kicks in to make sure they can stay awake, so aim for round 6.30-7.30pm.
2. Create a cosy bed
You need your toddler to want to go to bed and then to stay there, so creating a comfortable and cosy environment is paramount. Darkness is very important, and blackout blinds or curtains could be especially useful in the summer when the sky is still light outside.
Staying warm will also make sure your toddler has the best chance of staying asleep, so if they often kick off their covers, consider getting pyjamas with feet so they can stay cosy. Making sure their favourite cuddly toys are surrounding them will also help them to feel more reassured if they wake in the night.
3. Exercise and fresh air
It might sound like something your grandma used to say, but she was definitely right – your little one will sleep better if they play outdoors for longer. Try to spend some time outdoors in the late afternoons playing energetic games, and encourage plenty of laughter as this changes the chemistry in their body to reduce stress hormones, making it easier to get a restful night.
4. You may still need nap time
While all children have their own sleep needs, a lot of toddlers aren’t ready to stop having nap times until they are 3 years old. If you try to avoid naps before that, they will become overtired and cranky and that’ll make bedtime much harder.
5. Learning to put himself to sleep
If you want your toddler to sleep alone in their own bed, you need to teach him to put himself to sleep as that’s the only way that you won’t be disturbed during the night. Rocking or nursing your little one to sleep will just encourage him to call out for you as they will need the same process to go back to sleep again. That means you’ll need to put your little one in their bed when they’re awake, and while breaking old habits can be hard, it’s an important step.
Starting slowly is often the best way. Begin by carrying out your usual routine and then cuddling him until he goes to sleep. You can then progress to touching but not holding him, and then to just holding hands. Soon you’ll be able to just sit next to the bed, and then move a little further away each night until, you’re finally outside the door.
Follow these five tips, and hopefully you’ll soon find that your little one starts to learn to sleep through the night, allowing you both to get good quality rest.
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