Establishing Good Sleep Habits for Babies 18 to 24 Months Old

From now on, your child should sleep about 10 to 12 hours a night and make a siesta of 2 hours every day. However, some children continue to take two short naps during the day until the age of 2. In this case, there's no need to worry.

How can you help your child calm down and get to sleep?

Here are some tips to help your child calm down and sleep through the night:

  • Let your child fall asleep on his own

    If you want your child to sleep through the night without calling you, let him fall asleep on his own, without rocking, feeding or soothing him. If your child needs any of these external elements to fall asleep, he won't be able to go back to sleep if he wakes up in the night and can't find them. To help us understand, Richard Ferber, a specialist in sleepFor example, imagine falling asleep with your head resting on a pillow, and waking up in the middle of the night to find the pillow gone. This is likely to upset you, and you'll probably go looking for the object, thus interrupting your sleep. The same applies to your child. If he falls asleep every night listening to a particular song, he may wonder why he can't hear it if he wakes up during the night. This will make it difficult for him to go back to sleep. To avoid this, put your child to bed when he's sleepy but still awake, so he can fall asleep on his own.

  • Let your child make choices at bedtime

    Your child is beginning to test the limits of his new independence and is seeking to take control of the world around him. To avoid bedtime meltdowns, whenever possible, let your child make choices at bedtime. bedtime ritualThe trick is to suggest between two and three choices, and make sure you're happy with each one. The trick is to offer between two and three choices, and make sure you're happy with each one. For example, don't ask your child if he wants to go to bed now, as he may well say no, which you can't accept. Instead, try asking him if he wants to go to sleep now or in 5 minutes. He'll be able to choose, but whichever he chooses, you'll be fine with it.

Watch out for the traps!

This age group offers a challenge in its own right. Between 18 and 24 months, many children try to climb out of their cribs, risking injury. Bedtime then becomes a painful ordeal. Unfortunately, just because your child climbs out of bed doesn't mean he's ready for a big one. Our article entitled When to move from a cot to a big bed can help you spot when the right time is. In the meantime, make sure your child is safe and snug in bed with these tips from a sleep specialist:

  • Lower the box springBy lowering the box spring as low as possible, you reduce the risk of injury if your child escapes from the bed. However, this will probably have little effect when your child is older.
  • Empty the bedIf your child uses stuffed toys or the cot bumper to get out of bed, remove them to keep him in bed a little longer.
  • Don't attach too much importance to your child's "escapes".If you get upset when your child gets out of bed, or if you let him join you in bed, he'll keep doing it. Try to remain calm and impassive and tell him firmly not to climb out of bed, and put him back in if he does. He'll soon understand.
  • Stay tuned Observe your child without letting him see you, and as soon as he tries to get out of bed, tell him he's not allowed. After several failures, he should finally understand.
  • Guarantee a hazard-free environmentIf you can't stop your child from jumping out of bed, make sure he doesn't hurt himself. Place pillows or cushions on the floor around the bed or near furniture to prevent injury if he falls out. If you really can't stop your child getting out of bed, lower the bars on one side and leave a stool nearby. This way, you'll be less afraid of your child injuring himself by falling out. Prevention is better than cure...

Approaches to sleep disorders

Children of all ages have two recurring sleep problems: difficulty falling asleep and frequent waking up at night. What to do when your child wakes you up at night, even though he's old enough to sleep through the night? To ensure that your child sleeps through the night without calling you, it's important that you teach him to soothe himself by sucking his thumb, stroking a transitional object, or in some other way. Most specialists agree that it's important to prevent your child from becoming dependent on external factors such as music, light or feeding to fall asleep. Because if they do, they'll need them every time to get back to sleep at night, and will find it hard to let them go.

If your child doesn't sleep well at night, there are a number of different approaches to try and solve the problem.

  • Approach 1

    As long as you let your child fall asleep on his own at night, you can choose any way you like to help him get back to sleep, such as rocking him or taking him for a walk until he falls asleep again. If your baby's bedtime ritual is still the same, night-time awakenings should diminish within a few weeks. If this method doesn't work, try this one: when your child cries, go back to him, stroke his back and tell him that everything's fine, but that it's now time to go to sleep. Don't hug or cuddle your child. Be reassuring but firm. Leave the room, wait 5 minutes and then come back to check if your child has gone back to sleep. Repeat until your child is asleep, spacing out your visits.

  • Approach 2

    Help your child to recognize bedtime by establishing a ritual. Make sure he falls asleep on his own, without your help or the presence of a cuddly toy or bottle. While this type of method works in the short term, it teaches your child more about being a "good sleeper".set to sleep than to fall asleep alone. If your child wakes up, try letting him cry for longer and longer periods, starting with 5-minute periods, then 10 minutes and so on. Between these periods, stay with your child for 2 to 3 minutes to reassure him by talking to him and stroking his back. Do not hold or rock your child.

  • Approach 3

    Keep an eye on the clock to see when your child is showing signs of tiredness, and put him to bed every day at this time. Organize a calm bedtime ritual and discuss it with your child so that he understands how things are going to happen, when and why. However you organize this ritual, the important thing is that your child is calm and awake in bed, ready for sleep. If your child wakes up during the night, don't take him out of bed or into your room. He needs to learn to go back to sleep on his own, even if this means crying at first. Reassure him for a while, then come back briefly every 5 to 10 minutes until he falls back asleep.

  • Approach 4

    You can help your child by teaching self-comforting techniques such as giving him a cuddly toy or helping him find his thumb. Stick to an encouraging and reassuring bedtime ritual. If your child starts to cry at night, wake him up before bedtime, give him a cuddle, feed him if necessary and put him back to bed, telling him you're there.

  • Approach 5

    Try to bring your child's nap time forward and shorten its duration if necessary. Stick to your bedtime ritual. To help your child fall asleep, you can cuddle him, pretend to be asleep yourself, or go about your business until he falls asleep, watching you as you go about your business. 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. This way, both parents can help their child get back to sleep. If your child has been sleeping through the night, but is going through an important developmental phase, expect him to wake up more often at night. When this happens, try to get him to go back to sleep without taking him out of bed. Caress his back, talk to him softly and sing to him. You can also take him to bed with you if you like.

There's no one right way to calm your child and help him sleep through the night. It's up to you to choose an approach that works for you and your family.

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