Toddlers need adequate sleep to aid in their physical development. If your toddler has become fussy at bedtime or awakens frequently during the night, there are natural ways to promote healthy sleep. Establishing a routine may help improve sleep habits, and there are several other measures you can take as well. Here are six drug-free ways to promote better sleep for your two or three year old.
1. Ease Into Bedtime Gradually: It's important to curtail stimulating activities and playtime at least 30 minutes before bedtime, otherwise he or she may become restless and unable to "wind down" It's best to allow the child to wind down and transition into a calm state gradually. During this time, you might allow your child to color or listen to soothing music. A warm bath or a gentle massage is another way for your little one to become relaxed prior to bedtime.
2. Avoid Sweets At Least Several Hours Before Bedtime: Too much sugar may cause restlessness and interfere with his or her sleep. Toddlers shouldn't have caffeinated foods and beverages, either. If you allow your child to have cookies, cake or candy, it's best to be consumed earlier in the day.
3. Offer a Comforting Bedtime "Buddy": This may be in the form of a favorite blanket, a stuffed animal to cuddle with or a pacifier. Any object that makes your child feel secure may lull him or her into a peaceful sleep.
4. Use a Child-Friendly Night Light: If your child suffers from nightmares that disrupt his or her sleep, a nightlight might help.
5. Try Using a Nature Sounds Sleep Machine: A sound machine offers pre-set sounds of nature to fill the room and ease your child to sleep. Relaxing sounds may include gentle rain, lullaby, white noise, heartbeat and more. Choose a machine with a built-in timer that will automatically shut off after a set time.
6. Herbal Sleep Remedies: With the doctor's approval, you might want to try a natural herbal sleep aid for children. These remedies are often sold at natural health food stores. Discuss this with your child's pediatrician, especially if her or she has allergies, medical conditions or is taking other medications.
If none of the above measures work and your toddler is still having difficulty sleeping, speak with your child's pediatrician. The doctor will want to rule out health issues that may be interfering with your toddler's sleep.