My toddler won’t sleep at night

Supporting your child to develop healthy sleeping habits from a young age is never easy, and when your little ones can’t settle at night, it can cause a lot of frustration. We recently commissioned a survey with 1,000 UK parents and children to learn the top excuses British parents hear from their children when bedtime strikes in homes nationwide. In our latest blog, we share some of our findings from the survey and advice on helping your toddler sleep at night.

Why won’t my toddler sleep through the night?

There could be many reasons why your toddler can’t sleep at night. From our survey, we learned that nearly 1 in 3 (31%) parents whose child doesn’t settle at night say they leave their bedroom on average four or more times because they don’t want to go to bed yet. Below are some of the different reasons why this could be.

4 most common toddler sleeping issues

  • Your toddler is conscious of missing out
  • Nap times are too long or too short
  • Your toddler is scared of the dark or being alone
  • They maybe testing the limits

1. Your child doesn’t want to miss anything

It’s very common for babies, toddlers and young children to not want to be left alone to sleep at night in case they miss something. This is especially the case in children with brothers or sisters. If they notice their siblings going to bed later, they may feel left out which can cause them to be unsettled and restless.

2. Their naps are too long or too short

According to Happiest Baby, children aged 1-5 should get at least 12-14 hours of sleep a day, which includes naps and sleeping at night time. It’s important your child is getting enough sleep to maintain their energy levels throughout the day and teach them the difference between napping and sleeping. Below are some sleeping tips from the NHS to consider.

  • Keep the lights down low to create a darker environment
  • Create a routine for your child’s naps, just like their normal bedtime routine. Take a look at some nap routine tips by Pampers here.
  • Try to keep your volume at a quieter level when your child goes to bed
  • After your child has eaten and been changed, put them down for their nap or sleep
  • Avoid changing your child’s nappy unless they need it
  • Only play with your child when they’re awake and not sleepy

3. Scared of the dark

A fear of the dark is a lot more common than people realise, and it’s something that some adults are afraid of too. Fear of the dark tends to start around ages two to six. During these ages your child is developing, and their imagination runs wild, which can cause them difficulty when trying to sleep. They can imagine many scary things, such as those dreadful ‘monsters under the bed’. This fear can last several weeks to a few months but will often fade overtime.

4. Testing the limits

Often, children don’t want to be alone when sleep time comes around as they want to stay awake and active. The root of this comes from seeking interactions or fears from things they have seen on the news, TV shows or heard on the radio. As parents, it’s important to encourage sleeping alone, which will enable the development of self regulatory skills and night time independence.

How to get toddlers to sleep throughout the night

From our study, our findings revealed that for 15% of parents, it takes between 20 – 30 minutes after their child insists on staying up until they finally concede and accept its time for bed. This extends to 30 – 45 minutes for almost 1 in 10 (9%) parents. Here are some tips and guidance on getting your toddlers to sleep through the night.

Meaningful bedtime stories

Bedtime stories are a great way to engage your child’s imagination. It gives them something positive and creative to think about as they drift off to sleep. Reading a bedtime story to your children can help them develop their spoken and written English whilst enhancing their imagination and creativity. Bedtime stories also give your child many opportunities to ask questions and learn new things, such as why The Very Hungry Caterpillar made himself a cocoon and why the Gruffalo was scared of the little mouse.

Utilising weighted blankets to reduce anxiety

Weighted blankets can reduce anxiety and promote a sense of security and safety by placing our autonomic nervous system into rest mode. They provide a similar sensation of being held or hugged by a loved one. Generally, weighted blankets are associated with supporting those with ADHD, autism and anxiety, but they can benefit anyone. 

Our OEKO-TEX® certified weighted blankets are available in a range of themes and colours designed to spark children’s imagination and help them feel comfortable and secure at bedtime. Here’s what our customers have to say about our weight blankets. 

“Fantastic weighted blanket, lovely quality, love that the covers can be bought separately and the addition of the mini blanket for the teddy was lovely.”

Becki, 14 October 2022

“Recently bought a weighted blanket for my son. Really impressed with it so I wanted to buy another cover. Absolutely fantastic customer service from Lucy, she really went above and beyond to help me with what I needed. Cannot recommend Happy Linen enough to family and friends that are after similar items.”

Ben, 18 Feb 2022

Creating a relaxed and sleep-friendly environment

Creating an environment that supports a positive attitude to sleeping and relaxing can encourage your child to look forward to sleeping at night. Things such as wall stickers, prints and bunting banners can create an enchanting bedroom environment for your child that feels like their own personal sleep haven.

Black-out curtains are another great addition to creating a positive sleep environment and help them maintain a natural circadian rhythm. They block out sunlight and artificial light, such as lampposts, passing cars and torches, which disrupt sleep and leave your children tired during the day.

Further sleep support for your toddler

We can reduce the worries and anxiety in our children by staying vigilant, monitoring what they are hearing and learning and making sure it is appropriate for their age. If you’re looking for further advice on getting your child to sleep better at night, below are two helpful articles to read by the NHS.

Read ‘Sleep problems in young children and what to do if your child will not go to bed’

Read ‘Sleep hygiene in young and young people: what to consider’

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