Has Your Toddler Started Waking at Night?
You would be surprised how many toddlers that used to sleep all throught the night can suddenly suffer from problems with night waking. In my experience, night waking problems usually start just after you have finished boasting to your friends how well your child sleeps.
Your first task is to try and figure out what it is that has caused this change of behaviour.
It may be that your child is suffering from night terrors. Night terrors normally occur in the first couple of hours of sleep and your child will seem to be petrified but oblivious to his surroundings. He may also be difficult to wake up and will remember nothing when he does. Whilst the situation can be very unsettling, you are best off not trying to wake up your child. Keep him safe and wait for the episode to pass. These episodes frequently happen at the same time every night. If this is the case, you have a good chance of preventing the attack by waking your child 15 minutes before the usual time that the night terror occurs.
Nightmares can also cause your child to wake in the night. Nightmares are effectively scary dreams which your toddler may be able to remember. The best thing that you can do is reassure and comfort your child and try to occupy his mind with thoughts of nice things. If it helps, you can offer to stay with him until he falls asleep.
Separation Anxiety is another typical reason for children to wake at night. Every child will at some point suffer from some anxiety as a result of being separated from his parents. Quite frequently this may happen at times of uncertainty and change. Starting a new school or changing primary carer would be typical causes. If you suspect that your child is feeling this type of insecurity make sure that you are as reassuring as possible. If you are, these phases usually pass quite quickly. If your child is distressed, please don't ignore him.
Although it is not obvious, studies have demonstrated that overtiredness can also make a real difference. Make sure that your child is napping enough and goes to bed at an early hour. Frantic and hyperactive behaviour at the end of the day can also indicate overtiredness.
There are just a couple more things that I would like to mention. Developmental milestones can also play a role. For example if he has just started to walk, expect a temporary increase in night wakings. The second point that can make a difference is not having a consistent routine at bedtime. Children sleep longer and better with a decent bedtime routine.
The key is to be remain consistent and at the same time being supportive and loving. Don't go making drastic changes to your routine and in a short time, things will usually get better.
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