9 Tips for Your Toddler to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
You’ll never forget the day your baby slept through the night for the first time in her crib. After weeks or months of waking up every other hour, you both finally got some much-needed rest. But now your little one has grown up a bit and she may not be sleeping through the night anymore. Luckily, there are things you can do, such as follow these nine helpful tips from Pottery Barn Kids to help your toddler get a better night’s sleep.
Cut back on screen time before bed. Most families spend the last hours of the day watching TV, playing games or working on their computers or checking social media via their smartphones. Even toddlers are addicted to the many screens in their lives. Several studies have shown that shutting the technology down at least 30 minutes before bed can lead to a more restful sleep for people of all ages.
Switch to organic cotton bedding. Whether your child is sleeping in a crib or a big-kid bed, organic bedding is one of the safest and healthiest options for bedding. Other materials can sometimes cause allergies, headaches and rashes if your child has sensitive skin. Your toddler may simply be uncomfortable in bed and do better with a more natural fabric.
Turn out the lights. If your toddler isn’t afraid of the dark, make the room as dark as possible. While you’re at it, check the thermostat and make sure the room is not too cold or too hot. Around 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. If your child tends to wake up earlier, try blackout shades or a white noise machine that prevents her from seeing and hearing the sights and sounds of morning time.
Send your toddler to bed earlier. It may seem like the opposite of what you want to do, but a little one who stays up too late is overly tired and may have a hard time falling and staying asleep. Toddlers should typically go to bed between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. If your little one goes to bed on the latter end of that spectrum, try moving bedtime down half an hour or so. Also, avoid late-afternoon naps.
Spend the day doing physical activities. If you spend most of the day sitting down, you probably aren’t going to be as tired as you would be if you spent the day running around. The same goes for your toddler. Start a new physical routine as early as after breakfast. Spend an hour outside on the patio or in the yard or go for a walk. Visit a local park. Come up with some physical indoor games on rainy days. Not only is this healthier for your child, but you should notice better sleeping habits within a few days.
Cut out the nighttime feedings. Your toddler should’ve started to lose interest in nighttime bottles and nursing sessions around 9 months of age and usually no later than a year old. If it’s time to cut down, try not to do it abruptly. Start by adding water to a bottle of milk and eventually graduating to just water in the bottle. If you’re nursing, cut back on the amount of time between sessions gradually until the overnight one is gone completely. Use a fun book as a distraction if she fusses about the different bottle contents.
Check with your pediatrician. Occasionally, despite your every effort, your toddler still doesn’t get a good night of sleep. It’s possible she needs some medical attention; sleep apnea, asthma and acid reflux are all issues that can keep your toddler awake at night. Coughing, snoring or vomiting at night are signs that something is off.
Teach your toddler how to fall asleep on her own. Bedtime routines often rely on stimulation from the rocking chair, nursing or listening to music. When your toddler wakes up in the night, she might not be able to fall back asleep without whatever it was that made her sleep in the first place. Try to wean your child from some of those behaviors, and try letting your little one fall asleep without help.
It may be time for a big-kid bed. If your toddler is still sleeping in a crib and can crawl out on her own, you may want to consider making the switch. However, if you aren’t quite ready for that, take some time to lower the mattress and remove any toys or pillows that your toddler can use as stepping stools. If your child does climb out and come to you, gently guide her back to her room to return to sleep in her own bed.