5 Tips for When Your Toddler Won’t Sleep

Sleep is essential in helping people of all ages stay healthy, and it’s essential for growing toddlers. Toddlers need about 10-14 hours of sleep daily to help them stay healthy and meet significant growth and development milestones. The problem: Plenty of toddlers don’t like bedtime.

As leading providers of well child care in Bel Air, Maryland, our team helps parents at Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center learn key ways to beat the bedtime blues and help their toddlers get the sleep they need. In this post, we offer five tips that can help you too.

1. Set a routine — and stick to it

Kids (and adults) respond well to routines and established habits. Setting a bedtime routine helps your child anticipate what’s coming next, creating a pattern they’re more likely to accept and stick to day after day.

Start by setting a regular bedtime. About 30-60 minutes before that time, begin signaling that bedtime is coming by including activities to help your child wind down. This includes things like:

Avoid TVs and computers since the light emitted from these screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone necessary for good sleep.

2. Get daytime exercise

Toddlers have plenty of energy — in fact, sometimes, it can feel like they have a bit too much energy. If they don’t have a chance to use up that energy during the day, there’s a good chance it’s going to be a lot harder for them to wind down when bedtime comes.

Regular activity during the day helps use up that extra energy while giving your child the exercise they need to build muscles and bones. Be sure your toddler has plenty of opportunity to climb, run, jump, and take part in other physically demanding play. Since fresh air can also help, try to work in some outdoor exercise when the weather permits.

3. Create the right environment

Like adults, kids get their best sleep when their bedroom is designed for rest. That generally means a dark room that’s quiet and not too hot. If there’s too much noise or light, or the room is too warm, it will be hard for your child to relax.

Look closely at your toddler’s room, especially right before bed. Adjust the temperature, add some room-darkening shades, and use a white noise machine to create the perfect space for relaxing and drifting off to a deep sleep. 

4. Use positive reinforcement

Toddlers respond well to positive feedback, based partly on a desire to please their parents and feed their sense of self-esteem. Using a bedtime chart can be a great way to give your child the positive reinforcement they want and need. Explain that when they complete a successful bedtime routine, they’ll be rewarded with a sticker in the morning. 

For more motivation, link a reward to a specific number of stickers, like five successful bedtimes in a row. Rewards should be small — a day at the park, a special treat for dessert or snack time, or a tiny toy.

5. Change up nap time

Bedtime can be challenging for some kids simply because they’re not tired enough. In that case, nap time could be to blame. 

Yes, it can be challenging for worn-out parents to give up the idea of long daily naps. But as your child grows, these once-important sleep breaks aren’t as crucial for your child’s growth and development. In fact, by interfering with nighttime sleep, they could be doing more harm than good. 

Try limiting your child’s nap to only an hour or so, and move it earlier in the day. If your child is still having trouble going to bed at night, swap out nap time for “quiet time” and let your child rest quietly for an hour or so during the day instead of going to sleep.

Give your toddler a healthy start

Good sleep is critical for your toddler’s growth and development. If you’re still having trouble getting your toddler to bed despite your best efforts, we can help. To learn more, call our office or request an appointment online today with the team at Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center.

You Might Also Enjoy...

 5 Signs Your Newborn Is Getting Enough Food

5 Signs Your Newborn Is Getting Enough Food

If you worry about how much your new baby is eating, you’re not alone. New parents often wonder if their child is getting enough nourishment to support their growth. Here’s how to tell if your newborn is getting enough food.

5 Common Signs of Food Intolerance

If your child often experiences tummy aches or skin sensitivities, the problem may be due to something they ate. Read on to learn more about common signs of food intolerance and what to do if you suspect your child has one.

Managing Your Child's Asthma While Traveling

Do you plan to travel during the holidays to be with extended family, or perhaps take a ski or tropical beach vacation? Check out these tips for a successful trip if your child has asthma.