Sleeping Through the Night
Have you noticed when you get a good night’s sleep, you’re often happier and less grouchy the next day? The same is true for toddlers.
Toddlers need to sleep at least 10 hours at night. Nighttime sleep is important for their physical and mental development.
At bedtime, many toddlers enjoy having their parent stay with them until they fall asleep. However, you might consider adjusting this part of your bedtime routine if your toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night.
Research has shown that children sleep more lightly if a parent is there when they fall asleep. When you stay in the room until she’s asleep, it’s like part of her brain stays alert to ask “Are you still there? What about now?” This can lead to your toddler having more night wakings and feeling more tired the next day.
When young children wake up in the night, they usually need the same environment they had at bedtime to fall back asleep. So if you are there when your child falls asleep every night,she is probably going to need you there to help her fall back asleep every time she wakes up.
Learning to Fall Asleep On Their Own
Here is a plan for teaching your toddler how to fall asleep by themselves.
- Finish your bedtime routine and leave your child’s room while he is drowsy but still awake.
- Pick a time to wait before checking in. Many families find that 5 minutes is good to start with.
- You won’t go into your child’s room before the 5 minutes is up, even if he calls or cries out to you. Check in after 5 minutes is up. Make your check-in short and boring.
- If your child calls out to you again, wait 5 minutes before checking in.
- If he keeps calling you, continue to wait 5 minutes between check-ins until your child is asleep.
This plan can take a week or 2 to teach your child how to fall asleep on their own.
Importance of Naps
Napping is great for toddlers because it often helps them be less fussy and have longer attention spans.
The best times for naps are in the mid-morning and/or early afternoon. Naps at these times do not interfere with nighttime sleep.
Some toddlers take 2 naps a day each lasting an hour or 2. Other toddlers take 1 long nap a day.
The best way to know if your child is getting enough daytime sleep is by whether she seems happy and alert. If she is often cranky, try making changes to her nap schedule.
Q & A
Q: When will my daughter be ready to move from taking 2 naps a day to 1?
A: You will know when she is ready because she will simply stop taking one of the naps. Another sign is that she’ll take a much longer time to fall asleep for 1 or both of the naps. And lastly, if you notice she isn’t tired enough to fall asleep at a healthy bedtime in the evening, she’s probably ready for 1 nap a day. This change usually happens between 12 and 18 months, although it can happen earlier or later.
Co-Sleeping with a Toddler
If your child sleeps in your bed or with a sister or brother, it’s important they learn how to fall asleep alone. Children who fall asleep on their own have an easier time falling asleep at bedtime and have fewer night wakings.
- Leave the room while your child is drowsy but still awake at bedtime.
- Wait for him to fall asleep and then join him in the bed.
- If he sleeps with another child, try putting one child to bed before the other.
This method of co-sleeping lets everyone go to bed at their own bedtime, but still enjoy sleeping in the same bed together.