How to Help Children Who Have Trouble Sleeping: 5 Steps
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A calming bedtime routine can help whisk her off to dreamland.

You probably thought that you left sleep issues behind once your baby started sleeping through the night. But the Sandman might have something else in store for you and your little one. Toddlers and preschoolers are not immune to sleep issues -- which translate into sleepless nights for parents as well. You can't expect your child to have sweet dreams every night, but you can set the stage for a night of restful slumber.


  1. 1
    Create a predictable and calming bedtime routine to help wind down your little one and prepare her for sleep. Start 30 to 60 minutes before it's actually time for bed. Indulge in quiet activities like a warm bath, story time and songs -- all with dim lighting and quiet voices. Not only can these practices help a child who has sleep issues, but they also provide for a perfect bonding time after a long day.
  2. 2
    Address sleep concerns seriously. Toddlers and preschoolers are experiencing nightmares and bedtime fears for the first time. Simply telling your little one that there's no need to worry can leave her awake and quaking in her sheets. Instead, talk about the things that are scaring her, check under the bed for the occasional monster and install nightlights to help both validate and calm her fears.
  3. 3
    Follow a predictable daytime schedule, assessing the need to alter your child's naps throughout the day. If your little one has a hard time settling down at night, it could be that she's outgrowing her naps. Try shortening nap time, moving it an hour or two earlier, or doing away with naps altogether in an effort to get her to sleep better at night. The average preschooler needs anywhere from 9 to 12 hours of sleep each day, but it doesn't matter if you reach that goal with or without naps.
  4. 4
    Wear your child out physically during the day. She just might not be sleepy at night if she spends a good part of the day in front of the television. Instead, head to the park, dance around the house -- and just try to stay active for a good part of the day. If you do, there's a good chance that she'll pretty much fall asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow come bedtime.
  5. 5
    See your child's pediatrician if changes in his schedule don't seem to have an effect on his sleep issues. He could be suffering from night terrors, have sleep apnea, or even developmental issues that could be derailing his nightly appointment with the Sandman. Try recording a week's worth of sleep activity in a journal and taking the stats into the pediatrician for an assessment. After receiving the appropriate treatment, your little one's sleep woes can become a thing of the past.

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