Sleep challenges are one of the most commonly heard complaints of pediatricians. Getting toddlers to fall asleep on their own can be a difficult task. Experts commonly advise parents that consistency and routine are important when enforcing bedtime. Here are three tips to help your toddler overcome their sleep challenges.
The first thing parents should do is create a “wind down” time in the house. During this time noise should be turned off, lights can be dimmed, baths are given and the child is told that bedtime is coming. This routine will let the toddler know that it’s time to relax for the night. It’s also important for parents to establish a standard bedtime, so as that time rolls around each night, the toddler will begin to feel sleepy and ready for bed.
Children can feel anxiety when first learning to go to sleep on their own especially if it is in a dark, quiet room. Another tip given by author Elizabeth Pantley is to play soothing music or white noise while the child is falling asleep. This will cover up other noises from outside or within the house, but it will also serve as a cue for the child. When he hears that music, it will signal that it is time to go to sleep. There are also nightlights that will give a little bit of light in the room so children are not afraid. Sometimes, just a tiny a bit of light will help soothe their anxiety of being in a dark room alone.
Some parents make the mistake of falling asleep in their toddler’s room with them, and this may create a bad habit that is tough to break. Child psychiatrist Preetpal Sandhu suggests that parents gradually disengage from sleeping with the child, rather than just stopping all at once, which can cause anxiety and make it more difficult for the child to fall asleep. Parents can tell the child, “I will lay with you for ten minutes tonight,” and then the next night, maybe they sit on the edge of the bed for a few minutes. Gradually moving further away, or shortening the time, until eventually they can just tuck the child in and say goodnight.
Getting a good night’s rest is crucial for a child’s development, so creating a routine that is consistent and comforting will help form good habits that will help ensure the child gets the appropriate amount of sleep. It will also eliminate stress in parents who continually fight with their children over bedtimes and sleep habits.