Go to Sleep!
The truth of the matter is that toddlers need approximately 11 to 15 hours of sleep daily. For most, this is a mix of nighttime sleep (hopefully occurring when you are sleeping too), combined with an afternoon nap.
If you find that you are hitting a few “bumps” in the road when it comes to your toddler getting enough sleep or getting to
sleep, consider the following:
Nighttime Ritual: Children, especially toddlers, thrive on routines. A nighttime ritual may provide the appropriate steps that will prepare your child's mind and body for a restful sleep. A nighttime ritual can be created based on the needs and interests of your child, and can even help establish some wonderful traditions. Nighttime rituals and/or routines can take a few minutes or may take an hour. This amount of time may depend on the needs of your child.
What may be part of a nighttime ritual?
The evening may come to a close with a warm bath, snack, teeth brushing, and toileting/diapering. Following these necessities, your child may find comfort in cuddling up and reading with you and other members of your family. It is important to remember that toddlers may actively test boundaries and limits. You may need to establish some guidelines such as we read 3 books (and be sure to count them as you go). Other rituals may include the singing of a nighttime lullaby. Activities should be calming and quiet.
Whatever you do, keep it consistent. You are working in partnership with them to prepare their body for rest.
Night Lights: As active learners, toddlers sometimes develop fears. One fear may be that of the dark. If your toddler is beginning to protest the lights being off and/or awakes in panic in the middle of the night in a dark room, a nightlight may provide a happy compromise.
Sleep “Aid” (i.e. special blanket, soft music, thumb sucking): Finally, a key to successful sleep for you and your toddler will be their ability to sleep (as well as to get back to sleep during the night) on their own. Although there are certainly differing theories on how to do this, the use of a sleep aid may also provide your child the resources they need to self-soothe and fall asleep. What is a sleep aid? It's simply something that will provide your child comfort, sometimes security as well, and help them fall asleep. These items may include a special blanket, soft music, or other ambient noise. Some children may also suck their thumb or use a pacifier. However, parents should be careful when encouraging sleep aids. Such habits as thumb sucking and/or using a pacifier may be hard to break.
By being caring, consistent, and receptive to your child's needs, even your toddler should be sleeping like a baby soon!