It is normal for toddlers to have ups and downs in their sleeping patterns. Some weeks toddlers will fall asleep easily and sleep through the night. Other weeks, toddlers may resist falling asleep, or will wake several times in the night.
Toddlers can have sleep troubles when they are growing quickly. Changes in their life —new brothers or sisters, a new house, or new child care —can also disrupt their sleeping patterns.
Even though your child is not always sleepy, putting him to bed at the same time each night is a good idea. Parents need time to get things done and to relax after their children are in bed.
Helping your toddler relax before bedtime helps him learn to calm himself. Going to bed relaxed can help toddlers fall asleep faster and sleep better. Here are more tips for healthy sleep habits:
- Avoid conflicts close to bedtime.
- Have a bedtime routine. Do the same thing each night with your toddler to get him ready for bed: tooth brushing, toileting, pajamas, and reading books. Read, tell stories, or sit quietly together each night right before laying your toddler down to sleep.
- If your toddler does not fall asleep right away, let him look at a book or play quietly in bed until he gets sleepy.
- Help your toddler be comfortable sleeping in one bed each night. You may use a “family bed” or your toddler may have his own bed. Whatever sleeping arrangements you use with your family, try to keep your toddler’s bed the same each night. Remind him that the bed should be used for the whole night, until it is time to get up in the morning.
- If he wakes up in the middle of the night, sit by his bed until he is feeling sleepy again.
- If your toddler has his own bed, resist having him come into bed with you when he is upset. Remind him that he has his own bed.
- Sometimes parents let children share their bed when the child is feeling sick or scared. Try to get your toddler back to his sleeping routine soon after the situation has passed.
- Be consistent and loving. When your child calls for you in the middle of the night, he is letting you know he needs you to comfort him. Carry or walk him back to his bed and help him feel safe while he falls back to sleep.
Studies show that children who are most cooperative and well behaved have parents who:
- are warm and loving with their children,
- have firm rules, and
- communicate clearly what behavior is expected of the child.
This is more effective than parenting that is too bossy or too weak.
If you are enrolling your child in a childcare center, her immunizations must be up-to-date. You will need an immunization record that lists the dates of each immunization your child received.
The child care center staff must see your record so that they can complete official records for their files. Call your County Health Department or your doctor for immunization requirements. Or Google “CDC” + “Immunization Schedule”
Avoid using the word “No” with your toddler. Keep asking yourself, “How can I say this in a way that tells her what she CAN do?”
- Make it as easy as possible to do the right thing. Remove tempting dangers and breakables. Reduce time spent in activities that require your toddler’s patience or that might cause conflict. For example, long shopping trips are hard on nearly all parents and their toddlers; try to cut them short.
- Keep rules reasonable. Your child is growing fast, but her ability to understand is limited. She will press you to let her do things on her own — and that’s important for her learning — but she may still have accidents. She may break, drop, or spill things. She can understand some rules, but not all.
- Give your toddler choices. As part of learning to do things on their own, toddlers are often defiant and uncooperative. Be firm but patient in enforcing rules. Look for safe ways to let her choose between two things — so she can practice “doing it myself.”
- Play detective. If your little one does something over and over that you have told her not to do, try to figure out the reason. Don’t assume that she is just trying to annoy you. Chances are she’s got her own very good reasons for doing what she’s doing. See if you can help her get what she wants in a way that is OK with both of you.