DEALING WITH SLEEP PROBLEMS IN TODDLERS

Bayo Ajibola

DEALING WITH SLEEP PROBLEMS IN TODDLERS

“Night- night; sweet dreams!”  These words, and the like,signify that it is time to sleep.  Upon hearing those words, some kids just keep calm, close their eyes and drift away to the land of dreams. However,for some other kids, getting them to sleep is a big battle that needs to be fought and won. Unfortunately, at the end of this battle, most times mum or dad is extremely exhausted and so is the kid.

Here are ten tips that can help:

1.      Map out a bedtime routine and adhere strictly to it.  It may be: have a nice warm bath, brush, change into pyjamas, books (bedtime stories) and bed.

2.      Anticipate what the child might need while in bed and provide such.  A kid, wanting to stay up, might ask repeatedly for a drink of watereven when he doesn’t need it.  In such a case, keep a beaker of water by his bedside.

3.      Don’t let your child nap in the day for so long.  One to two hours of nap is enough and this should be taken before 3pm. After the nap, engage him inan activity to get him tired for the night.

4.      Teach your child to fall asleep by himself.  You don’t need to lie on the bed with him, patting him to sleep. Don’t let himbe dependent on drinks, music or TV in order to fall asleep.

5.      Announce bedtime minutes before bedtime. This is to prepare your child’s mind for bed.  It may help to make him feel independent and grown up by letting himchoose his pyjamas or bedtime story.

6.      Endeavour to make bedtime a calm and quiet period. In the minutes or an hour preceding bedtime, never let yourchild get over-excited with rough and tumble games.

7.      Where your child cries and doesn’t want to remain in bed, reassure him that everything is alright. Pat him on the back but don’t pick him up or give a cuddle.  Leave the room and check on him at intervals until he falls asleep.

8.      Never send your child to bed in the day as a form of punishment. Where you do this, the child will associate bed andbedtime with punishment.

9.      Most toddlers have somenight-time fears. They may be afraid of the dark, imaginary objects, monsters under the bed or in the wardrobe, or simply separation from parents. Where this happens, go to your childand gently assuage his fears.  It may help to leave the night lamp on in the room.

10.  Make the transition from cot to bed a big deal. Don’t forget to praise him when he stays and sleeps in hisnew bed until morning.

In conclusion, remember that getting your child to settle and sleep through the night is usually not an easy task but if you remain calm, firm and determined, bedtime will always be a moment to look forward to.


Bayo Ajibola

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