Most children will have problems sleeping at some point – when they’re teething, or feeling poorly for instance. But if you find that your bedtime battles are happening more often than not, or a good night’s sleep is a thing of the past, you might want to make few little changes.
set a regular bedtime
Having a set bedtime can help your child get into the habit of falling asleep at the same time every day. If they’re bouncing round the house at 9pm, it may be that you’ve missed the golden window of opportunity and hit the dreaded witching hour. Try making bedtime a few minutes earlier each evening, till you reach the perfect time. 7pm is about right for a one year old. Some children might need to go to bed a bit earlier though, and some a bit later.
routine, routine, routine
You know how a yawn can be catching? Well sleep cues can work in the same way. Do something often enough before bed and it can become a trigger for your child to become sleepy. Lots of parents swear by bath, cuddles and a story for getting their child to sleep. A night-time song can also work wonders with toddler sleep problems if you play the same tune every night.
set the stage
Adults tend to sleep better when the room is dark, and children are no different. You might want to get a night light, so you can switch the main light off without your child being afraid of the dark. Blackout blinds can prove useful in the summer (unless you enjoy waking up at 4.30am with your toddler). You want the room to be a comfortable temperature – not too hot or too cold. A fan can help in the warmer months.
Your child needs to see their cot or bed as somewhere to sleep, not somewhere to play. So you might want to let them have just one teddy or comforter (do not let babies under one year old sleep with soft toys), and move any other toys out of reach. Try to keep your voice low and calm, and don’t get drawn into conversations or playtime (easier said than done, we know).
make sure they’re comfy
Cosy PJs and a sleeping bag can help to keep your little one nice and cosy. You might also want to look for soft, cotton fabrics, especially if your child’s skin is sensitive. 'All itchy!' is really not what you want to hear at 3am. Make sure their tummy is nice and full before bed, but try to avoid any sugar or food that might make them a bit gassy.
plan daytime naps
Your toddler will probably need at least one nap during the day, until they’re three or four years old. We know it’s tempting to skip the nap in the hope that your child will sleep better at night, but being overtired can make a child really grumpy (as we’re sure you know). So keep the nap but try to time it so it’s not too close to their bedtime. By the time your child is 18 months old, a single nap, for around two hours, is usually plenty.
you’re not alone
It can sometimes feel like yours is the only toddler who’s not sleeping through the night. Toddler sleep problems are actually pretty common though. Rest assured that you will get your evenings back at some point. Just like teething, potty training and tantrums, this stage will pass and you will figure out how to get your toddler to sleep.