How to Establish Healthy Sleep Habits in Toddlers
Just one more episode, one more story, one more hug before they go to sleep? Parents of toddlers know a lot about the struggles of putting children to sleep.
It's fun to have a little slumber party - once in a while, but structured and regular sleep is essential for little humans and their healthy growth.
That's why you have to fight all the bedtime paradoxical questions, requests for five more minutes, and other challenges coming your way.
Sleep plays a crucial part in the development of toddlers. Besides recharging the bodies and minds and retaining information, sleep allows children to improve their memory, motor skills, and executive attention.
Research shows that children and adolescents have improved attention, memory, and mental and physical health if they get a sufficient amount of sleep daily.
Is your baby getting a sufficient amount of sleep? Do you have regular naps scheduled in their routine?
Well, we're here to shed a little light on the healthy sleeping habits of toddlers and give you a few tips on how to fight the bedtime zoomies.
How sleep shapes your toddler's Growth and Development
Sleep plays a crucial role in a toddler's growth and development. During sleep, the brain consolidates memories, processes emotions, and regenerates cells. It's during deep sleep that the brain produces the highest levels of growth hormone, which is responsible for physical development, such as bone and muscle growth.
Like adults, toddlers go through these sleep phases:
- Drowsiness - Your baby will show sleepiness that comes after a long day;
- Light sleep - They will begin to relax and fall into a very light sleep;
- Dream sleep ( rapid eye movement (REM) sleep) - At this point, their eyes will begin to move in different directions. This is where your baby will see dreams;
- Deep sleep - At this stage, your baby's body releases growth hormones to build and repair bones, muscles, and tissues.
A consistent sleep schedule is vital for a toddler's general health and well-being. A regular sleep routine helps regulate the body's internal clock, improving sleep quality and duration. Toddlers who follow a consistent sleep schedule are more likely to fall asleep easily and stay asleep throughout the night.
Have you heard about the importance of rituals?
Childhood development experts often discuss the meaning of rituals and schedule in toddlers' lives. They say that consistency and predictability can help ease their anxiety and fear. This phenomenon translates to sleep schedules as well. A predictable sleep routine can help reduce stress and anxiety for both the child and the parent.
When a toddler knows what to expect, they may be less likely to resist bedtime or experience bedtime-related struggles.
You can create a fun bedtime ritual - bedtime reading or playing time and let your baby know that the end of the day is coming and it's time to recharge.
A consistent sleep schedule can also support your toddler's physical and cognitive development, as it helps ensure that they are getting enough refreshing sleep to support growth and learning.
Sleep is critical to prevent:
- Poor mental health
- Physical Injuries
- Attention and behavior problems
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hormonal fluctuations
Frequently encountered sleep issues for toddlers
Toddlers will always want to run around, try new things, and experiment with the world around them. That's how they're built!
Their energy level and curiosity often create a challenging situation for parents during sleep time.
Common behavioral issues include:
- Getting out of bed, calling the parent, being restless;
- Not wanting to sleep in their bed;
- Waking up during the night and needing you to help them get back to sleep;
- Feeling anxious and worried;
- Irregular sleeping schedule
These situations may occur sometimes, but if you notice your baby asking more and more about your presence during their sleep you might want to look into behavioral strategies.
Often it's just toddlers being themselves and wanting to have all the attention of their parents, but sometimes sleep issues can be because of their medical condition.
Sleep apnoea, insomnia, nightmares, night terrors, and delayed sleep phases can affect your toddler's sleep quality. Observe their behavior and consult with your doctor if you notice a medical issue.
Poor sleep quality can affect your baby's and your daily life:
- They might show behavior problems - young children being overactive or older children feeling sleepy all the time;
- Poor memory and trouble concentrating - this can affect their performance at preschool and during extracurricular activities;
- More tiredness during the day - you'll notice that your child has less and less energy every day to play and learn;
- Inability to wake up for school and need for more naps during the day;
- Irritability and anger - if your baby isn't getting enough sleep, they will feel easily annoyed and angered;
- Enhanced anxiety - anxiety and fearfulness grow if children don't get enough sleep, which can affect their overall mental health.
Here are 7 tips for your toddler's good sleep
Before we say our goodbyes and wish you good luck on your journey, we want to share a few tips on how to improve your toddler sleep according to CDC:
- Create a consistent sleeping schedule - Again! A regular sleeping schedule is essential for children. Set sleeping and wake-up times at the same time each day, including weekends;
- Create a comfortable environment - Keep the bedroom quiet, in dimmer colors, and at a comfortable temperature;
- Remove electronics and other distractions from their bedroom;
- Keep the last meal before bed light - Don't give your toddler a large meal, sugary sweets, and a lot of fizzy drinks before going to bed;
- Keep your children active during the day - They need to spend their energy to have a good night's sleep;
- Give them an example - Be a role model and show your children the same behavior you expect from them;
- Create a bedtime routine - This will help your children mentally prepare for bedtime.
Well, by now you already know that a predictable sleep routine is a critical component of healthy sleep habits for toddlers, and can contribute to improved behavior, mood, and overall well-being.
You need to learn more about how your baby operates and create the perfect environment for them.
Observe their patterns, experiment with the routines and rituals, and don't forget to take care of yourself as well!