By the time your baby reaches the toddler stage (12 to 24 months), he should be able to sleep through the night. He may occasionally wake up and need to be comforted 1-2 times per night. As a matter of fact, toddlers wake up on average 2-6 times per night, as do adults. Most of the time, they are able to quickly soothe themselves back to sleep. When they do have trouble getting back to sleep, or if you’re having trouble getting them to sleep in the first place, here are some things you can try:
- A glass of warm milk. Warm milk has Tryptophan, the same substance that causes us to get sleepy after a big Thanksgiving turkey dinner. If your child waked in the middle of the night, you could even use a glass of warm milk as part of the go back to sleep routine.
- Comfort objects. If your toddler doesn’t already have a favorite blanket or teddy bear to cuddle with, now might be the time to suggest one. Give your child one of her favorite stuffed animals. If it doesn’t already have a name, give it one. Your child will soon take comfort in having a familiar object to go back to sleep with.
- Night Light. If you don’t already use a night light, try using one. Some toddlers go back to sleep easier if they can see their surroundings a bit. On the other hand, each child is different, and some toddlers go to sleep better when it is darker. So, if you were already using a nightlight, try turning it off.
- Back Rubs. Experts disagree concerning whether you should be doing a lot of soothing for your toddler, or helping him to self soothe. You’ll have to decide for yourself, but if you do decide to actively help him go back to sleep, a back rub is a sure fire winner with some kids.
- Sing or speak soothingly to her. Pick a favorite soothing song and sing to her. You don’t need to be American Idol material. She will recognize your voice, and it will comfort her. Alternately, you could recite a short poem, saying, or just about anything else or simply talk to her in a soft, soothing tone.
- Thumb sucking. This is another one that experts disagree on, but it likely does no harm before 2 years of age. After 2 years, it should be discouraged as it could cause potential dental problems. Alternately, a pacifier may be used. However, as your toddler is babbling and learning to talk, it is best to limit pacifier use during the day time for toddlers.