Toddlers (Nine to Eighteen Months)
Establish a Good Bedroom Environment: A night-light or an open door always makes toddlers feel more secure. Keep the temperature of the bedroom around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. A room that is too hot or too cold can interfere with normal sleep patterns.
Reassure and Comfort: This is the age when separation anxiety first occurs. As a result, many children attempt to delay their bedtimes by making persistent demands for your presence. Rocking an infant creates a soothing rhythm conducive to sleep. However, it’s a good idea to leave the bedroom even if your child is still awake. This way you avoid establishing a pattern of dependence that can lead to the child’s having problems falling asleep later on.
Provide a Surrogate Parent: Encourage nighttime attachment to a doll or stuffed animal. Upon awakening in the middle of the night your child will feel comforted by the presence of this familiar toy.
Preschoolers (Two to Five Years)
Encourage naps: An early-afternoon daytime nap can prevent irritability in the late afternoon when the effects of any sleep deprivation would be most evident.
Establish bedtime rituals: Bedtime rituals instill a feeling of security in a small child. You decide the bedtime, but let your child decide which pajamas to wear, what story to read, or what lullabies to hear.
Avoid nightmares: Nightmares are bad dreams that seem to happen fairly often at this age. Don’t let your child watch scary movies, especially those involving children; at this young age, kids still have difficulty separating fantasy from reality.
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