Anyone who follows us on social media will probably have seen my stories recently about how much of a terrible sleeper Georgie is. Georgie is almost two and a half, and he has always struggled at night; he never slept through as a baby, in fact he was well over a year old before he slept through the night and that seems to have been short lived because not only does he not sleep through the night any more but he also takes ages to go off to sleep in the first place!
Having a toddler and a newborn baby, both of whom don’t sleep through the night is tough. I probably spend more than half of the night awake. And in fact, Molly is a better sleeper than Georgie is or has ever been. Once Georgie goes to bed, he spends ages rolling around, kicking his duvet on and off, getting in and out of bed; struggling to get comfortable.. sometimes, this can go on for upwards of 3 hours! I think I might speak about some of Georgie’s issues more in a separate post; but today I want to let you guys know some of the things which you can do to help your toddler settle for bed and sleep well through the night because I don’t think I’m alone with this issue.
- Establish a good bedtime routine
This is the “golden rule” of bedtime; having a routine helps your toddler to feel safe and secure. It’s what toddler crave – routine and structure. And the predicability of knowing what happens in their bedtime routine will help reduce anxiety around going to bed. Developing a bedtime routine which begins around 30 minutes before bedtime is a good starting point; think about how you are going to help your toddler wind down? What are you going to include? Consistency is key here, so develop a routine which works for you and your family.
- A cozy bedroom and sleeping space
An ideal sleep environment; something which promotes sleep is key to helping your toddler sleep through the night. Try to keep the room as dark and quiet as possible and tailor it to your child’s needs. Your toddler might prefer to have a nightlight in their bedroom, they might like the door open, they might like a fan on for noise.. work out what comforts your child and go with this! Developing good sleep habits starts with the sleep space.
- Special teddy/comforter
Giving your child a special teddy can help to reduce anxiety and make the daytime to night time transition easier for them. Most children will automatically take a liking to one or two specific toys; if so this is a great time to use them to help at night. Allowing them to take them to bed and sleep with them helps children to feel secure and will help them settle better, ready for sleep.
- Turn off electronics well before bedtime
It’s scientifically proven that the light which is emitted by electronic devices stimulates the brain and makes it think that it needs to stay awake. For this reason, it is recommended that electronic devices are turned off/taken away 60 minutes before bedtime. So try not to make electronics a part of your bedtime routine and make sure your toddler has plenty of screen free time before bed to help their brain turn off for the night.
- No late night snacking
Allowing your toddler to eat too much too close to bedtime may make it harder for them to fall asleep. Not only does it stimulate the brain, along with fizzy or caffeinated drinks, your toddlers sleep may be affected by their body trying to digest the food. If your toddler wants a snack or drink before bed, then try to give them milk or water and a light snack such as fruit, as this is easy for the body to digest.
- Fun and games during the day
Finally, keep play time for during the day and quiet time for the evening. You can really help your toddler learn when it’s night time by making sure that you keep the energetic activities for during the day; this will also help use up their energy so they are actually tired when it comes to bedtime. Allowing you child to play too close to bedtime might make them hyperactive, and this will make it harder for their brain to turn off. Thinking about what you can include as part of your bedtime routine to help your child calm down and relax for bed, this will really help with establishing a bedtime that is successful.
So there you have it, 6 tips which should help your toddler sleep through the night. I’m sure there are many more, I’ve just rounded up a few which we have used in the past to help Georgie try and settle. What works for you and your family? What do you include in your bedtime routine? Feel free to share your ideas/experiences below in the comments, or send us an email from our contact page – we love hearing from you!