A Happy Toddler Sleep Routine

Experts agree that reading to your toddler is a great way to foster both fun and developmental learning. And incorporating baby books into your daily baby bedtime routine is a good idea for various reasons.

For starters, it’s hard to argue with the fact that a child’s reading skills are intricately linked to his later success. But reading to your toddler can also be an interactive way to spend time with him and cultivate his imagination.   

Especially for babies, who are developing their sensory skills, books that include pages of various textures (e.g., felt, fuzzy, smooth, soft) are a great way to introduce different touch sensations, too.

Reading to your child will also help with the following:

  1. Bonding. As you read to your toddler or baby, cuddle with him or hold him. This intimacy and the sound of your voice will help your child associate reading with good memories, making him more likely to take up the habit when he grows older as well.
     
  2. Picture association. Helping your toddler identify objects in a book and reciprocate words will aid in developing reading skills and visual accuracy.
     
  3. Developmental skills. Parent-child reading promotes social and emotional development. There are five essential early reading skills: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency. Your child will naturally absorb them all as you read to him before bed every night.
     
  4. Language development. Access to books and reading prior to school help facilitate language development in toddlers, which is an essential skill.

The following are a few great books for babies and toddlers:

  • A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
  • When I Was a Baby by Deborah Niland
     
  • The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli
     
  • One Naked Baby by Maggie Smith
     
  • This Little Piggy by Jane Yolen
     
  • The Wheels on the Bus by Paul Zelinsky
     
  • The Cow Who Clucked by Denise Fleming
     
  • Baby Talk: A Book of First Words and Phrases by Judy Hindley
     
  • We’ve All Got Bellybuttons! by David Martin
     
  • Hurry, Hurry by Eve Bunting

Soothe your baby or toddler with any of these books during his bedtime routine, and it’ll quickly become one of his favorite memories -- and yours, too.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Mom-Tested Baby Sleep Solutions

Would you rather win the lottery or get a full night’s sleep?

If you even paused to consider your answer, congratulations -- you must be a new mom! While your heart is bursting with joy, your eyelids are probably as heavy as bricks. Baby-induced sleep deprivation is something you just can’t understand until you live through it.

Try these baby sleep solutions to get a peaceful night for both you and your little one:  

Baby sleep solutions: Newborns to 3 weeks
Your brand-new baby will sleep 16 to 18 hours a day but will probably wake up every 2 to 3 hours to eat. Of course, this will vary with every baby.

While a newborn’s sleep-wake cycle may be rough on you, it’s perfectly normal -- and necessary for your baby’s survival. A 3-week-old baby is incapable of being spoiled, and it’s important to create a sense of security by responding to your baby’s cries.  

Even though he’ll be up around the clock, it’s also crucial to teach your baby the difference between daytime and nighttime. Be playful and interact with him when he wakes up during the day, but keep lights dim and your voice low when he wakes up at night. Eventually, he’ll start to sleep for longer stretches at night.

Many parents swear by the shush noise to help relax fussy babies. Make a loud (very loud!) “shhh, shhh, shhh” noise while gently swaying him back and forth -- this mimics the noises and sensations in the womb. Swaddling your baby can also help him feel secure.

And take heart: The first few weeks are rough, but your baby’s sleep routine will get easier.

Baby sleep solutions: 2 to 4 months
The fastest consolidation of baby sleep occurs in the first four months of life, which means your sweet baby will probably be sleeping for longer stretches soon, if he isn’t already.

The phrase “sleeping through the night” is a bit of a misnomer -- it can mean sleeping for stretches of eight hours, from midnight to 5 a.m., or from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Most babies sleep through the night by 2 to 3 months of age (yippee!), but some babies don’t until they’re much older.

However, you can help your 2- to 4-month-old baby develop healthy sleep habits -- which means you’ll sleep better, too! Your baby may wake up several times a night, even when he isn’t hungry. If he hasn’t learned to put himself back to sleep, he may cry for you. Putting your baby down when he’s drowsy but not completely asleep can help him learn to soothe himself back to sleep.

Babies often wiggle around and can make considerable noise when they sleep. When you hear a whimper, wait a few minutes before rushing to his aid. Give your baby a chance to put himself back to sleep.

Baby sleep solutions: Babies of all ages
There’s no need to crank up the thermostat or over-bundle your baby. If you’re comfortable in pajamas and a light blanket, he’ll also be comfortable in jammies and a sleeping sack or swaddle. Staying comfortable also means staying dry. Put him in a diaper that wicks moisture away and provides protection from leaks.

Finally, always put your baby on his back to sleep in a smoke-free space. Keep his crib or bassinet clear of blankets, toys, pillows, or crib bumpers, which can be suffocation hazards.

Toddler Sleep Solutions

As parents know all too well, young children are notorious for resisting sleep. Just the mention of bedtime can sometimes set off a toddler tantrum.

Help your little bundle of energy head to dreamland and get the rest he needs with these toddler sleep tips.

Create a quiet routine
A game of chase or dancing around to music may seem like a surefire way to tire out your toddler, but a quiet, soothing routine before bed is a better choice for sleep success. Try reading a story together or giving your child a bath right before bedtime. Practice makes perfect, and repeating your bedtime rituals every night will help signal to your toddler that it’s time to get ready for sleep.

Be consistent
To establish a good sleep pattern, try to put your toddler to bed at the same time every night. Your tot may resist going to bed (can you blame him for not wanting to miss out on the after-hours fun?), but remaining firm about the rules will help a fuss-free bedtime become the norm instead of the exception.

Give your toddler a “lovey”
Letting your toddler sleep with his favorite blanket, teddy bear, or toy will help comfort him, especially if he wakes up in the middle of the night. Let him choose his lovey himself, but make sure what he picks is safe -- avoid toys or stuffed animals with ribbons, buttons, or anything that could be considered a choking hazard.

Set up the bedroom for success
A room that’s quiet, dark, and set to a comfortable temperature will encourage your toddler to fall -- and stay -- asleep. Before you tuck your child in, check that he has everything he needs to get through the night. This will decrease the chance that he’ll call you back to his bedroom. If he does cry out for you, resist the urge to rush in immediately. Instead, wait 15 seconds before reentering the room. If he calls out multiple times, gradually increase the amount of time you wait to go in, giving him the chance to fall back asleep without your help.

Keep an eye on naptime
Most children this age need between 12 and 14 hours of sleep each day, which can be split up between nighttime sleeping and daytime naps. But snoozing too late in the day can cause your toddler to have difficulty dozing off in the evening. If this is the case, slowly inch back the time of day he naps (a drastic change can completely throw off his schedule). If he goes to day care, aim to keep it consistent with when he naps there.

Remember that consistency is a must for establishing a stress-free toddler bedtime routine. Of course, life can sometimes get in the way, but if it does, just aim to get back on track with your bedtime rituals the next evening.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash