These sleep tricks for toddlers will help your little one fall asleep faster, sleep better, and wake up feeling refreshed.
Toddlers need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep every day. Yet, they’re known as experts for asking for one more story before bed and waking up multiple times at night.
There are many reasons why your toddler may be refusing to go to sleep. Maybe she’s in a sleep-resistance phase, maybe she is teething, or maybe she is just overtired.
So, how can you get your toddler to go to sleep on time and stay asleep throughout the night without too much of a struggle?
Here are 6 great sleep tricks for toddlers:
Eliminate distractions in her room
Some children get distracted by everything. It can be a sound from next door, a toy across the room, or a book that gets their attention.
A messy and crowded bedroom can disrupt your child’s sleep, even when you turn the lights off. It’s because chaos causes sensory overload, which can lead to anxiety.
If your child has been having difficulties falling asleep, one sleep trick for toddlers that works is to create a distraction-free environment. Notice what gets her attention at night and take it away from the room.
Keep the room clean and minimally decorated. Put all toys, clothes, and other accessories in closed boxes or cupboards.
Many parents have also found that turning on some soothing sounds like ocean waves or forest rain helps with encouraging a good night’s sleep.
Try filling the days with activities
According to the National Association of Sport and Physical Education, toddlers need 30 minutes of structured physical activity (e.g., a tricycle ride) and at least an hour of unstructured exercise (e.g., free play session at the park), every day.
In fact, kids who remain active throughout the day are better sleepers and can better maintain a healthy weight.
Luckily, exercise comes in various forms, and it doesn’t have to cost you a cent.
For example, you can always take your toddler to a playground to climb, jump, and run. You can also organize family outings adventures that involve swimming, hiking, or walking. Or, you can meet for strolls with other parents in your neighborhood and let the kids run around with you. Even when you go to the supermarket, get your toddler out of her stroller so she can walk, too.
Set consistent naptimes
As your toddler grows, she doesn’t need as much sleep as she used to when she was a baby.
Toddlers between 18 to 24 months log two to three hours of sleep during the day, split between a morning nap and an afternoon nap.
Older toddlers usually drop the morning nap and take one longer afternoon nap.
Naps are important for a healthy toddler sleep as children who don’t nap during the day are crankier, have more tantrums, and are more susceptible to frustration.
Another tip is to make sure her day naps are consistent. When you put her to sleep and wake her up at the same time every day, her body and brain will get used to it and learn to expect it.
And just like with bedtime, establishing a good routine can help. You can sing to her, read her a book, or breastfeed, but don’t let it drag on too long.
One of the best sleep tricks for toddlers is to let her take her afternoon nap closer to lunchtime. A nap later in the day can interfere with her ability to sleep at night.
What’s more, toddlers sleep better and may not resist going to sleep when they have a full stomach.
Drop the morning nap
If your child continues to refuse going to sleep, it might be time for her to drop the second nap.
She might not need her morning nap any longer and is ready to transition from taking two naps to one nap per day. When this happens, her afternoon nap will likely be longer and last for two hours or more.
Give her time to adjust. Once she transitions to one nap per day, she may even end up going to sleep earlier at bedtime. If this happens, move her bedtime accordingly.
Encourage your child to use a lovey
Kids love loveys because they make them feel comforted and secure. A lovey can be a stuffed animal, a special blanket, or anything that serves as a sleep aid.
Loveys are especially comforting during times of stress, like when your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night, becoming aware of the parent’s absence. If the parent doesn’t show up, the child will start crying instead of going back to sleep.
In a nutshell, a lovey is considered one of the most effective sleep tricks for toddlers that can help soothe and comfort your child, and help her to relax and fall asleep.
Keep the bedtime routine as cheerful as possible
As your child grows and gets older, she gets to explore the world more. As a result, fears start to appear.
Toddlers may start getting scared by monsters under the bed or water disappearing down the drain. They may even start experiencing what is known as night terrors.
If your child starts having night terror episodes, you can help her by making the bedtime routine as cheerful as possible.
Avoid books and movies with scary themes and instead, read fun and happy books that will cheer up your toddler. Play happy music and let her play with a toy that makes her excited and happy.
You can even use humor to help her overcome her fear before bedtime. For example, if she’s scared of monsters, you can get a bottle and fill it with a mixture of water and some lavender oil. Attach a label on the bottle that says “Monster Spray” and tell your child that this spray will keep the monster away. Tell her that monsters are scared of water, and the lavender makes their nose itch.
The goal is for your child to laugh, smile, and feel supported by you.