Healthy sleep for your child means getting the need sleep that they need, on an age appropriate schedule and doing so independently. An independent sleeper is part of the goal, right? So why am I talking about sleep tools?
Sometimes we can run into physical and behavioral hurdles with our toddler's sleep. This is where sleep tools can be helpful in creating a healthy relationship with sleep and even assisting in helping your child to have pride in their sleep. Here are a few tools that will help you through those toddler years:
Physical Toddler Sleep Tools
A Sleep Sack:
Under 12 months of age it is recommended for safety reasons not to have anything in your baby's crib but your baby and the clothing that they are wearing. At this time, a sleep sack acts as a safe wearable blanket. When you choose a sleep sack you want to be sure that you choose an appropriate size. You will want it to fit properly and ensure that your baby doesn't overheat. Check out this guide on what they can be wearing based on the temperature of the house:
The hidden secret to a sleep sack is that when your child reaches the age that they want to explore life outside of the crib - it can help to prevent them from jumping by aiding in preventing them from swinging their legs over the sides of the crib.
If you get your child used to it as a baby, then you won't be wrestling an active 18 month old into one 😉. We want to try to keep our kiddos in a crib until at least the age of 2.5 - 3. The sleep sack will help with that goal.
Our family favorite sleep sack has long been Little Fishkopp (as pictured here):
I really love a toddler clock! It is a great visual communication to your toddler when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake.
It is common to introduce a toddler clock when you move your child to a "big kid bed." However, I think you can introduce the clock at anytime. In fact, if you introduce it sooner than the transition to a big kid bed, then this is part of their daily routine and we all know that our kids love routine. When looking for toddler clocks, you will want to select one that you can set for both naps and nighttime.
Bedtime Routine Charts:
Sometimes keeping a toddler on track for following a plan is tough. But a bedtime routine is a really important part of ensuring that your child is ready for sleep. Toddler's love fun and to feel like they are in control, right? So why not make the bedtime routine fun and soothing at this age.
You can create your own bedtime routine chart using stickers, or use flashcards (here are some free ones for you to print). I also have some other ideas in my bedtime routine blog. If you can keep it fun and rewarding then your child keeps their interest and it can even help them to find pride in the bedtime routine.
Environmental Toddler Sleep Tools:
One part in ensuring that our children get the rest that they need is ensuring that they have a sleep conducive environment. Their rooms should be dark, cool and quiet. Think: soothing! Here are some tools that help to create a sleep conducive environment:
Black-out Curtains / Blinds
When our bodies go into dark spaces, our natural sleep hormone, melatonin begins to be produced. By creating a dark space for both day and night sleep you are encouraging melatonin production. Bring on sleep!
Here are a few ideas to help darken your child's bedroom:
A White Noise Machine
When our kids go to bed, often we are still awake. White noise is a great tool to use to block out the noises of the house, the toddler clock above (Hatch Rest Plus doubles as a toddler clock and white noise machine). Place their white noise machine by their door, ensure that it runs continuously and go about your evening. You can even enjoy binge watching your favorite show with your significant other.
Healthy sleep is important at any age, but can become challenging in the toddler years, even if you have already established great sleeping habits with your child. They are learning so much at this stage developmentally, including boundaries and how far they can push. These toddler sleep tools are a great jumping off point for getting back on track.
I hope these tools help you with your toddler sleep struggles, if you do continue to struggle, Smart Night Sleep is here to help!
Certified Sleep Consultant
Smart Night Sleep
*based in Orlando, FL, but work remotely with families