How to help your Toddler Sleep Happier!
Why can sleep become so challenging when your little one moves to a big bed? This is a frustrating and common questions most parents have to deal with when their baby out grows their cot and it is time to move into a big bed. The main issues at this age and stage is your child getting out of bed constantly at bed time or during the night. The other issue is often parents are needed to lay with their child in the bed until they go to sleep. If this is happening in your home and you do not feel it is an issue or are happy returning your child to bed each night, then that is fine. But for most families the broken sleep or long winded bed time are often draining and exhausting for everyone.
So then how do you help you toddler learn the confidence and skills to go to bed happy with little fuss and sleep well until morning time? The answer is boundary’s, direction/cues, consistency, patients and always love.
The best age to transition your little one into a big bed is 2-2.5 years old. The main reason that 2-2.5 years is a good age to transition your child to a big bed is focussed on their impulse control. From this age your child is more likely to make this transition with minimal upset and a better understand of what is expected from them. A child under 2 has little impulse control and the desire to get out of bed and see you or what noises are going on, is higher then the understanding that is it bed time and they need to go to sleep.
However, if it is becoming unsafe for your child to stay in their cot because of fear they will hurt themselves as they climb out, then you are able to make this transition earlier. It just means that you will need more patients, consistency and direction to help your little one learn to sleep happy in their own space.
The following are some handy tip to help make toddler bed time easier.
If impulse control is an issue or your little one is frequently getting out of bed during the night or at bed time, then a sticker or reward chart is great.
Create the reward chart with your little one and place 3-5 bed time goals that they need to achieve each night to get a sticker in the morning. Allow them to decorate the chart as much as they like and place the chart in an area of their room that they can see. This is a positive experience, full of fun and praise for good behaviour. This work’s best for children from 2.5 years.
Set a bed time routine and appropriate bed time. The bed time routine can be placed on the reward chart if you like. But a bed time routine is a consistent number of event each night that help your little one understand that it is bed time and sleep time. A bed time no later then 8pm for any child until at least early to mid-primary school is often too late.
You want your child to be able to go to sleep independently and without you in the room. This is because during the middle of the night when your child wakes naturally in between sleep cycles, they do not need to come looking for you because you are no longer in bed with them.
Ensure your little one has had a great dinner and is full and ready for bed. This will help to reduce their feeling or need to snack at bed time.
If sleeping in a big bed is a new thing, then role play and talking about the new bed time routine should be discussed and played with during the day. This is because by the time bed time comes around your child is familiar with the bed time process and is starting to understand what is expected from them. Children learn best through play and by role playing any new changes, will help your child learn and understand.
Reward good behaviour and ignore bad bed time behaviour. Silence is a very powerful and strong way to send a message to a toddler. Toddlers thrive on social interaction and by cutting out that social interaction and focusing on what your child needs to do, will send a very strong and clear message. For example, if your toddler comes out of bed after you have said goodnight, then you walk them back to bed silently with no form of interaction. Play and social interaction is for play time, silence and sleep is for bed time.
Consistency is key! It is normal for a child to respond really well to a bed time routine change and then a week later go through a test phase. This test phase will often see your child try to revert back to bed time ways. But if you stay consistent with your bed time approach then your little one will learn once again that bed time is for sleeping not playing.
A dark and comfortable sleep environment!
Toddlerhood is exhausting for everyone and helping to ensure they are achieving the best sleep possible is so important. A toddler’s
day is filled with so much play and learning. A balanced sleep is essential to help them learn and develop to their fullest potential. Bedtime is always such a challenging time at this age, but by helping them learn to go to sleep independently and return them back to their bed when they decide to challenge sleep time at bed time or the middle of the night, is key to moving on from this stage.
If your little once is struggling to move on from this stage and you are needing some extra help to achieve your little ones sleeping goals, then please contact me at Dreamy Baby Sleep Consultant and I endeavour to help everyone sleep happy again.
Written by: Che Ruddell - Dreamy Baby Sleep Consultant