The energy levels of your baby are unfathomable, especially through toddlerhood. The more tired they get, the more they seem to want to exhaust themselves to the point where they crash out. Children need adequate sleep in order to grow, stay on top of their ever changing emotions and the other challenges they seem to continuously face in their little world. However, a well-rested toddler is far more alert, attentive and fun than a cranky one. The good news is that good sleep habits will help your toddler sleep through the night as well as help them go back to sleep if they wake up in-between. So here are some much-needed tips to make your child get a good night’s sleep.
1. Influence of meals on sleep patterns
A satiated child sleeps well and sleeps tight. Make sure that your baby has adequate nourishment that will keep them from gnawing hunger throughout the night. Many children wake up at night because they get hungry. Having said that, ensure that the food your baby consumes during the second half of the day is easy on the stomach. Pay particular attention to dinner as a heavy meal full of rich food may lead to stomach discomfort that may ultimately end up waking your toddler.
2. Activity and how it helps tire your child
Children have bountiful energy that needs to be exhausted in order for them to eat or sleep well. Make sure your baby gets plenty of physical exercises and fresh air every day. This will help them be hungry during meal time and will also aid in digesting what they eat. When they are able to digest their food, they sleep so much more peacefully at night.
3. Two hours just before bedtime
Make sure you help your baby unwind every day by slowing down their physical and mental stimulation at least two hours before bedtime. Help them unwind by reading or playing soothing music. Don’t allow them to eat any kind of sugar or candy as it has a tendency to make children become energetic which in turn will delay their sleep time.
Every small issue related to a child can be minimized by this one rule. Follow a routine. Children thrive on routines not just physically. Their body clocks also get adjusted to regular meal times and sleep times. It is easy to make a child sleep if their body is used to winding down at a particular time every day. Even if you are used to haphazard schedules as a parent, we recommend that you insist on a routine as far as your child is concerned.
5. Bedtime rituals
Help your child get into sleep mode by having a bedtime ritual. It could be saying a small prayer or reading a favorite bedtime story. It also serves as a wordless communication to your little one that it is time to go to sleep. These things go a long way in helping the child understand and accept that it is time to go to bed. If you have different things you do before bedtime on an ad hoc basis, it is difficult for you to set the expectation that bedtime has come and that it is time to sleep. When your baby sleeps peacefully ending a long day on a good note, they tend to sleep well and invariably end up sleeping through the night.
6. Afternoon naps
As counterintuitive as it may seem, a tired child doesn’t always go off to sleep. They end up becoming more and more cranky. The crankier your baby becomes, the longer he or she tries to put off bedtime. It is a cycle that ends up in frustration for both you and your precious little toddler. So make afternoon naps a daily ritual if your baby is less than three years old.
A child who doesn’t know what is going to happen is irritated and less prone to sleeping peacefully. Communicate with your baby on what is coming. If you co-sleep, tell your baby you are right there and to sleep peacefully. If you do not co-sleep, try to be as consistent as possible with your routine instead of swinging back and forth on your decision on whether to co-sleep or not. When you are consistent, after the initial resistance, your baby will learn to anticipate what comes after and usually get used to whatever routine you choose. What ends up causing confusion to them is inconsistency on your part to stick to a routine, sleep pattern or your decision on whether to co-sleep.
8. The process of going to sleep
A small child usually needs the parent to rock them to sleep. If you have already gotten your baby used to this, you have to wean them slowly in order for them to develop the habit of going to sleep without your help. Try to get him or her to lie down and pat them to sleep. After they seem comfortable with that, just place your hand on your baby and help them develop the ability to sleep with just your hand on them. The next step is to not touch your baby but just sit next to him or her till they doze off. Once you achieve this, if they wake up at night, they will easily able to drift back to sleep without the need for your presence.
All milestones require tremendous patience and determination from your side to actually culminate into reality. Prepare yourself ahead of time on what you need to do and try to be as consistent as you can when you are trying to make your child develop new habits. You may be sad that your little one is growing up so fast. You may even be apprehensive about doing something that is unpleasant in the short term but is ultimately good for them. Acknowledge how this may make you feel as a parent. However, don’t display your trepidation in front of your child as they are very good at picking up non-verbal signs of discomfort.Be gentle yet firm with them as they foray into life as confident young children.