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An In Depth Breakdown On What Works And What Doesn't In Toddlers Sleep Related Problems

Updated on August 16, 2016
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My career as a nurse along with my experience as a mother combined with my passion in writing hopefully delivers great reading for others.

Toddlers Most Common Sleeping Problem

The most common sleeping problems of toddlers are the difficulty of sleeping and interrupted sleep due to night waking. Parents play an important role in their toddler’s bedtime behaviors and sleep patterns. Toddlers that wake up at night are disturbed by their inability to soothe themselves back to sleep straight away. The best theory is that too much parental intervention during the process of falling asleep in toddlers is actually rewarding for a child. Too much parental intervention will only interfere with their soothing skills. When you are in the process of eliminating your toddlers preferred routine there will be a level of protest from your child. A real challenge for parents is the issue of crying because of the difficulty on coping with your child’s anxiety.

Some toddlers love to wake up early.
Some toddlers love to wake up early. | Source

Toddlers Sleep Related Problems

Afternoon Napper Toddler – Children enjoy sleep in the first two years of their life along with their parents who look forward to this time with equal glee. Unfortunately this glorious peaceful moment disappears between the ages of two and four. Your toddler is an afternoon napper if he is unbearably irritable by late afternoon if he does not get his afternoon nap but does go to bed early and sleep soundly. And if your toddler does get his sleep in the afternoon and the peace is truly enjoyable but is paid for when the toddlers jumps around all hours at night.

What to do:

Unfortunately there is no solution to this problem. Parents just need to make a choice on which part of the day they want to sacrifice and decide based on believing that a good night sleeping pattern is important to both toddler and parents.

Sleep related difficulties and night wakings are typical on toddlers
Sleep related difficulties and night wakings are typical on toddlers | Source

Cot Escaper Toddler – Every toddler is different some are happy to stay in their cots until they are older but some active toddlers develop excellent mountaineering skills long before their first birthday. From the time they attempt their first escape parents are usually mortified.

What to do:

  • Once the cot escape attempts start parents will have to decide whether to leave the side of the cot down or put the toddler in a proper bed. Both will allow easy escape and this may lead the toddler back to your bed. If you have made a decision to change your toddler from cot to a bed, the transition should be swift if the toddler has developed good sleeping habits
  • There will be no advantage in releasing your toddler from their cot early if their sleeping pattern has not been disciplined and developed.

Light Sleeper Toddler

In general babies and toddler are dead to the world once they are asleep. Some unusual toddlers are sensitive to sound leaving some parents tippy toeing around the house frightened to even flush the toilet.

What to do:

  • Try to leave a radio running in your toddler’s room. Make sure that it is on a very low volume where it’s barely audible. Increase the volume up every few days. Remember to increase it slowly but it should still be a very low volume.
  • After two weeks your toddler will finally desensitize to sound and from then on they should sleep through football grand finals and car horns.

Early Riser Toddler

There are a lot of children who loves to sleep late however most toddlers love to wake up early. They want to get fed and changed then welcome the morning sunshine. Just like adults your toddler will have a preference as an early or late riser.

What to do:

  • Parents can make their toddlers bedtime a bit later so they sleep a little bit longer through the day.
  • Make sure that the room has good curtains so your toddler sleeps a little bit longer.
  • Make sure that your toddlers room is only filled with quiet toys so if they do wake up early they can happily entertain themselves with soft and cuddly toys.
  • In reality it will be easier for parents to sleep in harmony with their toddlers. Parents who change their sleeping patterns to sync in with their youngster will not see themselves in a ridiculous situation of waking and disturbing the entire family just to soothe an upset toddler.

Attachment and separation are the links between relationship aspects of toddler sleep
Attachment and separation are the links between relationship aspects of toddler sleep | Source

Fearful Toddler

At these stage children should not have that many fears yet to interfere with you putting them to bed. The main fear that rises for a toddler when it is bedtime is the fear of separation from their parents. Fear of separation is usually disguised by a toddler as fear from the dark and fear from monsters under their bed. Usually these are good ploys to keep you close.

What to do:

  • When a toddler wakes up at night frightened its normal that parents worry. When a child wakes up several times during the night calling out that they are fearful that is a bad habit. Toddlers will keep calling out to their parents several times at night if they thought they can get their attention. This is simply a separation anxiety which most toddler grows out of.
  • At this stage it will be helpful to introduce comfort items like teddies and blankets or an emergency dummy. If your toddler genuinely fears the dark a night light will be handy to ease their journey back to the land of sleep.

As soon as that dummy are is out, the screaming starts
As soon as that dummy are is out, the screaming starts | Source

Lost Dummy Toddler

Some young children can remain happy in their bed as long as they have their dummy. As soon as that dummy are out of their mouth the screaming starts.

What to do:

  • Some parents use a clip to clip the dummy into the child’s clothing so it can be found easily. I am not sure if this is successful however this will make sure that the dummy can be found easily.
  • The only reliable thing to do is get rid of the dummy altogether. There will be repercussions for sure and be prepared for consecutive difficult nights but it will be worth it in the end.

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Toddler Sleep Problems

The link between parents and toddlers sleeping behaviors are multidimensional. It is clear that parenting plays a big part in shaping toddlers sleep problems. There has been plenty of research and books written about toddlers sleeping problems but the study and research seem to be focused on the mother’s behavior. The paternal influence has not been greatly involved in many research, the assessments are usually based on the mother. The role of the father in the toddlers sleep activities and interaction has been an unexplored topic.


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