Get ready for Round 2
I still remember the sense of accomplishment when our firstborn was finally sleeping through the night at the age of 8 months! Those long months of sleep deprivation and numerous nights of trial and error just to make her sleep a bit longer, I must admit that was one of the toughest periods I have ever lived. We tried everything, from holding her to sleep and then putting her into her crib as gently as you would handle a bomb, to letting her cry it out in the middle of the night while I cried with her outside her room, to sprinkling numerous pacifiers around her so she could grab a replacement anytime hers fell out of her mouth while she slept! We thought the battle was over once she stopped waking up in the night and that our precious baby is finally giving us back our restful nights.
The peace was unfortunately short-lived, and our nightly battles began again when she was a toddler. I am sure many parents have gone through this phase when their 2-year-old refused to go to bed or got out of their own beds to hop into yours. Apart from feeling exhausted after an entire night of fencing off little arms and legs in your bed, we also wonder if the little one is getting enough sleep at all. How come so many toddlers are having these sleep regressions suddenly and how can we help them?
Striking the balance
As your child grows, they might not need 2 naps a day anymore or could go to sleep at a slightly later hour in the evening. Unique to every toddler’s needs, there seems to be a delicate balance between naps and night-time slumber. Another reason could be since they have recently moved into their new “big-kid” bed and can get in and out of bed by themselves, they want to take advantage of this newfound freedom and don’t want to miss out on family activities even after bedtime!
Chase away the boogieman
Toddler-years are also prone to nightmares and night terrors that keep the poor little ones awake at night and afraid to go to sleep alone. According to this article, children at the age of two might not yet be able to tell the difference between dreams and reality. It must be very distressing for them when it happens and of course, they would prefer to sleep with you in your bed and get cuddled to sleep without having to worry about “monsters” or being alone in the scary darkness.
Routine is Key
From my own experience and the numerous parenting websites I visited, setting a good sleep routine is a good start. Every age has an ideal sleep amount and that changes as the child grows older, so it would be best to slowly adapt the sleeping schedule according to their changing needs. I also came across the method of Progressive Muscle Relaxation to help children, and adults, fall asleep. This link also suggests the script appropriate for children from different age groups, up to teenage years. By helping the body to relax, it can also relax the mind and help it release the anxiety built up in the child, be it from a particularly exciting day of activities, overcoming a high fever, or after having a scary nightmare.
We only want the best for our children, and that also includes the best sleep quality they can get! Sleep regression in toddlers is definitely something we cannot ignore. Hope the above information could be useful to help you and your little one to get some restful nights!
Goodnight and Stay Sparky!