What to Do if Your Toddler is Waking in the Middle of the Night

So, if your toddler is waking in the night and you are following all the Moms on Call principles…from safety to that wonderful “tender time” right before bed, here are some more tips to help in the battle for a continuous night’s sleep. 

When your brain hijacks your sleep

Of course, every toddler has a brain. A toddler’s brain is a splendored thing that ironically can “have a mind of its own.” But, we rarely discuss how to care for this beautiful, mysterious organ that controls our functions and behaviors. But, wow, is it easy for that brain to hijack all kinds of experiences…like sleep. And because a toddler is learning and processing at record speed in the first four years of life, it needs a lot of rest. Keep reading for what to do if your toddler is waking in the middle of the night.

So, as a toddler’s brain is rebooting, resetting, and getting all the rest it needs, sometimes it wakes up…in the night. And if we provide additional stimulation by, say…engaging them in conversation or turning on the lights….we undermine the skill that the brain needs to rest and reset. The lack of additional stimulation over time helps the brain to lull itself back to restorative sleep.

So, if your toddler is waking in the night and you are following all the Moms on Call principles…from safety to that wonderful nighttime “tender time” right before bed, here are some more tips to help in the battle for a continuous night’s sleep. 

5 Tips for a Continuous Night’s Sleep

  1. Enact a “no engagement” policy, during the night. As long as they are healthy, a toddler does not need to engage in the middle of the night. It is quite stimulating and actually makes it HARDER for them to get back to sleep. 
  2. Set the expectations right before bed, so you do not feel like you have to do it in the middle of the night. Before bed, instead of reacting to the toddler’s inconsistent and often exaggerated responses to life, we establish the truth and help them to recognize that truth with clear, confident repetition. So they are not in control of how we all feel about the sleep environment; we are in control of how we present the sleep environment to them. (See the Moms on Call Toddler book chapter entitled “Between awake and asleep” for more great ideas about what to say and do to promote all-night rest)
  3. Keep a consistent schedule of events. Toddlers find excellent security when things go in the same order simultaneously. Have a definable schedule so that even if the stuff in life changes from week to week, the schedule remains the same.
  4. Do not let Toddlers “sleep in” even if they had a bad night. Start the day on time. Have an opening routine that is the start of each day. It provides a great distraction and indicates that you are starting the day. We cannot make the toddlers participate, but we sure can make life look fun and non-optional. 
  5. Remember, the time to address sleep is right before bed with great confidence in what they are capable of doing. Keep a calm, friendly face throughout your parenting experience (as much as is realistic – we know!). Let them know that you are confident and have things under control (even when it feels like you don’t!) Communicate clearly that you believe they are safe and loved and your house sleeps when the moon is out. And in the middle of the night, let them work out the truths you told them before they drifted off to sleep.

Check out the Moms on Call Toddler Online Video Course! The course includes simple ways to communicate with your toddler in a way that brings out the best in them!

Are you looking for our favorite toddler products? Then, visit our Moms on Call Amazon store for your Toddler Essentials!

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Toddler Sleep

Toddler Sleep

Here at Moms on Call, we know that toddlers across the globe are not getting the amounts of uninterrupted sleep that they need. We know because we talk with incredible parents daily, listening to their toddler sleep struggles and mapping out effective plans that serve their goals. And we get to celebrate their wins, and we would like to celebrate yours. (And by “wins” we mean entire households being restored to 10-12 hours of sleep – in a row – in their own rooms – like clockwork). So if this is not you, read on.  Toddlers need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep in a row every night and we, as parents, need them to have that too.  Toddlers can learn to sleep in their room and stay there all night. We know the process is neither easy nor fun. When we transform nighttime from chaotic, unpredictable, and restless to peaceful and relaxing, the entire household benefits, marriages improve, and on occasion, more babies are made. We know that having all the pieces of the sleep puzzle in place gives our toddlers the most incredible opportunity to learn. We also know that the learning process involves some crying. However, it is not as daunting when we understand how toddlers learn and all the things that affect nighttime sleep. Follow these basic toddler sleep principles: Have a LOUD white noise machine in the child’s room – white noise only, and it stays on all night. Keep the room cool at around 68-72 degrees. Child-proof the toddler’s room – don’t forget to remove those strings that hang from the blinds. Turn the door handle around so it locks from the outside. Then, if there is a fire, you will know right where they are, preventing them from locking themselves in their room at other times. Besides, they once slept in a crib with bars…..to keep them safe (which is what a locked door does when they move to a toddler bed).  Do not allow daytime naps to last longer than 3 hours or past 5 pm. After dinner, give the children a chance to burn off some of that pent-up energy, then give them a nice warm bath – if you have more than one toddler or more than one child, you can bathe them together once the baby can sit in a bath seat, then it is in the room for PJs and nighttime by 8 pm at the latest. (See MOC schedules in the APP) Read 1-2 books, go over the household rules, which you can learn more about in the Moms on Call Toddler Book, or join us as we talk about it in our online class and then say, “I love you. I believe in you, and I will see you when the sun comes up.”  Then leave, close the door and see them when the sun comes up. And this is VERY important. We cannot “make up” for lost sleep. Start the day at 7 am no matter how much sleep they get during the night. We are setting their inner 24-hour clock as we begin this process. So, it is not about how much sleep they got that day or night; it is about setting the inner clock for the long game.  What do we know about toddler sleep? Any behavior that gets you back in the room will be repeated. You can close and lock the door if you need to keep them in their room and in that safe, ideal sleep environment. Your toddler will be just fine. They will learn to sleep in their room. Your toddler will sleep all night if we send them consistent messages and give them the amount of time it will take to learn healthy sleep habits. This can take between 5 days-2 weeks. Allowing a child who is engaged all day and is in a temperature-controlled environment in a room decorated just for them who is one doorway away from their loving parents is not torture. Toddlers learn by routine and consistency. If we place them in the ideal sleep environment and consistently show up every morning at 7 am, their little internal clocks will adjust to this routine in about five days to 2 weeks. How do we know? Well, we have partnered with thousands of families to help them implement these principles effectively. We have seen it work over and over. We have seen lives transformed, marriages saved, and parents who were well-rested enough to enjoy the adventure of parenting toddlers. Please take a look at the testimonials at momsoncall.com to let our clients tell their own stories. We also know that many of you need to know the reasoning behind these methods before you can effectively implement them in your household. That is why we have online courses explaining the process in more detail. In addition, the online course covers the most commonly asked questions about the process.  Parents are the best ones to decide how to handle nighttime sleep. You can be a good parent and love your child whether or not you follow the above guidelines. This is simply the method we have seen work so many times over. We would be irresponsible not to share with tired and desperate parents looking for answers.  We know that you love your toddlers! Naturally, you want what is best for them, and we know the principles outlined above really work. Shop the Moms on Call toddler online class! You will get everything you need, including a voice of experience, hope, encouragement, and truth.
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What do you say to a toddler who is scared of the dark?

What do you say to a toddler who is scared of the dark?

“Mommy, Daddy, I’m scared.” My husband was gifted a parrot once. This was no ordinary parrot. It would choose the darnedest things to repeat which seemed to have no rhyme or reason. It is certainly the fodder of many good stories. As our kids pick and choose their vocabulary, they can also be quite entertaining and occasionally worrisome. Nighttime is no different. There are just so many words around bedtime and concepts that toddlers are just beginning to understand. So, as you might guess, they try different words on for size, to see which one will garner attention, engagement and interest. Are they being manipulative? Absolutely not. They are curious; and as they do, we have an extraordinary opportunity to speak to the deepest parts of them and provide a very important resource….reassurance. Oftentimes, when a toddler says they are scared…it is a word that populated their vocabulary (sometimes put there at our suggestion) and it can start to unravel the elements of nighttime that actually speaks to their sense of security. So, looking for monsters, ghost-spraying the closet and having long talks about fictional outcomes can seem helpful for a season but addressing the issue is actually much easier. So, what do you say to a toddler who is exploring the word “scared”? “You…are….safe.” It serves both the scenario of the toddler that is experimenting with words and also the one who is conveying that they just became more aware of their surroundings and are trying to sort out what it means for nighttime. If you have spent night after night checking under beds and leaving doors open “just in case”…this is your ticket to calmer, more confident nights. Three little words and the action behind those are powerful in the long game. Plus, the one that is bigger and stronger than them, that puts life into toddler-sized, understandable bits of truth; that person, they are not scared. And that is powerful. And as any parent may, as you navigate the questions and details of the things your toddler says, we would love to be YOUR voice of reassurance. So that we can send the most prepared, confident person possible into all those challenging parenting situations. We will not make it perfect, but we can definitely make it easier and much less scary. Moms on Call has many resources, tips and tricks that are judgement free and help you parent out of truth and not fear. Our Online Video Courses and books cover everything you need to know including feeding, sleeping, typical day schedules, FAQs and so much more! Our swaddle blankets, apps and certified consultant network will support you as you use the Moms on Call method. Sign up for our newsletter to join the Family!
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