Recently, I was a vendor at my local birth and baby fair and one of the most frequently asked questions by expecting mamas was surprisingly not related to infant sleep. Rather, they were concerned with how to get their toddler to sleep better! These tired mamas were trying to wrap their brains around having a new baby on top of having to be a sleep training toddler machine.
You may not be on baby number two yet, but if you dread bedtime with your toddler, then stay tuned! Has “one extra story mommy!” slowly evolved into three glasses of water, four stories, an elaborate way of saying goodnight, multiple rounds of hugs and kisses for everyone in the room (including the stuffed animals) and you can’t take it anymore? Don’t worry you are most certainly not alone. It is never too late to make a change for the better!
So what is it that you need to do to become a sleep training toddler mamma? In a word, consistency! Creating a consistent bedtime routine as well as having a consistent response to bedtime shenanigans will help you solve sleep problems with your toddler.
Sleep Training Toddler – Simple Tips to get your Little one on a Routine.
SLEEP AND A TODDLER’S GROWING INDEPENDENCE
Why is sleep training toddlers, or let’s be honest, doing most anything with a toddler, so difficult? Simply put, it’s because our favorite little humans are developing their own sense of autonomy. They are learning what things they can do to get them what they want and boy are they persistent!
They will test every limit they can just to see how far they can go and bedtime is no exception. Case in point, what do you want your toddler to do at bedtime? Go to sleep! So naturally, they will use that to their advantage. This way, they can see where their boundaries lie and how much authority they really have.
Knowing what you’re up against is only half the battle. Once you decide it is time to become the ultimate sleep training toddler lady, you cannot shy away from hard and fast rules at bedtime! Believe me! Even though your toddler may not seem to appreciate your firmness in laying down rules and expectations, they truly take comfort in knowing that you are definitively in charge. The confidence that you show in making your decisions and sticking to them makes your child feel secure. They’ll understand that following your guidance is the best thing.
SUCCESS AT BEDTIME BEGINS WITH A ROUTINE
With any sleep training effort, a bedtime is a decisive event that will ultimately set you up for success or failure. Toddlers see the world in black and white and this a great place to give them clear guidance on what is expected of them.
First, establish a solid bedtime routine and do not deviate. I can’t emphasize enough that toddlers thrive on routine and even though they push boundaries when those boundaries shift it makes them very insecure. So stick to it, mama!
It doesn’t have to be complicated and it shouldn’t be too long, between 20-30 minutes will do. Take a bath, put on pajamas, brush teeth, read one book, get a hug and kiss and go to bed. Keep it the same every night, protect your toddler’s routine and you can thank yourself for it later while sipping some wine and watching Netflix peacefully before you turn in.
ENCOURAGE SLEEPING SUCCESS WITH YOUR TODDLER
While you’re in control of the timing of the routine, you can gain buy-in and foster enthusiasm about a new routine by allowing them to have some say in the details. For example, having them pick out new sheets for their crib or bed is a good place to start. Then setting aside two pairs of pajamas for them to pick a set during the routine will make them feel like they still have some control, without taking forever to decide.
Reinforce your child’s new routine with a visual aid. Since toddlers learn best by repetition I recommend having your toddler’s bedtime routine in pictures somewhere in their room where they can review it each night and feel a sense of accomplishment that they have finished each step. Furthermore, you can set up a system of reward and consequence for following their routine and staying in bed. This will help them learn and understand the boundaries you have set about going to sleep and staying asleep all night.
Lastly, don’t forget to keep a good daytime routine even if your toddler doesn’t nap anymore. Encourage and reinforce a regular wake up time, outdoor playtime, well-balanced meals and ensure bedtime is between 7pm-8pm. The will set them up for success at bedtime and help avoid overtired meltdowns.
STICK TO YOUR TODDLER’S NEW ROUTINE
It sounds simple, but we all know that sticking to the new routine and rules can be a challenge. Without a doubt there will be asking, testing and complaining. Consistency here is so important, don’t stop once you’ve decided to make the change!
Within a few weeks of unyielding consistency and encouragement of your sleep training mamma rules and regulations, your toddler will understand that bedtime routine is non-negotiable and what is expected of them during the night. Praise them for their successes and be consistent in your responses as you guide them through their sleep struggles. They will be so proud when they accomplish their sleep goals and so will you!
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