Three most common toddler/preschool sleep challenges AND how to fix them
By Maggie Moore
Toddlers and pre-school age children can face just as many sleep challenges as infants!
Often these are more challenging to deal with as parents, because at that age children can have their own set of ideas of how things should be and can voice them.
I hear from parents of children this age frequently and here are the challenges they most often face.
Transitioning from crib to “big kid” bed too soon.
The earliest I recommend families make the jump from crib to “big kid” bed is three-years-old.
It is not until this age that children can begin to understand what it means to stay in bed. Remember, no crib = lots of freedom. That freedom often makes even the best sleeper tempted to get out of bed and explore at night.
If you are making the transition because your little one is climbing out of the crib, here are a couple of options:
- you can push the crib to the corner and make sure the high side (typically the back) is pointed out.
- Continue to use a Zippadee-Zip as this will make it harder to climb out.
DO NOT drop the mattress to the floor as that is not safe.
Remember, often a firm “no” on the monitor will do the trick!
Ditching the nap too early.
Most toddlers and preschoolers nap until at least three years old!
Ditching it any earlier is asking for an overtired little one. Remember, children who are overtired have a harder time falling asleep, staying asleep, and experience early wake-ups.
If you are ditching the nap because it is impacting night sleep, here are some other options:
- Make sure you are capping the length of the nap. Start by reducing the nap by 15 minutes at a time and see if that makes a difference. Continue to reduce until you find you sweet spot. We are aiming for at least an hour nap.
- Cut off naps so that they don’t go any later than 2:30pm. Make sure you are adjusting bedtime according if you are ditching the nap.
If your little one is no longer napping they need to be going to sleep at
least 12 hours after they woke for the day.
Anything more = overtired.
Nobody knows how to push boundaries like a toddler who does not want to go to sleep. Amiright?
My son is the king of stall tactics when it is bedtime. He is thirsty, needs chapstick, forgot to feed the fish, needs to go potty, needs to be tucked in and the list goes on and on.
The best way to handle the push back at bedtime is to be consistent. Keep the routine the same every night so your toddler will know what is expected of him/her.
Additionally build the stall tactics into the routine. If you know each night your little one is going to ask for water, make it a point to give them a little drink - and so on.
This way when their stalling starts, we can remind them we have already done all the things they are now asking for.
Regressions and backsliding often happen when we are not consistent in our approach to sleep.
Making sure your little ones sleep environment is right, that they are getting enough sleep, and that you are meeting their needs will help get everyone a restful nights sleep!
Maggie Moore is the Founder and Head Sleeper at Moore Sleep. She is a certified pediatric sleep consultant through the Family Sleep Institute, which means her sole focus and objective is getting your baby on a healthy sleep schedule so the whole family can get the sleep they need.
Like many parents, Maggie and her husband struggled with getting their son on a healthy sleep schedule and he was unable to fall asleep independently. As a result, her family was losing precious sleep every night.
Maggie became a firm believer when, shortly after hiring a certified pediatric sleep consultant, her son began sleeping independently at bed and nap times. It was a turning point that resulted in not only restful nights, but waking up fully rested with the energy to face the day. Maggie knew right away she wanted to become a certified consultant herself so she could help other families struggling to get the sleep they need.
Maggie and her family reside in Southern Indiana (near Louisville, KY). She received her bachelors in Journalism and a second concentration in Communications & Culture from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Follow Maggie on Facebook and Instagram.
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