Fix Your Toddlers Sleep Patterns

Edited by Pia Marie Villamante, Eng, Lynn, Nerissa Avisado and 6 others


Sleeping is a fact of life just like breathing. The body needs it as much as you need air and water. Do you know that studies have pegged that we sleep 2920 hours/year sleeping which indicated one-third of one's life in this state? This is when we sleep 8 hours/day, 56 hours/week and 240 hours/month. There is the notion that these hours are wasted, but are they?

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If you have a toddler in the house, it is important to know that they need 10-13 hours of sleep; the younger they are the more hours they need. If you ever had problems with your toddler being cranky or irritable, this can be due to not getting enough sleep; check their sleeping patterns. The toddler's sleeping patterns can be the reason for not getting enough sleep.

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If you are getting cranky yourself because you have to wake up every two hours to pacify and put the toddler back to sleep, the more you need to help your baby develop a good sleeping pattern. Start by understanding the value of sleep on people in general and with toddlers in particular.

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Why sleep?

Sleep is the time when the body rests and recovers from stress. The body knows better than people do that sleep in its anabolic state is the time when growth, repairs and healing happens in one's body. This means that one's body regenerates new bones, muscle and nerve tissues, etc. for one to function properly and maintain good health. To be deprived of sleep means that eventually, one's physical and mental health deteriorates or breaks down.

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Aside from the visual signs of dark eye circles and listless body motions, sleep deprivation can cause anyone especially toddlers to be quite short-tempered, with less appetite, slow cognitive functions, and low energy.

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What about the children?

If lack of sleep affects adults, what about the children? The need for sleep varies depending on the child's age. There are no permanent number of hours to serve as a guide because babies also differ from each other. What is known is that, just like adults, sleep is important to one's health and well-being. A child deprived of sleep may be cranky, hyperactive, or exhibit tantrums and other extreme behavior. A mother has to be observant as even her own kids will likely have different reactions.

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Typical Toddler's Sleeping Patterns to Address

The most common sleep problems for toddlers - frequent waking up during the night and difficulty falling asleep - can lead to sleep deprivation. They can be difficult to deal with when they do not get enough hours of sleep. How can you address their sleep problems for their sake and yours? Take note of their habits or behavior that make sleeping difficult or make them wake up in the middle of the night. Solutions may entail combining approaches.

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  1. 1
    Sleep on his own.
    A child who sleeps with his parents or got used to being rocked to sleep needs to have another routine established gradually
    There is no doubt that young children find comfort in sleeping with the people they trust the most in their life – mom and dad. Separating from them even just at night can trigger separation anxiety that is a strong feeling at this age. This can make them strive to stay awake even when drowsiness sets in.
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  2. 2
    One must set and stick to a regular bedtime routine.
    1. Replace your presence with a favorite toy for company and leave a very low watt lamp to assuage fears of the dark.
    2. Sit by the child's bed as he goes to sleep, say for 3 days.
    3. The next 3 days, position yourself in the middle of the room where the child sees you while he's about to sleep.
    4. Inched yourself to the doorway the next 3 days and after, stay outside the room.
    5. Don't scold or punish the toddler even when trying to be hard or getting attention.
    6. Stay calm, but stand your position.
    7. Be consistent until the kid realizes you won't give in.
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  3. 3
    Bad dreams and the terrors of the night.
    With an active mind, your kid can experience nightmares or bad dreams that can disturb their sleep
    They can also experience night terrors (technically "sleep paralysis") that can occur between being awake and asleep. These happen due to changes in routine or being overly tired or excited.  
    1. To avoid these experiences, keep your toddler relaxed especially before bed.
    2. If the child experiences a nightmare, he needs soothing and comforting.
    3. Bring him back to bed as soon he calms down and become drowsy.
    4. Reassure your kid that the dream is not real.
    5. If it is night terror, you need not interfere as this may extend the episode. Instead, sit back, but make sure they are safe.
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  4. 4
    Early to rise.
    This is one common complaint by parents as the child may be wide awake before they are ready to rise
    If your toddler wakes up too early, he may not get enough sleep through the day. Find out what makes him wake up very early. Can Mom's and Dad's sleeping patterns waking them up? Or is there is a timed alarm clock that someone uses in the house?
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  5. 5
    Make the bedroom conducive to sleep.
    1. Putting in dark blinds may help for the child to go back to sleep and avoid any noise intrusion to the room. If your house is along a busy road, you may need to find a solution to muffle the sounds from the street.
    2. Mom and Dad may need to move more stealthily to avoid waking him up.
    3. You can also make a play with a timer, say a rabbit that pops up, when it's time for him to wake up.
    4. Wake him up at this time to establish a routine of his wake-up time.
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  6. 6
    No to "Nap?" A toddler may not be able to get all the 10-13 hours at night; a nap can essentially augment what the toddler lost during the night.
    During the nap, the toddler may still need more time to catch with his sleep, but he may refuse because of certain factors. Going on a travel or changing a routine can make the toddler excited and overtired so that asleep is hard to come by.
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  7. 7
    Putting the toddler to bed earlier helps make up that sleep deficit.
    If he's not into napping, have an earlier bedtime to ensure the child gets his quota of sleep
    1. An hour before sleeping, leave him on his own or stay by his side without talking or pretend to be drowsy.
    2. Pretty soon, he might be asleep himself. Sticking to routines and minimizing travels are good.
    3. Get the toddler to relax before nap time.
    4. A good thing to do is to take him outdoors for a leisurely stroll that can be both soothing, but tiring.
    5. It can make sleep come without much resistance and prodding.
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  8. 8
    Know what makes the kid wake up in the middle of the night.
    It's a problem when the child can't go back to sleep without assistance and calls out. Can it be because of being alone or fear of the dark. It is important to know what is causing the toddler to wake up during the night to be able to address it.
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  9. 9
    The knowledge can help the parent provide an appropriate solution.
    To avoid this, the child should not be overtired in the daytime so he will not have a troubled sleep. Otherwise, have the patience to soothe him, give a few pats on the legs or rub his back. If this does not work:  
    1. Sit down on the floor by his bed, droop your head and pretend to be asleep.
    2. Avoid saying anything so as not to encourage the child to stay awake and he may fall asleep himself, secure that he has company.
    3. Keep the room dimly lighted to foster good sleep and reassurance too.
    4. A lovey or comfort stuff like a hug-able toy can help make them feel safe.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

  1. 1
    Extended goodnight.
    Anything to delay going to bed- a glass of water, a hug or some imagined ills
    Humor him but be firm with his sleep schedule. If you have a cuckoo clock, tell the child that when the bird calls out, it is a signal to go to bed. Do not be persuaded by his requests or tantrums and he will soon learn to abide by the rules.
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  2. 2
    Getting out of bed.
    If the child sleeps in a crib, make sure it's high enough to prevent the child from climbing out once he awakes. If a toddler bed is being used, put a gate at the room's entrance. Ensure that the room is safe at all times. Put him back to bed without any word to discourage any communication at that particular moment.
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  3. 3
    Night terror incidents.
    Night terror happens at that stage between being awake and being asleep. The child may be restless, thrashing around or screaming. Do not interfere; let the episode have its course and he goes on with his sleep. Don't mention it to the child the next day as he was not conscious of that event and knowing about it may just confuse or scare him.
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  4. 4
    Mouth breathing or snoring.
    If a child snores loudly or breathes through his mouth, it's time to consult your pediatrician
    The cause may be enlarged tonsils or adenoids which results to sleep apnea, a difficulty in breathing,
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Questions and Answers

How many days does it take to fix a disturbed toddler's sleep pattern?

A toddler will usually have sleep pattern disturbances because of illness, diaper rash, diaper quality issues, their environment and other factors. The child's sleeping pattern will go back to its normal pattern when all outside factors have been addressed. There is no specific time frame that can be stated in fixing a disturbed sleeping pattern, even for adults. Children, on the other hand, often will sleep on demand. If they feel sleepy, they will fall asleep. Address the factors that have made the child fall into an unusual sleeping pattern. Once you have addressed these, give it time - like two or three days. If you don't see any improvement (or the child seems even more fidgety than before), consult a pediatrician.

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This can take up to a full month in total in order to fix the bad sleeping pattern they have been sleeping in for the past months or years.

What is the most dependable way to correct sleeping pattern in children?

The best way to correct sleeping pattern in children is by making a schedule in all that they have to do before bedtime. This will train them to be responsible in following the schedule.You have to be strict in implementing it, yet, you have to explain to them why they have to follow that schedule. And if they do follow it religiously, you can give them small rewards. You also have to be their role model. You have to join them when they sleep so that they will see that you are really serious in correcting their sleeping pattern.

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There are several factors that may contribute to the irregular sleeping pattern in children. The best and dependable way to correct the sleeping pattern of the child is to assess first the factors that might be causing your child's irregular sleeping pattern.

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These are some factors contributing to the irregular sleeping pattern in children together with their solutions:

  • Your child wakes up very early in the morning. The proper way to correct this is to make the room more quiet to reduce the noise coming from outside the house and try to block the light of the sun with shades or curtains.
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  • Difficulty in falling asleep. The proper solution to this is to minimize all stimulants in the room like noise and light. I also suggest to make your child eat natural sleep inducer foods one hour before bedtime like oatmeal which according to some studies, contains high concentration of melatonin which promotes sleep or a glass of warm milk (or dairy products) because of its tryptophan content which makes the body to produce serotonin that induces sleep.
  • Fear. Being afraid of the dark is also one of the factor that greatly contributes to the irregular sleep pattern of a child. The proper solution to this is to make your child as comfy as possible and give his/her favorite teddy bear to make your child feel more secure and protected. If its necessary, try to accompany your child reading her/him a bedtime story.

The tips stated above are the most dependable ways to properly correct the sleeping pattern of your child by directly and properly addressing the main cause of irregular sleeping pattern of your child.

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My two years old had been only sleeping seven to eight hours a night since moving to his toddler bed. Last night he woke up at 2 AM and wanted to be up for the day?

Please help. I am so tired. I also have a six month old and a four years old

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Why do toddlers have irregular sleep patterns and what can be done to correct that?

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Categories : Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Dougie, Rose B, Olivia

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