Kids need their sleep in order to grow and stay healthy. Unfortunately, much like adults, they sometimes have a difficult time falling asleep and sleeping through the night. It is frustrating as a parent when you have a child who’s obviously tired and just can’t seem to fall asleep. You feel helpless… and tired. Here are a few tricks and tips I learned with my children that will help your toddler get a restful sleep and sleep through the night.
Provide white noise or play soothing music at a low volume. If your toddler has a difficult time falling asleep because of distracting sounds in the rest of the house or outside, try using a fan, vaporizer or white noise machine. When my kids were little we often traveled to visit family and found it difficult for them to get a restful sleep due to the noise volume. I purchased an inexpensive sound machine and played it do soothe them and drowned out the other sounds. It still goes with us whenever we travel. Be careful to keep the white noise at a low level, though, or it may work inversely and cause such a distraction that your child cannot sleep.
Create an environment conducive for a restful sleep. Help your child settle down and relax by easing him into bedtime mode. Remove distractions from the bedroom like the television and loud toys. Dimly light the room, set the temperature at a comfortable level, offer your toddler a favorite stuffed animal to snuggle.
Dab a little essential oil or scented lotion on the back of your child’s hand. Tell her to sniff it until the scent disappears. The concentration and deep breathing will help relax her and make her fall asleep faster and sleep sounder. Many scents will also aid in relaxation. Two that worked well for my children were vanilla and lavender. In fact, although my children are no longer toddlers, I still use lavender lotion if they are having trouble falling asleep.
Teach your child techniques to relax every muscle in his body. Have him close his eyes and slowly walk him through tensing his toes and then releasing the tension to relax them. Continue to guide him through this exercise for the other foot, both legs, and every other body part until you reach his head. Learning to relax his whole body will help your toddler get a more restful sleep.
Help your child think happy thoughts. Many times kids have a hard time falling asleep, because they are thinking about things they’ve seen or heard during the day. For toddlers, this is often related to shows they have watched on television or stories they’ve heard older siblings tell. Monitoring the shows your child watches and talking to older children about being careful of their words around the toddler may help.
My younger daughter often had trouble falling asleep when she was a toddler because she was thinking “scary thoughts.” Here’s a trick that helped her focus on pleasant thoughts and have a more restful night’s sleep. I made a simple “Dream Jar” from a recycled container and added a few slips of paper with ideas for happy dreams. Each night, she would pull out a new dream idea and tuck it under her pillow. We would talk for a minute about what the dream would be like. She would then fall asleep with pleasant thoughts on her mind and a smile on her face.