Sleep training toddlers: negotiating the terrible twos

Having a young child can be an amazing experience, full of first times and laughter – but it’s often observed through a fug of sleepless nights.

And just when you think the sleepless nights of having a newborn baby are over, the terrible twos kick in!

TEMPUR looks at how to sleep train your toddler by helping to establish a bedtime routine, ensuring you both get the sleep you need and deserve.

Toddler sleep problems

Between the ages of two and three, toddlers become increasingly independent. Unlike babies, toddlers push boundaries when it comes to bedtime, trying to take control. Sleep problems in toddlers are common, but they cannot always be fixed by parental soothing.

A toddler’s evolving imagination means they can develop nighttime anxieties such as a fear of the dark and a belief in monsters. These can be helped with a cuddly toy, like the TEMPUR Soft Plush Animals, or a bedtime story.

Most toddlers need around 12 to 14 hours of sleep in total, including one to three hours during the day. When your toddler lacks rest, the following day can be difficult. However, there are certain steps you can take to ensure a better night sleep for the both of you.

What is sleep training?

Sleep training uses a variety of methods to help young children fall asleep on their own. This includes different ‘cry-it-out’ methods, which involve leaving a child to cry during sleeping hours.

The Ferber Method, invented by Dr Richard Ferber, includes regular, timed check-ins. However, the Weissbluth Method, created by paediatrician and author Dr Marc Weissbluth, consists of putting your child to bed and not checking on them until morning. The rules are flexible, but consistency is key.

When sleep training toddlers, establishing a consistent bedtime routine is the most important step. Try the following:

  • Stick to a regular bedtime schedule
  • Create a relaxing routine for your toddler such as a bath followed by a story, lasting about 30 minutes
  • Ensure they are sleepy but awake
  • Be strict when it is time to say goodnight and sleep

Of course, not all toddlers are the same and what works for one may not work for another. Try different methods and consult with your doctor or early years experts to get advice tailored to your specific situation.

How does sleep training toddlers benefit your sleep?

Worrying about your child’s sleep can affect your own sleep patterns, and a lack of sleep can generate fatigue, short temper and reduced focus. So, sleep training your toddler ensures an improvement in your quality of sleep as well as theirs.

Good quality sleep is essential because:

  • Sleep and mental wellbeing are inextricably linked – lack of sleep can lead to mood swings, anxiety and even depression
  • It boosts your immunity – not only is this beneficial for your health, but as a parent being ill makes the job ten times harder!
  • Sleep can burn calories – when you’re sleep deprived, the hunger-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, increases

Do you have any tips on sleep training toddlers, or any experiences to share? Let us know in the comments below…

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