4 Ways to End Toddler Bedtime Battles
Sometimes it feels like bedtime has an extraordinary, notorious power over children. Somehow they dig deep to find the superhuman strength to stay awake for hours. For toddlers, getting enough rest helps their bodies stay on track for reaching significant milestones, developing socially and academically, as well as keeping them healthy and active.
The truth is many kids struggle to fall asleep at night. Nightmares, bed wetting, and teeth grinding could be keeping your child awake, or he could be part of a small percentage of children who have sleep disorders that make falling and staying asleep difficult. However, most childhood sleep problems stem from poor sleep habits and anxiety about going to bed. As a parent, you can help alleviate fears and establish healthy sleep habits that will serve your child well throughout the rest of his life. Here are a few things you can do to end bedtime battles and help your child get a full 11 to 14 hours of sleep.
1. Comfort is Key
Check the crib mattress. It should be comfortable and supportive. Lumps, sags, or even itchy tags could wake your child during the night. Make sure his bedroom is kept dark, quiet, and at a brisk 60 to 68 degrees at night for the best sleeping conditions.
2. Set and Stick to a Bedtime
The human body thrives off of routine. By setting and sticking to a bedtime, you help your child’s body establish a regular sleep-wake cycle. His body will begin to recognize when it’s time to go to sleep and correspondingly release sleep hormones at the same time every night.
3. Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine goes hand in hand with a consistent bedtime and is one of the single best things you can do for your child’s sleep habits. Children learn through repetition. A bedtime routine helps them to know when it’s time to wind down for the night. It can include anything from a warm bath to singing quiet songs with you or rocking while you read a book together. All activities in the routine should help calm and relax your child. They should also be performed in the same order each night.
4. Calm It Down
An hour or two before bedtime, start to calm things down in your home. Wrestling, running around, and rambunctious play should stop so that your child’s heart rate comes down in preparation for sleep. It can be tempting to get one last game in before bedtime, but if it leaves your child over excited, it can work against you.
5. A Comfort Object
Many children have a favorite stuffed animal, blankets, or a quiet toy that makes him feel safe. It’s okay to let him take a comfort object to bed. Toddlers are still learning to soothe themselves. Sometimes having a comfort object can help him fall asleep when he goes to bed and calm himself if he wakes up during the night. Any object you leave in bed with your child should be checked for safety, including ribbons, buttons, or any small parts that could pose a choking hazard.
6. Stick to It
Learning to fall asleep takes time. If your child doesn’t respond to a bedtime routine right away, don’t give up. The best thing you can do for your child is to be consistent and loving. As you work towards establishing healthy sleep habits for your child, you’ll find that you too get better (and more) rest too.