How to get Your Toddler to Sleep

Sleeping toddler
Credit: iStock

Getting toddlers to sleep at night can be a grueling task. We’ve compiled a handy guide of tips and tricks to solve all your toddler sleep problems.

You may have though the sleep-deprived days of navigating through life with a newborn were tough. But, for some parents, nothing can drain the colour from your face and induce a state of panic quite like a toddler’s bedtime.

As your little one grows into a walking, talking tot, mastering the bedtime routine can be tricky. Thankfully, after consulting the sleep experts, we’ve come up with the reasons, solutions and sound advice to make getting your toddler to bed a (relatively) blissful experience.

How long does it take your toddler to drop off to sleep?

A survey carried out by Better Bathrooms has revealed the average time it takes for a toddler to fall asleep, and it’s probably a lot longer than you thought.

The survey asked 2,000 parents how long they spend on the bedtime routine of any children under three, revealing that it takes on average a staggering 90 minutes to get little ones off to the land of nod.

Why does it take so long to put your toddler to bed?

According to the same survey, around 22 minutes is spent reading a bedtime story, while the other most time-consuming part is bath time, taking up 30% of the time.

It’s all about team work, though; 45% of parents say it takes both of them to get their child off to sleep, and over half – 55% – even miss out on their own dinner because they’re too busy trying to get their child off to sleep.

Tips for getting your toddler to sleep

Just like babies need a structured sleeping routine, your toddler can massively benefit from a solid bedtime routine too. Following a set pattern every night (when possible) can help your little one learn what to expect when it comes to bedtime.

Here are some top tips on how to prepare for the dreaded bedtime:

Enjoy a playful bath time

Run a nice, warm bath and get nice and clean. Once out of the tub, make sure you brush your toddler’s teeth – try and get into a solid dental hygiene routine as early as possible.

Get into their favourite pyjamas

Change into a fresh nappy, or use the toilet if they’re potty-trained. Get changed into a favourite pair of pyjamas – a sure sign for your toddler than sleep is on the horizon.

Play a quiet game

Spend some fun time with your child before bed but keep the mood calm by playing a quiet game or simply having a little chat about the day. Try to avoid anything too stimulating to ensure little one knows it’s wind-down time.

Settle down for story time

Climb into bed for a bedtime story, a sing-song and a big kiss goodnight.

READ MORE: How to set a successful sleep routine

Sleep tips for travelling with toddlers

toddler-sleep-tipsExploring the world with a toddler in tow can be an exciting and heartwarming experience, as your little one starts to discover the world around them. However, travelling the country or venturing further afield can reek havoc with a toddler’s routine.

Here are some top tips from Naturalmat’s resident sleep expert Christabel Majendie to ensuring your toddler’s sleep is not disturbed when travelling.

Maintain the same bedtime routine as you do at home

This means your child knows it is time for sleep. A good routine could include having a bath or shower, a bedtime story and cuddles. This should help them feel like they’re at home, giving them comfort and sending them on their way to a good night’s sleep.

Bring home comforts, like teddies and blankets

Take a few familiar things from home to help settle your child in their unfamiliar sleeping environment, such as teddies, blankets or a small pillow. You will also want these if you are travelling long-haul, as the flight can sometimes be the hardest part of travel, and if you’re without toys to entertain, it could cause them to become restless.

Consider the time zone

If there’s a change in time zone, think how this will impact your child’s bedtime routine. If you’re only away for a few days, you might want to keep your child on the same time as back home.

For longer periods, adjusting to the time zone shouldn’t take long, but you can prepare in advance for this by altering your child’s bedtime a few days before you leave – try waking them up 15 mins and putting them to bed 15 minutes earlier / later depending on the time zone.

Set meal times around the new time zones

To help with the change, arrange for meal times to be set around the new time zones, rather than having irregular eating patterns. This will also help with your child’s digestive system, as having unbalanced eating patterns can cause them to feel sluggish or slightly unwell.

Get your child out in the daylight

Encourage your child to go outside for at least an hour in the morning, to help the brain adjust to the new day and night cycle. Remember that it’s normal for your child’s sleep to be unsettled with changes of environment and time zones, so allow them time to adjust.

READ MORE: How much sleep does a newborn need? 

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