Sleep Makeovers for Toddlers

Bedtime problems can crop up during your child's second year for many reasons, including developmental changes, teething, separation anxiety, and fear of the dark. Knowing how to respond can keep your nightmares to a minimum.

The Social Butterfly

Your 18-month-old refuses to fall asleep alone.

What's going on: Separation anxiety is normal at this age. Your toddler simply doesn't have enough life experience to know for sure that you'll be back in the morning.

Another problem is her sleep association: She's gotten used to being soothed by a human blanky and has come to rely on you.

What to do: Start each evening with snuggling. Then remove yourself from the nursery a little at a time (pull your chair a foot closer to the door each night). Once you've left, pop your head in periodically, offer soothing words, but avoid taking her out of her crib. The crying will worsen for a week before it tapers off, warns Judith Owens, M.D., director of the pediatric sleep disorders clinic at Hasbro Children?s Hospital, in Providence. A transition object, such as a stuffed animal, may help your baby learn to soothe herself.

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