Toddlers are a fireball of energy. They’re always in the mood to play and have fun. They’re curious about their environment and want to learn new things. And as all seasoned parents know, they don’t want to sleep – it seems like the least interesting thing for them to do. And yet, if they stay up past their bedtime, they become overstimulated, hyper and have even more trouble calming down and going to sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that can drain parents and even cause behavioural issues in children. This is why it’s so important that a toddler sleep schedule is fixed and children get a good night’s sleep along with a restful nap in the day for them to stay cheerful and happy. A bedtime routine for toddlers ensures this and makes the life of both the parent and the child easy.
The Benefits of Toddler Bedtime Routines
Toddlers love routines because it helps them know what is coming next and that makes them feel secure. Consistently and consciously establishing a bedtime routine for toddlers helps them get into the habit of sleeping on time and sleeping well. This also encourages the development of a fixed sleep cycle that forms the base for a healthy lifestyle.
Studies cannot insist enough on the importance of sleep for toddlers. Getting an adequate amount of sleep not only aids in physical growth but also improves attention, behaviour, learning ability and memory. It develops the overall mental and physical health of the child. On the other hand, children who do not get enough sleep are more prone towards developing high blood pressure, obesity and even depression.
During sleep, the brain performs an important function. While the body relaxes and takes a break, the mind sorts through information processed through the day, stores it, replaces chemicals and even offers solutions to several problems.
A fixed toddler sleep schedule also ensures that the child does not get cranky and wakes up energised with increased levels of patience to handle big emotions better. Healthy toddler sleep patterns also help build his body’s immune system by producing proteins such as cytokines that help the body fight several infections and germs.
According to the American Academy of Paediatricians, the following is the recommended number of sleeping hours that kids need, according to their age groups. You can refer to this to know if your child is getting his daily dose of sleep.
- Infants under 1 year: 12-16 hours
- Children 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours
- Children 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours
- Children 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours
- Teenagers 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours
8 Ways to Encourage Toddlers to Sleep Better
A consistent toddler sleep schedule can be built by repeatedly doing the same activities daily till they become a habit. Here are a few ways to build a toddler's sleep schedule.
1. Dim the lights when it is time to sleep
As you put your child through his bedtime activities, gradually keep dimming the lights of the bedroom, till just the night lamp is left switched on. This will serve as a subconscious reminder to your toddler’s brain that it is time to rest and go to sleep.
2. Read to your child
Reading a book to your child is not just a great way to bond with your child, but it also relaxes him and puts him on a restful night of sleep. Try to pick books that end with the protagonist going to sleep to reinforce to your child that it’s time to head to bed.
3. Bedtime hygiene
Tell your child that before they hit the bed, they must wash their face, hands and feet and brush their teeth. They might resist in the beginning, but eventually, they’ll get into the habit of it – not just encouraging good hygiene before bed, but also reminding the child that the next step to follow is to sleep.
4. When the night falls, we sleep
Reinforce this throughout the day so that your child expects to be put to bed when the evening draws to a close. Repetition is the key.
5. Play the same music/playlist at bedtime every day.
The idea here, again, is to subconsciously send the message to your toddler’s developing brain that the environment for him to sleep in is being prepared and so he must get ready for it.
6. Change into their pyjamas/night suits.
Night suits are made with soft, breathable fabric to encourage restful sleep. They also have adorable prints, like these Brown Allover Print Night Suit available at One Friday that attract kids while also reminding them that it’s time to go to sleep.
7. Cuddle next to them under soft blanket forts.
Kids love all things soft and when you’d offer them a cuddling session under cozy blanket forts, where you could tell stories or just talk about your day with each other – they’ll love looking forward to bedtime for toddlers.
8. Tell them to wish goodnight to their favourite plush toy.
Ask your toddler to repeat his bedtime routine with his favourite toy too and then put him to sleep. This will intuitively encourage him to sleep too.
1. If my child goes to a party that is beyond his bedtime, he becomes even more energetic and doesn’t want to sleep. What to do?
At a party, children become overstimulated due to which they have trouble handling their emotions. It makes sense to plan a nap before the party so that your child has the physical energy to stay up late.
2. How many naps should a child who has begun play school take during the day?
One nap, after coming home from school, is usually sufficient for a 2 to 3-year-old child who has just begun school. However, every child has different needs and parents are the best judge of them.