When your little one reaches the age of 2 years, they start to explore the world more actively, so their regular day is full of discoveries and miracles.
And all these things can affect their sleep quality.
In fact, there are several things unique for toddlers’ sleep that you, as a parent, should be aware of. Here they are.
#1 Sleep Patterns of Your Kid Experience a Lot of Change
According to data from the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers need about 11-14 hours of sleep per day (in some cases, though, up to 16 hours is okay).
The daytime naps might change significantly too:
- 2-3 napping episodes merge into one;
- its duration is usually 2-3 hours and it may gradually reduce;
- children might be done with day naps completely by 4-5 years old.
Other factors that affect the toddler’s sleep patterns are usually tied to the developmental milestones, such as:
- motor skill development;
- potty training;
- transition to a big kid’s bed;
- a new sibling
These factors cause a lot of emotions and anxieties in a little one’s brain. And since kids still don’t have much control over their emotions, you will most likely encounter another period of sleep regression.
What Is Sleep Regression?
This is an absolutely normal period during the development of your kid, and you most likely have already encountered it before, when you have weaned them from breastfeeding.
However, sleep regression can easily spoil even the perfect bedtime schedule.
The main signs of sleep regression are the following:
- sensitive and fragmented sleep;
- trouble falling asleep;
- early wakeups and periods of wakefulness at night.
Usually, this state goes away by itself, but you will need to arm yourself with patience and watch if your kid is sticking to their usual schedule. Familiar rituals are calming and will help your toddler fall asleep easier.
#2 Separation Anxiety Might Strike Again
Separation anxiety is one of the common issues a toddler — and their parents — might face.
Episodes of this condition can occur several times in a kid’s life, starting from 8 months of age. But the peak of separation anxiety appears at about 18-24 months due to the following reasons:
- Active learning and exploration. The toddler begins to move more, and the discovery of a new world is always fraught with excitement, which can bring some agitation.
- Staying in daycare. The unfamiliar place with a lot of strangers can contribute to anxiety outbursts.
- Daytime sleep. Surprisingly, yes, in some cases, the little one may perceive daytime sleep as a time of separation from the mother.
#3 Night Terrors and Bedtime Fears Are Common for Toddlers
Toddlers also actively develop their imagination.
This is a great advantage during the day, as all games become even more fascinating.
However, as night approaches, your kid might begin experience bedtime fears or encounter night terrors during sleep.
Although these conditions sound familiar, they’re not the same.
Bedtime fears usually occur before bedtime, in the waking state, and almost always represent an enacted imagination. The silhouettes of things in the room or the play of light and shadows turn into scary monsters and can cause the child to have persistent negative associations with the room where they sleep. Especially if he or she has a separate bedroom.
Night terrors are somewhat similar to sleep paralysis.
This means that the brain suddenly becomes over-agitated while being in a deep sleep phase. This state may cause a lot of panic, so your kid will begin to scream or cry because they’re scared but can’t move or run away.
You can know that your child experiences night terrors if they:
- stay immune to any external factors, so you fail to wake them;
- don’t remember the episode after waking up in the morning;
- remain in this condition for 10-30 minutes and fall asleep after that.
Night terrors most likely will occur if your kid is overtired, so try to dose his activity and do not allow active plays in the evening.
Edna Alfaro is a mother of three, and really knows how to make kids feel comfortable. She has a degree in Pedagogy and has worked as a kindergarten teacher for 7 years. Edna writes based on her experience and the stories of the other moms that she knows.
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