Helping Toddlers to Sleep: Knowing the Signs of Exhaustion

 

Sleep is crucial in our early development. If you have kids, it is important that while they are young, they appreciate the value of sleep but sometimes it is hard to put them to sleep. If they are already asleep but heard them cry or call out, putting them back to sleep is a lot harder. You have to know that there are physical and emotional factors that cause their “wakefulness”.

If putting the kid to sleep is hard, parents worry. Sometimes because of the external pressure and tiredness, parents are forced to discipline in hard measures just so the kid will sleep through. Toddlers need understanding and kindness – sometimes these are not given because of the exhausted families. You are thinking it has been hectic past few days here in Singapore and more hectic putting the toddler to sleep.

You have to understand the kid. Helping him/her sleep is the best thing that you can do and this will mean knowing the signs of exhaustion. Remember that toddlers do not settle if they are not sleepy. There are many things that excite them so sometimes they fight sleep to do it. Be careful with overtired or exhausted toddlers though because they are harder to put to sleep. It is important that you get your toddler to sleep before exhaustion comes. Here are the signs of sleepiness that you should watch out:

  • Grumpy: You will know if the toddler is sleepy because he/she will become grumpy. When he/she is sleepy, he/she will surely become less tolerant to everything around him/her. If you notice your toddler gets easily annoyed or angered, that is a sign that he/she must be put to sleep.

  • Jumpy: When toddlers are trying to sleep, adults around should be careful with their movements because they tend to be jumpy. If they are not yet asleep, they tend to be more sensitive to sudden noises and movements.

 

  • Clumsy: If you notice that your toddler suddenly became clumsy – falling to tipping from side or dropping things, it is time that you put him/her to sleep.

 

  • Cuddly: This is perhaps the sign that you love. When toddlers are very sleepy, they tend to seek comfort in the form of cuddles. If you notice that they become too cuddly, it is a sign that they should be put to sleep.

Understanding the toddler’s sleeping cycle will surely give light to many things. Seeing him/her sleeping peacefully is the greatest gift you could ask.

Approaches to Sleep Training Your Baby

 

If you want your baby to sleep on his/her own, it is time that you consider sleep training. Many paediatricians here in Singapore encourage parents to sleep train their babies. In fact, there are parents who start sleep training as early as the first month of the baby. However for your peace of mind, start sleep training when the baby is between four to six months.

By four months, the baby is starting to develop regular sleep-wake cycle. When you notice that they dropped most of their feedings at night, it is a sign that he/she is ready for sleep training.  Sleep training is the process of teaching the baby to sleep on his/her own and stay asleep all through the night. Sounds easy right but it is kind of challenging because there are many approaches you can consider before settling.

Yes, there are many approaches when you teach the baby to sleep on his/her own. But what approach should you consider? This will depend on which approach you think your baby will respond well. The key here is to know your baby well. Here are the approaches you can choose from:

  1. Cry It Out Approach: Commonly called as CIO, this method involves a lot of crying. Crying is an excruciating sound for parents but if it is something that you have to do, do it. This approach claims that it is okay for the baby to cry when you put him/her to bed then leave the room. Always remember to put the baby to bed drowsy but awake. If he/she cries, let it be for prescribed periods of time and then offer comfort – except picking up.

 

  1. No Tears Approach: According to the proponents of this approach, crying is not necessary. The approach speaks of a slow approach – soothe the baby to sleep and when he/she cries, you offer comfort immediately.

  1. Fading Approach: This approach falls in the middle of the spectrum. This training involves diminishing the parent’s role by gradually fading away until the baby falls asleep. Each night, make sure to go farther and when the baby cries, reassure him/her but never pick up.

 

  1. S’s Approach: There is an expert who encourages parents to consider a specific routine that involves the S’s – Swaddling, Shushing, Swinging and Sucking. Note that this is best for newborns (first six weeks) when you can swaddle them. But it can also be used as long as it is helpful for the baby.