When our little ones are babies, we stick to the usual safe sleeping practices we all know. But what happens after the infancy stage? Well, there are toddlers who are masters of negotiation (“ten more minutes, please?”), drive their parents nuts at night and are up at the crack of dawn. And there are kids who fall asleep when their heads touch the pillows; at least, rumor has it they exist! But most children and sleep just don’t seem to be compatible, so keep reading…
This is easier said than done, but when you follow a set pattern every night, toddlers know what to expect and associate particular actions and activities with bedtime. A warm bath, the “pajamas time” and then lights out is always a good plan. Bear in mind that everyone in the family has to maintain the bedtime routine, which is hard if your and your partner’s schedules are irregular. But try to stick to your usual plan; consistency is the key when it comes to making sure that everyone in the family gets the sleep they need. And always let your babysitter know when your little one naps and which bedtime ritual you follow.
*extra tip: Make sure that your routine isn’t too stimulating; yes, that means no tickle-fights before bedtime!
A piece of all-time classic advice: dim the lights, cuddle your child, and grab his/her favorite tale. Well, you’ll certainly end up reading the same stories for weeks, but repetition is a key part of toddlers’ learning. While it may be absolutely boring for you, it’s great for their development; bedtime stories not only help kids calm down, but they also help them build their vocabulary and understand the world around them.
*extra tip: Avoid books with scary themes.
Sometimes all a toddler needs for a perfect night’s sleep is a little music. A soothing lullaby is a classic way to calm him/her down. After all, your and your partner’s voice are your toddler’s favorite sounds!
All toddlers can be taught some relaxation techniques, the kind you do at the end of a good yoga class! Have your children relax their toes, feet, knees, and so forth, all the way up their bodies. You can also make them imagine peaceful pics and have calm thoughts. Falling asleep is a habit, and all kids can learn it.
Being afraid of something lurking in the dark, and worrying about monsters under the bed or in the closet are common fears for all toddlers. Reassure your little ones that they are absolutely safe because you are nearby and there is a dim night-light in their bedroom. You can also use fun lamps, wrap a string of Christmas lights around a window frame, or leave the door open a little bit and a hall light on. You can also get creative and use a “monster spray” that can make all evil creatures disappear! Some water and a little bit of lavender oil in a spray bottle will scare all monsters, and fill the room with a lovely, soothing scent.
Every time your little ones get up, quietly return them to bed. Don’t let them see you upset or worried. You may now relax for some minutes before you’re called back in! Repeat and then repeat again…
Tell them how proud you are when they make progress and stay in bed all night long. Most kids respond to little prizes in the morning, and it’s incredible what a toddler can do for a sticker or a toy!
Get to know trustworthy babysitters and nannies who will follow your toddler’s bedtime routine and make sure everything is under control when you can’t be around.
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