Babies’ sleep is so unpredictable. The advice not to expect much sleep in the first six years of your baby’s life when you’re a new parent may actually be accurate. After some time you’d think you have it down pat, only to realize that his sleeping pattern suddenly changed again altogether.
“Some disruptions, such as protesting a nap or crying when you leave the room, are related to development, while others may be the result of a change in routine,” Nanci Yuan, M.D., medical director for the Sleep Center at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in California, told Parents.
Are you ready to deal with your toddler’s sleeping snafus?
Your child refuses to take afternoon naps
You’ve possibly seen your child have a steadier sleep pattern, but at past age 1, he’s going to refuse to take naps during the daytime. “Toddlers can stay awake for longer periods during the day than babies,” says Judith Owens, M.D., director of sleep medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. Not wanting to nap may mean he is conditioned for less sleep, although this may still vary per day.
The fix: The key to getting more consistent sleep is in also being consistent with your child’s pre-sleep routine: his bath, his sleep, etc. Says Owens, “The timing and order of meals and activities help anchor your child’s circadian clock.” You can also try moving his naptime to make it advantageous to you.
Separation anxiety peaks between 10 and 18 months, so don’t be surprised if your child suddenly becomes difficult to leave in his crib. Or, it could also be his young imagination that is making him think something scary will happen when you leave.
The fix: Sit near the crib, just within his sight, but don’t interact so he would sleep. The next night, sit farther away, and so on on the following nights. Hopefully, he will eventually gain the confidence to sleep without you in the room
Your child wakes up at night
It’s possible for a toddler to wake up in the middle of the night if he’s in that age when he’s learning a new skill or milestone. “He may be so focused on practicing that he can’t sleep,” says Nelly Maseda, M.D., a pediatrician at the Montefiore Medical Group - Grand Concourse, Brox, New York.
The fix: Lull him back to sleep and give him comfort, but make it clear he must go back to sleep.
His sleep schedule is disrupted by vacation
Traveling with a toddler is difficult enough as it is. But with traveling comes interrupted naptimes and even late hours of sleep, that may result in your toddler getting cranky.
The fix: Stick to his sleep schedule as much as possible, even if you’re traveling. Bringing along your child’s lovey or favorite books may help add normalcy to his routine.