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Gentle Sleep Tips For Toddlers

From the beginning, I've tried to create a positive association with sleep for my son. I didn't want to have a struggle to make him sleep every night. I wanted him to view sleep as a necessary time of rest and relaxation. Of course, it's not easy for an energetic toddler to think that way.

A few tips gentle to help your toddler's bedtime go smoothly.

One of the things that always seems to work is setting an example. You need to show your toddler that night is a time for going to bed and winding down. It's hard to send that message when you have the television on in the next room. Even if you are not going to bed at the same time, let them know that you aren't having 'fun' by doing all the things they aren't allowed to at bedtime. I try to quiet down our activities and dim the lights in the house, at least until he's fast asleep.

Another thing to remember is to create a non-stimulating, comfortable environment in the bedroom. Unless they are really accustomed to white noise or star lights on the ceiling, it's best to keep it simple. If you're dealing with the common fear toddlers have of the dark, consider having a non-intrusive night light on.

Whether you co-sleep or are in different rooms, remember that toddlers seek the comfort of your presence, sometimes many times a night. Let them know that you're only a call away. If they sleep in their own room, keep the door open, or give them a baby monitor they can use to call out to you.

One of the main disturbances to sleep, especially for kids, is the use of screens too close to bedtime. Put away the screens about two hours before bedtime, and focus on other activities such as playing with toys or pretend play.

Create a bedtime routine that your child will love. Make a song, or a pictorial checklist, or whatever works for you. Add some fun elements and change things around a little sometimes. We usually do washing up, brushing, and reading before bed. Sometimes, we have a quick snack or a glass of milk. This bedtime routine is important for toddlers, so they know it's going to be time to sleep soon. Try to give enough time to this ritual, and not rush it. We also like to snuggle in bed, and talk about how the day went. It's really comforting, and helps in bonding.

Your toddler may have stopped taking daytime naps, but there are days when they will need it. So don't worry about letting them rest on days when they are really tired. It may push sleep time a little, but they will feel more relaxed, and you will see that in their behaviour. We had stopped day naps at first, but when Little Dude started preschool, he was too tired, too early during the day. So, I gently introduced naps again, and he's much happier now.

One of the reasons toddlers may put up a fight at bedtime is when they're not tired enough! Make sure you give them enough opportunities for physical play throughout the day. They really need it to feel worn out enough to sleep, and to work up an appetite.

Also keep in mind that the actual amount of sleep your toddler needs may differ from others. Little Dude has always slept less than the recommended hours, even as a baby. But I don't worry about it because he tells me if he's too tired, and rarely needs to be awoken in the morning. So, don't fret about the hours. As long as your child is happy and rested, he or she is getting enough sleep.

Gentle tips to help your toddler's bedtime go smoothly.



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15 comments

Courtney said...

We just went through the weaning process, so we don't have the automatic wind-down time anymore. We have to make a conscious effort to quiet our day and snuggle in. I miss how easy breastfeeding made things, but it was time for the next life stage.

Tarana said...

It was tough for us during weaning too, but thankfully, it was over quickly!

Mama MKDPR said...

Good tips. We're all about the bedtime routine here!

#sharewithme

Suburban Mum said...

Fab tips - children like routine and knowing what comes next. #ShareWithMe

Tin Box Traveller said...

We've always followed a routine for the Tot, varying it slightly as she has got older to accommodate her changing activities like going to nursery when I went back to work and moving from her cot into a bed. We've just changed it again because of the arrival of baby #2. Each change takes a little bit of time for us all to get used to, but we get there. You tips are great general rules for setting the bedtime scene #sharewithme

Let's Talk Mommy said...

Always love your posts and so full of tips and advice that I always need or am looking for. These are fab hunny. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

Tarana said...

Routine is so important, right?

Tarana said...

Very much, it's best to talk them through.

Tarana said...

Yes, every little change means a lot of work for parents! But with patience, it can all be done.

Tarana said...

Thanks Jenny!

Merlinda Little said...

We co-sleep and I am planning on making my son use his own bed during the summer vacation so that by next school term he is already using his own bed. So I am bookmarking this. #sharewithme

Busy Mommy DXB said...

I completely agree with this Tarana. I

Tarana said...

Hope it goes well!

Melissa Matters said...

I'm such a night person, I have to remind myself to wind down too and set a good example. These are excellent tips!

Tarana said...

I need to go to bed earlier too - now I just pretend so he'll sleep!

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