Establishing Good Sleep Habits in Children 24 to 36 Months Old

Between the ages of 2 and 3, children need about 11 hours of sleep per night and a siesta 2 hours, or slightly less, during the day. At this age, most children go to bed between 7 and 9 pm and wake up between 6:30 and 8 am. Even if you have the impression that the rhythm of your child's sleep is similar to yours, he actually goes through more REM sleep phases until the age of 4. As a result, he switches from one sleep phase to another more often, and wakes up more frequently than you do. If you want your child to "sleep through the night" without asking for you, it's important that you teach him to go back to sleep on his own.

How to help your child fall asleep and go back to sleep on his own

Now that your child has grown up, you can try new ways to help him sleep well. Here are a few of them:

Put your child in a "big bed".

Your child is old enough for you to consider moving him into a "real bed": his cot has probably become too small for him! The arrival of a little brother or sister may also precipitate this decision. If you're pregnant, most child specialists recommend moving your eldest child at least 6 to 8 weeks before the arrival of the newborn. Your child needs to feel comfortable in his new bed before seeing his brother or sister take their place in their old crib. If the installation doesn't go smoothly, you can wait until the new baby is 3 or 4 months old before trying the move again. Use a bassinet for your youngest child, while your eldest gets used to the idea of having a brother or sister: the transition to the big bed will be much easier. Frequent attempts to "escape" and potty training (your child should be able to get up alone at night to go to the toilet) can also motivate this change.

Once your child has accepted his new bed, praise him when he stays snug and warm in it, from bedtime onwards and throughout the night. After being confined to his cot, your child may be tempted to get out of bed just because he has the physical ability to do so. In this case, react calmly but firmly. Put him back to bed, tell him it's time to go to sleep and leave the room.

Different approaches to sleep disorders

  • Anticipate all your child's requests and include them in the bedtime ritual.

    Your child may try to delay bedtime by asking for yet another story, song or glass of water. As long as they're reasonable, try to anticipate all your child's usual requests and include them in the bedtime routine. bedtime ritual. You may be able to tolerateabut make it clear that this is an exception. Your child will feel he's got what he wants, whereas you'll have the last word.

  • Give your child one last cuddle before bedtime

    You can promise to come back and give him one last kiss or cuddle before he goes to sleep. Tell him you'll be back to check on him in 5 minutes. Chances are he'll already be asleep when you get back!

Watch out for the traps!

If your child gets up more often at night now that he has a big bed, put him back to bed and wish him a good night. Beyond that, your reaction to such a situation is a matter of personal choice. To find out what our specialists have to say, go to theapproaches to sleep disordersbelow.

At this age, refusing to go to bed is a very common concern. To avoid or alleviate it, anticipate his or her requests when the fateful moment arrives. But let's face it, no child will ever enthusiastically run off to bed. Be prepared to fight from time to time! Once again, refer to the end of this article for a few tips.

You've probably noticed that your child develops new anxieties after dark. Fear of the dark, monsters under the bed or separation anxiety are quite common at this age, so don't worry. These fears are part of a child's normal development. If your child starts having nightmares, go and see him right away and talk to him about his bad dream to calm him down. If the nightmares persist, try to find out what might be disturbing him during the day and causing these bad dreams.

A child can also suffer from night terrors, a phenomenon quite different from nightmares. Most experts agree that if a child is truly terrified, his parents can also let him sleep in their bed from time to time.

Different approaches to sleep disorders

The two most common sleep disorders in children are difficulty falling asleep and frequent waking up at night. What should you do when your little one wakes you up at night, even though he's old enough to sleep through the night on his own? To help your child "sleep through the night" without asking for you, it's important that you teach him to calm down on his own, by sucking his thumb, stroking a transitional object (his famous doudou!), or any other way that suits him. Most specialists agree that children must not become dependent on external factors such as music, light or feeding to fall asleep. Indeed, if he gets used to falling into Morpheus' arms thanks to these devices, he'll need them to go back to sleep at night, and will find it hard to let them go.

baby sleep disorder

If your child doesn't sleep well at night, try these different approaches to work things out.

  • Approach 1

    Just make sure everything's okay. If your child cries, go to him, gently stroke his face or arm and tell him that all is well and that it's time to go to sleep. Don't hug or cuddle your child. Be reassuring but firm. Leave the room, wait 5 minutes and come back to check if your child has gone back to sleep. Repeat until your child is asleep, spacing out your visits. Make sure your bedtime ritual is always the same, and night-time awakenings should disappear after a few weeks.

  • Approach n°2

    Set a sleep schedule for the night and the day, and stick to it. Don't let your child set his or her own rules. Maintain a bedtime ritual so that your child has a good sleep rhythm. Don't hold him, rock him or give him a bottle to help him fall asleep. While this type of method may work in the short term, it teaches your child to be a good sleeper.lyingto fall asleep (and go back to sleep) on their own. If your child calls you crying at night, go to see him to reassure him, allowing more and more time between each visit (5 minutes, then 10 minutes, 15 minutes...). If he doesn't want to stay in bed, tell him you'll close the door. If this "threat" doesn't work, close the door (never lock it) for 1 minute. If he doesn't go back to bed after that, come back into the room and put him back to bed, then go back out and close the door for 2 minutes, then 3, 4, 5 minutes. Five minutes is the maximum for the first night. Once your child is back in bed, open the door, say a few words of encouragement, then leave without entering the room. If your little one continues to get up the following nights, you can leave the door closed for longer, up to 30 minutes after closing the door four times in a row, after a week's trial.

  • Approach n°3

    At this age, separation anxiety has not yet left all children, while the desire to make decisions on their own, like a grown-up, is emerging. Your child may therefore refuse to go to bed. Here's a tip: let him make his own bedtime decisions, such as which pajamas to wear or which bedtime story to read. Give him one or two cuddly toys to sleep with, and leave a nightlight or small lamp on at night. If he still calls you at night, wait 10 minutes before calming him down, then leave his room and repeat the operation if necessary. Avoid scolding and punishing him, but don't stay in the room with him either: he may think it's a reward. He may just be trying to get your attention, so put him back to bed quickly and leave as soon as he's lying down. Stay calm and, above all, consistent, to let him know you won't give in. Check in from time to time to make sure he's not too hot, or that his pyjamas aren't too tight or uncomfortable. If he asks you to leave a light on or the door open, don't hesitate to agree.

  • Approach n°4

    Maintain an encouraging and reassuring bedtime ritual. If your child calls you to help him fall asleep, don't run to him, but tell him that you're there and that you're proud that he's learning to fall asleep on his own. At this age, children are often able to calm themselves down and go back to sleep when they wake up at night. They talk to themselves and practice using the new words they've learned. But many children still struggle to sleep through the night without seeing Mum or Dad. To achieve this, your child must learn to calm himself down and go back to sleep. If he wakes up at night and is scared because you're not there, or because he's afraid of monsters or other imaginary characters, he'll find it hard to go back to sleep. Tell him he's safe, that everything's fine and that you're right next door. Don't rush in as soon as you hear him stir. Your marvel must learn to go back to sleep without your help.

  • Approach n°5

    Stick to your bedtime ritual, because at this age, children need consistency and regularity. To help your child fall asleep, you can also cuddle him, pretend you're asleep too, or go about your business until he falls asleep watching you fuss. If your child wakes up at night, don't let him cry, but try to find out why: a full diaper, hunger, a change in the day's routine, a blocked nose or even itchy pyjamas can all be reasons for waking up at night. Spend more time with your child during the day, and let his dad comfort him at night. In this way, both parents can help their child get back to sleep.

If your child has been sleeping through the night until now, but is now going through an important developmental phase, you can expect him to wake up more often at night. Try to help him get back to sleep without getting out of bed. Caress his face, talk to him softly and sing to him.

You can also take it with you to bed if you wish.

There's no one right way to calm your child and help him sleep well at night. It's up to you to choose an approach that suits your family!

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