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Tips for Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits in Toddlers

a smiling toddler after a good nights sleep
Christine Brown

Christine Brown

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding but challenging experiences one can have. One of these challenges includes making sure your toddler gets a good night’s sleep. Every parent knows the impact that a well-rested infant can have on the entire household. It’s equally important once your little one enters toddler territory. Establishing healthy sleep habits in toddlers is crucial for their overall development and well-being, as well as for your own peace of mind. 

However, it may seem like an uphill battle, with night wakings, bedtime tantrums, and toddler-specific sleep issues like separation anxiety. Fortunately, we’ve got your back, and this article aims to provide expert advice from certified child sleep consultants on effective strategies to establish healthy sleep habits for your little one.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key components of establishing healthy sleep habits in toddlers, including understanding sleep requirements, setting routines, and addressing common sleep challenges throughout toddlerhood. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be on your way to more restful nights for both you and your child. So, let’s dive in and discover how to create and maintain the best sleep environment and habits for your growing toddler.


Jump to:

Establishing a Proper Sleep Schedule

Understanding your Toddler’s Sleep Needs

Creating a Consistent Soothing Bedtime Routine

Creating an Ideal Sleep Environment

Addressing Common Toddler Sleep Challenges


Establishing a Proper Sleep Schedule

Step 1:

Understanding your toddler’s sleep needs is the first step in developing a proper sleep schedule. It is essential to note that the amount and quality of sleep your child needs may vary depending on their age, temperament, and development. Some toddlers may require more hours of nighttime sleep, whereas others may benefit from more frequent naps during the day. It’s essential to monitor your toddler’s mood to make sure they are well-rested.

Step 2:

Next comes creating the right sleep environment, which plays a significant role in establishing conducive sleep habits. A comfortable sleeping space, a consistent bedtime routine, and limited screen time before bed will all contribute to a successful sleep schedule for your toddler. Furthermore, it’s important to address any possible sleep disruptors, such as nighttime fears or difficulties with self-soothing.

Step 3:

Finally, maintaining open lines of communication with your child as they transition through toddlerhood can help you navigate changes in their sleep needs. As sleep experts at Bella Luna Family, our certified child sleep consultants, parent coaches, and lactation consultants help you with tailored solutions that work for your unique family situation, be it addressing sleep regressions, tackling bedtime battles, or solving naptime challenges.

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Understanding Your Toddler’s Sleep Needs

Before diving into techniques for promoting healthy sleep habits, it is important to first understand the sleep needs and patterns of your toddler. 

Generally, toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2 require around 11 to 14 hours of sleep per 24-hour period, including nighttime sleep and naps. 

As they grow older, their sleep needs may change, making it important to adapt their sleep schedule. For instance, toddlers between 2 and 5 years old typically need 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day. Understanding your child’s individual sleep needs will help you create a more effective sleep schedule tailored to their unique habits.

Creating a Consistent and Soothing Bedtime Routine

Setting up a consistent bedtime routine is crucial for establishing healthy sleep habits in toddlers. Routines signal to your child that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep, making bedtime a more peaceful and predictable process. A bedtime routine can include activities such as:

Taking a warm bath or shower

This helps to relax your toddler’s body and prepares them for sleep mode.

Saying goodnight to favorite toys and objects

This is a fun and comforting way for your toddler to say goodbye to the day and transition to nighttime.

Singing lullabies or playing soft music

Calming tunes can help settle your child and create a soothing atmosphere in their room.

Reading bedtime stories

Reading together can foster a sense of closeness and provide a calming activity during pre-sleep prep time.

Make sure to keep bedtime routines consistent every night, even on weekends or holidays, as this will help solidify these healthy sleep habits in your toddler’s mind.

Creating an Ideal Sleep Environment

The sleep environment is also key to ensuring your toddler gets the restful sleep they need. A sleep-friendly environment can be established with the following factors:

  1. A comfortable bed: Make sure your toddler’s bed is comfortable, supportive, and age-appropriate in size. Investing in a quality mattress and bedding can make a significant difference in their sleep quality. Check out this mattress from Newton Baby
  2. A consistent room temperature: Keep the room temperature around 66-70 degrees Fahrenheit to promote optimal sleep. Too hot or too cold temperatures can disrupt your toddler’s sleep throughout the night.
  3. Darkness: Blackout curtains or shades can be lifesavers when it comes to keeping sunlight or artificial light from disrupting your toddler’s sleep. Download our Darkness How-To for a quick test to make sure it is dark enough, plus blackout solution recommendations. 
  4. White noise machine: These can be helpful in drowning out external or household noise that may wake or disturb your child during rest. Our favorites are from Yoga Sleep.

Addressing Common Toddler Sleep Challenges

Even with the best-established routines and environments, toddler-specific sleep challenges may still arise. In this section, we’ll tackle some of these common hurdles and provide strategies to overcome them.

Separation anxiety

This is a common issue during bedtime, as your child may fear being away from you during night hours. To address this challenge, try reassuring your toddler that you’re nearby, offering a comforting toy or object, and gradually increasing your distance each night as they become more comfortable sleeping by themselves. For more insight, check out this post: Sleep & Separation Anxiety in Babies and Toddlers

Nightmares and nighttime fears

When nightmares or fears arise, comfort your toddler and let them know that it’s okay to feel scared. Try utilizing nightlights or other calming tools to alleviate their fears, and have conversations during the day about their dreams or concerns to help them process these emotions. If you are currently experiencing this, these posts will give you more insight: Nightmares and How to Deal with Nighttime Fears in Children.

Nap transitions

As your toddler grows, their nap needs may change. Monitor their daytime sleepiness levels and adjust their sleep schedule accordingly to ensure they’re getting the right amount of rest during the day. For younger toddlers, learn more about the 2 to 1 nap transition. If you think your little one is done napping, check out this post about dropping nap

Sleep regressions

Temporary disruptions to your toddler’s sleep schedule can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that they are likely undergoing a developmental change. Remain patient, consistent, and maintain healthy sleep routines to help your child overcome these sleep setbacks. Check out additional insight and advice into sleep regressions:

Conclusion

Establishing healthy sleep habits in toddlers requires understanding your child’s unique sleep needs, creating a consistent bedtime routine, setting up the ideal sleep environment, and addressing common sleep challenges. Restful sleep is crucial for your toddler’s development and overall well-being, as well as for maintaining a peaceful household. 

Our team of certified child sleep consultants, parent coaches, and lactation consultants at Bella Luna Family are here to provide tailored solutions to help you navigate the challenges of parenthood and set your toddler up for a lifetime of healthy sleep habits. Schedule a free discovery call so we can chat about your toddler’s sleep challenges and how we can work together to help your family feel happy, healthy and well-rested! 

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