What You Need to Know if Your Toddler is a Sleepwalker

sleepwalking-toddler
Image adapted via Flickr/ Lars Plougmann

I was lying in bed about to fall asleep when I heard one of my kids' door open. Thinking they were just heading for the washroom, I didn't think much of it until I heard little feet walk down the stairs.

It was odd behavior because, as a little 2-year-old, my child has always been afraid of the dark, and walking downstairs where there were no lights on was not typical behavior.

I got out of bed, tiptoed downstairs to see if I could figure out what my child was doing just in time to watch my kid head down to the basement. My pace quickened as I tried to catch up with the odd child, and when we reached the bottom of the stairs, I asked what was going on.

{ MORE: How to Stop Toddler Aggression }

No answer. My kid just sat down on the floor. That's when I realized it: my toddler was still asleep and was sleepwalking.

It wasn't the first time I caught my kid sleepwalking, and it wasn't the last either. This behavior is something that started a few months earlier but still caught me by surprise. Myself, I was a sleeptalker when I was younger, but sleepwalking is a whole different ballgame.

sleepwalking-toddler-1
Image via Flickr/ abbybatchelder

What is sleepwalking?

According to KidsHealth.org, “sleepwalking (also called somnambulism) actually involves more than just walking. Sleepwalking behaviors can range from harmless (sitting up), to potentially dangerous (wandering outside), to just inappropriate (kids may even open a closet door and pee inside).”

KidsHealth goes on to explain that most kids don't remember their sleepwalking episodes, and they will typically happen within an hour or two of falling asleep, which made sense with what happened with my kid.

sleepwalking-toddler-2
Image via Flickr/ Lars Plougmann

What causes sleepwalking?

The good thing about sleepwalking is most often it's just a “kid thing,” and most kids will outgrow this habit by the time they're teenagers. Some things can trigger a sleepwalking episode, like being overly tired, being sick, being on certain medications, or having a lack of a consistent sleep schedule.

{ MORE: When Night Terrors Strike }

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sleepwalking-toddler-3
Image via Flickr/ abbybatchelder

How can you keep your toddler safe?

The fact that my toddler walked all the way down to the basement in a sleepwalking episode really scared me. I just kept wondering what could have happened if my child had walked out the front door or if I wasn't awake to hear my child get up.

Keeping your sleepwalker safe is important, and there are a few things you should keep in mind and set in place if your toddler is known to walk in their sleep.

  1. Don't wake your sleepwalking child — or do so very gently so you don't scare them
  2. Make sure all doors and windows are locked so your sleepwalker can't get out
  3. Don't allow your sleepwalker to sleep in a bunk bed and use a guard-rail
  4. Make sure there is less clutter on the floors to help prevent trips and falls

{ MORE: Why It's Great to Have a Strong Willed Kid }

Does your toddler sleepwalk or sleeptalk? Share in the comments!

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What You Need to Know if Your Toddler is a Sleepwalker

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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