Let them sleep, for when they wake they will move mountains.
Usually children will sleep through the night by the age of one, but it’s not uncommon for toddlers to wake up and not being able to soothe themselves back to sleep. Our toddlers crawl into bed with us numerous times a week.
Many parents have suggested to me that the sure way to get a toddler to sleep, is to tire him/her out with activities. A trip to the park or a play session at a children’s play place should do the trick. This is not the case with my toddlers, they seem to get over tired and wild.
Most Toddlers get 11.7 hours, when 12-14 hours are recommended for children aged 1-3 years, from the Sleep For Kids website. My toddlers are definitely getting less than this most days, but our doctor isn’t worried.
It’s not unheard of, for toddlers to not sleep through the night. Our nights with our proper routine seem to do the best. Oli and Milo need a light dinner, a nice warm bath and a book.
Understanding Toddler Sleep
According to experts, toddlers wake up around five times at night. They might murmur, turn over or bang their limbs against the side of their crib or toddler bed. Even if they open their eyes, they can go back to sleep. However if a toddler has still not learnt to go to sleep on his/her own, a parent needs at least a week to establish a successful bedtime routine.
Toddlers tend to nap less during the day – usually a major nap around lunchtime from one to two hours. It’s best not to let a toddler nap too late in the afternoon – a parent should wake him/her up if the child sleeps for too long or it will affect night sleep. If a toddler is an early riser, light might be an issue, so a blackout curtain might help.
Sleep-preventing Factors For Toddlers
These factors are similar to those affecting babies but hunger becomes less of a problem as a toddler’s fuller diet means he/she takes in enough food to sleep through.
Overtiredness/overstimulation – Just like babies, overtired toddlers are irritable and will fight sleep. Toddlers need to wind down to go to sleep, so a calm environment can help.
Thirst/diet – Hunger or thirst is one of the main reasons toddlers wake up at night. An unbalanced diet with too much processed food or drinks high in sugar and additives can lead to poor sleep.
Illness/teething – If a toddler has a cold or is ill, he/she will wake up to feed or have a drink at night. If a child suffers from severe teething pain, which can happen when molars are cutting tender gums, a teething gel and a dose of infant paracetamol will help.
Discomfort/separation anxiety – If a child’s room is too hot or too cold, he/she might wake up (the ideal room temperature is 18º C). Separation anxiety usually inhibit sleep in older babies, but it might surface in toddlerhood. It’s advisable to reassure the child without giving him/her too much attention or the child will wake up regularly, expecting to be rewarded with parental attention.
Healthy toddlers can sleep through the night, so if a child doesn’t, a parent can try various strategies to sort out sleeping problems. If nothing works, it’s advisable to seek medical advice as healthcare professionals can assess a child’s wellbeing and see if a sleep problem is due to a medical condition.
The National Sleep Foundation has recommended that we make sufficient sleep a family priority, embrace good sleep habits, learn to recognize sleep problems and seek medical help from your child’s pediatrician. The NSF also has a clever sleep calculator that is good for parents too! Most parents/caregivers say they get less sleep than they need. Recent studies say they need between eight and nine hours each night, however, parents/caregivers average about 6.8 hours of sleep a night
Other factors to think about include screen time, anxiety, dreams or nightmares, nap length, and relaxing environments.
Sweet Dreams Friends!