Menu

How to help your toddler go to sleep + stay asleep (so you can get rest, too)

Everyone will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when you overcome your toddler’s sleep challenges

How to help your toddler go to sleep + stay asleep (so you can get rest, too)

If you are parenting a toddler, you are my hero. From potty training to tantrum managing, and learning your child's little personality, life is nothing short of an adventure.


You might be enjoying sleep as a part of your life again, and now you can finally experience the wonder and excitement of your sweet little one—or you’re wondering why your two-year-old still isn't sleeping through the night. Either way, sleep regression doesn't only apply to newborn babies—it very well can be a challenge you face throughout the years of toddlerhood.

But listen, Mama, before you buy a bigger coffee machine, know that there are many tools and tricks that will help you conquer this new sleep stage.

Here are five toddler sleep h abits to expect and how to handle them:

1. Your toddler won't stay in bed. Toddlers love to be on the go, and bedtime is no exception. If your child is constantly getting out of bed after being put down, there are a few things you can try.

  • Set the expectation for how often she is allowed to come out of the room. Some experts recommend giving your child a "pass" once or twice at bedtime, so she knows if she needs something that is the limit, and beyond that, she needs to stay in her room until morning.
  • Similarly, a red/green/yellow light clock brings some excitement and curiosity to bedtime. The clock will show red when it is time to stay in the room and green when she can get up for the day!
  • You may need to consistently guide her back to bed. Even if it means you put her back in bed 35 times in a night, after enough consistency and communication, she will start to understand boundaries.

2. Your child is becoming noticeably tired earlier than normal. This stage of life is often very transitional, and many toddlers are dropping from two naps to one, or dropping the daytime nap altogether. Daytime and nighttime sleep go hand-in-hand, so anytime there is a shift in one, there will be a shift in the other. The best thing you can do in this situation is to move up bedtime so she doesn't become overtired, and give plenty of wind-down time prior to when it's time to go to bed.

3. Your toddler's sleep habits are changing due to a shift in your family dynamic. Whether you are bringing home a new baby or moving into a new house, your toddler can likely feel the effects. Often this will cause a disruption in sleep and she might experience early morning wake-ups or trouble sleeping through the night suddenly. If this is happening, it is best to give her some extra comfort, and keep your routine as consistent as possible. Stability and some extra TLC will help her handle her emotions and still get the sleep she needs. Remember that in this case, any changes in her sleep habits more than likely will resolve once she feels more settled.

4. Nightmares are waking her up in the middle of the night. This is very common once children are at the age where their imaginations develop, they are starting to explore the world, and they are stimulated throughout the day. The best way to help your child through a stage of nightmares is to keep her feeling safe. Introducing or encouraging a lovey, or even a picture of you in her room to grab ahold of when she feels scared, is a great way to do that. You can try talking about it the next day to see if there is anything specific that is triggering nightmares, but if not, just remember to provide her with the comfort she needs and then help her back to sleep.

5. Bedtime becomes a constant struggle. Bedtime isn't always the happiest of times for you and your child. Children can experience a range of emotions including fear, separation and anger, often leading to a tantrum around going to sleep. It is so important in this case not to treat this as an opportunity for discipline, but rather to teach and enforce boundaries. The best way to do this is to communicate the bedtime routine as much as possible to your child. You can say something like, "We want to be fully rested tonight, so that we have a lot of time to play at the birthday party tomorrow," or, "Remember when I said we could go to the pool tomorrow? We won't be able to do that unless all of us get the rest we need tonight, so let's make sure that happens." Wind-down time is also very helpful in this case, as being overtired can contribute to exisitng feelings around sleep.

The more you can promote and encourage sleep, the better chance your child has to learn healthy sleep habits that will stick.

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

Shop

5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Two weeks. I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since my second son was brought into this world. Two weeks since my husband and I welcomed baby Simon, the final piece of our little family.

But, here is the whopper: It has been two weeks since I have been the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I am now responsible for taking care of two tiny humans.

It absolutely blows my mind how much my life has changed in the last two weeks. It's definitely not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but things are going pretty well. This is me being cautiously optimistic.

What I have done is learned a lot about myself, my kids and my new life in the last two weeks.

Keep reading Show less
Life