Troubleshooting Toddler Sleep: 5 Tips to Make Bedtime Easier

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I’ve come across many parents who have trouble putting their child to sleep. The common scenarios I hear are:

“My child fights and refuses to be put to sleep.”

“My child takes more than half an hour to drift off to sleep.”

“My child protests when I mention the word ‘sleep’.”

Getting enough sleep is vital to a child’s growth and development. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived kids get injured more often, they get sick more easily, their grades suffer and so do their moods. Temper tantrums escalation is usually caused by hunger or tiredness. Try these 5 tried-and-tested strategies to make bedtime easier:

1. Watch food and drink consumption

Large meals can make it difficult to sleep, so give your child some time between dinner and bedtime to digest. Make sure your child stays away from sugary snacks before bedtime and has no caffeine (soft drinks) at least six hours prior to going to sleep. There are anti-sleep foods to avoid such as broccoli, red meat, cabbage as these foods cause gas in the intestines and cause discomfort in their sleep. Try to serve them for lunch instead.

2. Peace and quiet

After dinner, the activity in the house should be toned down and soothing such as relaxing, listening to or singing songs, or talking about your child’s day if she’s old enough to tell you about it. This is not the time for a game of ball or rough house play. Dads are usually more likely to play this with their sons, from what I hear a lot. Reserve stimulating activities in the daytime instead. I have girls so far, so my husband is pretty gentle with them.

3. Give advance notice

All children appreciate being informed in advance about what is happening next. They are more cooperative and it puts them in the right mindset that playtime or whatever it is that they are doing at the moment, is ending soon.

I usually announce to my daughters that we are going upstairs to sleep 10 minutes in advance. Sure, there are days when they will plead for an extra five minutes. I let them have the extra time, but will make sure that when that five minutes are up, we have to go upstairs.

4. Make her room a place she enjoys

Your child’s bedroom should be a place where they can find comfort, joy and relaxation. The temperature is just nice; her pajamas and bedding are easy for movement in sleep. We just recently rearranged their beds and furniture. They got so excited with the “newness” feel of their room that got Ariyana eager to go to sleep that night!

5. No television or computers at bedtime

While adults enjoy some downtime with mindless TV watching, it is the total opposite for young children. TV or any screen time – iPad, laptop, tablet, etc – stimulates their minds instead. Try to remove them from their bedroom and their bedtime routine so that the process of falling asleep is much easier. The longer the TV or computer stays in their bedroom, the harder it will be to take them out when they are older. Studies have shown that school-going kids who have TVs and computers in their rooms have a tendency to get less sleep than those who do not.

What is your strategy to make bedtime easier for your child? Do share!

(Note: This post was originally published on Sleep Champ Baby)

Sarah Ong is a certified child sleep consultant. Visit Sleep Champ Baby’s website or Facebook page for more tips and advice on good sleeping habits.

Image Credit: Baby Sleep Science.

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