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Sleep problems in toddlers

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
Sleep problems in toddlers
OMG I've had 2 weeks of BIG toddler sleep problems. And you know that when I say BIG it was really BIG.

Toddler sleep problems often come out of nowhere and are often a result of developmental changes, wonder weeks, starting crawling etc. It's enough to blow anyones mind! These toddlers  have driven their parents to distraction.

Sleep problems in toddlers have either been there since that pesky 4 month sleep regression and patents have been hoping and praying that the chink of good sleep they see now and again becomes a permanent fixture. Sadly this fact is rarely true. Without sleep training it's unlikely to happen. Learned behaviour gets imprinted and once we reinforce it with our behaviour it's likely to be around for good.

Then there are the sleep problems that appear out of the blue at 18 months or older. I see a lot of toddlers who start off with night terrors and once the parent gets them out of their cot, wakes them up and gives them a drink then the toddler decides they'd like a little more of that please and before you know it you've got a sleep problem. Boys in particular tend to be affected most, by this wonder week at 18 months. If we approached the sleep issue by a less is more approach we'd create less issues. Once you get them up then you're tempted to give them a milk drink. Toddler thinks, oh yes I like this a lot and I'd like a lot more of this!! So your toddler shouts, you're very tired, path of least resistance, more milk, your bed, anything for some peace. You get the picture.

The downwards spiral starts. I'm sure some of you have been there. They start not eating as well as usual, sleep less, more milk feeds at night, overtired, cranky, tantrums...

So what do you do?

I'd look at a very gentle yet effective method of sleep training to turn this around. My go-to method for this age group is parental presence. You've got to sort the sleep out to sort the milk feeds and food out. And yes you've got to take all those night feeds away and make them hungry in the short term. No one likes sleep training and is there such a thing as a no cry sleep solution? Not on night one. No. Toddlers hate change just like we all do. However by night 2 this rapidly becomes a no cry sleep solution. And within 7-10 days your toddler should be turning the corner into sleeping through again.

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