As parents, we all know the bedtime struggle well.
Most toddlers need between 12 and 14 hours of sleep per day; preschoolers need between 11 and 13 hours. What's best for your child? Here are some tips to figure that out, and ways to set them up for a better, sounder sleep.
How can I help my toddler or preschooler sleep better?
You can do a number of things to establish an excellent bedtime routine to ensure that your toddler gets enough sleep. When setting up a bedtime routine, keep these things in mind:
- Stick to the same set bed times and wake up times each day. Most children need bedtime to be between 6-8pm for children ages 4 months - 4 years. After 4 years, 8pm is still a good bedtime to keep. Most 4 year olds have dropped their nap in the day, but 12+ hours is just too long for them to cope with being awake. Being overtired is a massive contributor to “bad behavior” at bedtime. They get so worked up in the day with no breaks, so when it comes time for bed, their little bodies are so overworked that they can’t appropriately calm themselves down. As parents, we can regulate our bodies much better than a toddler, so we often get caught in the trap of expecting too much from them.
- Maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Turn off overhead lights and use dim table lamps starting 30-60 minutes before bedtime to minimize light exposure. Establish calm and enjoyable activities in the 30 minutes right before bedtime, such as taking a bath or reading bedtime stories to help your child wind down. It is helpful to set clear limits as to how many books you will read or songs you will sing. Allow your child to pick out which pajamas he or she wishes to wear and which stuffed animal to take to bed, etc. This choice of security object (stuffed animal or blanket) helps your child feel more relaxed at bedtime and all through the night.
- Make sure the bedroom environment is quiet, cool, dimly lit and comfortable for sleeping. A little belle nightlight has the option of dimming the light and a red light setting as well. Playing soft, soothing music or sound machine is fine. Remember to reserve the bed for sleeping only – it should not be used as a platform for playing. Television watching in the bedroom should not be allowed. Any other form of screen time (iPad, smart phones, etc.) should not be part of the bedroom environment. These can over-stimulate the child and make it harder for them to fall asleep.
- Limit food and drink (especially any drinks containing caffeine) before bedtime.
- Calling upon fairies as children go to sleep at night is a psychologist endorsed method to help your toddler sleep better. Switch on your Little Belle nightlightas you tuck your child into bed, or place your fairy house wishing box near their bed. Make a magic call out to the fairies to come and give them good dreams and watch over them during the night. Let them know if they wake in the night that fairies will be nearby.