Remember those days when your little baby slept blissfully after a good feed and you heaved a sigh of relief? From the moment you become a mother, the struggle with your baby’s sleep routines is real and can go on for a few years. If initially, it was all about getting your newborn to sleep at night, then it’ll be all about making him/her sleep ‘in time’ as a toddler. Yes, toddlerhood is the phase when your little one starts school and with that, discipline kicks in. This is when a sleep schedule becomes all the more imperative. You need your child to sleep in time so that he/she can wake up, get ready and reach school on time. And then, there’ll be days when you’ll think the schedule works just fine and your toddler starts waking up at odd hours. However, with a little pre-planning and patience, problems such as these can be handled effectively. Here’s what you can do to get your child in bed on time and remain in until the scheduled wake-up time:
Get Them The Right Room
A toddler’s sleep can be quite unpredictable. Sometimes, they can sleep soundly for hours and, at times, they’ll wake up even to a pin-drop sound. Therefore, to begin with, set a room for your child where there is the least amount of disturbance. Make it child-friendly by painting it in muted, pleasant tones. Don’t go for very sharp, bright colors which usually excite kids. Recognize the triggers that wake them up often and eliminate them.
Reduce Daytime Naps
Kids are usually made to take daytime naps as babies, a habit which they continue even as toddlers. However, as toddlers, they require more of nighttime sleep than daytime naps (1). They can still take a nap, but make sure you reduce it to one before gradually moving them completely to nighttime sleep.
Create A Sleep Pal
As a baby, you’d have often accompanied your child to bed and they get used to your warmth. Without someone around to hug, children often feel cold, scared, and lonely. Therefore, introduce a new bed pal for your child in the form of a cute stuffed toy or an animated pillow. But make sure your child does not play with it during the day. Kids being their usual imaginative selves will easily look forward to going to bed with their sleep pal at night.
Stick To A Routine
Once you create a routine for your child’s bedtime, then make sure you stick to it. This should apply even during the weekends or holidays. Of course, you can relax it a bit by say half an hour late or early, but do not make the changes too drastic. The erratic timings will again take you back to where you started from.
Eliminate Physical Wake-up Factors
Kids will wake up on time and refreshed if only they sleep throughout the night. Often, kids wake up to pee in the middle of the night. Sometimes hunger or even thirst can wake them up. Make sure your child goes to pee 5 minutes before going to bed. Ensure that your child has eaten a good dinner (doesn’t have to be heavy though) before sleep time. If there has been a gap of more than 3 hours between dinner and bedtime, then giving your kid a glass of warm milk will also help.
Avoid Electronic Gadgets
Electronic gadgets! The modern-day sleep villains should be avoided at all times, especially before sleep hours. If you really want to keep your kid engaged for a while, you can give your child your mobile phone or tablet for half an hour or so. But, make up for that screen time by taking your kid for a short 10-minute walk or stroll. This will help tire out your kid physically, which will make him/her want to go to bed.
Following these will hopefully help you develop a good sleep routine for your child. However, do practice a wait-and-watch approach toward it. If something doesn’t seem to be working, try different options. And if you suspect an illness that might be hampering your child’s sleep, then don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.