I’ve said it before but its worth saying again. Toddlers are a breed of their own. They’re hard work, but rewarding too. Show me a home with a toddler and I’ll show you a family that smiles at least once a day. It’s laugh or cry, right? Seriously though, raising toddlers can be really hard work, and when it comes to sleep even more so. As your baby grows and develops, she starts to become aware of her own mind, and the boundaries that we’ve set in place for her comfort and safety. And yes, she starts to push at those boundaries. She stats to experience new emotions and anger, frustration and sadness tend to bubble to the surface quite regularly. The world can be frustrating and unfair when you’re too small to control it as you wish! So for some families it’s inevitable that the toddler of the house is going to want to mix things up a little at bedtime. Just when you think you have sleep all sorted! Here are three common toddler sleep problems, and how to solve them.
Yep. It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night it is, those tantrums wait for no man. So if your toddler is screaming and crying over something seemingly silly (to you) at bedtime, what do you do? Firstly, stay calm. Have a read of this post which explains tantrums a little more in-depth. Secondly, stay calm! Tantrums are not pleasant, but they’re a normal part of growing up, so there’s no need to panic. Your toddler’s tantrums at bedtime are completely normal, and just a way for her to demonstrate her feelings and emotions. While it might not be an ideal time for you, it might be a case of simply riding it out as best you can.
Sometimes bedtime itself can cause a tantrum, as some toddlers don’t like to stop what they’re doing t go to bed, no matter how tired they are. My answer to this to make sure your bedtime routine is as tight as possible. Extend it if you need to so that you have a really slow wind down to bed, and so that your toddler doesn’t feel rushed at all. Talk to her, let her know what’s happening so that bed isn’t a complete surprise to her. This is hopefully a phase that will pass!
Nightmares and fears
As your toddler is now more aware of the world around her, unfortunately this can mean she is now susceptible to nightmares and fears about going to bed. Monsters in the wardrobe, creatures under the bed.. whatever it is that scares her is pretty real to her. Don’t dismiss her fears. Instead, talk through them, let her know that there is nothing to be scared of, and that you are there for her whenever she needs you. Some families have a nighty ritual where they check under beds and in cupboards etc, and if this calms and reassures your toddler then do it.
Again, its quite normal for your toddler to go through this, and she may even start to wake up as a result of nightmares. Be consistent. Always go to her when she needs you, reassure her and comfort her. And repeat after me: this too shall pass.
Argh, another sleep regression! yep, toddlers go through them too. So hopefully you know by this stage that they don’t last forever, but that’s not to say they’re not hard work while they’re happening. If your toddler is in the middle of a sleep regression, the best thing you can do is to grit your teeth and ride it out. Sorry!
The main sleep regressions for toddlers occur around 18 months and again at two years. But watch out for teething and illness etc, as these can cause sleep disturbances too. Check out this post on regressions.