Safe Sleep For Toddlers: 6 Helpful Tips

Safe Sleep For Toddlers: 6 Helpful Tips

Congratulations! 

You've survived the exhausting sleepless nights and never-ending feeding cycles. You've made it through sleep training, adopted a solid bedtime routine, and even had some time to snuggle into those adorably squishy baby cheeks. 

Although you'll undoubtedly miss those intimate days cuddling with your tiny infant, you've got a toddler to raise, and with that comes a new set of sleep practices to implement. 

Yup, it's true — once your tiny tot reaches toddlerhood, the guidelines for safe sleep change a bit. Now that they are older,  the rules aren't as strict as they used to be. So take a deep breath, parents — you've made it through the perilous first year and are doing great! 

If you want to read up on a few sleep tips to keep your tiny tot safe and sound as they snooze during toddlerhood, keep reading. Here's everything you need to know about sleep safety for toddlers.  

What Is the Safest Way for a Toddler To Sleep?

By the time your sweet baby is a toddler — defined as aged one to three — they are no longer as vulnerable to certain potential hazards, and many of the sleep safety rules for infants no longer apply. 

However, there are still some crucial things to keep in mind to ensure your tiny human stays safe when catching zzzs. Unlike small, fragile babies who need to snooze belly-side up, toddlers can sleep in any position — including stomach or side. 

Toddlers are tiny explorers and often try to climb right out of their cribs. Keep the crib's mattress on the lowest setting and the rails up. When your tiny escape artist can hop out of the crib with ease, it's time to move to a big kid bed. 

How Much Sleep Does a Toddler Need?

According to the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), toddlers should slumber between 11 and 14 hours on a regular basis to promote healthy growth and development. 

Snoozing the number of recommended hours consistently is associated with better health outcomes, including improved:

  • Attention
  • Behavior
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Emotional regulation
  • Quality of life
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

When a child sleeps fewer than the recommended hours, they may exhibit attention, behavior, and learning problems. Needless to say, helping your tiny tot get enough quality shut-eye each and every night is of the utmost importance! 

If your little buddy struggles with sleep, we recommend giving our Relaxing Pillow & Linen Spray a try. This gentle, melatonin-free formulation is masterfully crafted with organic lavender and cold-pressed bergamot to help foster a restful sleep environment — the perfect companion for your toddler's bedtime routine!   


Should My Toddler Sleep in My Room or Their Own?

Before a sweet baby becomes a toddler, experts recommend co-sleeping via room-sharing. 

Not to get confused with bed-sharing, which is when an infant shares the same sleep surface as their parent; room-sharing is when an infant sleeps in the same room as the parent but snoozes on a different sleep surface.   

According to the AAP, room sharing is recommended until at least six months of age and ideally before one year of age. Once you've reached the 12-month mark — aka toddlerhood — it is perfectly acceptable to allow your toddler to sleep in their own room. 

However, if you prefer to continue co-sleeping with your little snuggle bug, that's A-OK too.  

Every family is different. Find what works for you and stick with it. 

What Can I Do To Help My Toddler Sleep Safely?

There are many things you can do to help your little wiggle worm snooze safely, such as:

Transition to a Toddler Bed When Ready

As mentioned a little earlier, toddlers love to climb, and if given a chance, they will hop right out of their crib and pitter-patter down the hall and into your arms. While not all tiny tots are escape artists — if yours is, it's time to consider a toddler bed

That being said, as a general rule, parents should make the switch before their little explorer can climb out as they can possibly hurt themselves. Most toddlers develop the ability to climb over the crib rail when they are 35 inches tall and between 18 and 24 months of age. 

Of course, some little ones are particularly nimble and will attempt to escape sooner  – at which point they should be moved to a "big kid" bed – while less daredevil types will not try to hop out at all. 

Use Side Rails

Toddlers often wiggle and squirm in their sleep, so it's important that parents opt for a toddler bed with safety rails to prevent falls. 

Many toddler beds are small, low to the ground, and have built-in side rails. However, if you purchase a toddler bed that isn't fully equipped with guard rails, you can purchase and install them yourself. 

Let Your Toddler Sleep However Is Comfortable

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Development and the AAP, it is recommended to place your baby on their back to sleep until they reach about 12 to 18 months of age. 

However, it's A-OK if your toddler repositions themselves onto their tummy or side. 

Once you transition to a "big kid" bed, your tiny tot may start crawling (or climbing) into bed themselves — and they can put themselves to bed in whatever position they find most comfortable. 

Keep Crib Mattress on Lowest Setting

Is your tiny tot still in the crib? To prevent them from exploring their newfound climbing skills, be sure to keep the crib mattress on the lowest setting and side rails up. 

In addition, avoid putting anything in the crib that your curious tot could step on to help them climb out, like bumpers or stuffed toys.   

Create a Safe Sleeping Space

These tiny growing bodies mean they can reach and grab for things that previously were out of their reach. So, to keep your curious toddler safe and sound, be sure not to place their crib or "big kid" bed near any:

  • Windows
  • Electrical outlets
  • Shelves
  • Drapes/curtains
  • Picture frames
  • Wall hooks

Put simply, if the sleeping space is in a position where your toddler can pull something into bed with them — it's not safe. You never know what your curious tot is going to try to investigate, so the safest approach is to remove all potential hazards ahead of time. 

Be Consistent 

When it boils down to toddler sleep, the key is consistency. 

For instance, if you're sleep training your little buddy to snooze in their own room and they keep having night awakenings, allowing them to snuggle in bed with you one night will send a confusing message. 

Remain firm and with a consistent message, night awakening should come to an end. The same goes for the bedtime routine. 

Establishing a calming and consistent bedtime ritual is one of the best ways to help your toddler make the transition to sleep. Whatever works for your unique family is fine, as long as you do it in the same order and at the same time each and every night. 

Bottom line: to help your toddler establish good sleep habits, you need to be consistent. 

How Can I Get My Toddler To Stop Sleeping in My Bed?

While some parents don't mind a "family bed," others are not particularly fond of getting elbowed in the face and kicked in the groin all night. 

That said, if you want to teach your toddler to stop sleeping in bed with you, it's important to set clear and firm boundaries. 

For example, having a consistent bedtime as well as a consistent routine is huge. These little signals let your toddler know it's time to hit the hay — and it's pretty difficult to argue or stall when bedtime takes place at the same exact time every single night.

Once you have the nightly bedtime routine down, it's time to make your toddler's room sleep-friendly. Create a soothing environment that calms nighttime fears and promotes sleep. 

Need help? Try spritzing our Relaxing Pillow & Linen Spray into your tiny tot's room. 

This snoozy sleep mist is infused with our signature NaturalSnooze fragrance, featuring dreamy scents proven to create a peaceful environment that helps with falling asleep and staying asleep.    

Now it's time to lay down the law and establish consequences for when your toddler leaves their own bed to sleep in yours. A consequence can be anything that is unpleasant to your little rule breaker. 

Since every toddler is unique in their own special way, there's no one-size-fits-all approach here, but you know your child best. So choose something that matters to them, but at the same time, balance that with avoiding things that are likely to make them scared or angry.

And, of course, as they snooze independently in their own bed, be sure to offer plenty of praise.   

The Bottom Line

While there are some precautions that parents need to take to ensure that their tiny tot snoozes safely, the guidelines for toddler sleep are not as strict as they are for infant sleep. 

So take a deep breath, establish a consistent bedtime routine and get some restful zzzs — after surviving year one, good sleep is definitely well-deserved! 

At Little Yawn Collective, we're here to empower parents and build confidence to establish bedtime routines that work. Whether you've got a precious newborn on your hands or a rambunctious toddler, you can always count on us to have your back at bedtime. 


Sources:

Infant sleep training: rest easy? | NIH 

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome | CDC

Recommended Amount of Sleep for Pediatric Populations | A Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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