Raising a child is a joy that many people long to experience. You get to watch your kid take their first steps, try their first bite of ice cream and slide down the slide for the first time.
There are many wonderful firsts that come with parenting, but there are also some scary moments where you face an unknown for the first time.
When toddlers and older children struggle to get to sleep, it can be difficult for parents to figure out what the cause is and how to fix it. It's especially worrying if it goes on for an extended period.
If your child isn't sleeping through the night, read on to learn why that might be happening and how you can try to get them back to sleep. By keeping an open mind and trying new things, you could find exactly what they need to rest peacefully every night.
1. They're Not Tired
This is a difficult solution to come to, especially if you know your kid is active throughout the day. They're always playing and running around, so wouldn't they want to sleep at the end of the night?
The truth is that kids have a lot of natural energy. They're growing quickly, and their bodies can't use up all the energy they produce.
Even if you think your kid is active enough, try doing things to tire them out. Take them to the park if you can or have them walk around your neighborhood with you instead of being pushed in the stroller.
Even a ten-minute dance party after dinner could be what they need to release their pent-up energy and head to sleep.
2. They Have Reflux
Reflux is more common in babies and toddlers than parents often think. The symptoms often present as screaming and restlessness, along with not wanting to eat or having persistent coughs.
Acid reflux is made worse when someone lays down flat because it encourages the acid farther up the digestive tract. This might be your child's issue if they sleep flat or on a thin pillow.
Have your child checked by their pediatrician for signs of acid reflux. They'll be able to properly diagnose it and identify any triggers in your child's diet or daily routine that can be avoided. Medication may also be prescribed to calm the irritated digestive tract.
3. They've Got Habits
Toddlers go through many big life changes, and some of those changes can upset how they sleep.
Has your child slept through the night in the past by having their pacifier? When it's time for that to be taken away, that's their security blanket going too. It probably meant more to them during their sleep than a stuffed animal.
Think about if there are any habits your toddler may be trying to break out of to figure out if their sleeping issue is temporary. Once they get used to their new routine, they'll go back to sleeping like they used to.
4. Their Mattress is Old
People may not think about this much, but mattresses have a lot to do with how well people sleep. That includes kids of all ages.
Where did you get your child's mattress? Was it handed down from a friend or family member, or bought brand new? A handed down mattress may have reached the end of the road if you can't figure out any other reason why your kid can't sleep.
Mattresses only last seven to ten years at most, which is why getting a new one may be in your best interest. It'll be worth it if it helps your child sleep, especially if you're able to get a mattress that they can grow into in the years to come.
5. They Have Anxiety
Jokes can sometimes be made that kids have a perfect life. They don't have anything to worry about on the same scale as adults, but that doesn't mean they can't have anxiety.
Studies have shown that one in 20 children have anxiety, which can go undetected by even the most careful parents. Symptoms may appear as not being able to sleep, having nightmares, or even failing in school.
Younger kids can often suffer from separation anxiety, even when they know you're in the room just down the hall. Get them checked out at the doctor, especially if they're a bit older. Younger kids can be left to cry it out for 45 minutes before getting ten minutes of cuddling.
6. They're Uncomfortable
Sometimes the answer is the simplest one. Your child may not have the words or know how to describe how they're feeling, which is why parents are always their child's advocates.
Take a look at how your child tries to sleep. Are they covered in layers of blankets on a warm night? Do they have thin pajamas on during the winter?
Other things that might make them uncomfortable are:
A ceiling fan is left on or off
The room is too dark or too light
Too many toys are on the bed
Ask them how they're feeling the next time you hear them up late at night. See if they're shivering or sweating or encourage them to try different things like using a night light. The smallest changes could make the biggest difference.
7. They Have Insomnia
If your child struggles to fall asleep or stay asleep, they could have insomnia. Even kids as young as toddlers can have this condition. Some possible causes could be:
Sugar or caffeine
Look at what your child's routine and diet are to help figure out if insomnia is their issue. This is another case where talking to your child's doctor will be a big help.
8. They Need Routine
Just like older people do, kids need routine in order to live a healthy life. Does your child have a regular bedtime routine?
A nightly routine could be as simple as brushing their teeth and having a story read to them at the same time every night. An important factor could also be enforcing a new rule that there's no eating after seven o'clock, so no foods are keeping them up.
Try Different Solutions
If you try one of these solutions and it doesn't immediately work, don't stop trying. It may take a bit to figure out why your child isn't sleeping, but there's always something you can do to help them. Research more ideas, such as using service dogs to help with sleep safety.
Switching up their routine, investing in a new mattress or getting a checkup at the doctor are all possible ways to solve your child's sleep issues.