Help your toddler sleep well: 7 activities to try


To help your toddler sleep well, enough and restfully, might be one of the best things you could do for their health, both now and later. But most toddlers can’t sleep. Possibly, because they are on a tight schedule, with school in the morning and activities planned through the day. If they have to wake up early, it only makes sense that they get to bed early too. Even if kids have less scheduled lives, this doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them to go to bed at 11 and sleep in until noon. The reasons are ~

  1. A recent study on sleep times found children who go to bed earlier are less likely to be obese than those who stay up late (Source: University of Colorado, 2013).
  2. Having enough sleep is crucial for brain function, energy and even immune system. And therefore it is essential to help your toddler sleep well.
  3. If your child gets used to late nights early on, it can be hard to break the pattern and this could lead to sleep issues later.
  4. Not getting enough sleep may bring mood problems due to which children become cranky in the mornings. This leads to problem in coping with school timings. Mood problems indirectly and directly affects their concentration, learning and memory.

The truth is, the rest of the world gets up early and when your child starts going to school and then to college and then gets a job, getting up early will just be a fact of life. Going to bed early should be one too. Therefore it is essential to establish a toddler sleep schedule.

How much sleep is needed to live a healthy life?

Refer to our toddler sleep chart which will help you determine how long a toddler should sleep.

Preschoolers 3-5 years10 to 13 hours
School-aged Children 6-13 years9 to 11 hours
Teenagers 14-17 years8 to 10 hours
Young Adults 18-25 years7 to 9 hours

What’s the best time for sleep to help your toddler sleep well?

Children who sleep less than 10 hours a night are prone to obesity as are adults who sleep less than 5-6 hours.  

University of Colorado, 2013

The best time for sleep is between 9 pm to 7 am depending upon the need of the child. For Pre-schoolers (3-5 years) it is from 9 pm to 7-8 am, for School goers (6-13 years) it is from 9 pm to 6-7 am, for Teenagers (14-17 years) it is from 10-11 pm to 6-7 am and for Young adults it is 11 pm – 6 am. Help your toddler by making a toddler sleep training schedule.

Activities that work as a toddler sleep aid

Many of us grew up with a traditional bedtime treat of a small biscuit, toast or some other kind of snack. For me it was always a glass of milk just before brushing my teeth. Science has proved that there was probably something in that tradition. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which helps bodies produce the sleep-inducing chemicals serotonin and melatonin that will help your toddler sleep well.  If you are a little skeptical about the benefits of giving the kids a good night snack, here are some other bedtime treats to help them sleep tight.

  1. Lullaby :So many of us sing to our babies to help them sleep, but how many of us carry that ritual on throughout childhood? These are the songs that children love to sleep by when they are babies. This also will calm down any toddler sleep anxiety or sleep issues the child may have.
  2. Bedtime stories: There is rarely a child who doesn’t love a bedtime story. Choose books each month that will be reserved as the “bedtime book” for that particular month. You can choose Bedtime Stories by Enid Blyton or something similar to this.
  3. Quiet chat : The quiet chat at bedtime is a lovely connecting moment between the children and parents. It’s assured one-on-one time that we all crave. Talk to your child in a soft, low and affectionate voice about your day, or anything exciting or important that took place on that day. Also ask them the same questions. It is never a lengthy chat, just a quiet few moments to reflect on the day and agree that tomorrow is going to be fabulous. This little talk instills a sense of both gratitude and hopefulness in children.
  4. Tokens : Sometimes, it is a huge treat for children for being given one of their parent’s pillows to ‘cuddle’. Having earned this special treat by behaving so well during the day reinforces in children the need to behave the following days too. If you have restless sleepers, and you are out of ideas for non-food or toy rewards, give children a token of your affection to sleep with for the night.
  5. Storytelling : Putting wild imaginations to bed is probably the biggest challenge. It has been found that having the occasional storytelling night helps the kids unwind. Here are a few ideas:
  • Tell stories about your own childhood. Kids love hearing tales about what mum or dad got up to when they were little
  • Talk about your ancestors – a great way to pass down family stories when kids are young
  • Remind them of their own childhood – they absolutely love hearing about themselves.

6. Extra big cuddles : Everyday cuddles are a treat, but big, giant, snuggle-up cuddles are always the best when it comes before sleep.

7. Focus on a satisfied tummy and calming foods: To  initiate  a  restful  sleep encourage  foods  that  support  sleep-inducing  neurotransmitters  such  as  serotonin  and  melatonin. These  are  food  rich  in  tryptophan  and  B  complex  vitamins. Pumpkin & Squash Seeds, Soybeans, Reduced Fat Mozzarella, Tuna Fish etc and some good starting point. Growth Hormones released when we sleep and these are essential for not only growth but also healing and repair. If your child shows continued sleep problems or sleep issues, address it with a doctor.

Lastly, it can be said that early sleep patterns are very important for a holistic development in children. This makes–
help your toddler sleep well –an important parenting responsibility.

Sleep my little baby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you wake you’ll see the world
If I’m not mistaken — Neil Gaiman

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