Toddlers are cute and adorable, and the developmental milestones they achieve during the period of toddlerhood only make them so much cuter. This is the period when they learn to walk, talk, and even start to develop empathy.
However, ask any parent, and they will tell you that toddlerhood is also a period of struggle. You know this for yourself as well. As your child starts to become less dependent on you, he or she is also testing boundaries – checking to see what he or she can get away with.
Then there’s bedtime.
Considered one of the most contentious periods of the day, bedtime can be a battle of wills.
It doesn’t matter how many times he or she has yawned, or how sleepy he or she looks. When you seem to have a sleep-resistant toddler, sleep time can get a little testy.
To help you overcome bedtime struggles with your toddler, here are five tips to try.
1. Establish a bedtime routine early on
Try to start the evening ritual as early as possible. Perhaps have him, or her eat dinner at around 6 pm, a bath around 6:30 pm, and story time at 7 pm. By 7.30 pm or so, your toddler should be nodding off to sleep.
Your baby may have gotten used to being rocked to sleep, and the new bedtime routine will take some getting used to. Still, getting your child familiarised with the process will benefit you both.
2. Explain the importance of sleep
As your child develops an understanding of the world, make time to explain how important sleep is for him or her. Show how lack of sleep can make him or her sick. Explain it in simple terms by using similar examples. An example includes a battery-operated toy that won’t work without a fully charged power cell.
By educating your child about sleep, you are also teaching him or her to be responsible for his or her health.
3. Impart a sense of independence and control
Since bedtime struggles can be a sign that your child is trying to assert his or her independence, give him or her choices. For example, your toddler may choose which pyjamas he or she will be wearing to bed. Alternatively, you can ask your toddler to choose a book or story to read, or which toys he or she wants to snuggle with during bedtime.
4. Make the bed a safe and cosy space
Your toddler may make a fuss about being afraid of the dark or a monster underneath the bed. What you can do in this scenario is to reassure him or her that the bed is a safe space.
You can try checking on your toddler every five or ten minutes, or stay until he or she falls asleep. You can also keep a night light by the bed, or stick some glow-in-the-dark stars up on the ceiling.
During the day, make sure to discuss these fears with your child. Check the bedroom with him or her to show that there is nothing to be afraid of. Once your toddler gains confidence, these episodes will eventually disappear.
5. Be generous with praise and encouragement
Children thrive on positive reinforcement. Let your child know that sleeping at the right time is a huge deal. When your child can sleep alone with the door closed or with all the lights off, praise him or her for doing so well. This pattern of praise and encouragement should extend well beyond the bedtime routine, of course.
Implementing these tips will take time, patience, and care. However, with consistency and commitment on your part, your toddler will be sleeping fitfully every night, in no time.