Common sleep battles among toddlers have prompted the popularity of the “children’s” book, “Go the F*** to Sleep.” Every parent knows what it’s like to endure requests for a drink, one more story or later bedtimes. Unfortunately, these all come at the time when you’re most exhausted and looking forward to some kid-free time. Trying a few different strategies might help put your toddler to sleep — and give you the time you need.
Rather than having a strict bedtime, where your child has to be in bed and turn the lights out, you might try having a “bedroom time.” You undoubtedly know how frustrating it is for you to lie in bed, unable to sleep. The same might be true for your child. Allow him to quietly read books or do puzzles in his room until he’s asleep, but the key is that he has to do things alone. For some children, giving them this control over when they sleep reduces fights and can even make them go to sleep earlier, as they’re bored playing alone.
Regular Sleep Times
Children need to have a consistent sleep schedule, including nap times. An overtired child can have an even more difficult time falling asleep, according to KidsHealth. Afternoon story time at the library might be fun, but if it’s cutting into nap time, it’s not doing your child any good. Plan for your child to sleep at the same time every day, even if it means creating your schedule around sleep times.
Children at the end of the toddler stage — those approaching 3 years old — will sometimes no longer need a nap. If you’re consistently finding your toddler awake until 10 at night, and he fights with you at nap time, consider eliminating the nap to see if things go more smoothly. Toddlers need about 10 to 13 hours of sleep total, according to KidsHealth. If your child sleeps well from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., she may simply be getting enough sleep. When eliminating naps, you should try to start a “quiet time” so that your child does get some down time during the day. You may also find that there’s a period of adjustment for a few weeks, as your child adjusts her sleeping times.
The Sleep Environment
Creating a proper sleep environment may be the key to your success. A toddler bed with bedding that your child picked out may help him get more excited about bedtime. Purchase black-out curtains for a toddler who struggles with sleeping when it’s light outside. This can be a bigger problem in the summer time, when the sun is still out at bedtime. A white noise machine or a relaxing CD can also encourage sleep, but televisions and computers should be avoided as they can overstimulate your toddler, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.