The Lullaby Blog.
I felt that the last couple of posts have been about baby sleep and I have had quite a lot of people struggling with toddler sleep coming to me for support. So, I thought I would address our older kids’ needs.
Many parents might feel that when babies have trouble sleeping, they can ‘wait it out’ and it will disappear once they are a bit older. Whilst this may be the case with some children, for many this is not often the case.
I hope the next couple of blogs help you to get your big kids’ sleep back on track because I am a believer that it is NEVER too late to instil healthy sleep habits.
COMMON TODDLER SLEEP ISSUES
These can be very similar to some of the issues that we see with babies:
I consider an ‘early waking’ to be anything before 6am. Some of the most common reasons a toddler may be waking early are:
· Is bedtime too late? Do not believe the myth that a late bedtime will = a later waking. Sleep is not logical, it’s biological. You may get fed up of me talking about overtiredness but this can be one of the most likely factors to early waking. Find the ideal bedtime for your toddler and try putting them to bed earlier.
· Parental inconsistency in the early morning hours. We need to be consistent in the way we respond to our children. If your child woke at 2.00am it is unlikely you would get them up and start the day, as we shouldn’t if they wake up at 4.30 or 5.30am. Treat these wakings just as we would any other night wakings.
Nap transitions can be a tricky time for everyone. The key to a successful nap transition is preparation, consistency and patience. You need to have a plan of attack!!
· Don’t rush the transition. Transitioning too early will almost always lead to a toddler who becomes overtired and therefore may begin taking short naps and/or waking in the night. Signs that your child is ready for transition to drop from 2-1 nap or 1-0.
- Refusing the nap
- The afternoon nap is occurring too late in the day and then pushing bedtime too late
- Night wakings that are otherwise unexplained
- Early wakings that are otherwise unexplained
- The child doesn’t suffer any negative side effects when a nap is skipped. For example, if your child skips the nap and then is an absolute nightmare in the evening (My eldest!!!) then this may indicate they’re not quite ready to drop a nap.
Have a plan of attack. If a nap is dropped without doing this slowly (especially from 2-1 naps) then this could lead to them becoming overtired (there’s that word again!!). Making sure the awake windows from waking in the morning to nap and from nap to bedtime is appropriate for their age.
Have patience. As I have mentioned nap transitions can be a tricky time. There’s likely to be some short naps, some frustration, and maybe some night wakings or sleep-cries, but stay consistent and trust the process, it will all come together.
Often, once parents don’t see immediate results it is easy to want to switch things up and try something else, but with toddlers and babies, consistency is the key. It can take weeks for a toddler or baby to be well established on a new schedule.
Stay tuned for PART TWO of 'Toddler sleep' where I will be talking about transitioning to a big kid bed, bedtime/naptime battles and nightwakings due to nightmares, night terrors, sleep associations or other reasons. If you continue to struggle with any toddler or baby sleep issues please feel free to contact me for further support: