Once our little ones have grown out of babyhood and into toddlers, it’s easy to breathe a sigh of relief and think that all of our bedtime woes are over. After all, we assume that we won’t be dealing with a screaming, colicky baby. We also assume that our days of carrying our little ones back to bed after they’ve climbed out to visit mommy and daddy for the sixth time in three hours are over.
These hopes don’t always ring true with kiddies that have just started sleeping on their own, as almost a quarter of them have sleep troubles. Here are a few, tips on how to recognise them and how mommies and daddies can hopefully help:
Lots of kids snore or breathe noisily while sleeping, and the reason is not because of obesity (like in adults), but rather because of oversized tonsils or adenoids! If your little one very rarely snores, it could be due to something minor like a sinus infection.
How can you help with this?
First things first, you’ll need to book an appointment with your little one’s paediatrician. They will confirm sleep apnoea or oversized adenoids or tonsils and will then determine the course of action. Often, removing the tonsils and adenoids will cure this condition and the only thing that you will hear when walking past your kiddie’s bedroom is normal breathing (and sometimes sleep talking.)
Yes, kiddies can suffer from anxiety too! While parents toss and turn over responsibilities and other life stresses, kids may very well be tossing and turning over their set of anxieties. These can range from sibling rivalry and schoolyard arguments to the fear of disappointing their parents and stress over tough subjects at school. Even horrible things like fires and burglaries can worry our little ones, especially when they are a little older and understand these kinds of things.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety can be when your little one is stalling their bedtime by asking for an extra hug or a glass of water, perhaps they want to sleep in your bed or suddenly have a sore stomach. While they’re sleeping, anxiety can also manifest as jaw-grinding or teeth clenching – although this symptom can also indicate an overbite or misaligned teeth.
How can you help?
The trick is to help your little one feel as secure and as happy as possible. Keep open lines of communication, always encourage their dreams and praise them for their work. Never scold them for doing badly at something, especially when you know that they tried their best. Also, children over the age of 5 are always eager to please, so a star chart and rewards system works well. Regular exercise and outdoor play helps with bedtime too.
Just like grown-ups, they need exercise to have a balanced lifestyle, to aid sleep and decrease anxiety. Yup, that means TV time must be limited! Cartoon Network can wait until Saturday morning. If you have a little sleep-walker, bear in mind that they will outgrow this and keep them safe by removing all dangers in the house and installing an alarm system to alert you to their night-time roaming habits.
A nightlight in the room also helps, as does a soothing bedtime routine that DOESN’T include watching TV or drinking anything that contains sugar or caffeine. Keep the lights dim and voices low, and wash their linen in lavender fabric softener for a soothing scent to lull them off to dreamland.
Remember that kiddie’s health issues will always manifest at night, even if they have shown signs of recovery during the day.
As with when they’re babies, it’s really helpful to stick to a structured bedtime routine that includes lots of loves, cuddles, relaxation and no heavy visual stimulation.