Today I want to talk about toddlers and sleeping.
It’s a tough topic and a tough mommy and daddy habit to combat. When toddlers reach a certain age, say, two or three, they like to assert their independence, and this includes when they want and don’t want to go to sleep. I’ve tried a few things and I’ll be honest it’s no easy task and I’ve yet to tackle this tricky situation myself. So why am I writing this post you might ask?
To warn you…
Not to sound creepy at all, but let’s face it, when we’re stuck in the midst of a screaming toddler tantrum, the kicks and screams and I don’t want to’s, we learn at those moments what not to do, so that’s what I want to share, what not to do!
First, try to avoid co-sleeping.
As cute and snuggly as your baby is, try to avoid having them sleep in your bed. This is called co-sleeping and this is when parents bring their babies into bed with them to sleep.
But Why? Because not only is co-sleeping considered to be unsafe, but it’s also one of those minor decisions that seem fine in the beginning but blow up into something larger the more time passes.
People do choose to go with co-sleeping, but it can be hard to get your child out of this habit the older they get.
My son has been sleeping in my bed since he was four months old. He’s now three, set to turn four in a month and I can’t for the life of me get him to sleep in his own bed. And even when I manage to get him in his bed, he just doesn’t sleep well. He tosses and turns and by three am, he’s up and running for my bedroom. In the end, it’s a fruitless effort because I’m sleep-deprived and end up giving in just to get a couple of hours of shut-eye.
Why is co-sleeping unsafe?
Because co-sleeping is associated with an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and in some circumstances, fatal sleeping accidents can occur. This can be anything from rolling over onto your baby to them getting wrapped up in the comforters or swallowed up by too many pillows.
One of the safest things you can do for your new baby is to share a room with them. This means bringing their crib into your room, maybe placed beside or at the foot of your bed, and let them sleep on their back without any unnecessary blankets or stuffed animals. Dressing your baby in warm pajamas is enough to keep them comfortable since they tend to warm quicker than we do and can overheat if they have too many blankets, not to mention it’s a suffocation hazard. It’s best to keep them in your room for the first six months to a year and then move them out into their own room.
Still thinking about co-sleeping?
Next, avoid melatonin for kids.
Have you ever heard of melatonin? Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body.
How does melatonin work?
Its core job in the body is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. Light decreases melatonin and signals the body to prepare for being awake.
In simpler words:
It’s what helps us get to sleep at the end of the night. But it’s not always easy to sleep so this can be purchased over the counter as a medication to help. But it’s also sold for kids and even though you don’t need a prescription to buy it, that doesn’t make it safe. It’s easy to overdose on this medication, especially in small kids.
Studies show that short-term melatonin use is safe for kids with little to no side effects.
However, some children may experience symptoms such as nausea, headaches, bed-wetting, excessive sweating, dizziness, morning grogginess, stomach pains, and more. It’s not approved by the FDA and there’s also no evidence of long-term use in kids.
Bottom line: It’s not a miracle drug and not worth the risks.
So why am I telling you this?
Because I’ve tried it. I have a friend who has a child that’s close in age to mine. I complained about how hard it is to get my son to go to sleep at night and recommended melatonin gummies. She uses it for her child when she can’t get her to sleep and it works like a charm. So I tried it and it worked. One night turned into two and before I knew it, the whole bottle was gone. It was getting my son to sleep and he grew accustomed to getting his “nite nite gummy” as he called it. There was a major problem growing here. He was becoming too dependant on these gummies and they could be potentially harming him in the long run.
But there’s another problem…
I realized that my son wasn’t going to sleep because he was too energetic at night. Our habits were putting him in an atmosphere that made it hard for him to go to sleep.
- Having the television on late at night.
- Letting him use his iPad, which is bright.
- Being up late, talking, and laughing.
So how do I fix this…
Creating an atmosphere that is calm, dimly lit, and quiet is the best way to trigger that natural melatonin and get your child to fall asleep. This may be hard at first, but after a few days he/she will get it, the habit will kick in and after a week or so, your child will be on a sleeping schedule.
You could try laying down with him/her if you don’t want to let them cry it out, and when they fall asleep, slip out of the room. Or, if you choose, letting your child cry it out until they fall asleep on their own is another way to go.
At the end of the night remember:
- The safest place for babies to sleep is in a crib next to your bed
- Co-sleeping can be dangerous for babies
- Sleep medications or supplements can be harmful
- Television or electronics before bed could keep them alert and awake
- A calm, dim environment is best for sleeping
- You can help them to fall asleep (at least for the first week) until a habit is set.
I’m still working on it, but hopefully, these few tips will help with your toddler’s sleep habits. I’d love to hear from you. What’s your method? Have you tried co-sleeping or melatonin? Leave your comments below.
Thanks for reading my latest post.