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Toddler sleep problems

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Parent Handouts and Info - Parent


Toddler sleep problems


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Toddlerhood (1-3)

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Toddler sleep problems

Toddler sleep problems

As toddlers grow more active and independent, bedtime may become a challenge. Sleep patterns often change, and children may try new strategies to avoid bedtime! Setting up a routine and making bedtime rules are important for parents at this stage.

  • Set up a bedtime routine that you can stick with every night. Activities that often help calm toddlers include: stories; quiet music; familiar songs; or other quiet activities.
  • Be sure your toddler is put in bed awake and does not fall asleep touching you. Falling asleep in body contact makes a habit that is enough to wake a child up at night to get some more!
  • Prepare your child for the transition to bed. Let your toddler know a few minutes before that bedtime is coming. This gives your child time to finish playing and get used to the idea of bedtime.
  • Let your toddler slip into sleep. Use soft music, a bath, cuddles, or a story to help your child relax and get ready for sleep.
  • Let your child have a cuddle object. A comforting object like a stuffed animal or a blanket can help with sleep.
  • Use a soft night-light for comfort. Darkness can be scary for toddlers.
  • Make sure daytime naps are not interfering with nighttime sleep. Be sure your child is awake by 3:00 in the afternoon.
  • Decide on a plan of action. If your toddler's protests become a problem, talk to her doctor or childcare provider. Ask them to help you make a plan to help her go to bed. Parents and caregivers need to agree to the plan and use the same strategies. Give the plan 3 weeks to work and remember that things may get worse before they get better as your child tests your plan.

Adapted from Healthy Steps. Edited and Compiled by the Center for Promotion of Child Development Through Primary Care 2011

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