My toddler is fighting bedtime and waking up during the night. What can I do?
Toddlers can be notoriously difficult to get to sleep and keep asleep. There’s just so much to do when they’re awake! Some of the most common reasons toddlers have trouble sleeping are:
They have Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Sleeping means not getting to do fun things others might be doing. So there’s no way they’re going to sleep!
They just can’t shut off their brain/body
Just like when you’ve had a super busy day, or a day jam packed with adventure or learning, it’s difficult to get to sleep when your brain can’t switch off or your body is trying to practice new physical skills.
They still need safety and reassurance of a caregiver with them.
As big as our toddlers can seem, they’re still little, and they still need our help and support to feel safe. Night is a long time to go without a cuddle or some milk.
Their imagination is scaring them.
Babies aren’t afraid of the dark because they haven’t developed imagination yet. Toddlers on the other hand, have little brains that are running wild with all of the scary things that could be there in the dark, or might happen when they’re asleep.
There’s something particular keeping them awake.
Similar to number 2, this can be either a physical issue (they have a poo building up) or something that’s on their mind. It might be something heavy, like missing Grandma when she leaves, or it might be something that seems ridiculous to us but is important to them. Whatever it is, the particular issue had been acknowledge and addressed, then they can finally get to sleep.
Once you determine what the primary cause of your toddler’s sleep fighting is, then you can work out the best strategies to deal with it, keeping in mind, that the reason they’re fighting sleep on Tuesday might not be the same reason from Monday. Tune in, listen to their bodies and behaviour, journal to find patterns if it helps, and keep reminding yourself, they aren’t doing it to annoy you.
Five reasons your toddler may be waking – and how to help him (and you) sleep
The Elusive nature of Young Toddler Sleep
And here’s a great Meditation app for Toddlers and Preschoolers.