- Keep your toddler active during the day with plenty of outdoor play.
- Create a consistent, calming bedtime ritual. Start with a warm bath, for instance, then play quietly together in his room.
- Cuddle your toddler in your lap as you read a story or sing songs together.
- Don’t let your child get used to sleeping with a bottle or dozing off in your arms. Offer her a comfort object instead, such as a stuffed doll or a blanket.
- Play a tape or CD of soft lullabies or soothing music as you leave the room
One of the key ways to help your toddler learn to go back to sleep on his or her own at night is to make sure that the sleep-associated objects he or she has around him at bedtime are the same each time they surface from sleep. If he or she goes to sleep in Mum’s arms or watching the TV, then this is what he or she will associate with sleep and want in the middle of the night!
Teaching a child to settle himself to sleep can be done within a week, but to begin with he will need plenty of reassurance from you.
First, it’s essential to create a good, consistent bedtime routine. Once you get to the end of your nightly routine, put your toddler in his bed or cot, give him a goodnight kiss and leave. Keep returning to him every few seconds, then minutes with yet another kiss goodnight. Toddlers who are able to get out of bed will tend to follow you. Don’t worry; just tidy around and then go back to their pillow and pretend to be surprised by the empty bed. He will soon giggle and enjoy the game of having to be in bed with his head on the pillow before he gets his goodnight kiss. The important thing is that he trusts you and is reassured, not frightened.
By the time your toddler has reached his first birthday he or she will typically be well settled into his daytime and night-time routines, enjoying around 12 to 14 hours’ sleep per day. This will include one, or possibly two, naps of one to two hours’ length. But the range is enormous so don’t despair if your child seems to be awake much more than this.
Between one and two years of age children usually begin to give up the second nap and enjoy one major nap around lunchtime for one and half to two hours. It’s wise to have the nap after lunch, but not too late in the afternoon. Wake them if he or she overruns the one and a half hours, as prolonged daytime sleep will rob him or her of their need for night-time sleep.