8 reasons your toddler won't sleep
Oh, sleep--it's such a tricky thing in the early years. Don't get me wrong, it gets better as your child gets older. Most kids fall into a nice rhythm by the time their second birthday hits, but toddlerhood does bring on its own set of sleep challenges. And while they may not be an everyday thing, they can be pretty tough to deal with. Here are some of the top sleep issues that affect toddlers--and their mamis:
Read more ¿Qué más?: 4 Tips for helping your toddler go to sleep without bedtime fights
Naps. You might think dropping the afternoon nap will make your toddler sleep better at night, but it'll probably make the problem worse. You see, sleep begets sleep. The better your little one sleeps during the day, the better she'll sleep at night. This is because overtiredness can make it harder for kids to fall asleep and stay asleep. Most toddlers still need a nap up to age 4. If yours is starting to refuse naps, don't give up. Keep trying with adjustments and tweaks to the schedule and naptime routine.
Overtiredness. Kids who have been awake longer than their minds and bodies can handle will often go into overdrive and become hyper, causing them to have a harder time sleeping at bedtime. Exhaustion can even cause night terrors. Toddlers need between 12 and 14 hours of sleep in each 24-hour period to function at their best, so make sure that your child is getting that on a consistent basis.
Bad bedtime. If you let your kiddo stay up as long as he pleases--or at least until you're ready to hit the sack yourself--you're probably asking for trouble. Scientifically, the ideal bedtime for toddlers is somewhere between 7 and 8 p.m., shortly after the body naturally experiences a spike in the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Putting him to bed later is likely to result in difficulty.
Lack of routine. A soothing bedtime routine can work wonders for settling down your toddler. Rough housing, hyper play, overstimulating television and the like, just prior to bedtime is probably not going to help him prepare for sleep. Try spending the hour before bed unwinding so your little one will have a chance to mellow out. Give him a warm bath, read stories and snuggle and sing together. Be consistent from night to night, and your tot will come to know the routine as a sleep time signifier.
Potty woes. If you've started potty training, your little one might have a hard time holding it in during the night since they've gotten used to eliminating in their diapers unconsciously. That's okay, you can use training pants at night, without sacrificing daytime training. However some kids, might be confused by that, and still wake up to go during the night. If and when he wakes, keep the lights low and get him back to bed right away. Eventually, he'll start holding it until normal wake up time.
New sibling. Attention. Naturally, when you have a second baby, the first will be getting a bit less attention. She might start to wake during the night or fight bedtime just because she wants to squeeze in more time with you. Easier said than done, but try to have some one-on-one time with your toddler every day.
Hunger. Pickiness peaks during toddlerhood, and tots who refuse to eat at mealtimes may experience hunger pains in the middle of the night. Try to make sure your child gets in a well-balanced dinner (include at least one food you know he'll eat at every meal to ensure fullness) or if you eat dinner earlier, offer a snack that pairs protein and carbs shortly before bedtime.
Curiosity. Sometimes they can't sleep simply because they want to know what's going on outside their rooms during the night. Plus, they may have a hard time shutting off all the new curious thoughts and ideas inspired by whatever they encountered during the day. Just be patient, and explain to your kiddo that everything will still be there to explore when he wakes up in the morning and that his body and brain need rest to continue to grow.
Image via Shayne Rodriguez Thompson