It’s not really a problem to coax your baby to sleep in the first six months or so. After all, they’re falling asleep in the middle of a feeding in many cases. However, once baby starts wearing toddler shoes, it can become more difficult to get them to close their eyes for more than a minute.
Quality sleep is important for your active toddler (Care2.com notes toddlers should have 10 to 13 hours per day), and can also be important for you as a parent to catch a break for a couple of hours. So whether you’re thinking about how to achieve a nap or want your child to sleep longer through the night, here are 6 tips…
1. Shhhhh…be quieter
Easier said than done with a busy schedule, right? You don’t have to tiptoe around the house, but remember that just like you, loud noises and boisterous conversation are likely to jar your toddler awake (especially if they’re a light sleeper).
Care2.com notes toddlers should be put on a sleep/nap routine, which means you shouldn’t schedule vacuuming or social visits during that time. Turn off the television and put on gentle music or a fan for white noise to avoid complete silence (which can also be a problem). Take the 2-hours as some relaxing “me time”.
2. Keep them cool
Your baby shouldn’t have to kick off blankets to prevent sweating (which, by the way, will often lead to an outbreak of crying). Parents.com notes that prime sleep temperature for infants is between 65-Farenheit and 70-Farenheit.
You can also try cracking a window open to help naturally cool the room down if you don’t have air conditioning, adds the site. But first you should consider whether thick blankets are really necessary, or whether you can use thinner sleep apparel on junior.
3. Put kids to bed fed
Babies will definitely let you know if they’re hungry, and they will fuss a lot more if you’re trying to encourage them to get shut-eye while their stomach is asking for a snack.
This may be tough if you have a newborn that requires feedings through the night, so this may be focused more on toddlers. It’s good to offer a snack near bedtime such as a bit of milk, plain cracker/cookie, yogurt, or even cheese, suggests WhatToExpect.com. Avoid sugary juices and nibbles that will rev them up.
4. Limit screen time
BabyCentre.co.uk notes that a toddler who sits in front of a television or electronic device too long may resist napping more than children who don’t. However, it doesn’t rule out “screen time” as a way to relax and occupy your child in other situations, such as a car ride.
Limiting screen time also means your child will likely spend more time working on their crawling or walking, which will use up energy. Common sense dictates it’s a win-win–they’ll be developing a skill, and you’ll be spending less energy trying to get them to nap.
5. Avoid eye contact
This may seem counterintuitive, but looking your baby in the eyes when putting them down to sleep can be counterproductive, according to Parenting magazine.
The Parenting.com article notes that making a visual connection with baby will stimulate them, saying “eye contact with you is one of the most stimulating things for your little love”. So you should avert your loving gaze, as difficult as that may seem.
6. Use a nightlight
WhatToExpect.com says your toddler may have a fear of the dark (then again, many adults do too). That means complete darkness may put them at unease, and end up keeping them awake rather than helping their sleep mechanisms kick in.
The site recommends using a nightlight to give them a bit of extra security. The source also mentions not to read scary books to them before bedtime. Instead, choose simple books with happy endings and cheerful characters.