Toddler sleep can be a challenge, even if your baby was a star sleeper. Toddlers are a force to be reckoned with as they hit all kinds of milestones and start to develop personalities of their own. They also become master procrastinators and are very fond of the word ‘no’ (using it…not hearing it). They can provide bedtime challenges that throw even the most experienced parent for a loop. So what can you do about toddler sleep? Here are some tips.
-Have a bedtime routine in place. Having a bedtime routine can help your toddler wind down and it signals to the body that it’s time to sleep.
-Limit screen time. TV, table, phone, etc should not be part of your toddler’s bedtime routine. All screens should be turned off 90 minutes before bed. The blue light emitted from screens can actually turn off the sleep switch and make it much harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
-Keep your toddler’s schedule the same. This will keep your toddler’s internal clock in a regular pattern. Wake them up at the same time each day (yes, even on weekends), have naps at the same time each day. Bedtime shouldn’t be too late and it can be based on how nap (s) went that day. If naps weren’t good, then put them to bed earlier.
-Make sure his environment is conducive to sleep. The room should be dark and free of any distractions. You can introduce a white noise machine to drown out some everyday noises. Toddler clocks are also a great tool to help your toddler stay in bed.
-Anticipate any and all reasons that your toddler might get out of bed or keep calling for you. Make sure they’ve used the potty, have all their stuffies, water, etc.
-Have a family meeting and establish some sleep rules. These are just really basic sleep rules that your toddler can follow to help them stay in bed. You can explain to them the importance of sleep and that they are to stay in bed.
-Don’t be afraid of using silent return. It means exactly that…you will silently return them to their bed if they get out of bed. It’s important to not say anything, negative or positive. Also try to avoid tucking them in, kissing their head, etc. All of these things may actually encourage them to keep getting out of bed and it can quickly turn into a game. They love the tuck ins and head kisses so they’ll keep getting out of bed to get them. Same with talking to them, any kind of acknowledgement is reinforcing the behavior. They are getting a reaction from you and so they will keep doing it. By returning silently, it gets really boring for them since they aren’t getting anything from you so they will stop doing it.
My final piece of advice is to be consistent and patient. It’s not easy and it can take time, but it will absolutely be worth it in the end. Hang in there!