Sleep is crucial to early childhood development. Not only does it give kiddos the chance to shut their eyes and expand their creativity through dreaming, but sleep is necessary for physical and mental development. We spoke with Dr. Russell Horton, DO at Banner Health Center Queen Creek to learn the signs to look for when deciding if your toddler isn’t sleeping enough and discover helpful tips that will make bedtime a breeze.
Signs your toddler isn’t sleeping enough
More than likely, you’re not watching your toddler the entire time they are sleeping. Sometimes, toddlers can wake up in the middle of the night and entertain themselves for hours. Know the signs for sleep deprivation in toddlers:
- They are napping in short car rides
- They are cranky and irritable in the late afternoon
- It is hard to get your child out of bed in the morning
- They are inattentive, impatient or aggressive
- They have trouble focusing
“10-12 hours of sleep is the goal for toddlers,” Dr. Horton says, “Some toddlers may sleep longer. You can include some of this time in nap time. But, sometimes taking too many naps can interrupt your child’s bedtime.”
How to make sure your child gets more sleep
There are many steps you can take to ensure your little one is getting enough rest. Use these tips to incorporate good sleep habits:
- Enforce a nap schedule and stick to it
- Avoid screen time 30 minutes before bed
- Create a consistent, regular bedtime routine
- Keep bedrooms quiet, dark and at a comfortable temperature
- Avoid large meals and sugar right before bedtime
- Make sure your kids are active during the day
Sleep is vital for young, growing brains. “A lot of development, growth and connections are made during sleep. If a toddler is waking up frequently for naps, snacks, water or to go to parent’s bed, it’s disrupting the regenerative longer sleep stretches. These stretches are very important to ensure growing brains receive all the rest they can get.” says Dr. Horton.
The most important thing you can do is be a great role model. When you show your kids you have healthy sleeping habits, they’ll want to do the same. If your child is still having a hard time trying to fall asleep or staying asleep after incorporating the tips above, meet with your Banner pediatrician to see if it is a sign of a larger issue and to discuss treatment options.