Help Toddlers Form Good Sleep Habits
For parents of toddlers, bedtime is frequently the most challenging part of the day. Toddlers often resist going to sleep, particularly if older siblings in the household are still awake.
Tips to Help Your Toddler Establish Good Sleep Habits
- Adopt a nightly routine so your child has quiet time before bedtime and understands that it will soon be time to go to sleep. The routine should be the same each night, as toddlers are comforted by routine. Give her a bath, read her a story, or listen to soft music. Avoid active play, which will only excite her and make sleep more difficult.
- Be consistent. Bedtime should be at the same time every night. By doing so, your child will know what to expect, and it will help her establish good sleep habits.
- Let your toddler take a favorite object to bed at night—perhaps a teddy bear, special blanket, or favorite toy. It can help her fall asleep—and fall back asleep if she awakens during the night. Make sure the object has no buttons or ribbons that could put your child at risk for choking.
- Make certain your toddler is comfortable. If she wants a drink of water or a night-light turned on, do so and then tell her it’s time for sleep.
- Do not let your child sleep in your bed. Doing so makes it more difficult for her to fall asleep when she’s alone.
- Wait several seconds before you go into your toddler’s room whenever she complains or calls out. Then each time she calls for you, wait a little bit longer before you respond. Reassure your child that you are there, even when you’re out of sight. Each time you respond, remind her that it’s time for her to go to sleep. Don’t do anything to reward your child for calling out for you.
- Give it time. It’s normal to become upset if your child keeps you awake at night. But try to be understanding, or you’re likely to make the problem with sleep even worse. You may need to ask for help from your partner and other adults again when your toddler has sleep disruptions.
How To Promote Sound Sleep in Your Toddler
The first step is to create a sleep schedule for your child. When you see that she’s tired, make that her bedtime. Then build a sleep routine around this time. You can have her take a bath, read a story, or sing a song, followed by some quiet time before you leave the room so she can sleep.
But even once routines are in place, you can’t always rely on your toddler to sleep through a nap period or the nighttime. In addition to being unpredictable in childhood, sleep can also be disrupted by events like changing rooms or beds, losing a favorite blanket or cuddly toy, or going on a family vacation. Keeping to a regular bedtime routine makes it easier to cope with occasional exceptions to the schedule. When bedtime is delayed, settle your child with a shorter version of the usual going-to-bed routine.
- Last Updated
- Sleep: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © 2013 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.