Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 10:53 am
Just as with a young baby, a toddler will have his own problems when it comes to bedtime and sleeping through the night.
Moving to the big bed
The transition from cot to a real bed can be quite tricky for little ones. It will take some time for your little one to get used to his new surroundings. Allowing your child to bring his comfort items, such as his favourite blanket or teddy bear to bed with him will make him feel more comfortable.
You can also reassure him by showing that everybody else in the family sleeps in the same kind of beds. Also make sure that your child is ready to move to a big bed. He must be able to physically get on and off of it on his own.
Click here for more advice on moving your toddler from a cot to a big bed.
Your child is having nightmares
Stress and change are often the cause of nightmares and there isn’t much you can do except cuddle and reassure your child. A major change in your child’s life, like moving house and going to a new school may cause anxiety, which could easily manifest as nightmares.
Always calm you’re your child down and ask him about his bad dream. It may give you an idea about what caused it – for example, it could be related to a story he was told during the day or a film that he watched. Talking about the dream can also make him feel better.
Take a good look at other aspects of your child’s life which could be causing him stress. It could be something as simple as potty training or a bigger family-related issue, such as divorce.
Ensure that your child is ready to potty train, start school etc, as this could be causing him stress, especially if he feels pressured.
Give your child lots of love and show him that you understand what he’s going through.
Your child cries in the night
Young babies cry a lot at night, and toddlers will also do it every now and then. When your child does cry at night, don’t rush into his room in a panic.
Listen to the cry – if it’s just a little whinge, wait a few minutes to allow him to settle himself back to sleep. If the crying carries on for a few minutes or more, check on him but avoid making conversation. If your child is ill or in pain, attend to him. Cuddle and assure him that you’re close and that he will get better.
Scared of the dark
“A fear of the dark is entirely normal – even adults retain it,” says Dr Miriam Stoppard in her book Complete Baby and Childcare. If your child is scared of the dark, try and reassure him that nothing is going to happen. Show him that you understand his fear and try to help him instead of insisting that he sleeps in the dark.
Put a night light in his room and leave the door slightly open to reassure him that you’re just in the other room and that he can come and tell you if he’s frightened. If you have a dimming switch, dim the lights outside his room so that he can see some light should he wake up in the middle of the night.
Click here for a round-up of our favourite night lights for toddlers.
Remember, it’s all in your child’s imagination, and you can use that to your advantage. Tell your child a story about the good side of the dark and how it can help people rest and sleep better.
Squacky is Afraid of the Dark is a wonderful book that will help your little one overcome his fear. Click here for the synopsis of the book.
Monsters under the bed
Children have vivid imaginations and you’ll hear stories of them being scared of the monsters under the bed, in the closet or cupboard. Whatever you do, don’t look under the bed as this implies that there might be something there. Reassure your child that there are no monsters in his room and he will have a good night’s sleep.
If your child has this problem, it’s best to avoid reading him any scary fairy tales that involve monsters.
*Sources: Baby and Childcare Handbook by Marina Petropulous; Complete Baby and Childcare by Dr Miriam Stoppard