What should I do if my toddler isn't getting enough sleep?

Q: I don't think my toddler sleeps enough. During the day she averages only 30 to 90 minutes and at night only 5 to 7 hours. What should I do?

A: Just like adults, kids are individuals too, and there's no amount of sleep that's exactly right for every child. So although the hours you mentioned are surprisingly low for a toddler, they're not necessarily a problem if your daughter is still thriving (it's a good idea to check with your pediatrician and get his or her take on the issue). However, if by early evening your daughter is fussy and miserable, then she definitely needs more sleep. Try giving her an earlier dinner and putting her to bed during her usual witching hour (perhaps around 6 p.m.). Although people often assume that putting a child to bed earlier will mean she will wake up at the crack of dawn, it sometimes works the other way -- and kids end up sleeping longer if they drift off earlier.

Copyright 2002. Updated 2009

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