Common Toddler Sleep Problems

baby nighttime waking

Just when you think you’ve got bedtime under control, your little one hits a milestone or some other developmental stages and all bets are off. The toddler years are full of hiccups when it comes to sleep, so I’m going to cover some of the most common toddler sleep problems today.

Early mornings

You probably thought I was going to talk about night wakings, right? You’ve seemingly conquered the nights, but then your little one starts waking early. Really early. If your toddler is getting up before the sun rises, ready to take on the day, you’re not alone.

Begin by looking at your baby’s nap schedule. It could be that your little one is getting too much sleep during the day—causing them to wake early in the morning—and they’re ready to drop a nap or have their daytime schedule tweaked.

Depending on your toddler’s age, you can use one of my favorite sleep items—the Ok to Wake! Alarm Clock and Night Light. Perfect for little ones without number knowledge, you set the clock for an acceptable wake time, and once the time comes, the clock glows green. Whatever you do, set consequences and be consistent with enforcing them—they’ll get the hang of it.

Night waking

While many of my Philadelphia area clients come to me because of infant sleep problems, night wakings can be especially shocking with toddlers. Especially when they’re historically good sleepers. Don’t panic! 

If your toddler is between 18-24 months old, night wakings could be a sign of a sleep regression, which is normal at this age. These regressions typically coincide with developmental milestones, such as language explosions and increased motor skills. Whatever the cause, the waking should cease in a week or two, and your baby should slip back into their usual routine.

Bedtime battles

One of the most common toddler sleep problems is the up-and-down routine at bedtime. First, you’ll encounter a fight to get your toddler settled in bed. Then they’ll ask for another sip of water, another book, another kiss, another hug—you get the picture. Your toddler’s increasing independence means they’re going to be testing boundaries, and bedtime is one of them.

After the reluctance to go to sleep, you may have a toddler who is like a ninja, slipping from their crib or bed, and silently appearing at your side. Unfortunately, once they discover how to leave their room, they may continue doing it over and over. Again, you need to be consistent with how you treat this. Try to interact as little as possible, as you turn your little one around and march them back to their room. Continue doing it. Your toddler will learn that you’re not going to play or snuggle with them when it’s bedtime and eventually will remain in their bed.

Baby sleep consultants know that toddler sleep problems can often be the most trying, especially with a physically active toddler. If you find you’re not having any luck getting your little one to remain in bed, I’m happy to help—even if you’re simply looking for a plan and straightforward instructions to get your toddler sleeping again. 

This Is the Best Age to Transition from Co-Sleeping

co-sleeping-parent

If you’re stumbling upon this blog from an internet search, you’re likely a co-sleeping parent. And odds are that you’ve encountered an obstacle with co-sleeping. If this is the case, then I’ll tell you now that there is no “best age” to transition from co-sleeping. Instead, the timing is more about when it’s no longer working for your family.

Every family is different

As a certified pediatric sleep consultant, my job is to help those families who reach out to me. So, if co-sleeping works for you, you more than likely don’t need my services. However, if it’s not working, I can help.

Because every baby is different, there’s really no best age to transition from co-sleeping — it’s really more situational. While I am not an advocate for bed-sharing, I trust parents to make the decision that’s right for their family. However, the basics of the Sleep Sense program require that I follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendations regarding safe sleep practices. The AAP advises against sharing the same sleeping surface with babies and advocate for room-sharing as a safer alternative. (more…)

Toxic Stress and Infant Sleep Training

One-Year-Old-Baby-Girl-Boy

If the first thing that comes to mind when you think about infant sleep training is hours of endless, pitiful crying, then this is the blog for you. It may help to know that you’re not alone in thinking that sleep training is stressful for your baby. Still, it’s my goal to help you realize that the splashy headlines about sleep training do not apply to your situation. We’re talking about toxic stress and infant sleep training today. (more…)

How To Sleep Train A Baby: Potty Training Edition

toddler-potty-training

Ah, yes. You’ve come to the point where your little one is sleeping well, but it’s time to potty train at night. No more diapers, no more training pants, we’re talking about how to sleep train a baby to get through the nighttime potty training phase. Don’t panic, we’ll get through this together.

Day training

If you’re just at the beginning of the potty training journey, look away, focus on the days, and come back and read this in six months or so. Both you and your little one have enough to handle with the daytime milestone, so you want your baby to become a daytime potty pro before even thinking about tackling nights. For now, nights are business as usual. Carry on. (more…)

Sleep Coach for Baby: Gift of Sleep on Good Day Philadelphia

baby boy

The news of a Fox 29 producer having a baby provided the perfect segway for your own sleep coach for baby to be featured in a sleep segment! I was honored to be invited to Good Day Philadelphia to discuss how to sleep train a baby, but don’t be mislead by the segment’s title — “Techniques for Establishing a Sleep Routine with a Newborn.”

Newborns not doing anything wrong

As I shared with Fox 29’s Mike Jerrick and Alex Holley, in response to Mike’s question, “What’s the number one thing we do wrong when it comes to getting kids to sleep,” newborns aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong.

With a newborn, there’s really nothing wrong. You just do what you need to do to get the baby to sleep. And as the baby grows older, they have the capability to go to sleep independently, usually by about four months. When this doesn’t happen, Philadelphia-area parents hire me to teach them how to sleep train a baby. (more…)

Infant Sleep Training in the Limelight: Gift of Sleep in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Adorable baby sleeping in blue bassinet with canopy at night. Little boy in pajamas taking a nap in dark room with crib lamp and toy bear. Bed time for kids. Bedroom and nursery interior.

Apart from the fact that many of my former clients call me the “Sleep Whisperer,” I don’t like to toot my own horn (but yes, I’m really good at showing you how to sleep train your baby). However, when a major publication contacts me for an interview, I get a little giddy! In case you missed it, I and a couple of other certified pediatric sleep consultants were interviewed for a Philadelphia Inquirer piece about infant sleep training and more.

(more…)

Infant Sleep Training: Is It Safe?

baby sleeping on crib

The first thing you’ll notice about the title of this post is that it specifically states infant sleep training. Now, if you were to ask me if newborn sleep training was safe, I’d respond by stating that newborns just need to be and grow, and not to worry about sleep training. However, the age in question pertains to infants, so the short answer is yes, infant sleep training is safe. Let’s take a look.

(more…)

Parents and Sleep: Why the Holidays Aren’t Always Full of R&R

If you watch Saturday Night Live (SNL), you likely remember the brilliant skit from last year, featuring Matt Damon and Cecily Strong, called, “Best Christmas Ever.” The SNL skit features two tired parents sitting down on Christmas night, enjoying a glass of wine and recapping the day’s events. From the early wakeup to hosting family, they recap the day fondly, despite it being hellish and stressful. The skit is funny because so many American parents can relate. Let’s take a look at why parents don’t sleep over the holidays and how to avoid slumber pitfalls.

Holiday cheer

It’s a well-known fact that those who do imbibe tend to ramp up their alcohol consumption between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Unsurprisingly, alcohol.org lists holidays that fall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve as three of the top ten times of drinking throughout the year, in terms of consumption.

While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a couple of drinks over the holidays, especially when celebratory get-togethers abound, the real sacrifice is a good night’s sleep. Why some adults may equate consuming alcoholic beverages with socializing and relaxation, the reality is that those beverages aren’t doing them any favors in the sleep department. Simply put, consuming alcohol before bedtime disrupts sleep.

You sleep how you eat

Cookies, pies, stuffing, mashed potatoes, fat-laden dips — from parties to heavy meals, many Americans indulge over the holidays. Just as alcohol consumption before bed disrupts sleep, eating heavy, rich foods — and eating late — can be a GI disaster when it comes time to sleep. In fact, many of the foods commonly served and consumed over the holidays — low in fiber and high in fat and sugar — are the perfect recipe for a disastrous night of sleep.

Think about the number of meals and parties you attend each holiday season — how many of them offer food? What you eat affects how you sleep, and food choices you made at an afternoon get together can come back to haunt you when it’s time to get some zzzzzs. If you want to feel rested over the holidays, try not to overindulge or stray from your normal diet too much.

And then there’s the stress of it all

Parents find themselves juggling to get everything done even outside of the holiday season, so when the holidays come around, stress mounts. Buying gifts, planning dinners, hosting friends and family — there aren’t enough hours to get it all done! And when time runs short for holiday preparations, parents often dip into the overnight hours. Protect your sleep, fellow parents — you need it!

With a reported third of Americans reporting stress levels on the rise over the holidays, it’s no wonder we don’t feel rested! So, instead of succumbing to the stresses of the season, arm yourself with tools to fight holiday stress. Practice the self-care we often speak of, but rarely follow through with — there’s no better time than now.

Instead of staying up all night to assemble that Barbie Dream House, remember that your own sweet dreams are what will help you make it through the craziness of the holidays. Wishing you a wonderfully restful holiday season, fellow parents — you’ve got this!

Don’t Begin Sleep Training for Little Ones on Holiday

If you need sleep training for your toddler or infant sleep training, the holidays may not be the best time to start. It’s hard enough keeping up with all the festivities let alone learning how to sleep train a baby. You and your precious one will both be tuckered out and you may be setting yourself up for failure. You’re better off waiting until the celebrations are over and then looking for a sleep coach for your baby.