Bedtime can be a blessing or a curse, and it seems to just depend on the day when it comes to toddlers. When it’s a good day, the nightly tuck-in is bliss, but it can be a war zone when they aren’t ready.
The good news is that you don’t have to feel alone. Many toddlers, at one point or another, put up a fight at bedtime. Once they hit about eighteen months old, they believe themselves to be genuinely independent. Bedtime only frustrates them more in their quest to do it themselves.
You’ll often hear the word “No!” being shouted through your house as the hour passes and they become tired. Yet despite being on the brink of toddler exhaustion, the need for sleep only seems to fuel their fire more.
The national sleep foundation determined that more than half of preschoolers stall at bedtime. Now for some even better news. 123 Baby Box offers you some guidance through this difficult time. Here is what you can do if your toddler won’t sleep.
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Reasons Toddlers Refuse to go to Bed.
There might be numerous reasons why your toddler might not want to go to sleep right away.
- They are hyper. Sometimes they get caught up in the energy of life and become a little over-excited. It could be that their favorite show has them excited, or perhaps they had some type of sugar: Juice, ice cream, or soda. Even playing can have your little one riled up.
- They are curious. Sometimes being strong-willed is a great trait to have, just maybe not when it comes to going to bed on time. When exciting things happen after they are supposed to be in bed, they often feel like they miss something fun.
- Something is annoying them. Being a toddler is hard work. The temperature isn’t right. Teeth are growing in. Loud noises are overwhelming. It’s rough. Sometimes they don’t even know what’s bothering them. Perhaps even a late dinner has disrupted their balance.
- They want you to do it for them. Sometimes we get used to people doing nice things for us. Toddlers are no different. Children rely on their parents so much that sometimes they haven’t learned how to put themselves to sleep. They are used to you rocking them, feeding them, holding and soothing them, and when they are left to their own devices, they just don’t know how to fall asleep without those things.
- Bedtime isn’t right. Toddlers can sometimes be creatures of habit. If bedtime is always at eight in the evening, anything other than eight will feel different. Too early and they might not be ready to sleep, or too late, and they are already overtired and getting grouchy.
- They have sleep regression. This problem can happen outside of the age of two and can cause some serious havoc. Your little one is going through a hyper boost of development, and it can be overwhelming.
- Fear. As they develop more, they become more aware of things that worry them. Things like dogs or thunderstorms can disrupt their sleep and make it harder for them to fall asleep.
No matter what reason they have for struggling to go to bed, there are some things you can do to help them make it through these difficult times.
Why sleep routines are essential.
While the total amount of sleep each child needs is as unique as they are, on average, your toddler should be getting between eleven and fourteen hours of sleep. This sleep is critical for a plethora of reasons. Kids need this sleep for their growing minds and bodies. If they don’t get this sleep, you’ll find your toddler to be extra cranky.
But what can you do to help your child get the sleep they need? Fight the good fight, or you can help them establish a healthy sleep habit. Think of this as a process rather than an overnight fix, but once it’s done, you won’t have to worry about bedtime brawls for the most part.
When you offer your toddler a predictable routine, it provides them the skills to fall asleep independently. Research shows that those kids who have a regular bedtime routine have an easier time falling asleep, tend to stay asleep longer, and don’t wake up as much throughout the night.
It’s within your toddler’s nature to refuse to sleep sometimes, but here are some tips for those extra rough nights. Above all, don’t forget that these episodes won’t last forever, even though a few weeks might feel like forever.
- Create a bedtime routine. Wake up your toddler at the same time every morning. That will set up the day for them to become tired by the time bedtime rolls around. Keep that in mind with naps too, and try to keep those on a schedule.
- Limit food and drink before bedtime. Limiting drinking late at night can help reduce the number of times your little one will get up during the night. It can also help prevent upset tummies and other discomforts.
- Create a calm area for your toddler to sleep in. Roughly a half-hour before bedtime, take a moment to calm down. This is a perfect time to read a book or work through a bedtime routine.
- Keep it dark. This means no screen time before bed, and T.V. should be off for the night. A nightlight is fine, and you can add soft music if your little one prefers noise.
- Tuck them in. Tuck your child into bed when they are sleepy but still awake. This gives them the chance to put themselves to sleep rather than continue to rely on you.
- Nightmares. This is the hardest to deal with as a parent. You don’t want them to be afraid to sleep, but you also don’t want them in your bed for the next six months. It’s perfectly fine to allow your scared child to fall asleep in your bed, but once they do, it’s best if you move them back into their own bed.
Related: Is your toddler struggling to talk?
While not every night will be perfect, we hope you now have the tools you need to work through these trying times. There are many reasons why your toddler might not want to go to bed, but having a set routine is a significant first step.
123 Baby Box is the perfect gift for any parent and their child. Personally picked and age-appropriate and delivered right to your door.