It can be difficult to teach your toddler good sleeping habits. Some kids have a hard time learning how to fall asleep by themselves. Sleep aids can help. Medications and herbs designed and marketed as sleep aids should not be given to toddlers, though. In fact, no sleep medication has ever been approved for use in toddlers. There are other sleep aids you can use that are much safer.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Children between the ages of 18 months and 2 years need 11 hours of sleep at night, with another two hours of napping during the day. If your toddler isn’t getting enough sleep, she is likely to be irritable. Sleep deprivation can lead to a lower attention span, behavior problems and even developmental issues.
The biggest problem many toddlers have is learning how to fall asleep. Many were used to being rocked to sleep as a baby, or they fell asleep nursing or sucking on a pacifier. Now as toddlers, they need to transition to a different type of object. You should introduce a wide range of objects and let your toddler choose which one he wants. He may even change his mind a few times before he settles on one or more sleep aids.
Night lights are a good sleep aid for toddlers who are afraid of the dark or who wake up often in the middle of the night. A comfort object, such as a special stuffed animal or blanket, can quickly become a favorite sleep aid. Soft music can also soothe a toddler to sleep, like from a music box or MP3 player.
An established bedtime routine is also important in helping toddlers fall asleep. Doing the same nighttime activities every night lets a toddler know that it is time to wind down and get ready for bed. A warm bath and bedtime stories can be part of this routine and are time-honored traditions in many homes.
While giving your child sleeping medications is not recommended, a glass of warm milk before bed can help your toddler relax. Milk contains l-Tryptophan — the same amino acid found in turkey — which is known to make you sleepy.