How To Help Toddlers Sleep Through The Night | For Tired Moms and Dads
If you’re reading this, odds are you’re exhausted. And we can guess as to why. Last night was likely a blend of delayed bedtime tactics, calling out, and your toddler eventually crawling between you and your partner, trying to hog the covers. Ultimately, your idea of a restful night didn’t go as planned.
You made it past the first six months. During that time, it’s at the very least expected to endure many a sleepless night—and many a groggy day willing your eyes to stay open. But a lot of books will tell you tired moms and dads that sleep should come easier once your baby reaches their toddler era.
Some little toddlers get an A + on the sleep scale. But not all tiny tots are created equal. To the dismay of parents whose energy stores are nearly cashed out, it’s common for many toddlers to have some form of sleep difficulties.
Your child’s sleep problems aren’t only a pain for you; waking through the night makes for stressful days and nights for your poor tyke. If your toddler has sleep problems, they’re likely exhibiting symptoms like daytime grogginess, increased irritability, withdrawn behavior, sporadic daytime sleeping, and much more. And their intention isn’t to make your night a sleepless torment—many little ones desperately want to fall and stay asleep at night. The poor kiddos simply can’t do it.
If every response to “How are you today?” is TIRED, it might be time to enlist in the help of some sleep remedies to help your toddler fall asleep easier and sleep through the entire night.
Stick to a Sleep Routine
A lot of little ones develop sleep problems from a lack of regularity. Think about waking up early—if your life and work demands have you bouncing out of bed at seven every day, how difficult is it pry yourself out from under the covers at five to get ready for an earlier event?
The same is true in reverse. It’s really hard for kiddos to drift off when they’re in bed at 10:00 pm one night and 8:00 pm the next—their little systems remember being up late the night before and it’s harder for them to wind down. When there is a set bedtime schedule, bodies acclimate to the schedule as time passes. When the normal time for lying down comes around, sleepiness kicks into overdrive without even having to look at the clock.
In determining what time your toddler should go to bed, remember that toddlers need 11 to 14 hours of sleep per night. If they’re going to be up at 7:00 am, they might feel best going to bed at 8:00 pm. This will allow a bit of padding in case they toss and turn or wake up at night. And even if they don’t need to be up early, we’re sure that by now you very well know that young children tend to wake up early no matter what time they go to bed—so a 10:00pm bedtime may make for an irritable child, especially if this isn’t their norm.
If your toddler is having trouble getting to sleep or is waking much throughout the night, take a stab at trying out a strict sleep routine. It takes about three weeks for bodies to acclimate to new habits, so try it out for a month to see if it works for you and your little munchkin.
Create Calm Conditions Before Bedtime
There have been studies on both screens and bright lights and their effect on sleep—bright lights and screens can trick our brains into perking up and thinking it’s daytime, making it so hard for little kids to fall and stay asleep. Before bed, turn down the brightness volume. This means no screens an hour before bed, a dim-lit house, and a calming atmosphere (like a lavender candle or some vanilla scents in your toddler’s bedroom).
If your nights have been difficult for both you and your little one, there’s probably some anxiety leading up to bedtime. Instead of letting your child play with toys right up to the brink of bedtime, make the hour leading up to sleepytime a peaceful experience that both you and your toddler can look forward to every night. Try a warm bath, a cup of warm milk, a soothing story, and a gentle rock with lullabies.
For the Nighttime Wakers: A Gentle Tough-Love Approach
The previous two solutions help with getting to sleep. But a lot of moms and dads have big bags under their eyes because their toddler can’t seem to stay asleep.
When things aren’t going well for a toddler, they turn to mom and dad to save the day. In this case, they are looking to their parents to save the night. Stressed out and fussy that they can’t manage to catch their z’s, they’ll call for their heroes (parents) or will promptly dive into their bed.
Making this a routine night after night drives a wedge into everyone’s sleep—your toddler’s, yours, and your partner’s. It’s important to not reward your child for waking up, no matter how bad you feel for their inability to sleep. Letting your toddler climb under your cozy covers routinely engages their growing brain’s reward system, making waking up at night something to subconsciously look forward to.
It might feel like an easy fix to let your baby climb under the covers—especially if it’s 2:00 am, everyone’s groggy, and it’s hard to look at their sleepy, frustrated little faces. But instead of giving in, scoop them up in your arms for a moment, give them a kiss and a hug, and send them back to bed. Eventually, the nighttime wakes will dissipate and sleep should come easier—for the both of you.
Your toddler needs good rest, but so do you. If your nights aren’t living up to dreamy delight, your mattress might be part of the problem. Try one of Trinity Sleep’s gel memory foam mattresses for a cool, supportive night’s sleep. We’ll let you decide if you like it for an entire year.
Trinity—a better bed.