OWNER OF GOOD NIGHT SLEEP CONSULTANCY
MY TODDLER IS STILL WAKING UP ABOUT THREE TIMES A NIGHT AND SHE ONLY SLEEPS FOR AN HOUR DURING THE DAY. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?
When your child reaches the two-year mark, they welcome the world of independence with open arms, and the first ways they start trying to exert control are in situations where they sleep and eat.
Sleep can be influenced by an array of things from nutrition to medical issues, but very often at this age, sleep is a “behavioural” problem. Once you have successfully ruled out medical problems, consider your child’s nutrition habits. Your child should not be given stimulants like sugar and caffeine, and should eat balanced meals that include protein throughout each day. Hydration is especially important, so remember to give your child adequate water too. At the age of two, milk becomes supplementary and is not a fundamental part of a child’s nutritional needs. Also, your child should no longer be taking milk feeds during the night. If your two-yearold is still using a bottle, change over to a sippy cup and lay down a new rule that says it should not be taken to bed.
The biggest mistake parents make around this age is moving their children to a big bed too soon. Toddlers are often too young to understand the freedom a big bed affords them, so my advice would be to keep your child in a controlled sleep space (like her cot) for as long as she remains comfortable. Also try to keep her bedroom cool and dark, use comfortable bedding and possibly give her a comfort item with which to sleep.
You can also start making positive sleep associations with your child. Implement reward charts and establish a set routine every night that your child is part of. Hold off on scolding your child if she doesn’t want to go to bed, and decide beforehand what the parameters are when it comes to sleep as a discipline in your house.
One of the simplest reasons for your toddler resisting bedtime is to gain attention from you! In the fast paced society that we live in today, the last two hours before bedtime (and sometimes the only time we spend with our children) are a crazy whirlwind of cooking, cleaning, screaming and running. Ensure you and your partner invest in quality, cellphone free time with your tot before bed, where she gets to lead the activities.
Remember that activities before bedtime should be calming, so attempt a no TV period for two hours before bedtime. This is because TVS illuminate blue light, which inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Rather play outside, go for a quick walk or bounce on a Pilates ball with her – all these activities are great for sensory integration.
An overtired child will not sleep well, and this is why your two-year-old should have a nap every day of between 90 minutes and two hours. Bedtime should be between 7pm and 8pm to ensure that your child is well rested.
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