Help your child sleep through the night by understanding why they're having sleep problems and establishing bedtime routines.
It’s one of those things that makes a parent rejoice: that moment when your baby can finally sleep through the night. You don’t mind the sleepless nights of course, but it’s still a great thing when your little one finally sleeps uninterrupted for hours — which means more rest time for you too.
However, when your child reaches toddlerhood, things may suddenly change. You might find yourself awake again in the middle of the night because he has gotten up from bed. “Oh no,” you think to yourself, “why doesn’t my child sleep through the night anymore?”
If you’re facing such a situation now, fear not. We’re here to help!
Back to the basics
If your child is suddenly unable to sleep through the night, it may be best to take note of the following pointers:
1. Assess the situation.
Answer these questions: Why is your child getting up? Are they scared? Is the noise level distracting? Are they being stimulated by bright colors, games or even caffeine or sugar? (More on this later.)
2. Establish a routine to prepare your child for bedtime.
This may consist of a warm bath, some cuddling time, story time or sedentary activities (not television). (More on this later.)
3. Be consistent with the ‘when’ of bedtime.
Yes, there will be exceptions at times, but for the most part make bedtime the same time every night.
4. Put them back in bed.
When your child gets out of bed, take them back to their bed. NO EXCEPTIONS. Tuck them back in, kiss them goodnight (again), reassure them you will be there in the morning and return to your room.
5. Allow your child to self-soothe.
If you hear your toddler stirring in their room at night, don’t go into their room unless they call for you. It is possible for toddlers to soothe themselves back to sleep if left to do so.
Reasons why some children can’t sleep through the night
When assessing the reason behind your toddler’s sleeplessness, you need to take note of the following:
- Is your child afraid of the dark? Provide a dim nightlight that is not in their direct line of vision, just something to cast a reassuring glow. Alternatively, you could attach glow-in-the-dark stars to their bedroom ceiling.
- Is your child afraid of being alone or of ‘monsters under the bed’? Ask them why they are afraid and help them work through these fears.
- Is the atmosphere of their room too stimulating? Bright colors are great for toys, but a child’s bedroom should be filled with soft, soothing colors.
- Is your child receiving too much stimulation prior to bedtime via television, rambunctious play, fast-paced video games, etc? Remove these from their routine.
- Is the noise level in your home too loud? Tone things down a bit.
- Is your child receiving caffeine or sugar before bedtime? Make sure to limit his intake of these substances to 2 hours prior to bedtime.