This could be the answer to your toddler's sleep issues

THIS is simple technique has been shown to shorten the time it takes for a preschooler to fall asleep and even reduce the number of night-time wake-ups and bedtime tantrums.

Getting toddlers to go to sleep can be a difficult time for both parents and child. Sleep regressions, cold weather, illness and transitioning from a cot to a bed can set families back in the sleep department.

But could there be a way to make the process easier?

A recent study has examined an interesting and surprisingly gentle technique that hasn't had a lot of attention, but perhaps deserves some air time.

If you've never heard the term before, it may sound like a new-age form of hypnosis that gently helps your child fade into dreamland. And hey, if it works I'm willing to give that a try too! But it actually has to do with the time the child is put down to bed.

Essentially the premise is this:  if a baby or toddler isn't tired, it will be more difficult to get them to go to sleep.

This makes complete sense to me as it perfectly describes my three-year-old daughter. She will chat and make repeated requests for anything stimulating for an hour on days when she has napped at daycare and is therefore not tired at 8pm.

This is where the good people at Flinders University come in. They've published a great resource detailing exactly how to implement bedtime fading in your own home.

"Select a consistent time (seven days a week) you would like your baby to wake in the morning," the document instructs.

The first few nights, you delay your baby's bedtime by 15 minutes.

At the end of those few nights, if your child is still taking a long time to go to sleep, delay bedtime a further 15 minutes.

Continue trying each new bedtime for a few nights then moving it later until you find a time in the evening that your toddler goes to sleep without too much fuss.

A recent study by Flinders University, which was published in Sleep Medicine evaluates the efficacy of bedtime fading to reduce sleep disturbances in preschool aged children.

They used a group parent education format to study 21 children aged one to four years who experienced difficulty falling asleep, remaining asleep, or both. They paid particular attention to the length of time it took for the preschooler to fall asleep, to wake up again, and number of bedtime tantrums.

The results were really positive.

The study showed bedtime fading reduced sleep onset latency (the time it takes for the child to fall asleep) and wake after sleep onset, and tantrums were reduced.

The study also followed up the mothers and children two years later, which showed that improvements experienced after the study were maintained.

I'm a convert. I'm going to home to push back on her bedtime and see if we can reduce the amount of times I have to wander through the house on the cold tiles to resettle her during the night. Wish me luck!

News Corp Australia

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