1. Parenting
Maureen Ryan

Helping a Toddler Settle Down and Sleep

By February 27, 2012

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My 14-month-old slept 11 hours straight last night. While he's pretty good at sleeping seven or eight hours most nights, 11 is really unusual. But I am in no way letting my guard down. From experience I know that tonight could be an up-all-night-with-baby kind of evening.

Even if your toddler has been going down well at night for weeks or months, you're bound to have a day when he throws a bedtime tantrum or wakes up howling a few hours after saying night-night. This is especially common if a toddler is overtired, but it also happens when toddlers are going through changes in routines or during spurts of independence when they decide they don't want to do things on your terms.

The babies who have chronic sleep problems seem to get all the attention, but for moms and dads who are used to having a fairly easy time putting their toddler to bed, these occasional breakdowns can be hard to manage as well.

Sometimes your child just needs to be left alone to work it out and there's nothing you can do to fix it. But other times, a good old-fashion baby rocking is in order to help your toddler go to sleep. But wait, how on earth do you rock a screaming, thrashing, wiggly toddler? It takes loads of patience and more than a bit of muscle. On those nights, I get through the toddler kicks and slaps mostly by imagining that I'm building awesome upper arms by holding firmly to my little guy...and by knowing that as independent as he is, sometimes he needs a tight hug and a strong sway from mom to put him at ease.

Got a story about trying to get your toddler to sleep or tips on what works? Share it with us!

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