Sleep: Toddler Boundaries

Sleep: Toddler Boundaries

Whether you battled your way through sleep deprivation in the first year of your baby’s life or if you were gifted with a little one who slept through early, you may well be in for a turbulent time in the toddler years.

Toddlers can be very poor sleepers and there are usually one of four reasons for this:

  1. Your toddler may become a picky eater and require extra nutritional support with a toddler milk or by bulking up the fats and proteins in his meals.
  2. Your toddler may experience fears and bad dreams, as his imagination emmerges and especially if he is exposed to scary TV or stories. Using a night light can really help to make him feel less fearful at night.
  3. If your toddler becomes wakeful and distressed night after night after having been a good sleeper, it is worth deworming him.
  4. By far the most common reason that toddler sleep issues arise is the batttle over boundaries. It is very common for toddlers to try and negotiate where they sleep, what time they sleep, how many stories you read and where you should be when they sleep. Pushing bounadaries is a very normal process that toddlers go through.

The best way to manage toddler sleep issues that are based in pushing bounadries is with the A, B, C approach.

If your toddler calls to you in the night, or climbs out of bed at bedtime try the following:

  • Reinforce the boundary that he must go to sleep quietly (or stay in his bed or whatever your are aiming for)
  • Acknowledge – “I know that you want … mommy to sit/ to come into mommy’s bed….”
  • Boundary – “You can’t…. because …..”
  • Choice: “So, Mommy can sit in your room if you are quiet but if you climb out of bed, mommy will go out”

Be utterly consistent between 7pm and 4am, show you love your little one and show you understand his desire but reinforce the boundary that you have created. Your toddler will feel more secure in the knowledge that someone (not him) is in control.