Toddlers need about 10-14 hours of sleep daily to help them grow, stay healthy, and meet key developmental milestones. If your toddler isn’t getting the sleep they need, their health (and yours!) can suffer.
At The Center for Advanced Pediatrics in Darien and Norwalk, Connecticut, our pediatricians work with a certified pediatric sleep consultant to offer personalized sleep consultations for parents of babies, toddlers, and young children.
We also believe in the power of parent education, so we’ve created this helpful post with our top tips for helping toddlers get a good night’s rest. Here’s a closer look at what’s involved with a sleep consultation and other ways to help your child get the sleep they need.
Getting enough quality sleep is important for people of all ages, but it’s essential for healthy growth and brain development in children. If your toddler struggles to fall or stay asleep, it’s a good idea to schedule a sleep consultation with a pediatric sleep specialist.
Sleep issues arise for many reasons, from daytime nap troubles to teething to issues with routine, and can take multiple forms, including nighttime waking, difficulty falling asleep, napping too much or not enough, bad dreams or nightmares, and more.
At The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, our certified pediatric sleep consultant assesses your child’s current sleep habits, needs, and any challenges your family faces to create a personalized step-by-step sleep plan, which may include:
With the help of a sleep consultation, the providers at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics help your child develop healthy sleep habits to minimize the need for future sleep help or training.
If your toddler isn’t active enough during the day, it’s much harder to settle down or stay asleep at night. Plus, getting plenty of regular physical activity helps toddlers grow healthy and strong, encouraging muscle development, fine and gross motor skills, and healthy heart and lung function, to name just a few benefits.
Whenever possible, promote age-appropriate physical activity throughout the day. This can mean taking a walk after breakfast, playing on the playground, joining a toddler-friendly gymnastics or fitness class, dancing in the kitchen, and more.
People of all ages respond well to routines, and toddlers are no exception. By setting up a bedtime, sleep, and morning routine, your child can better understand what to expect and have less trouble sticking to it.
The first step is to set a regular bedtime. Then, about an hour before bedtime, choose activities to help signal to your child that it’s time to wind down, such as:
Be sure to avoid activities that stimulate your toddler before bedtime, especially anything that involves blue light, which can affect natural sleep rhythms. This means limiting screen time for a few hours before it’s time for bed and promoting calming activities, like coloring or reading before sleep.
Toddlers sleep best when their sleep space is set up for rest. This means keeping the room dark and quiet and ensuring the temperature isn’t too warm for sleep. Too much noise, light, and heat make it difficult for toddlers to fall and stay asleep.
Consider adding a white noise machine if your child wakes up easily, and hang room-darkening shades to keep the room dark as the seasons change and the sun sets or rises at different times.
If your toddler has been struggling with bedtime or sleep, you can’t expect things to change overnight. For example, if your child gets up at night or challenges you at bedtime, be responsive and kind — but stay consistent with the new routine.
This means meeting their needs with reassurance but avoiding doing things that create a habit for your toddler in which they rely on you or another person to fall back asleep. You can use positive reinforcement to help them meet sleep-time goals. For example, you can use a sticker chart for when they complete a successful bedtime routine or stay in bed until the morning. Try linking a fun reward, like a special park trip or extra time in the pool.
For personalized recommendations to help your toddler sleep through the night, schedule a sleep consultation online or over the phone at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics.