My toddler won't go to sleep: 10 tips to get your child to sleep

Published : 14-01-2019 17:08:27
Categories : Child Sleep

My toddler won't go to sleep: 10 tips to get your child to sleep

“How did we get here ?!” is what you’re asking yourself while watching your child running around the house because he stubbornly refuses to fall asleep at 10 PM. You thought you had gotten over this period but it seems like the sleepless nights are back... Your toddler who is usually so calm becomes a real terror at night and he does anything to avoid sleeping. And yet, you have to bring calm into the household as much for your child as for yourself!

First, be aware that this doesn’t happen only to you! More than 1 in 3 children under the age of 7 show signs of sleep disturbance. In this article, we will go through 10 tips on how to build good habits to help your child spend good nights... and you too!

What to do when my toddler won’t sleep?

In order for your child to fall asleep in serenity, there are three keywords: calm, patience and consistency. First of all, it is important that you peacefully discuss the topic with him. A quiet weekend, during the day, go see your toddler, put yourself at his height and tell him that in the evening he has to go to bed. Emphasize that it is important for him so that he can grow up and be in good shape the next day but also for you, to be able to give him lots of kisses when he wakes up. Although it is difficult, you need to remain calm. In hard times, do hand over the bedtime ritual to your spouse !

Finally, it is important to find out why your child won’t sleep. Is it distress, a lack of affection, too much excitement? It may take time, but following the 10 tips below, your toddler's sleep can only get better!

1- Your child needs to be comfortable in his room

A good sleeper is first and foremost a child who feels good in his room. It is thus important that you create a soothing and comfortable environment for them.

Let your toddler choose the decoration: the color of the walls, stickers, location of some objects etc.

Your child's room should only consist of his belongings, this is his space.

The bed should never be perceived as a punishment, it is a place for relaxation and rest.

TIP : To reassure your little one, you can decorate a picture frame together. Take a picture of yourself that your toddler likes, take a picture frame and ask your child to decorate it as he wishes (stickers, pompons, ribbons etc.). In the evening, look at the picture together and tell your little one that you are right next to him and you watch over him through the night.

2- Create a perfect sleep environment

Being in a calm and relaxed atmosphere is very important before sleeping. Reduce the noise and the light brightness before bedtime, avoid over-stimulating activities. Obviously, the screens are to be avoided! Remember to work your attitude too: speak more slowly, be gentle. Set a good example for your child: you are more likely to want to sleep in front of a good book, by the fire with soft music than during a party with friends!

3 - Bedtime ritual and consistency

Children younger than 7 years old have a hard time understanding the notion of time. Often, when you tell your child that it's time to go to bed, he answers with a surprised head "Already? But I'm not sleepy yet". To avoid this feeling of disappointment, let your child know how much time he has left before going to bed. Additionally, don’t hesitate to use the notions of time before bedtime: "You have one hour of playtime left before dinner", "We go to the table in 20 minutes and after, it’s bedtime".

Setting up a ritual is also very important. Once you decide on a bedtime ritual, it is important to be as consistent as possible. Think carefully about how much time you can spend with your child before going to sleep. Create a repetitive pattern: meal, bath, a story, a hug, a glass of water and consistently repeat this every day at the same time. It will pay off eventually.

4- Show interest in your child’s dreams and fears

Toddlers do not distinguish dreams from reality. It is important to reassure your child and make him understand that he does not have to be afraid. Often, if your toddler suddenly refuses to go to bed, he’s probably anxious about something. Have a conversation with your little one in order to understand what has been bothering them! His friend did not want to play with him in the parc, he is scared of the darkness and he does not want to leave you or maybe the same nightmare haunts him every night...

Once you find the problem, the solution becomes obvious: reassure him, install a night light, invent a happy ending to the nightmare that scares your child so much!

5 - Daytime napping

Your child may refuse to go to bed if he is too tired! This is called sleep debt. Even if he considers that napping "is for babies", having a half-hour nap during the day can allow your little one spend better nights! Of course, the nap should be done in the afternoon, ideally after lunch.

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6 - Be calm and patient but remain firm

Even if it's difficult, do not get upset. Bedtime must be a relaxing time for everyone. Yet you need to know how to stay firm. You know better than your child what is good for them. By creating a structured environment for your child you allow him to grow and flourish harmoniously. So get rid of any guilt you may feel: be convinced that you are doing the right thing.

7- Satisfy his needs, not his desires

It is important to meet all of your child's needs (physical, psychological, physiological, biological). This does not mean that you have to say "yes" to everything. It is obviously frustrating for your little one to be limited, but eventually, he will have a great feeling of security and peace and will be able to fall asleep in serenity!

8- What about you when you were a child?

Go back in time - when you were little what were you afraid of? What made you sleep better? Do not hesitate to talk to your child to show him that he is not alone and that these fears are normal and will disappear on their own!

Children also tend to reproduce parents' mistakes. One in three adults also suffers from sleep disorders and especially insomnia. Avoid hanging out in front of the computer or showing your child that sleeping is a waste of time!

9 - Alternative solutions

Alternative solutions exist to help your child sleep better. Here is a non-exhaustive list of methods for better sleep to choose according to your child:

Why not try meditation to soothe your child? When practiced with consistency, meditation can bring miracles! Some rules are obviously to be respected: it is important to stay as simple as possible, make work the imagination of your child and adapt to what he likes and needs.

Homeopathy can also help your child sleep well. If your toddler is excited, stressed or he’s having nightmares think before using a syrup that could make him addicted.

The Cry It Out sleep training method: This method is for parents who have tried everything and still haven’t figured out a solution for their children to fall asleep. Of course, this method should be used only if other problems have eliminated (nightmares, night terrors, stress or anguish etc...). Just tell your child that you will not come to see him anymore. During the first cry wait 5 minutes before going to see him, comfort him quickly with a brief hug and then leave. For each subsequent cry, wait an additional 1 minute. Repeat the procedure the next day and the day after until your child falls asleep. A lot of patience and composure are to be expected for this technique!

10- Consult a professional

Finally, if after trying everything nothing seems appropriate, do not hesitate to go see a specialist to get further instructions specifically for your child. A psychologist or doctor has the expertise to give you advice and help your little one sleep well.

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