Keep him busy during the daytime. Most toddlers have lots of energy and enjoy going to the park or playground to work some of it off. Choose a realistic bedtime for your child. Like adults, most children have distinct sleep preferences ‘ some are night owls, and others are morning people. While you can control this to some degree, consider a slightly later bedtime for a child who just doesn’t seem tired by 7:00, or a slightly earlier bedtime for a child who falls asleep over his dinner plate. Adjust nap lengths and times. If your child still naps, but then has trouble getting to sleep at night, try shortening the nap, or moving it ahead by an hour or so. If your child doesn’t nap, a brief period of quiet time during the afternoon may be enough to rejuvenate him and keep him happy until bedtime. Start your bedtime routine early, and take your time. After your child has dinner, begin the sequence of events that gradually leads up to bedtime. Be consistent. In some families, the bedtime routine involves a bath, a snack, brushing teeth, and a story before bed. In others, it may be a shower, a video, a snuggle, brushing teeth, then bed. Once you have developed a routine that works for everyone in the family, it will become an important part of your child’s “winding down” process. Set clear boundaries and stick to them. Many children will beg for “just one more story” to keep from going to sleep, so decide in advance how many stories you will tell, how many crackers you will offer for a bedtime snack, and when the light will go off ‘ then stay within the limits you have set. Create a soothing sleep environment. If your child’s sleeping area is a calm, pleasant and secure place, this will help him get to sleep. He may also have a favorite toy, blanket or other attachment object that helps him sleep. Stay as close as he needs you to. Some children are happy to go to sleep after a quick goodnight kiss, while others prefer to snuggle, hold hands or go to sleep with an adult in a nearby chair. This will change as your child grows and becomes more self-confident, so don’t worry ‘ you won’t have to rock your teenager to sleep. Let him know you will be there if he needs you. Many toddlers have nightmares and night terrors, while some just need more nighttime comforting than others. Some families welcome children into the parents’ bed, while others choose to set up a bed or couch in the child’s room. Try to get to the root cause of your child’s night waking, and remember that the phase will pass soon enough.
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