Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to get your toddler/preschooler to GO TO BED!

Have you ever had issues getting your toddler to go to sleep? I think almost every parent has had some kind of sleep issue with their children. Toddlers and preschoolers often resist going to sleep, especially if they have older siblings who are still awake. I know I didn’t like it when my older siblings got to go to bed before I did! Here are some suggestions to help your toddler or preschooler develop good sleep habits:
1.       Set up a quiet routine. Do this before bedtime to help your child know that it will soon be time to sleep. Read them a story, listen to quiet music, or give him/her a bath. Do not play with your child before bed, because active play may make your child too excited to sleep.
2.    Be consistent. Make bedtime the same time every night. This helps your child know what to expect and establish healthy sleep patterns.
3.     Allow your child to take a favorite thing to bed. It's okay to let your child sleep with a stuffed animal, blanket or toy. These often help children fall asleep—especially if they wake up during the night. Make sure the object is safe by looking for ribbons, buttons, stuffing or pellets inside toys or other parts that may be choking hazards.
4.     Make sure your child is comfortable. They may like to have a drink, a light left on, or the door left slightly open. Handle your child's needs before bedtime so that he/she doesn't use them to avoid going to sleep.
5.     Do not let your child sleep in the same bed with you. This can make it harder for him to fall asleep when he is alone.
6.     Do not return to your child's room every time he complains or calls out. Instead, try the following:
o    Wait several seconds before answering and make your response time longer each time they call. This will give them a chance to fall asleep on their own.
o    Reassure your child that you are there. If you need to go into the room, do not turn on the light, play with him, or stay too long.
o    Move farther from your child's bed every time you go in, until you can reassure him verbally without entering his room.
o    Remind him each time he calls that it's time to go to sleep.
7.     Give it time. Helping your child develop good sleep habits can be a challenge and it is normal to get upset when a child keeps you awake at night. Try to be understanding. A negative response by a parent can make a sleep problem worse.
Be patient! It can be challenging but you can do it!
Source: “Sleep Problems in Children” by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007……A reliable source!

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