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How can I help my toddler or preschooler sleep well?

How can I help my toddler or preschooler sleep well?

A sleep pattern helps both kids and adults to lead healthier lives. So this practice should begin when your kids are toddlers. If your child is not falling asleep quickly or has difficulty sleeping peacefully, you do not have to worry. Try the tips detailed in this article to help your kids enjoy a sound sleep.

Understanding Toddlers and Preschoolers

Before we get to the different ways and practices to help your kid sleep, let’s first dig more about toddlers and preschoolers and their sleep routines.

While toddlers are kids within 1-2 years, preschoolers are from 3 to 5 years old. Their sleep practice slightly varies based on age, and you could create activities according to their age, individual taste, and likings. But here are a few details.

Toddlers need 12 to 14 hours of sleep every day. Whereas preschoolers need 11 to 13 hours. This period includes their small naps during the daytime and sound sleep at night. For preschoolers, it is advisable to let them take only one daytime nap. At both stages, sleep problems and resisting going to sleep are common.

Irrespective of their behaviours, here are a few tips to help your toddler or preschooler sleep well.

Set up sleep and wake-up times

It is best to devise a routine timing to go to bed and wake up in the morning. This does not mean that you should have a specific time. Instead, you could have a 1-2 hour window at night and morning. This pattern will help in maintaining our child’s body clock pattern.

A bedtime routine

You could build a healthy bedtime routine for your kid. Irrespective of the age, a healthy bedtime routine could do wonders for their sleep pattern. The practice could involve:

  • Listening to a story.
  • Take a bath.
  • Reading something.
  • Playing with siblings.
  • Telling you about their day.
  • Listening to music.
  • Any other routine you prefer

This routine will encourage them to sleep well.


The main reason you follow a bedtime routine is for your kid to relax and fall asleep. So things you do before they go to bed should help them feel at ease. For example, you could try breathing exercises or reading a book, and they will easily fall asleep. This period is commonly known as the wind-down period, and doing activities that makes them feel relaxed will help them fall asleep quicker and sleep better.

Reduce napping period

Letting your child nap during the day is good until they are 4 or 5 years old. But after that, it is best to cut down their napping hours. It is because naps during the daytime make it difficult for them to fall asleep at night easily. This, in turn, could affect their sleep cycle. So it is better to keep their nap times under 20 minutes and not in the late afternoon.

Ambience for a sound sleep

Creating an ambience for the kid to fall asleep does not necessarily mean that you are giving them a sophisticated lifestyle. Keeping the child’s bedroom free of televisions, computers, phones, or other gadgets will help immensely. You can also keep the light dim and ensure there isn’t much external noise that might affect the kid.

Safe sleep

Your child needs to feel safe and comfortable to sleep peacefully. In the don’ts list to make your child feel safe, you should stop watching scary shows, avoid games, and could avoid any fights at home. As for the do’s, you can keep a night light if they find the darkness scary, encourage them to fall asleep, reward them whenever they are brave, and sleep well.

Limit foods

It is best to limit the consumption of foods and drinks before bedtime. You should especially avoid beverages that contain caffeine. Instead, you can serve them light food.

No screen time before bedtime

In the digital world, phones and tabs have become prevalent in families, and kids are quite used to them. So, we have to set in some necessary rules. First, you should turn off the screens, be it television or phone, at least 2 hours before bedtime.

PS: It is even better if you could avoid screens and related items in their bedroom

Don’t ask them to sleep NOW

When you tell kids to sleep immediately or give commands like go to bed now, it creates a sense of unnecessary stress and nervousness. Instead, try to follow a bedtime routine that relaxes the child, as mentioned above. Such practices will eventually lead them to sleep; they might otherwise find it difficult to shut their brains off.

Signs that you should seek a doctor’s help

It is very natural for toddlers and preschoolers to have different sleeping patterns. If your child finds it difficult to fall asleep, you can try the methods mentioned above. If the child struggles to sleep only for a few days, helping them relax and making them feel comfortable should help them sleep.

However, you cannot always have a perfect plan for everything. In case you find any issues with the kid, like a persistent nightmare, snoring, or breathing through the mouth, you should know better than ignoring it. If specific issues persist for longer, it is best to consult a doctor.

Such signs include:

  • The child suddenly stops breathing while sleeping
  • The child has trouble breathing or makes noise while breathing in their sleep
  • The child has significant nighttime fears
  • The child awakes at unusual times or shows unusual nighttime behaviours
  • The child, after the age of 5, sleeps a lot during the day
  • The child’s sleep problem is affecting their behaviour during the day

It is essential to understand that when you help your toddler or preschooler practice a sleep routine, they could develop good sleeping behaviour over time. By encouraging them to do things they like, helping them relax, rewarding them positively, and creating a sleep association with the bed, you can quickly help your kid sleep well.

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