We hear it all the time… your two year old (or three, or four year old) was a great sleeper. But suddenly they’re crying and clingy at bedtime or taking forever to fall asleep. What’s going on?
Here are some of the most common reasons bedtime suddenly gets harder at this age:
Bedtime is too early
They’ve outgrown their schedule. Older toddlers and preschoolers need more awake time in between their nap and bedtime than their younger counterparts. If they’re taking a solid 2-3 hour afternoon nap, for many it will be impossible to fall asleep less than 6 hours later. Use Huckleberry’s free SweetSpot® tool to determine when your child may be tired enough for bed, but not overtired.
Bedtime routine is too short
Older children sometimes need longer periods of time to unwind. We often suggest building in more down time before bed so they’re more relaxed once it’s time to sleep.
This age group is notorious for testing limits and exploring independence. While it can be challenging, it’s ultimately beneficial and completely developmentally appropriate. However, giving in to all the new requests can make bedtime long and stressful. Deciding what your boundaries are and sticking with them can really cut down on bedtime struggles.
Separation anxiety isn’t just for babies. Older kids go through phases of fear and anxiety too. They have vibrant imaginations, but the difference between what’s imaginary vs. real is not yet so clear. Night lights and comfort objects can help little ones feel more secure at night when it’s time to go to sleep.
If these issues sound familiar, we want you to know that you’re not alone! We help families improve bedtime with our personalized recommendations on a daily basis. Our sleep experts use algorithms (developed by Ph.D.'s in data science) and their vast experience to develop customized plans for each family.
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