It’s after lunch – you have eaten, changed a diaper, and done your cuddle/sing/rock routine. Just as your little one falls asleep and you place him gently in his bed – he pops up and immediately cries. Or….if they are like Little A…SCREAMS.
After scouring the internet for “why my 18-month-old won’t nap”, I have found a myriad of solutions that all involve strict sleep training and a strong hand of discipline. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m ALL about the discipline in this house. That little man knows if he throws down his toys in anger, he’s going to be required to pick them back up, and put them gently where they belong. (I’m seeing Toddler Anger in a future post…) HOWEVER, I really just can’t stay sane with the very sad, screaming, upset toddler wailing in his bed every. single. nap time. I mean, come on people… how strong do you think I am?! Clearly not as strong as my mom was. She rocked the sleep training, strong hand thing – and I think I’m better off because of it! But every kid is different – Little A is the different kid lol.
Little A has brought a whole new meaning to the word TODDLER. haha. Sleep, well….it just doesn’t happen most days… or nights…OR EVER. From experience and research, I’ve got a list here to help you (and, who’s kidding, ME TOO!) decipher why the heck your toddler isn’t sleeping.
SLEEP REGRESSION: Defined as ” a period of time (anywhere from 2-6 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has formerly been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps for no apparent reason.” Isn’t that a wonderful description describing the indescribable? (Ok ok so that wasn’t an AMAZING wordy joke…but I’m sleep deprived 😉 )
There are several points at which babies and toddlers hit this classic sleep regression. It has alot to do with their developmental milestones, which makes those happy “I can say a-year-and-a-half instead of 17 months now woo!” moments into “why, oh why, did we think having children was such a stellar idea??” Sleep Regression ya’ll. It’s a thing.
Yes they are still teething! Sleep regression timelines often coincide with teething. At 18 months, for example, the average kiddo is getting those canine teeth as well as a set of molars! (Little A just got FOUR canine teeth. Yay…not) So even your little just got a tooth or two…prep well, my loves, you’re in for the long haul! Try Teething Gel, Teething Tablets, or even booboo bags to help soothe their little mouths.
You may have been able to drop the little off at nursery every week during church just fine, but that doesn’t mean separation anxiety isn’t affecting her! It simply means that they are used to the routine of church day nursery time. Our toddlers are still so little, mamas!! They are not ready to hit the big, wide, world on their own – and that can mean they are feeling a little shaky again about being separated from you. You are their world!
Without you, the intimidation of a dark room all alone is too much. Give them some cuddles mama, and realize this phase will pass so much quicker than you (or I) can imagine. Those days and nights seem long – believe me I know – but you are rocking the Mom thing just by reading this! Hold them while they sleep for this tiny phase of naptime.
Yes – toddlers are gaining tons of independence right now. While this is NOT an actual reason they aren’t sleeping, it is definitely a contributing factor. They already don’t want to be alone, they may be teething, or they just want to play with one more toy before bed. Whatever the case, their new-found independence gives them the courage to yell and insist on staying awake. What could normally be calmed by some teething gel and cuddles now likely takes an hour for him to finally settle down and fall asleep.
While you don’t want to teach them this behavior is acceptable as a regular occurrence, you also don’t want to start locking him in his room until he falls asleep. (Unless that seriously keeps you sane – I literally can’t handle the crying!) Use your mama judgement and focus on letting your burgeoning big kid know that nap time means nap time. Booboo bags, teething gel, and cuddles are all allowable, but when push comes to shove – YOU’RE GOING DOWN BABY! (insert hilarious Steve Erkel joke here)
So how does breastfeeding fit into this??
I’m so glad you asked! Breastmilk is a rockin’ liquid ya’ll.
It has so many nutrients in it – the one applicable for this post, however, is melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone found in the body. While this hormone doesn’t actually cause sleep, studies have shown that you sleep better when melatonin is in effect.
While you can give children a Melatonin supplement (I would, of course, check with your doctor before choosing this option), letting them receive this vital hormone in your breastmilk will not only give them a good start at sleepiness, but will also give the the closeness they are seeking at nap/bed time!
How do YOU get your toddlers to stay in bed! (Cause we all know getting them to actually stay asleep is just silly-talk 😉 ) Share your struggles and successes with us. 🙂