How to Sleep Train a 2-Year-Old
We’ve all heard of the terrible twos, the toddler stage of baby development that leaves many parents exhausted and exasperated that their once quiet and compliant infant suddenly turns into a toddler that doesn’t want to do anything a parent says to do.
Okay, the terrible twos certainly have their fair share of power struggles, as toddlers become more independent and start to learn how to communicate with adults and other children, but there are some not-so-terrible moments in the toddler development cycle, too. For example, toddlers eventually learn to say “I love you” to mom, dad, and anyone else they choose, and those moments can make all the terrible stuff very worth it.
Despite the heartwarming moments, one of the areas of life that might become most difficult is in the area of bedtime. Toddlers are very excited about their new developing brains. Sometimes a toddler won’t stay in bed. They’re seeing and hearing things for the first time in life, and they’re able to communicate that excitement for the first time. And this excitement can spell doom for regular sleep patterns of both toddlers and parents.
Toddlers are also going through the sometimes confusing push and pull of still relying for parents on almost everything while also trying to communicate their own unique set of wants and needs. Sleep training 2-year-old toddlers can sometimes be the answer to your bedtime nightmare.
What Is Sleep Training?
Sleep training is used to address a host of sleep problems that sometimes toddlers have. Many of those toddlers might have had difficulty sleeping when they were very young infants, but it’s not to late to start sleep training 2 year old if you feel like there’s a serious problem going on.
Talking to a pediatrician about it first is never a bad idea, but if you’re here to get an idea of what sleep training is, this is a good start to explore so you can seriously discuss it with your pediatrician.
If you haven’t heard of the 18-month sleep regression, here it is. It basically means that your adorable toddler is still waking up in the middle of the night, sometimes showing up to sleep in the same room with you. It’s problematic for many parents and more common than you’d think. Even a two-year-old can experience sleep regression. If your toddler is experiencing this, it can be a true nightmare for both of you. They’re irritable and unable to sleep through the night and by extension you can’t either.
If this is your situation, sleep training is one possible answer. Toddlers who still require parental assistance to get to sleep are in a state of regression. Now, this is according to some experts. Other experts aren’t as alarmed about this behavior, but if you’re reading this, you’re obviously in the category of people who feel this behavior is problematic.
Before thinking of sleep training, tick off all the basics of a toddler’s normal nighttime routine and make sure that your toddler is already sleeping the way they should and still having trouble sleeping at night. Toddlers should have one or two daytime naps.
A bedtime for a toddler should be between 6 PM and 8 PM (every parent has a different style and schedule to adhere to). If your toddler is still waking up during the night and making their twos terrible for you, sleep training is one possible solution but by no means the only one. It is simply one behavioral treatment technique for toddlers who cannot sleep through the night.
Does Sleep Training a 2-Year-Old Work?
Sleep training 2 year old toddlers works for some parents. This is where it’s time to lay down the law, albeit gently, about bedtimes. It’s training your 2-year-old to sleep through the night via more parental control than other parents normally have to use. And that’s okay! Not every toddler is just alike and some will have sleep disturbances during the night. You’re just one of those parents who have to put a little extra effort into your nighttime routine.
Experts believe that sleep training 2-year-old toddlers require more parental rules. You’re going to need to have a nighttime routine, such as maybe taking a bath or reading a story to your toddler. This will relax the 2-year-old, as can baby massages.
Sleep is all about relaxation and shutting down those little minds. More easily excitable 2-year-olds are going to need a different nighttime routine than a 2-year-old who’s asleep before their head hits the pillow. A nighttime routine should involve a 30 minute relaxing activity before bedtime (reading a story to your toddler is a great idea). This will be the beginning of sleep training 2 year old toddlers.
Once your toddler’s routine is completed, it’s time to lay down the law. This means making it very clear to your toddler that during the night, everyone in the household sleeps. They don’t leave their sleep area.
Of course, some toddlers are going to fight back against this and argue, and that’s to be excepted. You wouldn’t be looking up sleep training 2-year-old toddlers if everything was going swimmingly at bedtime. Some parents make a chart or something visible that their 2 year old can understand and explain more in-depth what the rules are. Something tangible that they can look at and see to connect with the rules might help.
Finally, although sleep training might have a nightly “check-in,” (known as the Ferber Method), a toddler can protest when you check-in. So you can learn more about the cry-it-out method if they protest. No check-ins here.
Different Sleep Training Methods
Sleep training toddlers can be a truly interesting experience for parents. It takes a lot of work and dedication to stick with this method and make sure that your toddler adheres to the rules, but if you can get the training down and see results, it’s a huge sense of accomplishment for both parents and toddlers.
If you’re sleep training 2-year-old toddlers, you’re definitely going to have some push back from some toddlers. They may cry. They may throw temper tantrums. You may have situations you have to deal with on the fly, without any professional helping you.
Before sleep training a child of this age, it’s important to talk to a professional about this method. Your pediatrician can give you a lot more in-depth information about it and whether it’s right for you and your toddler.
Every toddler is different and their bedtime routine will vary, but sleep training has certainly worked for many parents, so it may just be the answer to your nighttime blues. A toddler waking up in the middle of the night is never a pleasant thing for them or parents, but all toddlers have their reasons for their behavior.
Parents just can’t always know what the reason is. Sometimes it’s that the child is too attached to parents and wants to stick to the old ways. Other times it could be a power issue or a testing boundaries issue. You’re the law here, though.
Before sleep training 2 year old toddlers, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my child healthy and not sick right now? Sick babies might not sleep well.
- Are they waking up in the middle of the night to the point where it disrupts the household?
- Have they been getting an appropriate amount of naps during the day?
If the answer to these questions is yes, it may be time to consider using the sleep training 2 year old toddler method.
It’ll take a bit of patience on your part, a lot of research, and perhaps even a trip in to talk to your pediatrician, but if you decide to go this route, the reward can be a refreshing night of sleep for you and the whole family, including your adorable toddler.