How To Help Your Toddler Sleep:Advice from Dr Sears

Posted on Jul 9 2013 - 3:17pm by megganmamma
Joshi asleep on mum's dressing gown

Joshi asleep on mum’s dressing gown

I’m still in shock – Joshi (who’s 15 months old now) slept 7 hours in a row for the first time ever.  It’s probably coincidental, but that same day I started Dr Sears “Baby Sleep Book,”(affiliate link) and decided to implement some of his toddlers sleep tips.

Since then our evenings have quite a different feel to them. Usually we’d do a huge evening clean-up until Joshi shows tired signs, and then take him out for a walk in the carrier until he nods off.  That night, when Simon got home from work all the lights were off, a few candles lit and the only activity was me making up a story as we paged quietly through Joshi’s ‘Autumn’ board book (affiliate link).  Brahms’s Lullaby played continuously in the background for over an hour that night. And then, when Simon took Joshi out for their evening walk I lay my dressing gown on his bed. Hey, like I say, all these things could be coincidental, but Joshi slept 7 hours that night!  I’m seriously saluting Sears right now.  Thanks for the tips Doc!

A few of Dr Sears other tips …

1. Tire out your toddler – The more physical activity they get during the day the better they’ll sleep at night.

2.  Set consistent bedtimes – It doesn’t have to be early, just consistent, programming their internal sleep clock to fall asleep easily at this time.

3. Enjoy a variety of bedtime rituals – These are the soothing things you do half an hour to an hour before those tired signs manifest.  They could be different each night and different for different babies at different ages. They could include bathing, bottle or breast-feeding, back rubbing, bedtime stories or songs, bedtime prayers, wearing your baby in a sling and saying goodnight (to people, pets, toys, etc).

4. Respond to sleepy signs – These could include lying on the floor, rubbing their eyes, yawning. Make sure your toddler’s bathed, brushed his teeth and is in his pyjamas before the drowsy signs kick in.  However, if drowsy signs kick in before, don’t feel you have to do them or you might miss your 10-15 minute window of opportunity to help them drop off.

5. Enjoy bedtime stories – Read stories that you enjoy too so that you don’t mind reading them.  Read in a smooth, gentle, sleepy and monotonous voice; no excitement and exaggerated facial expressions. Read slower and more softly towards the end. Even when their eyes are closed, keep reading a bit longer.

6. Put a cuddly toy to bed with them – They could tuck their toy in and give them a kiss good night just as you do them.

7. Offer sleep cues – These could be phrases that you use repetitively in a  soothing voice, like, “time for sleepy,” “Go night night,” “Rest your eyes,” It’s ok,” etc.

8. Enlist help from a sibling – the older child could lie next to and sing to them or look at a picture book with them.

9. Make peace before bedtime – If children have been fighting or arguing, help them make up before bedtime.  If it’s been upsetting for other reasons take some time to briefly talk about it and then do something nice.

10. Water your child – Kids often ask for water at bed time.  Give them water at bath time or place a bottle of water next to their bed.

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