Although losing precious hours of sleep at the hands of a toddler is to be expected, sleep deprivation in and of itself is no laughing matter.
From irritability and the inability to focus to suppressing your immune system for the long-term, the ill effects of not getting enough sleep can quickly run you ragged. When your kid can’t sleep, nobody wins.
While every mother should expect their toddlers having difficulty getting to bed, sleepless nights should be an exception to the rule rather than an expectation.
So, what can you do in the event that your toddler just can’t seem get any decent shut-eye? There’s a smart five-step progression that moms can follow to help get to the root of the problem without doing anything drastic.
Rather than try to make tons of changes at once, consider the following step-by-step process to making sure your child sleeps soundly.
1. Start with the Bedroom
Many parents overlook the importance of a proper environment for sleep. Creating optimal conditions for shut-eye can be done through a combination of the the following:
· Installing blinds to block out excessive light, especially considering that the darker a room is, the better it is for sleep quality
· Controlling the humidity within a room with a humidifier or dehumidifier, respectively
· Keeping the room relatively cool with the help of ceiling or bedside fans
In short, rooms that are dark, cool and comfortable will make for a good night’s sleep.
2. Set Boundaries
Another often-overlooked aspect of better sleep for your child is discipline and being firm when it comes to getting them into bed
For example, does your toddler have an established bedtime? Do you encourage them to go to sleep on their own, or do you immediately cave when they ask to sleep in your bed?
Listen: setting limits for children isn’t always fun, but it’s absolutely necessary. A little bit of tough love can go a long way if you suspect your child is testing you regarding bedtime.
3. Establish a Nighttime Routine
On a related note, easing kids into a specific nighttime routine can help calm them down both mentally and physically, reminding them that it’s essentially time to rest. Reading to your child prior to bed is a great way to spend some productive quality time with your child while also helping them not off.
On the flip side, avoiding excessive playtime or screen-time (think: television or the iPad) is equally beneficial. Going back to the previous tip, you need to be firm about what is and isn’t acceptable before bed.
4. Rethink Their Daily Habits
What your child does during the day can ultimately have an impact on how they sleep. In addition to having routines for bedtime, think about their diets and activity levels on a day-to-day basis.
For example, eating excessive sugar or having an “anything goes” diet isn’t going to help your child during bedtime. Also, not getting enough physical activity during the day could result in restlessness that carries over to nighttime. The more of a traditionally healthy lifestyle you encourage on behalf of your toddler, the better.
5. Consult a Doctor
Finally, don’t rule out a visit to the doctor. After all, medical sleep disorders in children and sometimes the advice of a professional is what you need. While this is obviously the last option you should exhaust, it may be necessary for the well-being of your child.
You never know what just might be setting off your toddlers’ sleep woes until you examine each aspect of the big picture of their environment, habits and health. Whether you’re dealing with a simple case of discomfort of something more serious, this five-step approach can help you and your child sleep easy sooner rather than later.