Healthy sleep for your child means getting the need sleep that they need, on an age appropriate schedule and doing so independently. An independent sleeper is part of the goal, right? So why am I talking about sleep tools?
Sometimes we run into physical and behavioral hurdles in our children’s sleep, especially in the toddler stage, where sleep tools can be very helpful in encouraging your child to have a great relationship with sleep. Here are a few tools that will help you through those toddler years:
You may have seen my post about safe sleep, if not, be sure to check it out. You will read that under 12 months of age it is recommended for safety reasons not to have anything in your baby’s crib but your baby and the clothing that they are wearing. A sleep sack acts as a safe wearable blanket. Be sure that when you choose a sleep sack you are considering how warm or cool your home is and that you are choosing an appropriate size. You will want it to fit properly and ensure that your baby doesn’t overheat.
The hidden secret to a sleep sack is that when your child reaches the age that they want to explore life outside of the crib – it can help to prevent them from jumping by aiding in preventing them from swinging their legs over the sides of the crib. If you get your child used to it as a baby, then you won’t be wrestling an active 18 month old into one ;). We want to try to keep our kiddos in a crib until at least the age of 2.5 – 3. The sleep sack will help with that goal.
I really love the toddler clock! It is a great visual communication to your toddler when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake. The toddler clock will turn to stars when it is time to sleep and turn to sun when it is time to wake, or the light will turn off when it is time to sleep and turn green when it is time to wake. It is popular to introduce a toddler clock when you move your child to a “big kid bed,” but I think you can introduce the clock at anytime. In fact, if you introduce it sooner than the transition to a big kid bed, then this is part of their daily routine and we all know that our kids love routine. When looking for toddler clocks, you will want to select one that you can set for both naps and nighttime.
Bedtime Routine Charts:
Sometimes keeping a toddler on track for following a plan is tough. But a bedtime routine is a really important part of ensuring that your child is ready for sleep. Toddler’s love fun, am I right? So why not make the bedtime routine fun and soothing at this age. You can create your own bedtime routine chart using stickers, or use flashcards (here are some free ones for you to print). I also have some other ideas in my bedtime routine blog. If you can keep it fun and rewarding then your child keeps their interest and it can even spark some pride in the routine. For some kiddos there is so much satisfaction in just getting a sticker.
Also Consider Sleep Environment:
One part in ensuring that our children get the rest that they need is ensuring that they have a sleep conducive environment. Their rooms should be dark, cool and quiet. Think: soothing! What tools might promote a sleep conducive environment?
Black-out Curtains / Blinds
When our bodies go into dark spaces, our natural sleepy hormone, melatonin begins to be produced. By creating a dark space for both day and night sleep you are encouraging melatonin production. Bring on sleep!
A White Noise Machine
When our kids go to bed, often we are still awake. White noise is a great tool to use to block out the noises of the house. Place their white noise machine by their door, ensure that it runs continuously and go about your evening. Heck, you can even enjoy watching a movie with your significant other. 😉
Healthy sleep is important at any age, but can become challenging in the toddler years, even if you have already established great sleeping habits with your child. This is because they are learning so much at this stage developmentally, including boundaries and how far they can push. I hope these tools help you with your toddler sleep struggles, if you do continue to struggle, the team at Good Night Sleep Site is always here to help.
Certified Sleep Consultant
Good Night Sleep Site Florida
*based in Orlando, FL, but work remotely with families