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Healthy Sleep Habits for Babies and Toddlers
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Healthy Sleep Habits for Babies and Toddlers

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Infants and toddlers thrive with consistent sleep habits. In particular, adequate sleep is essential for their excellent health and academic performance. 

Sleep helps children build a robust immune system, whereas chronic sleep deprivation can directly impact their growth. Parents should encourage consistent bedtime habits and daytime routines to promote a restful night's sleep. 

At Hiccups & Buttercups we want to help you explore why some babies and toddlers find it difficult to settle down at bedtime while others refuse to stay in bed. 

On a side note, if you're looking for healthy sleep habits for adults, click here for our article on this age group.

Since good sleep habits begin from birth, let's consider different approaches to help you work out the best regimen for you and your child.

What Is the Importance of a Baby’s and Toddler’s Sleep Routine?

As responsible parents, we worry about whether our child is getting quality sleep. We know rest is essential for children's mental and physical growth.

Getting adequate sleep is as essential to a child as proper nutrition and exercise. Sound sleep is beneficial for children's behavior and learning.

While sleep is crucial for children's development, babies' sleep needs vary. Plus, toddlers' sleep patterns also change at this stage. 

Research tells us around 20 to 30% of babies and toddlers face difficulty falling asleep.

It is distressing to see your little one struggle to settle down at bedtime. However, you can set your child up for a peaceful night's rest by creating a bedtime routine.

A soothing bedtime routine helps your child unwind and relax so that they can fall asleep quickly. 

You can help your child get the amount of sleep they need by creating a healthy sleep schedule. 

A consistent bedtime strategy will help your child calm down from the day's activities and fall asleep quicker.

Plan Out the Bedtime Rituals

Bathing, brushing teeth, reading, or singing can be part of the nightly routine. These activities will soothe your child. In addition, your baby will link them with sleeping and find it easier to fall asleep.

Prepare your little ones for sleep by having them relax and wind down. 

Establish a set of activities you carry out with your child every night before bedtime. 

These steps carried out at the same time each night give your child a sense of security and will also teach them how to fall asleep on their own.

Set Regular Sleep and Wake-up Times

It would be suitable for your little one to go to bed and wake up around the same time daily. A consistent bedtime will enable your child's body clock to fall into a regular pattern. 

As your child gets older, they may change their bedtime routine. Yet, the schedule should be consistent and follow the same order. 

If your child's bedtime is at 7 o'clock, turn off electronics an hour before. Dim the lights and begin the bath routine. 

Once your child is bathed and in their pajamas, they will enjoy winding down by listening to soft music or reading a book.

What's a Good Sleep Schedule for a 2-Year-Old?

Children at the age of 1-2 years should sleep 11-14 hours daily. You can divide this between nighttime sleeping and one or two daytime naps. You may need to figure out what suits your toddler. 

Toddlers enjoy testing their boundaries, so getting your toddler to bed can be tricky. 

When your child is tired, they are likely to become cranky. If you spot the signs earlier and put them down for a nap, you can avoid those pesky tantrums that make bedtime not so peaceful.

A healthy bedtime routine will be a big help with many toddler sleep issues.

The routine you establish for your baby during the first year is of greater significance. 

Quiet Time to Wind-Down

You can help your child move from playtime to sleep with quiet activities. This routine can be 15 to 30 minutes long for a toddler and include relaxing activities such as reading or talking about their day.

Keep your toddler's bedtime rituals short and uncomplicated. Your toddler will insist you follow the same routine they are accustomed to every night.

Allow your toddler to make bedtime choices. 

Ask them which pajamas they would like to wear, which stuffed animal to take to bed. 

Does your child wish to read a story or listen to music? Allowing your little one to choose helps them relax as they feel a sense of control.

How Much Sleep Do Babies and Toddlers Need?

Generally, babies sleep 14 to 17 hours during both day and night. But the sleep pattern will change as they get older.

At six months, babies average 14 hours of sleep a day. They will have two to three daytime naps that could stretch from 30 minutes to 2 hours each. If you are breastfeeding, your baby may wake up at night frequently.

In addition, toddlers and preschoolers require 11 to 14 hours of sleep. While most of it should be at night, they do need a nap during the day.

By the time they're two, toddlers usually nap once a day.

Encourage Short Daytime Naps

It is a good idea to limit daytime naps to 1 to 2 hours. Longer naps will delay your child's evening bedtime. However, individual children's needs will differ, so try not to force anything!

Avoid letting your child nap late in the afternoon as it can affect their nighttime sleep schedule.

Additional Tips

Healthy eating habits and exercise will ensure your child gets sound sleep. Plan meals on time so your child doesn't go to bed feeling hungry or too full. Any discomfort will make it hard for them to settle down.

Plenty of play and physical activity during the day helps your child use up surplus energy. Moreover, playing outdoors and exposure to sunlight enables children to sleep well.

You may notice that your toddler often resists bedtime. This is because they may suffer separation anxiety from their parents or feel they will miss out on the fun. Now is the time to get your child a stuffed toy for reassurance.

Here are some beneficial bedtime activities to enjoy with your little ones:

  • Eat a light, wholesome snack
  • Let your kid soak up in a warm bath
  • Brush teeth together
  • Sing a lullaby 
  • Cuddle and rock

Final Thoughts

Creating a bedtime routine with your baby from the beginning will make it possible to maintain healthy sleep habits as they grow older. 

If your little one does not get sufficient sleep at night, they may be grumpy during the day. They will also find it challenging to settle down at night. 

When your child sleeps through the night, you will also sleep better. We hope these tips helped you out!

Main image Georgia Maciel from Pexels

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