Getting a good night’s sleep is important to everyone’s health, yours and your little one included. However when it comes to toddlers it can be a bit like the adage about horses, you can lead them to water but you can’t make them drink. Cranky days and bedtime tantrums can leave everyone in the house exhausted. Here are some tips for helping the whole family get sufficient sleep.
Establish a schedule. Setting a bedtime and time to awaken in the morning can help your child get into a sleeping routine. Child Development Institute indicates small children benefit from an early bedtime, say around 6:30 to 7:30 in the evening. A bedtime routine will help your child unwind at the end of the day, telling her mind and body that sleep is coming. Sometimes kids hate the idea of giving up being awake to play. Some professionals recommend making part of the bedtime routine fun by singing silly songs or playing games. Also ensure your little one gets a nap every day. Toddlers who are nap-deprived tend to be in a good mood when they awaken for the day, but will become fussier or act overstimulated as the day progresses.
Sleep environment. Creating an optimal sleeping environment for your baby can help her fall asleep and sleep through the night. Make sure your child’s pajamas and bedding are comfortable, with a cozy blanket and an appropriate temperature in the room. One idea is to eliminate distractions that may be keeping your child awake. Make sure the room is dark and add a white noise machine or play soft, repeating music. Adding a humidifier to her bedroom can be a benefit as well: it will help maintain the right levels of moisture in the air, help prevent your child’s skin from drying out and can help when your child has respiratory issues.
Visualize at her level. If your toddler awakens during the night and can’t seem to fall back to sleep, Parenting suggests changing her bedroom and nighttime routine so there is consistency. Look at the world through your little one’s eyes and ensure things appear the same when she lays down to sleep as well as during the night. For instance, if you normally sing your little one to sleep every night and you aren’t there to do it at 2 a.m., she may be relying on your singing to fall asleep. When you aren’t there to set up the pattern, her mind and body can’t get back into sleep mode.
Similarly, look around the room to see if things are different. Is there a light in the hallway that disappears during the night? Are there toys you put away after she dozes off? Instead, create a situation that’s the same when she falls asleep as when she awakens during the night.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Does your youngster struggle to awaken in the mornings? If she can’t seem to wake up or is groggy and cranky through the day, one solution is to expose your toddler to about a half hour of daylight in the morning. Just like darkness triggers sleepiness, daylight can help shut down the sleepiness and help her wake up.
Help for Mom and Dad. Children aren’t the only ones who need a good night of sleep! Sleep helps restore your mind and body so you can function better and feel better. It turns out you should follow some of the same rules you set for your toddler: Follow a bedtime routine and ensure you have a comfortable sleeping environment. If you struggle shutting off your mind when you wind down at night, don’t turn to electronics. Instead, Prevention recommends opening a fictional book. It provides an escape from your busy thoughts, de-stressing your mind and relaxing your body.
Pleasant dreams! We all need a good night’s sleep to stay our best. Help your toddler with an appropriate routine and environment and do yourself the same favor. Your whole family will benefit with better sleep habits!
Amanda Henderson is a mom to two wonderful, active boys and a preschool teacher. She enjoys writing in her free time, and recently decided to create Safechildren so that she would have a place to share her thoughts and favorite resources on parenting and child safety.