At 2-3 years of age our wee ones are going through big stages in their development. They are learning lots about themselves, the world around them and their place in it. We start to see a lot of boundary pushing and resistance as they test things out, which can also impact on their sleep. Even the best sleeper might start to employ delay tactics like one more story or I need water! This can result in a very drawn out bedtime routine! Or we might start to see things like early morning wake ups or multiple night time wake ups sneak in and some of my clients end up co-sleeping just to survive. This can make both the parents and child tired and grumpy! Before you start to get too scared about what may or may not be awaiting you, here’s how we can help preserve your child’s sleep:
- Try to stick to their routines: this means offering naps and bedtime at regular times as much as possible. If they don’t sleep at nap time, then aim for an earlier bedtime as an overtired child will struggle to wind down and be so much harder for you to manage! Overtiredness can also increase the chance of night time wake ups and early morning wake ups occurring.
- Offer healthy boundaries and limits: This will help avoid delays and leaves less room for excuses. You could say last song or you can choose 2 toys to take to bed (rather than constantly adding just one more!)
- Offering choices: This gives them a little control without changing the end goal or outcome. It could be something as little as letting them choose the story, jumping or marching to the bathroom to brush their teeth. You can also do this in other areas of their day too like letting them choose peanut butter or marmite for their lunch, pink or blue plate etc.
- Setting expectations: We want to give them a little forewarning about what is coming next. When you get to the last few pages of your bedtime story, you could say almost finished and then it’s time for teeth. Or time to say good night to everyone and then it’s time for bed.
- BE CONSISTENT: this is SO important! If they start pushing things, ask yourself: is this something that I am ok with long term? If you think it is the start of something, then it pays to put in the work now rather than later on when the habit or behaviour will be harder to change.