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toddler sleep

Sweet Dreams of Sound Sleep: Sleep Tips for Toddlers and Preschoolers

toddler sleepSleep; Merriam-Webster.com defines it as: “the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored.” There are also countless studies, articles and even sleep clinics in order to help weary. Since sleep is such a vital part of life, how can we ensure children are counting sheep for the right amount of hours and have the proper means for resting?

The right amount of ZZZ’s by numbers

Since toddlers and preschoolers are still in the early stages of development, a lot more hours of shut-eye are required to maintain adequate health and a bright mind. According to clevelandclinic.org, it is recommended that toddlers (children, ages 1-3) acquire 12-14 hours and preschoolers (ages 3 -5) obtain 11-13 hours of sleep per day. If that is not happening, then a nap can be a good alternative.

Mapping the napping

Map out a good area and time for child to rest during the day. Since a growing body uses a lot of energy, just resting or some-down time can do a child good. If your child does manage to drift off, 90 minutes of nap time is “just right,” as per an article on webmd.com. It is also recommended that children do not skip naps for an earlier bedtime since this can incite restless behavior.

The monsters of sleep issues

Not every child is enthusiastic about going to bed. In fact, many children can be resistant when it comes to slipping into dreamland, which is a commonality amongst youngsters.  Most of the time, a child will fight the urge to sleep due to feeling as though he or she may be missing out on something exciting. Other causes of sleeplessness can also be the result of:

  • Fear of separation from parents or guardians
  • Being afraid of the dark
  • Fear of monsters or other make-believe beasts
  • Having nightmares

Two more issues that can also be added to the lack-of-sleep list that a child may not necessarily be aware of would be sleepwalking and or having night terrors.

Sleeping like an angel

Whether your child is a fan of drifting off into the clouds or not, there are always ways to make the best of a good night or day’s rest. Below are some tips to making your little one sleep soundly:

  • Routine, routine – Make a routine and stick to it. Whether it’s brushing teeth or taking a bath before going to bed, it takes 21 days to create a habit, so after a while a child will automatically get used to the bedtime plan.
  • Keep the time steady – Set a solid nap or bed time every day and keep activities to a minimum before putting children to sleep.
  • Food and drink parameters – Since food provides the body with energy, try not to let your child eat or drink a lot before it’s time to rest; especially products containing caffeine.
  • Make it cozy– Tuck your child into comfort and keep your child’s sleep area inviting. Allow favorite stuffed animals, pillows or special blankets your child wishes to have in his or her bed for comfort. Turn bright lights out and nightlights on, if preferred and keep the temperature steady. Soft music or a fan to drown out background noise may also be soothing. Reading a bedtime story is another pacifying alternative.
  • Nix the technology– Computers, tablets, television and video games are fine during the day, but when it comes close to bedtime, the plugs should be pulled. According to an article on webmd.com, the light emitted from the electronic devices passes through the eyes’ retinas into the hypothalamus (controls brain’s sleep activities) which then causes the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin to be postponed.

Sleep; just do it

The proper amount of rest will help a child achieve his or her best both at home or while in preschool, so fluff that pillow and turn out the lights and don’t forget to give your little one a big hug goodnight!

Do you have tips to share about getting your little one to bed? We’d love to hear them!

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