safe motherhood


Sleep problems in older babies

Of course, all children are different, but in general a one-year-old sleeps 11 to 12 hours a night and has two naps during the day of about an hour each. At around 18 months, the two naps will be reduced to one of about two hours.

Between the ages of 2 and 4, they'll drop the daytime nap and you'll have that awkward stage of trying to keep a tired child awake until bedtime - knowing that if they sleep in the afternoon, you'll have their company all evening!

If your toddler is full of energy long past 'normal' bedtime, it could mean that they are actually exhausted, but 'too tired for sleep'. If this is the problem, you could try reinstating a daytime nap so that they will be sufficiently relaxed for bed at bedtime.

A gradual 'winding down for bed' routine can help an active toddler calm down for bed. (See 6-12 months/Sleeping/Bedtime routines)

If your toddler jumps out of bed after being put down for the night, put them back with a hug, telling him or her that you love them very much and can't wait to see him in the morning. Try pretending to yawn at this point - yawns are very catching. If they get up again, ask your partner or another adult to settle them.

Some parents, however, find that the best way is to simply lie down with their child each night. Co-sleeping is also a solution to night-waking. "When you sleep with a small child, it feels easier to be a parent," says Deborah Jackson, author of 'Three in a Bed', published by Bloomsbury at £12.99.

Early waking in a cot

If your toddler thinks that the day begins at 5.30am, try these ideas:
• Put him or her in a night-time nappy.
• If traffic noise is disturbing them, switch the rooms around.
• Check on other noises, for example, the central heating switching on, or the milkman coming to the door.
• Thicker curtains may help keep out the light.
• Wearing a sleepsuit can stop your toddler getting cold when their covers come off.
• If your toddler is waking early and then falling asleep for a morning nap well before 10am, try rescheduling the nap nearer to 10am in gradual stages to help him or her stay asleep longer first thing. Moving the bedtime forward half an hour might help too.

Topics In This Article: