Have you been having trouble convincing your toddler to sleep in his/her room? Or maybe you are able to put them to sleep, but they crawl back to you later in the night? For parents facing such bedtime challenges with their toddlers, it’s good to know that it is quite a common thing.
When babies slowly transition from the infant to the toddler stages, it’s a good habit for them to learn to sleep in their own rooms. But it will be a while before your child grows fully comfortable in going to sleep on his/her own. Before that happens you will have to be patient with your child trying excuses and tactics to crawl back to you. However, you can definitely take some steps in inculcating a good sleeping habit in your child which we will look at going ahead:
Reasons Why Your Toddler Refuses To Sleep
Before you begin to tackle your little one’s issues with sleeping alone at night, maybe you should consider figuring out what is happening in the first place. Here are a few reasons why toddlers usually refuse to sleep at night:
1. Separation Anxiety
Several toddlers go through this phase in the early stages of their lives, particularly when they first begin to sleep alone. You may also notice separation anxiety if you have to leave your little one alone or with someone else for a bit, for example, if you have to run errands. Your child may display tantrums, cry, or even throw things to show you that they are not okay with being away from you (1).
2. There Is No Clear Routine
Maybe the only reason your child cannot sleep at night is that there is no clear routine as such. Have you been encouraging your child to sleep late on some nights and early on the others? Then that could be the problem. It’s crucial to establish a routine, without which your child may not understand that nighttime is for sleeping!
3. They’ve Made You Their Sleeping Aide
The chances are that your child has gotten so accustomed to having you around at night that they’ve found some sort of comfort or dependency on you. This is normal and extremely common, but it is important to wean your child from this habit, so they learn to find comfort in their own selves at night!
4. They’re Over Sleeping
It’s common for infants to nap several times a day. But as they transition into toddlers, the sleep requirements go down significantly. It is sufficient for toddlers to sleep just once per day. As such, in case you are allowing your toddler to catch naps during the daytime, chances are that they won’t feel sleepy at night.
5. Nap Time Is Too Close To Bedtime
Next time, keep a tab on when your little one has their naps. If it is too late in the evenings, then the chances are that it can affect their bedtime. It’s always good to let them nap somewhere during noon if they really need it.
6. Your Child Snores
Have you noticed that your little one snores? The chances are that this could be the reason why they find it difficult to sleep at night. Several causal factors such as cold, sleep apnea, allergies, or a deviated septum can cause snoring in children. Have a pediatrician look at your child if you notice any snoring or similar breathing issues (2).
What Can You Do About It?
Once you’ve figured out what could be causing all that bedtime tantrums, here’s what you can do to help your child:
1. Make A Routine, No Compromise
You’ll have to first create a bedtime routine for your child. And then, you’ll have to stick to it! Don’t let the puppy-dog eyes and crying deter you from this routine you have created for your child. Unless they are sick and need you around, there’s no need for you to put them to sleep.
2. Change The Environment
The environment that a child sleeps in can make all the difference. Maybe your child needs to start playing somewhere else, as opposed to in their bedroom. Also, if you’ve put a television in your child’s room, you should consider placing it in the living room instead. The bedroom is meant for sleeping, and your child should know this. Make sure there is adequate space and ventilation so your child does not feel too stuffy. Also, ensure that the lighting is apt. Go for dim lighting instead of extremely bright lights. You could also paint the walls a more subtle, soothing hue instead of loud and bright colors.
3. Keep A Tab On The Food Intake
It is essential to keep a tab on your toddler’s food intake, especially before bedtime. Extremely heavy or processed foods can cause digestive issues and interfere with your child’s sleeping patterns. Keep the dinner light and make sure that your child has dinner early instead of too late at night. There needs to be a two or three-hour gap between dinner and bedtime.
4. Be There When Needed
Your child may end up having nightmares or the occasional bad dreams. They’ll expect you to be there for them during this time. If so, then go ahead and be their support system. However, once they’ve calmed down, you need to leave them alone later in the night. Maybe tuck them back into their beds after they’ve calmed down. This way, they’ll know that you are available at their worst, but once things are better, they’ll have to go back to their own beds!
Keep in mind that your child needs some time to get used to sleeping alone. As babies, they had you by their side, round the clock. So, this transition can be scary for them. With patience, you’ll be able to get your child to sleep on their own without disturbing you! How do you deal with your child at night when sleep becomes a problem? Let us know in the comments below!
- Relations Between Parental and Child Separation Anxiety: The Role of Dependency-Oriented Psychological Control
- Persistent Snoring in Preschool Children: Predictors and Behavioral and Developmental Correlates