Your toddler is developing their own personality and with all the growing and learning happening, this can be a really fun age for parents. It can also be a time where battles begin and boundaries are pushed. A common struggle many parents have at this stage involves sleep – both naptime and bedtime. And when your little one isn’t getting the sleep they need, it can be really tough on everyone! Sound familiar? I can help! I’ve rounded up the most popular toddler sleep questions and answered them just for you.
My two-year-old has stopped napping. Is she really ready to drop it?
Naps can end as early as two years of age, but more typically they stop all together between three to four years of age. If you find your child is fighting a nap, I recommend still keeping at least an hour of quiet time as long as possible, preferably until your child enters full day, every day school. Quiet time is great way to for her to recharge and it’s some good down time for parents too. Fill a special “quiet time” box with books, puzzles, and toys. It’s doesn’t have to be expensive, the dollar store will do the trick! When it’s quiet time, have your child choose one of the toys from the quiet time box that she can play with in her room. You may be surprised at how often she may end up falling asleep, even if it’s only for a short nap.
How and when do I transition my toddler from a crib to bed?
Transitioning your child from crib to bed can be a terrifying time for parents. Suddenly, your child is free to escape and roam around. Making sure your child is ready and old enough can help make the transition a seamless one. If she’s not climbing out and you can leave her in her crib until at least 3 years of age, I recommend you do so. At this age, she will be able to better understand your sleep rules.
When you do make the move, it’s important that parents have a plan. Make sure you know what you will do if she calls out or comes out of her room. Before night one, sit down with your partner and develop your own plan for when things pop up during the process. This will help you be consistent and set limits, both of which will support a successful transition.
What do I do when my toddler has a nightmare?
A child can experience bad dreams because of TV shows they watch, books you read, or conversations they overhear. If your child is more sensitive and has a bigger imagination, she can be more prone to nightmares. The important thing is to offer a lot of comfort and reassurance. Hug her and cuddle her and tell her everything is going to be okay. Keep the comforting confined to her room, so that she knows her sleep environment is safe and secure.
Stop nightmares before they happen – stay away from scary TV shows or books right before bedtime. If your child is having frequent bad dreams, you need to explore the source of fear or anxiety and encourage them to communicate their feelings to you.
My toddler keeps coming out of her room. How do I keep her in there?
This is where I like to incorporate some tricks of the sleep trade. Positive sleep props like a toddler clock, can visually cue her that it’s bedtime and she needs to stay in her room. It also shows her when she’s allowed to either come out of her room in the morning or when a parent will come to get her.
A bedtime routine chart helps organize the down time required to prepare your child for sleep. Make it fun and craft a chart with her that has all her go-to excuses at bedtime. Setting limits can be the toughest to implement, but necessary. Limits really help in your journey towards good sleep habits and should be established early on. If she does come out of her room, lead her back again every time, with little to no engagement. You may have to do this over and over again throughout the night, but provided you remain consistent in setting those boundaries, after a few nights she will get the message.