While some children are adept sleepers by toddlerhood, others still struggle to sleep through the night. If your toddler is still a restless sleeper, you can help him make sleeping an all-night event with some simple behavior modification techniques. By dedicating yourself to the task of making your toddler’s nights restful, you can likely improve his ability to sleep and make him the skilled sleeper that you want him to be.
Create a sleep schedule. Toddlers require 12 to 14 hours of sleep nightly, reports SleepforKids.org. Plan a schedule that allows for this amount of sleep for your tot. When crafting this schedule, consider not only the child’s sleep needs, but also your desired sleeping pattern. If you prefer to stay up late and sleep in, keep your child up later so that he stays asleep later into the morning. If you are an early riser, put your child to sleep earlier and spend time with your spouse in the evening. Regardless of the schedule you select, stick to it to ensure that your child becomes use to his planned sleeping pattern.
Prepare an environment conducive to sleep. Place black-out blinds in your child’s window to ensure that the evening and early morning sun don’t interrupt his sleep. If your child seems hesitant of the dark, place a nightlight in his room to allow him to rest more at ease.
Create a calming pre-bed ritual. The Parents website suggests that parents complete the same ritualistic tasks with their toddlers prior to bedtime. By reading with your child, giving him a warm bath or snuggling up with him for a pre-bed back rub, you can signal to your child that it is bedtime and get him ready for a night of slumber.
Plan a response to nightmares. By toddlerhood, many children have experienced their first nightmare. Before you are faced with the task of dealing with nightmares, consider what your response plan may be. Avoid allowing your scared tot to crawl into bed with you post-nightmare, as this may lead to him trying to sneak into your bed more often. Instead, consider going into his room and soothing him in his own space until he goes to sleep on his own.
Provide the child with a security object. For some children, a security object can be a tremendously helpful sleepy time tool. Give your child a stuffed animal, blanket or other soft token to take with him each night. As he nestles with this soothing toy, he may feel more relaxed and ready for sleep.