What are the top three reasons a toddler’s #sleep can be disturbed? And what are some things parents can do about it?
· Problem: Limit Testing – It’s a toddler’s job to explore the world around her. A natural part of that includes testing the limits in her world. That may include crawling out of a crib or throwing a temper tantrum when it’s time to say good night. Your baby isn’t intentionally being mischievous; it’s just her way of finding out what’s negotiable and what isn’t.
· Fix: To help establish limits at night, remain steadfast in your rules and stay calm when holding to those rules. For example, if a child crawls out of a crib, place a mattress on the floor to keep her safe if she gets out again, but put her back whenever she gets out. If she throws a temper tantrum when it’s time to go to bed, react the same way you would if they wanted a cookie before dinner. Whenever sleep limit testing pops up, it’s actually helpful to start with the daytime. This is when you have the most energy and you’re dealing with behavioral situations that you’re probably already used to. Once you see that your toddler believes you mean what you say during the daytime, you should see less resistance at night.
· Problem: Taking Away Naps Too Soon. If children do not get the sleep they need during the day, they get overtired and bedtime can become a battleground. When children are exhausted they can become hyperactive and have a difficult time settling into deep sleep.
· Fix: Most children under three can still benefit from a daily nap, or at a minimum scheduled “quiet time” each day.
· Problem: Milestones and Emotional Turbulence. First steps and first words are amazing times of growth for your child. So is the emotional growth that comes with starting school and becoming a big brother or sister. The downside of growing up is that all of these things can cause some temporary frustration and anguish, which can interfere with sleep temporarily.
· Fix: When milestones happen, it is an exciting time. But your baby’s brain and body might be focusing on these new thoughts or physical feats—especially at night when it’s quiet. When sleep hits a bump in the road due to inevitable growing pains make sure you don’t over respond. Over responding can actually communicate that there is something “wrong” with this new phase. Try to stay the course at nighttime and give lots of practice, love and encouragement during the day. By reinforcing your normal practices at night you actually help your baby feel more secure as the world around them changes.
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