PETRO THAMM

OWNER OF GOOD NIGHT SLEEP CON­SUL­TANCY

Your Baby & Toddler - - Your Toddler -

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.

Email your ques­tion for our ex­perts to: ker­[email protected] yourbaby.co.za. Please note that ex­perts un­for­tu­nately can­not re­spond to each ques­tion per­son­ally. The an­swers pro­vided on th­ese pages should not re­place the ad­vice of your doc­tor.

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