Sleeping is vital for toddlers since it helps replenish their mind and body. Moreover, it keeps them healthy as they grow. Unfortunately, just like the majority of adults all over the world, many little ones are not getting the recommended amount of zzzs that are essential for their overall development.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about a quarter of kids under five do not get adequate sleep. Experts recommend that children 1 to 2 years should get 11 to 14 hours of sleep for optimum health.
If you are a parent and have difficulty getting your little one to sleep, do not fret. Adjust to their bedtime routine and reframe their view of sleep and rest. Here is how to promote healthy sleep with a positive bedtime routine for your toddler.
Have a Consistent Bedtime Routine
A consistent bedtime routine can be helpful to ensure that your toddler gets enough sleep. Consistency means doing the same things at the same time every day. Following a routine lets your child know what to expect, so there will be less fuss and tantrums.
A bedtime routine may include turning off bright lights and switching on a bedside lampshade, washing up or taking a warm bath, putting on pajamas and brushing teeth, then reading a book. Make the most of these activities to help soothe your child.
For instance, try using a lavender-scented baby wash to clean your little one when washing up. Evidence shows that aromatherapy benefits children, and lavender is a calming scent that can help to soothe and relax a cranky or irritated toddler.
Meanwhile, when reading a story, try not to make things too exciting since this could encourage your little one to stay awake. Instead, read a short story in a low, calm, and soothing voice to help lull them to sleep.
Do Not Make Them Stay Up Too Late
Some parents think that letting their toddlers stay up late means that they will sleep until noon the next day. Parents often resort to this tactic the night before the weekend, hoping to get extra shut-eye before their little one wakes.
However, kids who stay up too late feel overly tired the next day, no matter if they sleep for a couple more hours. Doing so also messes up their internal clock, affecting their ability to sleep in the coming days.
As much as possible, keep a set bedtime and ensure that your toddler sleeps at this time every night. Of course, you can exercise some flexibility with their sleep schedule if the situation calls for it, but try to keep your little ones up early enough if you want them to have quality sleep every night.
Do Not Use Sleep or Naps as Punishment
Dealing with a fussy child can be a challenge, and some parents use sleep or naps as punishment in the hopes of correcting their toddler’s behavior. However, doing so is not recommended since kids will learn to associate sleep with something negative. Instead, gently encourage them to sleep and help them understand that it is something they must do to make them grow stronger and taller.
Invest in soft bed sheets that feel smooth and cool on your toddler’s skin to make sleep feel like a treat. You can also have a few pajama sets that your toddler can choose from and a special naptime or bedtime plushy to keep them company. Ensure their room is conducive to sleep – keep the windows and drapes closed to prevent outside noise from filtering in, and keep the room cool and dark since this can help lull your child to dreamland.
Calm Down Before Bedtime
Some parents believe that letting their child run around before bedtime is the best way to tire them out to help them fall asleep quickly. However, physical activities before bedtime can make kids more alert, causing them to stay up for hours.
Instead of allowing your little one to cause a racket, try calming them down before bedtime. If they need to move around, encourage them to do slow, gentle stretches and deep breathing while they do so. Consider doing this activity with them so you can model good nighttime habits.
Meanwhile, if they complain about feeling hungry or thirsty before bedtime, be mindful of what you give them since certain foods and drinks, such as those laden with sugar and simple carbohydrates, can keep them wide awake. Instead, give them warm milk or snacks like a banana, nut butter toast, or Greek yogurt with berries. These treats are perfectly healthy and will not elevate your child’s sugar levels.
Getting a toddler to sleep does not have to be an ordeal. Consider these tips to help your child get some zzzs to feel refreshed and energized and stay healthy as they grow. The experts believe when children receive adequate sleep, they respectfully interact with teachers and peers, engage in play and learning activities, and flourish in their social relationships.
Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.