Toddler sleep challenges are very different to a baby’s. Your toddler will know their own mind, be a lot more vocal and they will be a lot more stuck in their ways. The good news is, that the tips below from children’s sleep expert and fellow Hip-Lister, Cara Treadwell are all achievable and you can start implementing them today! Read on for how to improve your toddler’s sleep ASAP!
- Early bedtime
Despite what the book may tell you, toddlers still need early bedtimes. This is because an overtired toddler will actually sleep less and more restlessly than one who goes to bed earlier. If you have a toddler who wakes frequently in the night or is prone to early risings, definitely have a look at when they are falling asleep. A bedtime between 6.30pm and 7pm is ideal to avoid overtiredness.
- Special time
This is honestly your secret weapon. I can’t tell you how effective special time is! This works for children as well so any older siblings can reap the benefits too.
How it works:
Set a timer for 10-20 minutes and spend uninterrupted time with your toddler.
This means no washing, texting or anything else you need to be doing (I know, it can be really hard to sit in the moment when you have washing piling up in the sink), but it will pay off and may even give you some extra time to catch up!
If you give your toddler this time, it fills up their emotional tank. It makes them feel connected to you, noticed and like they matter. It has a huge impact on sleep when done daily! Reconnecting also helps them feel able to go off and play independently. Thus, giving you an extra 10 minutes to reply to that work email. Amazing!
Why is it so effective helping with sleep?
Because a secure and connected toddler is much more able to relax, cuddle down and go to sleep.
Aim to do this once or twice a day and you can even do a shorter version of this at bedtime, especially if they have been at nursery or preschool all day. Opt for puzzles, sticker books, colouring, reading or any other calm game you can think of. You could even have a “Special time” box that includes a lot of quiet games and activities.
One of the most overrated and underused tools you have in your sleep kit, is the ability to communicate with your toddler. Before you make any changes to their sleep routine, talk to them about it. Tell them why you want to make the changes and how it will help them to feel more rested. (A.K.A “you’ll have more energy for the park and colouring the kitchen walls if you get more sleep!”)
Imagine if I came along one evening and changed your bedtime routine, started telling you to do things in a different way…you would probably hate me forever, call me names and have a terrible night’s sleep!
However, if I came to you a few days before and told you how I want to help improve your wellbeing, help you feel more rested and get a better nights sleep and how I plan to do it, you would probably feel a bit uneasy initially, but you would come round to the idea and handle the change like a pro!
Toddlers need time to process, they need building up and they need you to keep telling them “the plan”. They forget easily and informing them of the plan once is never enough! Communicate daily with your toddler for the best chance of success.
Note: Try and speak to them about these changes away from bedtime, when they are feeling happy and rested. Breakfast can be a good time for this or on a walk.
What is your toddler eating? It is really important to look at their diet, especially towards the end of the day. Sugary drinks and snacks are like fuel on a fire, they will work against you and your plans for sleep!
Slow releasing snacks with both complex carbs and protein are going to be your best friends…Think greek yogurt with banana, toast soldiers and nut butter, even a bowl of porridge makes an ideal pre bed snack!
This is by far the hardest part of working on sleep. Once your toddler has reached 18 months old, their sleep troubles become behavioral. Improving sleep, breaking habits and really seeing changes, takes time. You can’t sleep train toddlers so it takes a lot of consistency on your part! This can be disheartening for a lot of parents who are desperate for a good night’s sleep. Always imagine the end goal and take it slow. Small changes are much better than great big overwhelming ones.
You can put the above in motion today and you will start seeing improvements in no time at all!
For more information on toddler sleep or Cara, head to www.thesleepmethod.co.uk