Your baby’s asleep soundly in the cot next room, and you’re all ready for some me-time with a glass of wine and a good book. But, by the time you turn the page of the book, there goes your baby howling at night. She’s not waking up just once, but multiple times throughout the night and you have to bid goodbye to your goodnight’s sleep to tend to her needs. After a point of time, it just gets frustrating because as per your research and what you have heard, 1-year-old kids should sleep the whole night but that’s not the case here, is it?
Well, the good news here is, your baby is now over 12 months of age, which means you can now teach her to go to sleep on her own. There can be many reasons why toddlers refuse to sleep through the night, like distractions at night, sleep regression due to growth spurt, separation anxiety, dreams or nightmares. But there are ways that can help your toddler ‘sleep like a baby’ (pun intended!) throughout the night by limiting screen time, sticking to a bedtime routine, or sleep training them. Babies are different from each other even when they are of the same age, and not sleeping through the night is a common issue faced by most parents and you can find a solution by trying out different methods for this, and stick to what works for you.
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How much sleep does my toddler need?
|Newborns (0 – 3 months)||14 to 17 hours of sleep|
|Infants (4 – 11 months)||12 to 15 hours of sleep|
|Toddlers (1 – 3 years)||11 to 14 hours of sleep|
Your 1-year-old child needs at least 11 to 14 hours of sleep daily, taking one or two naps during the day. When they are around 18 months old, most toddlers will only have 1 daytime nap and will mostly sleep throughout the night.
Why does my toddler keep waking up at night?
Many parents face the issue of their toddler not sleeping through the night, and honestly, sometimes it’s our fault for sabotaging a good chance of them learning how to go to sleep and if awoken, then self-soothe.
Taking your toddler to bed after they fall asleep
This is one of the most common mistakes parents make, and I included. I used to rock, cuddle and bounce my baby to sleep every night, but 40 minutes later, there he is screaming at the top of his lungs and will only get calm if I go and pick him up. Slowly I realized (with lots of research!) that I was doing it all wrong.
Imagine you sleep in your cozy bed but suddenly wake up in an unfamiliar place, won’t you be scared? Terrified? You’ll be! And this goes on for every night, and every time you wake up in a different place than the place you slept in.
So, if my toddler sleeps snuggled to me every day and when he wakes up in a different place in the middle of the night, and I’m nowhere to be found, he’s definitely going to freak out.
Some kids go through the 12th-month sleep regression, where there’s a sudden change in the baby’s regular sleeping pattern. This is due to your child learning new skills and wanting to discover everything at night. Luckily, 12-month sleep regression will fade away in a week or two.
They’re teething or are sick
Those precious little pearly whites are coming in and can make your toddler uncomfortable and cranky during the day and might even wake her up multiple times at night.
Toddlers may also wake up at night due to underlying illnesses like sore throat, tummy ache, or ear infections. If you suspect your toddler of not feeling well, get her checked out by her pediatrician.
Toddlers can go through separation anxiety when they are around 18 months of age. They can get upset every time you leave with someone else or when you leave the room, and this makes it harder for them to sleep alone through the night without having you around for assurance.
I remember my little one crying every time I turned my back to him, and no matter who he is with, he will burst out in tears if I try to leave the room.
You’re nursing your toddler to sleep
If you’re nursing your baby to sleep then, oh boy! Your baby will not sleep throughout the night without being nursed again after she wakes up. Your toddler learns that every night she sleeps after being fed, so when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she wants to feed again to sleep.
If feeding is the last thing, she did before dozing off, then food is what she’ll need again to go back to sleep. This is not because she’s hungry, but it’s the only way she knows how to fall asleep.
Your toddler slept too late or too much
There were times when my kid would miss his afternoon naps because he was too busy playing and would scream out his favorite word, “NO” for a nap, but, he would start dozing off around 7 in the evening and wake up at 8 which meant he’s not tired enough by bedtime and mommy has to bid farewell to her goodnight’s sleep.
So, if your toddler sleeps too much in the afternoon or too late in the afternoon, then it can disrupt their usual sleep routine.
How can I get my 1-year-old sleep through the night?
Nighttime waking becomes a headache for you, no matter the reason for her waking and crying, but there are steps you can follow for her to sleep safe and sound in her crib for the whole night.
Our children are still learning how to sleep on their own and self-soothe, so we can help them master those skills by-
Having a bedtime routine
For your toddler to sleep throughout the night, you need to make a bedtime routine that you make sure to follow every day religiously. For my kids, it was ‘pajamas on, brushing teeth, reading them a story, tucking them in with a goodnight kiss’ and they are off to sleep.
Whatever you decide as a bedtime routine, make sure you do it every day at the same time so that they know what’s to come and slowly move up their bedtime by 5 – 10 minutes to the time you want it to be.
Teach them to self-soothe
Teaching them to self-soothe includes you soothing them less, meaning if your child wakes up at night and cries for you, make sure to soothe her but not too much and make her understand that it is time for her to sleep and not play. Place a hand lightly on her chest for a little while, and then leave the room. Don’t engage in a conversation which will put your kid off of her sleep.
Follow a schedule for the day
Make sure your toddler sleeps just enough during the day time. Try to cut short their nap if they are sleeping for too long but don’t be rude about it. There are gentler ways for you to wake your baby up. Also, make sure that your toddler doesn’t nap too close to their bedtime, which will again make them too active during the night.
Create a calming ambience
If she’s a light sleeper and tends to wake up now and then with just little bit of sound, then you can try adding a white noise machine in her room to block out all the noises from outside the bedroom; otherwise, every noisy vehicle will have your child up and crying. If she’s an early riser, then make sure to close all the blinds so that early sunrays don’t wake her up.
Keep her comfortable
After they are 1 year old, it is okay for them to have a blanket in their crib. As a safety, you can also offer them a lovey for reassurance. This will have something for them to hold on to when they are scared and also play with it in the morning when they wake up.
Limit screen time
Children watching TV right before they are off to bed can disrupt their sleep in the night. So it is advisable to cut off watching TV at least an hour before bed. Also, switch on parental controls so that your child doesn’t end up watching something horror or scary, which can cause nightmares and terrors in toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than 1 hour of screen time during the day for toddlers 2 and above and zero screen time for children under 18 months of age.
A wrinkle in the sleeping pattern of a baby is normal; I know it’s disheartening when your toddler wouldn’t sleep properly at night. But, remind yourself that it’s just a phase and eventually your baby will learn to sleep on their own. Follow the steps I’ve told you about and practice them daily and sooner or later she will sleep throughout the night, giving you the rest you so well deserve.
Meanwhile, Mamas, take in one day at a time.
Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid, you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best’.