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Common Sleep Issues for Toddlers

10/06/2015 | Bedtime, Education, Parent Health | by Jane Thomas

Your toddler grows tremendously during the toddler years, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Most of the sleep problems you and your child encounter are a result of the ages and stages of toddlerhood. You can help your toddler achieve a restful night’s sleep by addressing any problems with a positive attitude and love. This article discusses some of the common sleep issues for toddlers and presents some methods for dealing with them.

ThinkstockPhotos-79072967Repeatedly Waking up At Night

One of the goals of the toddler years is to get your little one to sleep through the night. If your toddler suddenly has trouble sleeping through the night, the first thing to do is to rule out any physical problems, such as teething or an upset stomach. Then review recent events and see if there have been any changes in their lives which may have influenced their sleep habits such as a new caregiver, longer naps, or a hectic family schedule.

If your toddler wakes frequently most nights with no apparent reason, try delaying their bedtime for 15 to 30 minutes. You may also wish to shorten their afternoon nap.

Nightmares or Night Terrors

Although these two reasons for toddler wakefulness seem the same, they are very different. Nightmares occur in the last third of sleep and are usually remembered. As a parent, you can talk to your child, creating a new, safer scenario for whatever they dream. For example, if they dream of a giant lizard, give the lizard wings, make it pink, and have it take your toddler for a fun ride.

Night terrors occur during the first third of sleep and are not remembered. Your toddler will scream or cry, and have a racing heart. Frequently, night terrors are a result of toddler snoring. Try waking your child after they have been asleep for fifteen minutes, as they will fall into a deeper sleep after being awakened and the night terrors may cease.

Toddler Snoring

If your toddler snores at night, it could be sleep apnoea. With this potentially dangerous condition, your toddler stops breathing repeatedly while sleeping. Visit your child’s paediatrician to see if an evaluation by an ear-nose-and-throat (ENT) specialist is needed.

Climbing out of the Crib

It goes without saying this is a problem that occurs towards the end of your child’s toddler years. In fact, this indicates a need for your child to move to a bigger bed. This problem can occur as early two years of age. Begin to prepare for a move to a bigger bed when your child is 35 inches tall.

Many times your child will call out at night if they are experiencing a sleep issue. Wait ten minutes or so to see if they go back to sleep. If you decide to go to their room to comfort them, make your visit short. Pat them on the back, say loving words, and then leave. It may take several times or many nights of doing this, but eventually, your toddler will go back to sleep on their own.

If you try everything you can to help your toddler get a good night’s sleep and are not successful, seek the advice of your paediatrician as sometimes underlying health or psychological problems may be the reason.

Although the toddler years can be challenging, a good night’s sleep will help you and your toddler overcome the hurdles of learning that characterize this stage of growth. Dealing with the common sleep issues your toddler may have is the first step to achieving sufficient, restful sleep.

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