Put them to bed earlier
Some parents assume that keeping their child up late will exhaust them, helping them to fall asleep more easily and making toddler sleep training an easier task. Not so, says Elizabeth Pantley, author of No-Cry Sleep Solution. “An energetic child may appear to be running on full steam until late in the evening. But a toddler who stays awake until 9 or 10 p.m. often is ready for bed many hours earlier, and is up late functioning on overdrive—often indicated by fussiness or hyperactivity.” Implementing an earlier bedtime could not only make bedtime a little easier, research suggests it’s best for your child. “Studies have shown that a child’s blood pressure, heart rate, and release of cortisol (a stress-regulated hormone) are all affected in a positive way by an early bedtime,” Pantley explains.
Turn off the lights
Many toddlers need help winding down for the night before they head off to bed. “Try to start decreasing your child’s exposure to light about 60 minutes before bedtime, as lots of light at this time can negatively affect circadian rhythms, or internal sleep clock,” says Kevin Smith, PhD, clinical psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. “This is especially true for electronics with screens (e.g. tablets, televisions, computers). Research shows that electronics usage right before bedtime or while in bed actually can make it harder for your child to fall asleep in the long run.” Of course, don’t assume your child needs complete darkness to fall asleep. Dr. Smith suggests a small nightlight or projector light for a toddler who is afraid of the dark. Are you the one having trouble falling asleep? Here are daily habits to follow for a better night’s sleep.