Why won't my toddler sleep at night?!
A lot of the times I see toddlers have either a nap regression or a bedtime/night regression. Typically, it’s one or the other. Sometimes, it can be both! We talked about naps in the previous post so let’s explore the nighttime battle!
I want to first start off by saying that if your toddler has been a terrible sleeper for a while now, you don’t need to feel like they just hate sleep.
I can assure you… it is never too late to teach your child how to sleep!
Ok, let’s begin!
Anywhere from 18 months to 2.5 years old, you may begin to experience some sleep struggles with your toddler. Maybe they have been sleeping well for a long time now or maybe they’ve always been difficult sleepers. But around this age range, I get a lot of questions starting with “What is going on with my child?!”
Toddlers are brilliant little creatures! They are learning and exploring the world at a very rapid pace and they have more energy than parents can comprehend. And they are pushing boundaries!
All this development and growing can cause your good sleeper to seem like they’re back sliding.
Why do most toddlers have a sleep regression and
what do I do?
1.) The Crib to Bed transition was done too soon
I strongly recommend keeping your child in a crib until they are at least 3 years old. I know, you’re excited about your child moving to a big kid bed! But nothing is worth handing over those precious Z’s! The truth is your toddler is not cognitively mature enough to handle the freedom that comes with an open bed. It’s too much to expect of them and you will just find yourself taking the trip back to their room many times each night.
If you’ve already moved your child out of the crib and sold it but you’re realizing this is a culprit in your situation, go on Facebook Marketplace and find a cheap one, borrow one or get the 4Moms Pack n Play (it’s longer than most Pack n Plays). You’re going to want to do what you have to do to get the crib setting back until your toddler turns 3.
2.) They are not exerting enough energy during the day
As I’m sure you are well aware of, toddlers have TONS of energy! And they need to get it out! If they are not exerting enough energy during the day, they are going to have a struggle falling asleep at bedtime.
So, get them outside! If you can’t get outside, build forts inside! Have them engage in activities that will tire them out. I recommend having high energy activity around 10am and again after nap time. One of our indoor favorites at our house is hide and seek!
3.) They are getting too much daytime sleep
At this age, they should be on one nap. With one nap, the ideal amount of daytime sleep is anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3 hours. For the younger toddlers, they will be closer to the 2- or 3-hour mark. For older toddlers, we want to see them stay between 1.5 to 2 hours, not more than 2.5 hours.
As your child gets older, they require less sleep. If they’re getting too much of their total sleep allotment during the daytime hours, then their night sleep will suffer, and it’ll become difficult for them to fall asleep at bedtime and/or stay asleep all night.
With that being said, check out your toddler’s schedule. Is bedtime taking forever? If yes, cut back on that nap length and work on more awake time between nap and bedtime. Start waking them up a bit earlier to see if that helps them fall asleep easier at night.
4.) Bending rules during sickness
While I am totally on board with offering your child extra comfort during the night when they are sick, it’s easy to get stuck in a place of offering sleep props even after they have recovered. You may find yourself going in to rock your congested toddler a bit while they are sick and struggling at night but then once they feel better, you still find yourself there. After all, toddlers remember everything and arguing with a toddler in the middle of the night is never ideal.
It’s easy to get stuck here because toddlers are smart and we aren’t ready for the fight they’re willing to put up.
But it’s so important to get back into your regular routine after your child is better! Sticking to what you say is going to happen (all day and through the night) is the number 1 way to do this! Which brings me to my next point…
5.) You aren’t sticking to your boundaries
I know, there’s nothing more annoying than someone telling you that you aren’t doing something right. But that’s not what I’m doing here. I’m simply pointing out a fact about toddlers: If you don’t firm up your boundaries, they are going to continue to push and push to see how far they can get. You may not realize this, but when that line is blurred and they are handed all the power, this can cause them to act out more because it’s stressful to be in charge! We should know! They may seem bossy, but they are not ready to be the boss.
So, take those reigns back. And stay consistent with this all day and night. If you are going to go back on something you said during the day and then expect them to listen to you at night, that’s just not going to happen! Follow through with everything you say!
If you follow these guidelines with full commitment and consistency, you’re amazing sleeper will return! If your toddler has not been able to fall asleep independently before, let’s help them with that! Schedule your FREE call with me and we can discuss how I can help you teach your wild one to be tame enough to fall asleep on their own within a few minutes!