If anyone needs a good night’s sleep, it’s a tantrum-prone toddler. As a mom of a busy and often demanding child, it’s in your best interest — and your child’s — to make sure she gets 12 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The right amount of restful sleep can make the difference between waking up to a tyke with a smiling face or an ornery frown. Sleep is not only a major factor when it comes to your little one’s state of mind, it’s also critical to her mental and physical development.
The typical toddler takes a one- to three-hour afternoon siesta. Some little ones at the young end of the toddler stage may snooze in the morning and afternoon. Keeping p.m. naps early in the afternoon helps ensure that your toddler has an easier time falling asleep come bedtime. Although your tyke may cherish her daytime downtime, she may nevertheless struggle to keep one eye open so she doesn’t miss any intriguing household hubbub. You can’t make your little one go to sleep, but you can insist she have a little quiet time in her room where she is free to play quietly or look at books.
Mothers of toddlers may tell you that bedtime is the toughest part of their often harried day. That’s saying a lot about the potential intensity of bedtime battles when you consider that a day in the life of a toddler can be filled with temper tantrums, spills and constant motion. Your little one may feel he’s got way too much going on in his world to be bothered with sleeping, which can make it tough to calm him down at bedtime. A toddler may do his darnedest to postpone going to bed, especially when he has older siblings who get to stay up later. Establishing a predictable bedtime routine (taking a bath, reading a bedtime story) can help ease your toddler into the inevitable end of the day.
Your toddler’s tireless quest for autonomy — he desperately wants to do his own thing when he wants to do it, whether you like it or not — combined with advancing motor, cognitive and social skills can get in the way of sleep. According to the NSF, Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (snoring that is accompanied by gasps or brief pauses in breathing) can hinder a good night’s rest and cause daytime sleepiness. Daytime sluggishness may be the least of your problems, as a lack of quality sleep can also cause your child to be cranky, aggressive and agitated. Talk to your doctor if you suspect your toddler may have sleep apnea.
A nightmare can awake your toddler in the wee hours of morning and disrupt what would otherwise have been a peaceful night of slumber. Very scary dreams typically occur between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., notes FamilyDoctor.org. Your toddler may run to your room for comfort and want to describe every frightening and gory detail of her nightmare. Falling back to sleep after a bad dream can be difficult. A teddy bear or blanket that your child associates with safety and love, along with a dim nightlight, can usually help a toddler fall back asleep. Keeping her bedroom door open slightly serves as a reminder that you’re close by.