A common reason for a baby fighting sleep at nap time and bedtime is overtiredness. You may notice this if your little one has one day out of her usual routine where her naps are disrupted and you need to help them go to sleep by intervening before she finally goes into a “dead” sleep. Your little one may then wake throughout the night at least a few times.
This is because she has become over stimulated through being awake for too long in the day, or due to poor quality naps (typically 30 minutes or less) when out and about.
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Your preschooler needs sleep to help him grow strong and healthy. As most toddlers become preschoolers they will need between 11 and 13 hours’ sleep over a 24 hour period. They may only have a short nap each day or only need naps on occasional days. By the age of 4 your child’s circadian rhythm will be established and they may no longer need to sleep at all during the day, needing around 11-12 hours of sleep a night.
As your child’s mind develops they might start having night terrors or nightmares. Often these can be more distressing for the parent than the child, who has usually forgotten all about it by morning, if they were aware of it at the time.
People often get confused between nightmares and night terrors but actually they are easy to tell apart and your child will only be aware of, or become distressed by, nightmares.
At around 3 your child will start to understand the concept that actions have consequences and good behavior can come with a reward. Once this understanding comes, you can use positive reinforcement (sometimes known as bribery!) to promote good behavior. This can really help with preschool bedtime battles, by offering your child an incentive to go to bed and stay there. Positive reinforcement can be used as the next stage from sleep training as your child becomes too old to put in a cot and, sometimes, to independent to go straight to bed!
Establishing good habits are essential for a stress free bedtime and a peaceful night! We all lapse occasionally and have periods when we struggle, either at bedtime or with night waking. Here are some tips to help your child to establish good sleep habits:
Once your child is potty trained you will start thinking about getting them to stop wearing nappies at night. Different people take a different approach to becoming dry at night; some stop nappies altogether day and night while others wait until nappies become less wet naturally. As always, it is best to be lead by you and your child.
There is no ‘right’ time to move your toddler from their cot into a bed. Parents move their toddler any age from 1 ½ to 3 ½ years old, and for different reasons.
This is a big change for a child and different children respond to it differently. Children with older siblings may well be anticipating the move and will be excited about moving to a big bed. If you prepare them well and approach the move sensitively you can make it as easy for your child to adapt as possible.
As your baby becomes a toddler bedtime battles will alter slightly. This is because they are more able to express themselves and negotiate with you and their reasons for not wanting to go to bed vary from being dependent on you, to worrying about missing out on something and, in older toddlerhood, the need to assert some authority in their life.