Getting your toddler to settle down for a night of sleep presents a challenge for many parents. While sleeping may seem like an instinctive skill that your child should develop naturally, in truth, sleep training is often required to produce a toddler who is able to sleep all night. If you are desperate to improve the length and quality of your child’s nightly slumber, a few basic sleep training activities will provide her with the skills needed to sleep with success.
Explore Sleep Problems
Before tackling your toddler’s sleep difficulties, consider whether there might be other factors that contribute to the sleeplessness. This is particularly important if the sleep difficulties are a new development. For example, if your toddler is in the process of cutting some new teeth, he may temporarily be a fussy sleeper. Additionally, if you have made changes, such as moving or adding a new member to your home, your toddler could respond to these by not sleeping as well as he once did, reports WebMD. If you feel that an external factor is at play, you may not need to dedicate as much effort to sleep training. Once the troublesome issue subsides, your toddler will return to his previous sleeping habits.
Tire Out your Toddler
If your kid seems uninterested in sleep, take extra steps to tire him out. Add more physically exhausting activities into your daily play schedule. Reduce the midday naps. If these two measures still leave him a little less than ready for bed, push his bedtime back 15 to 30 minutes so that he is even more exhausted by the time his head hits the pillow.
Create a Sleep-Inducing Setting
Make your toddler’s room ready for sleep by filling his crib or bed with cozy bedding. Select blackout curtains to place on his window, which will block out any light that comes in when your toddler needs to be sleeping. If sound from the rest of the house filters into your toddler’s bedroom, block out this sound pollution by placing a sound machine in her room or play a classical music CD at a low volume near her bed.
Your toddler will likely sleep better if he has a pre-bed routine that signals that sleeping time is upon him. Don’t expect your child to go from active to asleep at the drop of a hat. Instead, create a 30-minute routine that signals to him that it is time to get ready for bed. Include soothing activities, such as taking a warm bath, cuddling together to read a book, or downing some warm milk. If you do opt to give your toddler warm milk at bedtime, give it to him before you help him brush his teeth.
Let Him Cry
Many moms have to fight the urge to jump up at when they hear a cry. While it can be difficult to allow your toddler to fuss a bit after setting him down to sleep, this method is an effective way to teach your child to self-soothe. Allow your tot to cry a bit, a process referred to as “Ferberizing” and named after Dr. Richard Ferber, the pediatrician who devised the system. For many parents, this method proves to be an effective means of keeping toddlers in bed and teaching them to self-soothe instead of turning to mom and dad throughout the night.