What reasons does your toddler give you for not sleeping? Thirsty? Hungry? Cold? Hot? Bored? The list can go on and on and ON.
But how far can we trust the reasons they give us for not being able to sleep? When you've done the drink, supper has been eaten, thermostat has been checked and stories have been read- what on earth else can be keeping your toddler awake? Here are three reasons why your toddler won't sleep... and what you can do about it too.
Toddlers can be tricky
Ah toddlers can be tricky little things can't they? But we, as parents, need to stay one step ahead. Oh yes, we can beat them at their own game- make no mistake! Employ all the help you can muster and don't be afraid of admitting when things are getting a little too much. Toddler ARE hard work, so don't be too hard on yourself if bedtime is getting you down. Now, pep talk over- let's move on to why your toddler won't sleep and how you can deal with it once and for all.
Your toddler is stalling
Yep, even at this tender age your toddler knows how to play you for time. And bedtime is the best time to do it. All those glasses of water, monsters under the bed, secrets they need to whisper in your ear... its all a ploy to stay up that little bit longer. Like you didn't know that already, hey? So why does your toddle do this, and how do you get over it? Quite simply your toddler has a case of FOMO. Fear of missing out. Everything down stairs past 7pm are THE most interesting and exciting things ever. And so your toddler just does not want to go to bed and miss it all!
How can you tell if your toddler is tired but stalling (and not genuinely thirsty or genuinely petrified of monsters under the bed)? They will be rubbing their eyes, yawning, displaying irritable behaviour and most likely crying. But they will not go to bed, no thank you! So you can deal with this in three easy steps:
- Show your toddler how to fall asleep independently. This isn't easy, but its essential for a decent night's sleep in the long run. Make sure your bedtime routine is tight, and keep the sleeping environment dim, quiet and at the right temperature. Talk to your toddler, and prepare her for bedtime well in advance so that she knows its coming and is not only expecting it but anticipating it too. It can take a little while to get there, but you will get there eventually.
- Offer some choices. Because toddlers are notoriously stubborn and independent, they respond well to being given choices. So instead of insisting it's bedtime and no arguments, give them a series of small choices to make instead. 'Would you like a teddy bear or a dolly to take to bed tonight?' 'Are you wearing pink pyjamas or blue pyjamas to bed tonight?' 'Do you want the red pillow or the yellow pillow?' etc. Let your toddler feel so in control they will think bedtime was their idea.
- Stay calm and consistent. Make sure you don't spend 30 minutes convincing your toddler its bedtime, then give in and take her downstairs. Mixed messages are going to make the whole thing so much harder in the long run.
Your toddler is teething
So many parents forget that toddlers still have a couple of teeth yet to make an appearance, and they're big chewing teeth too. So just when you think the nightmare that was teething was over, think again. And when you're a toddler, the pain of teething is just that little bit worse than when you're a baby. Because, let's face it- drama is a toddler's middle name! But seriously, teething pain can be hard for toddlers especially when they aren't always able to tell you what's hurting them. if you think your little one is teething, look for these signs:
- dry rash on the cheeks, thanks to excel dribble
- constant gnawing on toys, books, hands etc
- ear pulling and cheek rubbing
- refusing to eat
- waking up during the night
- general irritability
Speak to your health visitor about pain remedies for your toddler.
Your toddler isn't tired yet
Sometimes, your toddler just isn't tired! If this is genuinely the case, try either moving bedtime back a little, or work on cutting down the day time naps.