Posts Tagged ‘ toddlers and sleep ’

Sleep In The Early Years: A Perspective For Parents

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

There is no shortage of advice on getting babies and toddlers to sleep.

You’ve read the suggestions. You’ve digested the methods. You’ve probably tried one or more than one (and maybe a lot more than one).

So … why do so many parents struggle with getting babies and toddlers to sleep? Well, here’s a bit of perspective for you.

First, babies and toddlers are not adults. They don’t have our biorhythms. Ridiculously obvious, right? Sure … but it’s something that’s often forgotten when we talk about sleep in the early years. And of course the sleep requirements change, especially over the first few years. So … do yourself a favor and get to know (well) the sleep requirements by age. At least you will know what you are in for and have some benchmarks of what to shoot for.

A related point … as kids get older, not only do their requirements change – sometimes age-related changes in sleep patterns can be disruptive to them. Many toddlers experience shifting sleep patterns in part because they become aware of the different stages of sleep. Put another way, they realize that they are not in a deep sleep, and this can mess them up. Plus nightmares can come into play. Don’t be thrown if you are in a great period of easy sleeping and out of nowhere it changes. And be ready to change your methods when that happens.

Speaking of methods … so which one is the best method? Get ready to roll your eyes, because the best method is the one that you can deliver with consistency. Come up with your own blend (because I know that you’ve already saturated yourself with information on sleep methods) that you think you can do most nights. What undermines sleep the most is a lack of routine. Figure out one that works, and stick with it about the same time every night. Of course life will get in the way (sickness, travel, visitors). But other than that – pick what you are comfortable with, what your kid is comfortable with it, and then do it every night.

As you figure out what works for you, keep in mind that kids are different. You know this, but remember it whenever someone gives you advice about sleep. What works for one kid may not work so well with another kid. Get to know your child, test out some different approaches, and experience will tell you what feels right – even if someone else tells you that you are crazy or something works better.

Here’s one last bit of advice. Although you should be the expert on your child’s sleep, don’t be afraid to get some professional support if you feel like you need it. Sleep is a complex phenomenon, and sleep clinics offer much expertise that can help you set a routine that will work for your child. Don’t be shy about exploring that option.

Sweet dreams to all.

Download our FREE sleep solutions guide, or shop for crib sheets, sleep sacks, and swaddles.

Baby Sleep: Get the Facts
Baby Sleep: Get the Facts
Baby Sleep: Get the Facts

Baby Girl Sleeping via


Add a Comment

Sleep Challenges, Part One: The Toddler Years

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Making sure your child gets enough sleep is a challenge every parent faces. And the reality is that sleep needs to be managed differently as kids pass through different developmental stages – their sleep requirements change, their daily schedules evolve, and the cognitive and emotional platforms they bring to the sleep issue also can pose issues. With all this in mind, this is the first of a three-part series that takes a look at the sleep challenges that emerge during key developmental phases. First up – the toddler years. 

What are the expectations? During the toddler years – I’m focusing on ages 2-4 – the idea is that your child will settle into a consistent pattern of sleep. This should happen no matter what sleep method you choose. The two big transitions in sleep patterns that are expected to happen between ages 2 and 4 are:

  • decreasing the number of daytime naps (going from 2 naps a day to 1 and then to none)
  • decreasing the amount of total sleep during a 24-hour period (dropping from about 13 hours a night at age 2 to 11.5 hours a night at age four)

What are the  challenges? The biggest challenge is that you are, um, dealing with a toddler. As you have found out (or will find out), toddlers like to express their independence and their emotions and can be very strong willed. They might resist going to sleep or start waking up during the night. All of this is normative, reflecting both their expanding repertoire of behavior and also some physiological changes in sleep patterns. There can also be transitions in terms of moving from a crib to a bed and potentially from your room to their own room. New routines may be introduced. They may start daycare or preschool, which could change wake-up times, nap times, and amount of energy expended during the day.

How should you handle these challenges? Most importantly, be prepared to modify your child’s sleep routine (you may not have to modify it much, but it’s better to be prepared for a bigger transition in case you need one) – especially in light of the changes in sleep patterns noted above (e.g., stopping the daytime nap routine; getting less sleep at night). Some ideas to think about include:

  • Work backwards from the reality of your child’s daily routine (e.g., What time to they need to be at preschool? How much time do you all need to get ready?) AND the amount of sleep they should be getting for their age. Figure out the new bedtime and wake-up time and try to stick to it as much as possible.
  • Reevaluate sleep methods that have worked well and see if you can modify them to be more age appropriate. Whatever the method, this probably means more talk about when it’s going to be bedtime (to get your child to partner with you and to help them understand that you are setting a limit that is going to be upheld) and finding good pre-bedtime rituals to get them relaxed and ready for bed (this typically means more soothing talk from you – stories, songs, whatever – along with reading).
  • Turn off the electronics. TV is not considered a good winding down bedtime ritual. Neither is any other form of electronic stimulation.

There are lots of changes that happen throughout the toddler years. Knowing what the changes will be in terms of sleep patterns and altering your sleep methods to acknowledge the complexity of dealing with a toddler may help both you and your toddler handle these challenges well.

Image of toddler sleeping via

Add a Comment