Sleep Aids for Toddlers: How to Help Them Fall Asleep
Little Yawn Collective - Nov 10, 2021
There will be smooth nights, and there will be rough nights. Sometimes within our best efforts, our toddlers can struggle to fall and stay asleep and may need some extra support from time to time to help them with any sleep struggles they may be facing.
Keep reading to learn tips that may be helpful for you and your little buddy when a surge of pint-size insomnia strikes.
The best way to set up your child for sleep success is to establish a bedtime routine. When your child has a routine that is consistent, they know what to expect and are relaxed and ready to spend time with you. This can easily become your child’s favorite part of the day because they get to spend it with you.
Simple routines are best, but you know your family best, and whatever works for your family will be perfect. As long as you can consistently do this routine every night, your child will thrive and will sleep better because of it. It is also essential to keep this routine even on the weekends.
If you allow your child to sleep in longer on Saturday and Sunday mornings, Sunday night can be a struggle, and Monday morning will not be fun. (Not that Mondays are fun to begin with.)
If you are consistently performing your bedtime routine night after night, and your toddler is having trouble falling asleep, be sure to check out their bedroom and make sure it is conducive to a peaceful and relaxing environment.
For a science-fun-fact, research has shown that our sleeping space can impact our sleeping habits. If you have a cluttered space, you may have a cluttered mind that can be difficult to transition to sleep mode. Making your toddler’s room a soothing space can be the key to a relaxing evening where your toddler can get snoozy and happy.
Here are some tips to make sure that your toddler’s space is snooze-friendly:
Scent is a strong sense and one that we attribute to memories and feelings. Making your little one’s space, one that smells relaxing can help them feel the same way and can help welcome zzz’s a little easier. Try spritzing our Baby Pillow Spray for a peaceful environment to fall and stay asleep.
Noises & Light
Live close to an airport? Street light right outside your child’s window? These distractions during the day can disturb your child’s slumber.
Try spending the night in your child’s room to get a sense of what they experience during the night, especially if your own bedroom faces a different direction or is on another floor of your home.
Thick curtains can help with blocking out bright light and can dampen some outside sound. A noise machine can also be helpful to block out the louder sounds that may keep your toddler awake.
Maybe it’s too dark in your child’s room? Cracking the door with the hall light on is always a remedy, so is buying a night light for your child’s room. Allowing them to choose their own nightlight can help them be more of a decision-maker in their routine.
When children are given ownership, they are more likely to participate. When you are in the midst of your bedtime routine, start to dim the lights as time passes, so your child knows that as the nights get darker, bedtime gets closer.
Soft & Cuddly
Soft things are always comforting. If your child has trouble falling asleep, consider giving your child a comfort object, like a blanket or a stuffed animal.
These objects can be critical in self-soothing whenever your child is having a hard time falling asleep, or if they wake up in the middle of the night. Some soft friends even have a recording device inside, so you can record your voice and give your child another tool to help them self-soothe.
We know that as toddlers use their imagination, it can often grow wild and make them fearful instead of playful. If your little buddy suddenly has trouble sleeping, talk with them and make sure their reluctance to sleep isn't due to feeling scared of something.
Another important factor to mention is that big life changes can cause fears to come out during the night. Maybe a new house has some unfamiliar spaces where monsters can lurk? Is their new bedroom too dark? Some tips that can help your child fight fears include:
- “Investigating” spaces during the day when they seem less scary. If you know something that will make your child laugh, like a silly picture or toy, consider putting that object there so your child can associate happy feelings with that area.
- Consider any new experiences your child may have had and if you can connect them to their fears. For example, an encounter with a large, barking dog at the park may make your child believe a similar creature is hiding under their bed.
Try to give your child an experience that is similar but happy, like an encounter with a friendly dog, to help squash those fears.
If your toddler is having difficulty falling asleep, consider sitting with your toddler in their room and rocking them or holding their hand as you tell them a story.
Try to avoid reading out of a storybook, as you would need to turn a light on. Instead, sit with each other in a dim to darkroom, and tell a story.
As you tell the story, suggest that your child close their eyes and listen as your voice gets softer and softer. This may be the trick of helping your little one fall asleep as all they are focused on is listening, and as your voice gets softer, they get drowsier.
Sometimes a sip of something warm can be soothing as it helps your toddler reminisce about their milk days. Consider using melatonin-free Calming Probiotic & Organic Chamomile Sleep Drops, which also contain probiotics to help settle and soothe tummy troubles that may be preventing sleep.
The drops also include chamomile, which is known for its gentle relaxation properties and can help calm an upset stomach and keep sleep at bay.
On the flip side, monitor what your child is drinking throughout the day. If any beverages contain caffeine, it may help to cut out those drinks in the meantime and see if they have any effect on your child’s ability to fall and stay asleep.
For little bodies, any amount of caffeine can wreak havoc and affect sleepiness, especially if they are consumed after lunch.
Think about how much time your toddler has had access to electronics during the day. If they are having trouble sleeping, and are using electronics, try limiting the time they have screen-time and see if you notice a difference.
The bright lights in electronics can disrupt the body's natural production of the sleepy-time hormones your little one needs to feel snoozy. Not only limiting screen time but how close to bed you limit screen time can also have an effect.
Prioritizing time for your child to play outside exposes them to fresh air, a chance to stretch their legs, and expend any extra energy out. When children play hard, they will be ready for their bedtime routine to relax and talk about their fun day playing with you.
If your toddler has had an incredibly active day and cannot seem to wind down, giving a massage can help them lie still and soothe tired legs. Additionally, positive physical touch can reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance bonding.
Adding a soothing scent to the mix through a Nourishing Body Lotion with Oat & Shea Butter can help your child connect this act to their bedtime routine and create a sleepy environment where they can fall asleep easier.
As your baby grows (you’ll always call them your baby no matter how big they get), the hard nights may have more space between them. But rest assured that there will still be bumps in the road where your toddler still needs your support and extra love to help them get cozy, snoozy, and happy.
Here at Little Yawn Collective, there is one thing we can agree on - bedtime can be hard! We’re here to support and empower you through the easy nights and the hard nights.
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