How to Help Your Toddler Develop Good Sleeping Habits

Are you struggling to help your toddler establish healthy sleeping habits? You are not alone! Good sleeping habits are essential for development and wellbeing in toddlers. Fortunately, this guide will show you easy steps to help your little one get the restful sleep they need.

Let’s dive in and discover how to help your toddler develop good sleeping habits.

Good sleeping habits are important for toddlers so they can get the rest they need to grow healthily and learn effectively. As a parent, you also want to ensure your toddler gets enough restful sleep every night. But how do you do this when most toddlers don’t want to sleep?

In this guide, we walk you through the whole process of helping your toddler establish good sleeping habits. We’ll cover topics such as creating a consistent bedtime routine, nighttime cues, and what to do if your toddler wakes up during the night. We hope that by following the advice in this guide, you’ll be able to raise a healthy and well-rested child.

Importance of good sleeping habits in toddlers

Good sleeping habits are incredibly important for a young child’s development, emotional well-being, physical health, and cognitive performance. Sleep helps children learn new information and remember it better, encourages healthy growth and improves moods. It also helps children regulate their emotions and cope with stress. Not getting enough sleep in early childhood can lead to learning difficulties, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and impulsiveness, weight gain or loss, poor nutrition, depression or anxiety.

It is therefore important to discuss the importance of good sleeping habits in toddlers with parents so they can cultivate an environment that allows their children to get the right amount of sleep each night. By inculcating good sleeping habits at an early age parents can ensure that their toddlers have a healthy start in life.

Common sleep issues in toddlers

Toddlers can experience a variety of sleep issues, most of which may be due to the fact that their biological clocks are still developing. Some common sleep issues in toddlers include:

  1. Bedtime resistance: Toddlers often resist going to bed due to fears, excitement or attention-seeking behaviors. It’s also common for toddlers to try and delay bedtime by asking for water or one more story.
  2. Night wakings: Young children often wake during the night if they’re overtired, feeling unwell, or just need reassurance that all is safe and secure in the house.
  3. Early morning wakings: An overstimulated child may wake up before the sun rises, making it difficult for parents to get enough rest and not have enough hours in their day for necessary activities like work and play time with their children.
  4. Nightmares and night terrors: Toddlers often have nightmares or night terrors between 12-18 months old as they begin experimenting with their imaginations more than ever before. These occurrences usually resolve on their own with no intervention needed from parents or caregivers.
  5. Short naps: Toddlers will typically grow out of taking four naps during the course of a day by 18 months old but require at least two shorter 45 minute naps a day until around age three.

Understanding your toddler’s sleep needs

To help your toddler develop consistent, healthy sleep habits, it is important to first understand their individual sleep needs. Each child is different and may have different amounts of sleep that they need for optimal health and development.

Generally speaking, toddlers tend to require 11-14 hours of total sleep per day, broken up into 10-12 hours at night and 1-2 hours during the day in the form of naps. Most toddlers also need a regular bedtime routine as well as a quiet, dark sleeping environment.

Other factors to consider when helping your toddler establish healthy sleeping habits include disruptions due to illness or environmental changes like travel or time zone shifts and when introducing new foods and drinks to their diet.

Furthermore, be sure to check in with your pediatrician if you are in any way concerned about your child’s sleeping patterns or if they begin experiencing symptoms of any sleep disruption such as excessive fatigue during the day or difficulty falling asleep at bedtime.

Recommended sleep hours for toddlers

It is important to understand how much sleep your toddler needs. You should tailor the number of hours your child sleeps and the times when they go to bed accordingly. The recommended amount of sleep for a toddler is 12-14 hours per day, including naps. Toddlers require more sleep than adults because they are in a critical phase of growth and development. Consequently, it is important that we help our little ones establish healthy sleeping habits right from the start. To do this, you should ensure that your toddler’s total amount of daily sleep corresponds with the average age-specific guidelines outlined below:

1 – 2 year olds: 11 – 14 hours (including daytime naps)

2 – 3 year olds: 10 – 13 hours (including daytime naps)

3 – 4 year olds: 10 -12 hours (including daytime naps)

4 – 5 year olds: 10 – 12 .5 hours (including daytime naps)

5 – 6 year olds: 9. 5- 11.5 hours (including daytime naps).

Signs of sleep deprivation in toddlers

Sleep deprivation can lead to behavior and physical problems. The signs of sleep deprivation in toddlers vary, but common signs are irritability, short attention span, poor developmental and academic skills and fatigue throughout the day. Some children may show more extreme behavior including throwing temper tantrums and having outbursts. Additionally, toddlers who are sleep-deprived often experience decreased appetite and may be prone to catching colds more often.

Therefore it is important to pay close attention to your toddler’s sleeping habits from an early age in order to monitor any signs of sleep deprivation. Parents should make all attempts necessary to ensure that their toddler is receiving enough restful sleep at night in order for them to develop healthy sleeping habits as they grow into young children.

Establishing a bedtime routine

Establishing a regular and predictable bedtime routine is an important step in helping your toddler learn to get the restful sleep they need. A good routine should be calming and consistent, beginning 15-30 minutes before sleep time, and should be tailored to meet the individual needs of your toddler. Toddlers might find security in hearing stories or being sung to; other children may prefer a quiet, subdued tone from their parents. Whatever activities you participate in together during the routine, make sure they are the same each night – this will give your child something to look forward to, and help them understand that it’s time for bed.

It can also be helpful to incorporate certain elements into the process that makes it easier for toddlers to transition from wakefulness into sleep. Providing children with a teddy bear or another stuffed animal as part of their bedtime ritual can help them relax, feel secure, and develop a healthy attachment that promotes consistent sleeping habits over time. A warm bath or soothing massage provides sensory-soothing effects and serves as an emotional bond between parent and child before laydown time comes. Bright lighting may need to be dimmed in order for children calm down and adjust better for sleep; this can be done by transitioning from outdoor activities indoors or from living spaces closer into bedtime areas. Lastly, before settling down for actual sleep coaching parenting 101 suggests engaging children in comfort talks where parents express their love/approval/support before helping them drift off peacefully into dreamland.

Creating a consistent sleep schedule

One of the most important ways to help your toddler develop good sleeping habits is to create a simple, consistent sleep schedule. Having a structured routine gives your toddler a sense of stability and security that will make it easier to go to bed each night.

When creating their schedule, aim for 8-10 hours of sleep at night and 1-2 hours of day time naps during the day. A consistent bed time is also key; pick an appropriate time (usually around 7:00/8:00 pm) and stick with it every night. Also, try not to vary your child’s nap times too much during weekends and holidays as this can disrupt their natural internal clock.

Make sure you include different parts in your daily routine; including dinner, brushing teeth, PJs on and a calm activity prior to bedtime such as reading a book or talking about the day they had. Avoid any prolonged physical activities or stimulating activities before going to bed as these could prevent them from settling down quickly or cause difficulty falling asleep— set up the environment for an easier transition into sleep instead. Try playing some soft music or using dim lighting in their bedroom to help them relax before going off to dreamland!Instilling Healthy Sleep Habits in Preschoolers

Calming activities before bed

The hour before bed should be a time for calming activities. To get the most out of this time, it’s best to stick to routines that help ease your toddler into a sleepier-state – such as cozy stories in their bedroom, warm baths and routines filled with plenty of cuddles.

Playing music or reading books can help foster an overall feeling of relaxation that toddlers can carry into bedtime once these activities are finished. Assigned soothing music just before bed (and during nap times) may also calm them enough for sleep. Some parents find that using aromatherapy, such as diffusing essential oils throughout their home, helps generate a sense of calmness for the entire family throughout the day and especially at night.

If screens on smartphones and tablets are part of your evening routine, try programs specifically designed to encourage relaxation – like guided meditations narrated in soothing voices, meditation apps with beautiful visuals or nature sounds which are designed to aid with stress relief and relaxation before bed. Anyone can benefit from these activities!

Creating a comfortable sleep environment

Creating a comfortable sleep environment can be the key to helping your toddler form healthy sleep habits. Encourage your toddler to relax and enjoy their bedtime routine by having a calm, quiet space in which they can snooze.

Here are a few tips on how to create an atmosphere that encourages restful sleep:

  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature. Toddlers may overheat or become too cold if their bedroom is not the right temperature. Aim for cool and dark for maximum comfort.
  • Reduce outside noises as much as possible so your child can drift off without distractions. Make sure windows are closed, blinds drawn and other sound emitters like TVs and devices turned off in order to minimize sounds that disrupt sleep.
  • Have familiar objects nearby such as a favorite toy, blanket or stuffed animal. This will help them become more settled and reduce anxiety associated with new environments, unfamiliar noises or separation anxiety during bedtime.
  • Instill healthy sleeping habits by creating consistent rules around bedtimes and wake up times that provide structure for your family’s routine each day. Habits like these will help promote better quality of sleep overall so don’t be afraid to enforce strict regulations when necessary!

Temperature and humidity control

Temperature and humidity play an important role in developing good sleep habits in toddlers. A cool and comfortable sleeping environment can help encourage your child to getting quality sleep. The ideal temperature for a toddler’s bedroom should be between 16-20 degrees Celsius (60-68 degrees Fahrenheit).

Additionally, it’s important to keep the humidity levels in a room at approximately 65% or lower. Too much humidity can irritate the toddler’s skin and make him/her uncomfortable. Thus, you should use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the air, especially during humid summer months.

Additionally, you may also opt for adjustable thermostats which allow you to easily adjust temperature levels according to your own preferences and conditions in a particular room.

Encouraging good sleep habits during the day

Many parents feel that encouraging good sleep habits during the day is even more important for young children than nighttime routines. During the day, you can help your toddler learn his or her biological sleep rhythms by limiting naps and enforcing good sleep habits at home and on the go.

First, be sure to create a consistent schedule. The National Sleep Foundation recommends napping no later than three hours after waking from a period of nighttime rest. Toddlers should not nap for longer than three hours in a single day; instead, you can encourage shorter 30-minute naps if needed. If your toddler has been awake for more than four or five hours without sleeping, help your child stay calm and quiet until bedtime or nap time.

Second, create healthy sleep environments while on the go by being aware of environmental factors that impact your child’s ability to nap or rest quietly. Find suitable areas in parks, libraries and other public spots where they will be comfortable and protected from noise and stimulation while resting or sleeping when needed during the day. If you are traveling with your toddler in the car, airplane or bus, ensure he or she is comfortable with blankets, pillows and eye masks to block out external stimuli and stay asleep when possible.

Finally, find a healthy balance between providing comfort items such as security objects at home versus embracing new routines away from home. An infant/child therapist such as a pediatric occupational therapist can help provide strategies to keep comfort items safe but avoid them becoming too overused and damaging their purpose – namely helping maintain routine and good sleep habits wherever you may be!

Physical activity and outdoor play

Physical activity and outdoor play are an important part of developing healthy sleeping habits for your toddler. Regular daily physical activities such as walking, running, and playing can help tire out your child and provide a way to get much-needed exercise. Allowing your toddler the opportunity to play outdoors on a regular basis can give them important sunlight exposure that may help regulate their body clock and create healthy sleep patterns. A regular exercise routine is a great starting point to foster good sleep habits in your toddler.

In finding activities that interest your child, consider their age-appropriate needs — they may enjoy dancing to music, playing tag or hopscotch with other children or playing with balls or other toys outside or inside the home. Many parents find that creative activities such as coloring books or clay modeling can be great outlets for providing toddler energy exertion and physical activity before naptime or bedtime. Be sure that the activities you have chosen are age-appropriate for safety reasons — it goes without saying that you will want to keep an eye on any baby within arm’s reach!

Healthy eating habits and meal times

It’s important to encourage healthy eating habits early on and establish good mealtime routines. Ensure that your toddler eats a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods. Make sure meals and snacks are served at regular times throughout the day in order to maintain structure. Try to limit sugary and fatty snacks as they are known to disrupt the sleeping schedule.

Encourage your child to drink plenty of water, particularly after physical activity, in order to keep them hydrated. Providing wholesome meals will not only help your child acquire a taste for more nutritious options as they grow older but also promote better growth and healthier body weight. Additionally, avoiding excess sugar before bedtime can help reduce hyperactivity during the evening hours which could lead them away from snoozing off quicker.

Then help you toddler make better decisions about what they eat by involving them in the cooking process so that they understand where their food comes from and develop an appreciation for home cooked meals.8 Simple Tips to Help Kids Get a Good Night's Sleep | ParentMap


Ultimately, it is essential to remember that all children are different and require individualized help based on their particular situation. This includes patterns and behaviors that may have been learned as a baby, such as thumb sucking. Applying strategies that gently nudge your child towards healthy sleeping habits will help them achieve better sleep and overall improved wellbeing.

Ensuring your toddler has the right environment to encourage restful sleep is also important. A quiet and dark room free from electronic screens can be beneficial in helping your little one drift off faster and enjoy more restful sleep. Additionally, establishing consistent bedtimes can make it easier for you and your toddler to live life seamlessly—make sure your tot is in bed at the same time each night!

Finally, don’t forget that acquiring good sleeping habits takes time, patience and consistency on our part. It will happen eventually but this important life skill may take longer for some children than others—so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight! After all, with enough love, support and positive reinforcement, you can rest assured your little one will soon be off to the land of nod before you know it!


How can I improve my toddler’s sleep habits?

You can improve your toddler’s sleep habits by establishing a consistent bedtime routine, creating a calm and comfortable sleep environment, avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime, and limiting screen time.

How do I fix my toddler’s sleep problems?

To fix your toddler’s sleep problems, you can identify the root cause of the issue, establish a consistent bedtime routine, adjust their sleep environment if needed, and be patient and consistent with any changes you make.

What age does toddler sleep improve?

Toddler sleep can improve as they grow and develop. Many toddlers start to sleep better and through the night around 18-24 months of age.

Why is my toddler sleeping so poorly?

There can be many reasons why a toddler may be sleeping poorly, such as teething, illness, changes in routine, or anxiety. It’s important to identify the cause and address it accordingly.

How do I fix my baby’s bad sleep habits?

To fix a baby’s bad sleep habits, you can establish a consistent bedtime routine, create a calm and comfortable sleep environment, avoid overstimulation before bedtime, and gradually adjust their sleep schedule if needed.

Do smarter toddlers sleep less?

There is no evidence to suggest that smarter toddlers sleep less. All toddlers need adequate sleep to support their physical, cognitive, and emotional development.

Is there a natural sleep aid for toddlers?

There are natural sleep aids for toddlers such as chamomile tea, lavender oil, or a warm bath before bedtime. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before using any natural remedies for sleep.

What are some common sleep problems that toddlers experience?

Common sleep problems that toddlers experience include night waking, trouble falling asleep, bedtime resistance, nightmares, and sleepwalking.

What are the signs of sleep disorder in child?

Signs of a sleep disorder in a child may include loud snoring, gasping or choking during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty falling or staying asleep, and behavior or mood problems.

Why does my toddler wake up multiple times a night crying?

Toddlers may wake up multiple times a night crying due to a variety of reasons, such as teething, nightmares, hunger, illness, or separation anxiety. It’s important to identify the cause and address it accordingly to improve their sleep.

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