Isn't it lovely when your toddler sleeps throughout the night. I mean it's pure bliss. But once that pattern is broken and they begin waking for no reason whatsoever, it can cause complete frustration for everyone involved. How do you get your toddler back to sleep? Why are they even waking? How can you stop the madness? Let's dive in and find a solution.
First of all, lets note...every baby, child, teen and adult wake at some point in the night. We as adults have just figured out the concept of falling back to sleep. As parents, sometimes we have to help teach our children to fall back asleep once they wake.
Why is my toddler waking in the night?
1. Habitual Night Feedings: Are you responding to your child's wake-up with a bottle, a sippy cup of milk, or a little snack? If this is the case, their body is responding to the habitual night feeding and begins to need it. Crave it. Wake wanting it.
2. Every Action Has a Re-Action: How your child is falling asleep at the beginning of the night, leads to the inability to put themselves back to sleep if that action isn't present. Layman's terms: If you rock your baby at the start of bedtime, when they wake, they are looking to be rocked back to sleep again...thus causing the wake-ups that persists.
3. Sleep Environment: Is their sleep environment causing them to wake. Is the monitors light causing them to be overt stimulated, creating them to stay awake. Is it too hot in their room? Too cold? Are they continually falling out of their bed? Is it dark? All of this can be factors in why your child is continually waking.
4. Nap Trouble: If your child is taking a two to three hour nap and struggles to fall asleep for bedtime, only creating additional chaos throughout the night, cut back on the length of their nap. That doesn't mean to do away with the entire nap. It means to cut it by 30 minutes and see what changes that makes. If there is still a struggle, cut it another 30 minutes. See what happens after things are changed after a few days.
How to settle your child back to sleep?
1. Wait it out. As parents we want to jump at the first sound we hear from our children. But just like adults, children wake through the night and if they know how to self soothe, they can put themselves back to sleep. To teach them to do this, wait a few minutes before going in to help them get back to sleep when you start hearing them fuss. By waiting, it allows the opportunity for them to transition back into their next sleep cycle. Give it between 3-5 minutes of letting them try on their own.
2. Use your sleep training technique. If they are still not asleep within the time frame you set, go in and use your gentle sleep method to help them get back to sleep. If seeing you only makes the cry worse from your child, stay in the room for only 10-20 seconds and immediately step away.
3. Less is More. At this age, children are highly stimulated. Anything and everything is a way out. So be dull and boring when you have to make your checks. They will pick up the idea that nothing more will be coming out of you and will eventually fall back asleep.
4. Stay Consistent. Every night and every wake up, do the same thing. Handle each situation the exact same way. Your actions speak louder than your words. They will learn from this, and eventually be able to fall back asleep when they wake from each of their cycles of sleep.
5. Praise your child when they stay in their bed all night. Affirming their actions and behavior only encourages them to continue to do it.