What should I know about toddler sleep?
1. It is normal for toddlers (and everyone else!) to wake several times during the night.
2. Most toddlers (over 80 %) stop taking naps between the ages of 3 and 4 years, but some will still need a nap at age 5 years and a few may even need a nap at age 6 years. Try instituting quiet time when nap time used to occur to help your toddler with this transition.
3. Once your toddler is no longer napping, you may need to move her bedtime earlier.
4. Nighttime fears are common, with the dark being the #1 fear. Reassure your child that they are safe while at the same time setting limits that help to foster independent sleep.
5. Keep all screens (TV, tablet, smartphone, etc.) out of your toddler’s bedroom. Although screens can help to manage a toddler’s behavior (for example, keep her in her bed), they do not tend to help toddlers fall asleep and often end up delaying sleep onset, or making it harder for them to fall asleep.
6. Know the difference between nightmares and sleep terrors. Nightmares tend to happen later in the night, your child will seek comfort and know who you are, and she may remember the nightmare in the morning. Sleep terrors often occur after only a few hours of sleep, usually do not need parental intervention, and your child will not remember the event in the morning.
7. There are several events and situations that can disrupt toddler sleep: illness, holidays, travel, toilet training, and teething are a few. If your toddler is a good sleeper before these events occur, don’t worry — it is likely that once the events are completed, they will resume good sleep if you return to their normal sleep routine as soon as possible without making significant changes.
About Dr. Kevin Smith