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Why is my toddler waking in the night? - Reasons why your toddler may be waking

I understand firsthand just how important sleep is for both children and parents. Sleep deprivation can have serious effects on the whole family.

Studies have shown that sleep deprived households experience heightened emotion, can suffer from depression or anxiety, and can even develop physical health issues. This is why sleep is so important.

Toddler's can wake at night for a number of reasons and it can be difficult to pinpoint why. Try and ask yourself, are their wakes behavioural wakes or do they wake for a reason i.e needing the toilet or comfort? If it's the latter, look at ways to help your little one use the toilet without waking you i.e a night light in the toilet or a potty in their room. If you decide to encourage toilet use at night, please make sure it is safe & age appropriate to do so.

If your little one is looking for comfort, try and think of ways of giving them comfort without disturbing you i.e a teddy that smells of mummy or if they simply want a cuddle, give them that comfort and encourage them back to bed.

A behavioural wake is when they have just got into a bad habit and find it hard to settle back to sleep. These wakes can sometimes be managed by simply sticking to a routine that works for you both. They can be tricky too so please don't put pressure on yourself.

Firstly, when dealing with your toddlers sleep it’s good to check that the below list before looking deeper as to why they are waking -

  1. No screen time before bed. Ideally stop screen time 1-2 hours prior to bedtime.

  2. It’s good to make sure your little one gets lots of fresh air, natural light and exercise to help their body clock, especially during clock changes.

  3. Try to ensure toddler’s room is decluttered, not too much noise (unless using white noise) and no bright lights. If using night lights, try to opt for an amber or red light. These colours are less disruptive to sleep.

  4. Make the room temperature between 16 ̊C to 20 ̊C, with light bedding or a lightweight baby sleeping bag.

  5. Maintain a regular routine during the day.

  6. A good well nourished diet. Avoid heavy meals before bed.

  7. Daytime Naps - At this age toddlers ideally need 1 nap per day (see Nap Guide for nap transitions).

  8. Reduce stress at bedtime. Create a calm environment with quiet and relaxed activities like colouring or a puzzle.

  9. Tackle any bedtime fears. Do not dismiss any ‘monsters’, help deal with them.

  10. Evening routine. This can be very simple. Make bath time relaxing, a nice massage after bath can be lovely too. Set an age appropriate bedtime.

Secondly, are they going through a nap transition. Look out for these signs Nap Transitions.

Lastly, are they dealing with any separation anxiety? Look out for these signs Separation Anxiety.

Once you've done those checks and you still feel there is an issue, fill out my Free Sleep Assessment Form and lets see if we can get to the root issue together.

Find out more about Sleep by Alexandra Sleep by Alexandra helps your family sleep better so you can enjoy more time together. Alexandra Collingbourne is a sleep consultant specialising in safe, holistic methods of getting your baby, toddler or young child to sleep in a way that empowers parents to live better, happier and with more energy. Specialist postnatal depression & anxiety support is also available for those who need it.

● View baby and toddler sleep services from Sleep by Alexandra here

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