I think as parents we often predict that our newborns will leave us with sleepless nights. As our babies grow, we start to get a taste back of what sleep is like. We accomplish 4 hours, then 5 hours, then 6 hours, and so on. As adults, we usually see our “sleeping through the night” as at least 7 or 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It can be an adjustment not always getting those hours!
I was pretty ecstatic when my son started sleeping through the night (in my terms) by the time I returned to work. Of course there were nights when he would wake up. However, for the most part, we both achieved a night long sleep.
Recently in the past month, at 21 months, it has been a different story. He started waking up several times during the night. Sometimes a diaper change would work and he would be back to sleep shortly. Other times he wanted something to drink, or just wanted to ask me a question. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Mommyyyyyy, GG come?” at 3:00 AM. (GG is what he calls my mom). Soon I was on a schedule of maybe 5 hours of interrupted sleep. Unlike my son who could take a nap, unfortunately my work would frown upon that if they found me nestled below my desk for a 2 hour snoozer.
Below are the aspects I examined and hopefully tips you will find useful:
Look at what they eat for dinner
I started writing down what my son had for dinner, and then what his sleep pattern was that night. Sure enough, the nights we ate out where he was able to drink a juice box or have a dessert, were also nights he woke up often. This also happened on nights when he had specific fruits with his dinner at home. After a little research, I discovered that some of his favorites, such as bananas, mangoes, and grapes have some of the highest sugar content around! For evening fruits I switched him to raspberries and blackberries, which have very low sugar content.
Consistent Nap Time
Trust me, I know it is hard to make sure your little one takes a nap every day at the same time. This is difficult for me especially on weekends. As a working mom, I don’t get to run the errands I would like to during the week. Therefore I often have to squeeze them in on the weekends and nap time can be thrown off. Stick with consistency and ensure your child takes regular naps.
Allow a small drink by their bed
Now my son had been waking up telling me he is thirsty. I made the mistake of giving him milk as a soother to fall back asleep. My fault! I should have been giving him water (especially since he now brushes his teeth at night). I’ve started leaving a small sippy cup of cold water next to his bed during the night. Now he can reach over and sip whenever he wants. It is important to give water than other liquids as to prevent tooth decay issues.
Before I put my son to bed, I make sure he has his “snuggle buddies.” This consists of his favorite blanket and a stuffed Giraffe his father gave him. Make sure these two items are tucked in with him have become a essential. I certainly find him in the morning now snuggle up with the two. Giving your toddler something they love to snuggle with will help provide comfort in the middle of the night if they wake up.
Play sooth music at a low volume
I have an old sound machine that somehow my song dug out of who knows where. One day he came up to me and handed the machine over asking “What’s this?”. The gesture gave me an idea! When my son was an infant he had an “aquarium” attached to his crib that played soothing ocean sounds. Well those worked then… and sure enough, what do you know, they still work now!
Warm soothing bath with lavender
In the evening, draw your toddler a warm, soothing bath to help calm them down and relax. Add a hint of lavender for an even more calming effect. They actually make baby/children’s bath lather that include a lavender scent.
Keep in mind that every child is different. What worked for me, might not work for you. However, if you are struggling with your toddler not sleeping, you may want to try one of the tips above. Good luck!
What tips and tricks worked with your toddler in getting them to sleep through the night?
I’m not a doctor, not a professional. Just a parent stating what worked for my toddler and I.