Tuesday 24 January 2017

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To Train Your Toddler To Sleep

Are you being driven mad by a toddler who just won’t sleep? As much as we love our children, we need them to get their rest. If they don’t, the kids act up the next day, and as parents we find that our sense of self is ebbing even further away: Mummy needs her down time! Lack of sleep is the absolute worst - and trust me I've had/am having a pretty dreadful sleep-deprived time of it of late - illness, teething & an 8 month old baby means that sleeping is for wimps here at Chez Bishop...I dream of getting into bed and being able to stay there for 7 hours straight....(even 4 or 5 would be nice!)

baby mobile

I can't help much with poorly/teething babies, but if a troublesome toddler is disturbing your sleep then before you start actually tearing your hair out, take a deep breath, settle down with a cup of tea and a biscuit, and read on…

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Creating the best bedroom
Get this right, and your child will want to go to bed, at least until the novelty wears off!  Choose the bed with care, making sure that it is as cosy and comfortable as possible. There are lots of great luxury beds for toddlers, so your little one can feel like a pampered princess or sorted super hero as part of the bed time experience.

Getting a blackout blind can transform your child’s sleeping habits. The tiniest chinks of light can disturb their sleep, and make daytime naps virtually impossible. These kinds of blinds are relatively inexpensive and easy to fit, and could be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Try not to overfill your toddler’s room with toys, pictures and books. Splashes of colour, a selection of special soft toys and a book or two is more than enough. You don’t want your child to be so excited and stimulated by all that’s in his bedroom that there is no chance of a restful night’s sleep for anyone! If you have to use their bedroom for toy storage (as we do with Bert) then try to use clever storage to ensure it isn't all on show, luring them to play when they should be counting sheep.

cute baby lots of hair
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Bedtime routine
The importance of having a good bedtime routine cannot be underestimated. You can find out the psychologist’s perspective on why a routine is so essential here. You wouldn’t just get into bed and expect to fall straight to sleep without any winding down yourself, and your toddler isn’t able to do that either.  Start by turning off any screen based entertainment. That includes TV, laptops, tablets and phones. The blue light, sights and sounds emitted from these devices have a stimulating effect on little brains, and can really inhibit sleep.

Giving your little one a bath helps them to relax, and provides a great opportunity for you to interact with them one-on-one in a fun, positive way. Try to do this at the same time each night that you bath them, and they will come to expect the arrival of bedtime with much less drama.  I say ‘much less’ because of the very nature of unpredictable toddlers - we all know they're anything but predictable! Ha!

As added backup, and if your child reacts well to rewards then you could also try using a bedtime routine chart and offer rewards for stress-free bedtimes.

Soothe with stories
Reading a book to your child before sleep, no matter how little they are, is a great way to gently direct them to relax. Focusing on the story and the soothing sound of Mummy or Daddy’s voice helps to lull them into a sleepy state. Reading with your kids doesn’t just help them to sleep better, it also helps you to communicate with them, and can make a great relationship even better! We've found that reading nightly with Bert (& now Connie) before bedtime has also had a huge impact on Bert's vocabulary, empathy, imagination, and has hugely improved his familiarity of letters, words, and numbers. He has also become a very expressive child, and I believe that too is down to his exposure to books and reading with us on a nightly basis.

Getting your toddler to sleep well every night can feel daunting, and almost impossible at times, but if you persevere and maintain a consistent routine, you will get there in the end!

Hugs to all those parents who have a daily struggle at bedtime, chin up & keep things consistent!

Mrs B


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