It would be nice to be able to tuck your child to bed without any hassle, but that’s not always the case with toddlers. They’re full of energy and can be a drag to put to bed. You’d be chasing after them, getting them into pajamas, and doing your best to convince them to go to bed.
They’re just getting at that stage of exploration, running around, climbing up things, and touching (and tasting) whatever they can get their hands on. But they need their sleep, so you want to get them to bed early. Their answer to that is usually a resounding “NO!”
Toddlers who don’t get enough sleep aren’t only more irritable and stubborn, but their growth and development also suffer greatly. But they’re known to stall bedtime, so you’ll want to know how to get them to bed as quickly as possible.
Why Toddlers Refuse to Sleep
Overstimulation is a primary reason for toddlers refusing to sleep. They may be too excited by electronic media, roughhousing, or having high blood sugar at the moment. Make sure they don’t consume food after a couple of hours before bedtime.
There may be other distractions like bright lights, loud noises, or some form of discomfort like the temperature, teething, itchy pajamas, stuffy nose, or so on. Clearing up these distractions will help your child sleep better.
It may also just be a behavioral problem. Getting to the root of the matter can take some doing, but it’s on the parent to make sure that the child’s needs are met, including psychological needs.
The child may have become too dependent on your help in order to sleep. They may have only experienced falling asleep with you rocking, feeding, and holding them and singing them a lullaby or telling them a bedtime story. As they grow, you may want to start backing it off bit by bit so they get used to falling asleep by themselves.
They may be in a fearful phase, wherein being alone in the dark makes them scared. Anxiety can keep a child from falling asleep, so you may have to implement certain measures like having a nightlight nearby or making the room more soundproof to keep darkness and noise from scaring them.
Lastly, you may be putting them to bed at the wrong time. If you take a child to bed too early, they’re not tired enough to fall asleep. If you take them to bed too late, they’ll wake up still tired and groggy. Be flexible in finding out the right bedtime schedule for your child.
Steps to Help a Toddler Go to Sleep
The most important step is to be able to stick to a routine. As much as possible, have your toddler sleep and wake up at the same times each day. Also, make sure that their nap times are not too late during the day so it doesn’t interfere with their bedtime.
Around 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime, make the environment as calm as possible. This is wind-down time, wherein you’re setting the scene for going to bed. Take your child off of electronic media and other stimuli, then transition them to something like reading a book or taking a bath before its time to go to bed.
Make sure their bedroom is dark and calm. Have no electronic devices in the premises and have a setup that promotes calmness in the child, like a dim nightlight and some soft music.
Don’t feed them or give them a drink after a certain time so it doesn’t interfere with sleep. Having food can spike their energy levels up and drinking water right before bedtime may result in them having to get up to pee in the middle of the night.
Tuck your child into bed to put them at ease and help create a trigger that brings them to sleep. You then gradually transition it to the child tucking themselves into bed. Once the cover is on, that should be the trigger for them to go to sleep.
If your toddler tends to get nightmares, it’s perfectly normal. Help the child calm down and, if possible, bring them back to their own bed. Perhaps you can have them sleep in your bed to calm them down, but you don’t want them to develop a dependence on sleeping next to you for comfort. You can also get yourself a special alarm clock designed to train your toddler to stay in bed longer.
The Big Red Rooster Sleep Trainining alarm clock, has a ball that lights up red when children are supposed to still be asleep and green when it’s time to wake up. This simple system helps create a habit in your child to be in bed and wake up at the right times. It has a hidden parent compartment that safeguards the clock from tampering, letting only parents change settings and turn the alarm on or off.