Toddler Sleep Hacks You Need to Try
We have all researched baby sleep during baby’s first year, but what about toddler sleep? You thought the days of exhaustion and googling parent resources were over... until you met your now toddler!
Unless you were one of those lucky moms that had a baby who slept through the night and continued to do so now, read these Top Toddler Sleep Hacks!
If you are still in your child’s first year and need some help with baby sleep, check out 5 Tips for Colic Babies!
Next I will break down what I have found to be the best ways to improve your toddlers sleep with these 5 Tips:
1. White Noise
2. Making a Change
3. Blackout Curtains
4. Best Calm Down Time Strategy
5. Giving Toddler Options
Reminder: Make sure you are using night time diapers for extra comfort, avoiding fluids an hour before bed time, and keep the bedtime process light and breezy, with tons of cuddles and kisses.
1. White Noise
Mentioned in the Tips for Colic article, a white noise machine can be a lifesaver. Sometimes kids are born very sensitive sleepers, and there is not much you can do about it...sorry.
You see all those other toddlers zonked out in their stroller or car seat, yet you have to do a whole song and dance for your toddler to even calm down in their crib.
Here is where the white noise machine comes in. In the experiment titled Pavlov’s Dog, the dogs are conditioned to expect food when Pavlov enters the room. He created an action reaction response so the dogs associated him with food.
With a white noise machine, you are essentially doing the same thing for your toddler. That static white noise not only blocks out other sounds in your house, but it creates a signal for your toddler to sleep.
When we start calm down time with our son (who is allergic to sleep, I swear) he can be bouncing off of the walls, barking like a dog, meowing like a cat, etc. But once we enter his room and the white noise machine turns on, it is instant yawning and eye rubbing. It works!
If you have not introduced white noise to your child yet and they are over 1 years of age, I suggest keeping the white noise on a low volume setting. You can turn the volume up one setting every other night until the desired volume to block out your household noise is achieved.
You can purchase my favorite white noise machine HERE. It has 24 sounds and had an option to play all night, instead of an hourly timer.
2. Ready For a Change
This Toddler Sleep Hack is not one many parents think of. They think consistency is key for sleep problems. Sometimes, your toddler just needs a change!
Gone are the days of baby swaddles, and your toddler may have outgrown most sleep sacks as well.
Remember how all of those baby books talked about “good” sleep associations versus “bad” ones? A great new sleep association for your now toddler is a pillow and duvet.
Our son was still in his sleep sack without blankets (paranoia on my part) and the sleep battles were endless. I went to IKEA and purchased a crib pillow and crib duvet. That night he was so excited about his pillow that he flew in to bed without issue. We tucked him in under his new duvet, and he fell asleep with a smile.
He was no longer confined by the sleep sack, and he fell in love with “his pillow”. Even daycare days (take some ‘me’ time mommas!) he wouldn’t fall asleep without his pillow.
Perfect. Pillow + tuck in + white noise = sleep. Because of the change we made to his bedtime routine, we created new sleep associations that brought him out of that bedtime battle rut.
3. Blackout Curtains
Sensitive sleeper waking up at the crack of dawn? Toddlers, for the most part, are not fans of sleeping in. Most of them are morning people, and rightfully so. Their internal clocks are powerful, and they are excited to start a new day and explore the world around them.
In the 5 Tips for Colic article, I had mentioned that you should introduce baby to sunlight right away upon waking. For toddlers who already know the difference between night and day, your main concern here is getting them to nap or sleep longer.
My fave black out curtains are the Deconovo brand on Amazon. They are affordable, machine washable, and they work.
So should you keep your toddler in the dark about this sleep hack? Yes! Get that extra shut eye, you deserve it!
4. Calm Down Time
Toddlers tend to get a little, um, spun around bedtime. They are on their 15th wind, and do not want to stop playing just because you said so.
Having a consistent calm down time is important. You may need to switch it up from time to time if your toddler starts to fight the process though. For example, for a few weeks you have been reading two books and singing two songs before bed. Now toddler sees you coming with the book and yells “noooo!” And runs away.
This means it is time to switch it up. Keep the timing the same every day, but maybe this week you cuddle in front of a cartoon for 20 minutes then you read a book with one song.
If what you are doing is working though, do not change it. The calm down time we implement is at 7:00pm. We turn off any screens, brush teeth, change diaper, put Panajamas on and begin. We ask our son to get two books (give them choices) and one I read, one daddy reads.
Our son usually tries to elongate the process by then asking me to read daddy’s book, but nope! Tell your toddler book time is over but we can sing a song! We again let him choose, and it usually starts with “Wheels on the bus”. By this point we have all lights off and we always do calm down time on mommy and daddy’s bed to avoid toy distraction.
Next we ask him for kisses, and one parent goes to his room to sing twinkle twinkle little star, give hugs, and tuck him in.
This whole process can take 30 to 45 minutes, but we all love it. And right now, this works. When it doesn’t, we will tweak it until it works again.
5. Give Them Options
This toddler sleep hack is two fold.
The first was mentioned above. Give your toddler some choices and options when it comes to calm down time or sleep. Let your toddler chose their pajamas, or their book, or song, etc. Make them feel like they have a little bit of control and are not being forced in to sleep. Your goal is to keep the battle to a minimum, while slowly tiring out your toddler.
At first, we tried to ignore it. Then we tried a time out for not listening. Big mistake! He is a smart cookie, and quickly learned that time out means delaying bedtime.
Finally, we found the magic trick. Give your toddler a “special” ______.
I put a blank because it could be a special drawer, special shelf, whatever. The trick is to get your toddler excited to put whatever item he is playing with before calm down time, in to this special place.
This special area is their spot that their phone, truck, doll, etc. Can stay overnight until they see it again in the morning. Ask your toddler to put (item) on the special shelf. Be excited about it. Say “you can do it! Look, all by yourself you can put that (item) on your special shelf”.
When your toddler puts the item on the special place, make it a big deal. “Wow! That’s awesome! Now your (item) can sleep until morning!”
Avoid the battle of play to sleep transition by doing the above, then immediately start calm down time.
So let me break it down for ya.
If your toddler is a sensitive sleeper, white noise and blackout curtains are the way to go.
If your battle starts before bedtime, make the play to calm down time transition a pleasant one, by giving your toddler some choices. Also, consider if they are ready for a change either through their bedtime routine or their room set up.
For tired parents that need a break, complete the Mom Depression article series. Even if you are not “depressed”, it can help you find a new peace and joy in your every day life, and give you ideas for very valuable “me” time!
Have more toddler sleep suggestions? Put them in the comments and let’s Help each other grow! Sharing is caring...