Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Toddler Sleep Problems Re-Defined

At Child Therapy Chicago we get a lot of questions about toddler sleep, or actually, lack of sleep! Some children are always good sleepers, some are never good sleepers, and most fall somewhere in between, having restful and restless periods. 

Here's the thing, sleep problems are really only sleep problems if they're a problem. What does this mean?

Well, if your toddler would rather play for an hour at bedtime than go to sleep or is up throughout the night or rises with the roosters at the crack of dawn but doesn't present any challenges during the day, unless there's a medical issue, there's not a problem. It may be challenging and inconvenient but it's not necessarily a problem. It's when parents compare their children's sleep that they begin to wonder and worry and sometimes feel that they're doing something wrong, but toddler sleep patterns can be extremely varied.

So what do you do? If you've figured out a way to manage your own fatigue, frustration, and whatever other feelings that arise (e.g., by finding time to relax, getting extra support from another caregiver or friend, etc.) and you are up for trying to wait it out, that's great. It will pass! If your toddler's sleep pattern feels overwhelming and challenging to the point that it is affecting your child, your sanity, your family life, work, etc., then maybe it's time to change things up a bit (e.g., switch up the bedtime routine, set new limits on certain bedtime behavior, etc.). What's important is that you do what makes sense for your family. 

Not all kids are the same and a problem for one family may not be a problem for another. Do your research and go with your gut. Sweet dreams!