10 Tips for Ensuring Your Toddler Gets Enough Sleep

Make sure your toddlers gets enough sleep.
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Throwing temper tantrums at bedtime, repeatedly getting out of bed, and waking up too early in the morning are just a few common bedtime behavior problems among toddlers. Of course, sleep problems aren’t just contained to bedtime – many toddlers struggle with naptime as well.

An overtired toddler is likely to exhibit a variety of behavior problems. And research shows that when kids don’t get enough sleep at age 2, they’re likely to have increased emotional and behavioral problems as preschoolers.

It’s likely that a lack of sleep during this critical phase of development could have long-lasting effects.

Here are 10 tips for addressing sleep issues so you can make sure your toddler is getting the recommended 12 to 14 hours of sleep:

1. Maintain a Sleep Schedule

Toddlers do best when they have a consistent sleep schedule. Try to keep your child on the same schedule regardless of whether it’s a weekend, vacation, or special occasion. Doing so can ensure that your child’s body gets into a clear rhythm and he’ll be better able to fall asleep.

2. Create a Consistent Bedtime Routine

A calming bedtime routine will help your child prepare to go to sleep. Create a routine that will help him wind down about 30 minutes before bedtime. Turn off the background noises, dim the lights, and read a few stories after bath time.

3. Set Clear Limits

It’s common for toddlers to throw a fit at bedtime or ask for “one more story” 10 more times.

Set clear limits and stick to those limits so your child knows that his tactics to delay bedtime won’t be effective.

4. Encourage the Use of a Security Object

Whether your child has a pacifier, blanket, or stuffed animal that’s special, security objects can help him feel safe. It’s important to make sure that you’re not the security object.

Otherwise, your child may struggle with separation anxiety the second you’re out of sight.

5. Avoid Using the Bedroom for Discipline

Putting your child in time-out in his bedroom or crib could cause him to begin to associate his room with something negative. Reserve his room for playing with toys, sleeping, and reading books. It’s important for him to recognize his bedroom is a safe, secure spot.

6. Don’t Run Into Your Toddler's Room Every Time You Hear a Noise

It’s normal for kids to toss and turn or make noises in their sleep. If you run to his room each time you hear a noise, you may actually be waking him up. Sometimes kids wake for just a brief moment and fall right back to sleep if they’re not disturbed.

7. Respond to Nightmares Quickly

If your child cries and sounds fearful, it’s important to respond fast. Toddlers sometimes wake up in a state of panic – perhaps from a nightmare. And if they’re comforted quickly, they can often fall right back to sleep. If however, they’re left to scream for a few minutes, they may become completely panic-stricken, which makes it hard to fall asleep again.

8. Keep Your Toddler’s Room Comfortable

Sometimes a few simple changes can go a long way to ensuring your toddler gets a good night’s sleep. Periodically check out the comfort level of your toddler's room. Is it a comfortable temperature? Are there any strange noises that are likely to disrupt your child’s sleep? Does the sun shine brightly in the room during certain times of the year? Answering those questions can help ensure that your child’s room provides optimal sleep conditions.

9. Use a Nightlight

While too much light can disrupt your child’s sleep, a completely dark room can be problematic too. A child who wakes up in the pitch dark may become frightened. A little bit of light can help ensure he can see his surroundings just enough to know he’s safe and secure in his room and he’s more likely to fall asleep.

10. Provide a Sleep Clock

Since toddlers can’t tell time, they have no way of knowing whether they’re waking up at 3 a.m. or 6 a.m.  A sleep clock can be a good solution. There are several clocks on the market that either light up or change colors to alert your toddler when it’s time to get up from a nap or when it’s time to wake up in the morning. It can help train your child to stay in bed longer.

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