TODDLERS CRYING IN THE NIGHT – WHAT SHOULD PARENTS DO?
Parenting is filled with discovering, learning, and maturing your toddler from a baby into a child Part of this growth is due to changes in their sleep patterns, preferences, and needs. Sleep is essential to child development, as it allows your brain to process new information. Research has proven that children who receive sufficient sleep experience better behaviour, attention, learning, memory, and overall physical and mental well-being.
Insufficient sleep can result in various behavioural problems for a child, causing moodiness, tiredness, or irritability. A lack of sleep may also lead to difficulty paying attention or following directions and hinder the growth process. Therefore, resolving sleep resistance issues requires detective work. Parents need to monitor their child’s sleep patterns and ensure they are getting adequate sleep. When well-rested, children are more likely to be alert, engaged, and capable of reaching their full potential in learning and growth, parents can promote their child’s thriving and attainment of developmental milestones by fostering healthy sleep habits and seeking professional assistance when required.
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Every child is unique, and thus, their sleep requirements may vary. A toddler typically requires between 11 to 14 hours of sleep each day. For a parent, waking up to a crying toddler in the middle of the night can be a stressful and challenging experience. Understanding toddler behaviour can be challenging even when they are awake, let alone when they are asleep. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to remember that this is a normal phase in a toddler’s life, and there is no need to worry as it doesn’t necessarily imply that something is wrong with your child.
Toddlers may cry at night for various reasons, from physical discomfort to separation anxiety. Identifying the cause of the crying and responding appropriately can assist both the parent and their child get a peaceful sleep. Here are a few common reasons why your toddler may be crying at night:
As toddlers hit new developmental milestones, such as teething or learning to walk, their bodies may take some time to adjust to the changes so that they may cry at night.
At around 9 months, toddlers may start experiencing separation anxiety as they understand that objects and people continue to exist even when they are not everywhere. This leads to a strong attachment to parents and the fear of being left alone even when they move to another room. Waiting for this developmental milestone to pass can be the solution in some cases, but it’s also essential to find ways to reassure your toddler that you are not leaving them behind.
Toddlers have small stomachs, so they may require frequent meals and, on occasion, even a midnight snack, to ensure they feel satisfied until the morning.
Pain or discomfort
Physical discomforts such as ear infections, stuffiness, sore throat, and fever can also cause toddlers to cry at night.
Nightmares and night terror
Parents should consider nightmares and night terrors as possible causes for toddlers crying at night. As toddlers’ imagination develops, they may experience nightmares, which can cause them to call in the middle of the night. Night terrors are more severe and distressing for toddlers. Unlike monsters, children have no recollection of night terrors, while they may wake up and remember a nightmare and realize it was not real.
Discovering the cause of their toddler’s nighttime crying can assist parents in identifying the most effective solution. Below are some ways parents can use to prevent or manage their toddler’s bedtime tears.
What parents can do to prevent toddlers from crying at bedtime:
Comfort the child
The initial step in addressing a crying toddler is to provide comfort. Embrace your child, offer soothing words, and cuddle them to help them feel safe and secure, which may ease their crying. Rocking your child or swaying back and forth can also be helpful.
Check for physical discomfort.
It is essential to check if your child is physically comfortable or not. Be sure to check if they are hungry, wet, or uncomfortable in any other way. It’s also important to check the room temperature to ensure it’s not too hot or too cold and to ensure no safety risks are present.
Reassure the child
Comforting and reassuring your crying child is essential when they wake up in the middle of the night. The objective is to encourage your child to learn how to comfort themselves. Please speak to your toddler calmly and gently, and remain with them for a few minutes, but avoid picking them up or engaging in too much conversation. If your child has had a nightmare, reassure them that it wasn’t real and that they are safe. Singing a lullaby or playing soft music can also be effective in helping your child relax and fall asleep again.
Establish a bedtime routine.
Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can promote a sense of security and facilitate easier sleep onset for your child. This routine should include relaxing activities such as bathing, reading bedtime stories, and saying goodnight to family members. To help your child stay on track, consider creating a visual chart of the bedtime routine.
Be patient and understanding.
Dealing with a crying toddler at night may pose a challenge, but you must be patient and understanding as a parent. Remember that this is a distinct stage of toddlerhood, and with time, your child will eventually learn to sleep undisturbed through the night. Be patient and understanding, and remember that your reassurance and comfort can make a big difference in your child’s well-being.
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