Sleep toddler, sleep
Feeling like a failure ‘cause your toddler doesn’t sleep through? A sleep expert has help.
One mistake parents make is not connecting a child's sleep to his daytime behavior. Much of the behavior labelled as “the terrible twos” is a sign of sleep deprivation. Fussing, whining, fighting with siblings — often has root in the lack of a good night's sleep.

Most children need lots of sleep.  If a child has poor sleep habits or refuses to go to bed before 11pm, his parents may think that he doesn't need a lot of sleep.  In fact, it's likely that such a child is actually sleep-deprived.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your child fall asleep almost every time he's in a car?
  • Do you have to wake him almost every morning?
  • Does he seem cranky, irritable, or overtired during the day?
  • On some nights, does he crash much earlier than his usual bedtime?

A "yes" to any of these questions could indicate that your child may be getting less sleep than he needs. To change this pattern, you'll need to help him develop good sleep habits and set an appropriate bedtime – between 7pm and 8pm.

Things you can do to help your child sleep well:

  • Avoid “assisting” your toddler to sleep eg rocking them.  Instead form a regular bed routine eg feed, bathe and then read a story.
  • Always put your toddler down to sleep in their own bed.
  • Provided your child is healthy, don’t rush through every time you hear a noise.  If you always appear, they will grow to expect you there every time they are awake.
  • As children grow, reason with them. Firmness plus a reward system, appropriate to the child’s age, is often successful at this stage.
  • Stick to a regular, reasonable bedtime.
  • With older children, cut out foods and drinks containing caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. Instead, give a healthy, sleep-instigating treat, an hour before bedtime.  Some foods naturally spark a release of serotonin, the body's built-in sleep inducer:  Try a glass of milk, a piece of whole-wheat toast with a slice of cheese, half a peanut butter sandwich, or oatmeal with bananas.
  • Rule out medical conditions such as sleep apnea or bladder infections. 
  • Ensure that the room temperature is ideal for sleeping - between 18º and 20º Celsius and that your toddler is not dressed too warmly or too lightly.
  • Keep bathing close to bedtime. The bath gets your child nice and toasty and then the cool room causes his body temperature to drop, which brings on sleepiness.
  • A consistent wake-up routine is just as important as a regular bedtime.  Children should get up at roughly the same time every day. 
Does your child sleep through the night? What is your secret?


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