Are you exhausted from spending hours laying with your toddler, rubbing their back until they’re asleep, only to find them standing in the doorway to your bedroom two hours later?
Did the crib to bed transition prove to be an epic fail?
Are you wondering if you’ll have your bed back to yourself before your child goes off to college?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way!
Imagine a life where you place your child in their crib or their bed and they drift off to sleep peacefully and quietly and stay there all night long. A life where they take a restful nap on a predictable schedule.
What would you do if you were done parenting at 7:00 or 8:00 pm each night?
The possibilities are endless. It is possible.
Here are 8 tips to improve your toddler or preschooler’s sleep!
- Make the expectations around sleep crystal clear for your toddler. Toddlers feel more safe and secure when they know where the boundaries and limits are. Even if they protest them, they are left feeling insecure if the boundaries are constantly shifting. You can even use a “sleep rules” chart in their bedroom to assist in this!
- Create a predictable bedtime routine, where the steps happen in the same order every night but allow your toddler or preschooler to have some places for choice and autonomy to foster independence. Be careful, though! A proper “choice” has two equally positive outcomes for parents! For example: Of these 2 pairs of pajamas, which one would you like to wear tonight? Or, of these 4 books, which 2 would you like to hear tonight? Which toothbrush would you like to use tonight?
- Purchase a “toddler training clock.” These are immensely helpful tools in teaching toddlers and preschoolers when it is “sleep time” and when a parent will come to get them up in the morning or after a nap. My personal favorite is the Hatch, as it also serves as a white noise machine and is programmable and controllable from a smartphone app. However, there are many on the market! Ok to Wake, Kids Sleep Classic, and GroClock are all great options as well.
- Next, you’ll want to implement using the clock like it’s the law! If you are consistent with it, your child will learn what it means quite quickly. If you aren’t, they won’t take it seriously.
- Every child is different, but finding some combination of consequence and/or reward strategy can be very helpful at this age! Make it as relevant and timely as possible, and implement consequences with love and compassion. They aren’t intended to be a cruel punishment, but teaching cause and effect related to sleep behaviors, just as you would with other behaviors you are working to address in your family.
- Pay attention to age-appropriate screen time, and cutting off screen time at least an hour before bedtime.
- Ensure your child is getting LOTS of physical activity, before AND after nap if they are still napping.
- Have your child sleep in a DARK room. We all sleep best in a 100% dark environment.