Your 2 Year Old Won’t Sleep: Why and What to Do

As your baby grows into an energetic and self-willed person, you may notice that the sleep patterns may change as well. Babies in 2 years old may not sleep as much as they did when they were infants. They usually sleep for 12 hours in a 24-hour span while infants sleep for 16 hours or more. At the age of two, you are probably finding it harder to get your baby to sleep. Why?

Why Won't Your 2 Year Old Sleep?

Be comforted with the fact that this is a completely normal behavior even though it can be an irritating and extremely tiring task. There are various reasons why your 2 year old won’t sleep, including the following:

  • Lack of a consistent bedtime routine
  • Over-excitement about something
  • Testing his/her willpower and independence
  • Anxiety over separation
  • Fear of the dark
  • Unable to soothe himself/herself to sleep

How to Put Your Baby to Sleep

Of course, knowing why your baby won't sleep is only the beginning; the hard part is how to put your baby to sleep. The following tips can be helpful.

And remember to take care of yourself and in case you feel overwhelmed, take some time out and catch a breath of fresh air as you leave your partner or close relative to stand in for you.

1.    Be Calm but Firm

Even if your 2 year old won’t sleep, you need to maintain your cool temper while standing your ground. Remember you are in a power struggle with an expert negotiator who will use all the willpower and charm to try and dissuade you from your quest. Don't give in.

Calmly and firmly tell your toddler that it is time for bed. No matter how many excuses you are met with, explain to him/her that it's time to sleep. Check up every five minute or so. Progressively prolong this time until your baby falls asleep completely.

2.    Follow the Same Nighttime Routine

Consistency is everything in your quest to help your child settle to a bedtime routine. Be careful not to incorporate an elaborate bedtime routine. Keep it simple and fun.

A good example is having dinner followed by fun bath time with his/her favorite toy, reading a story/praying, and then kissing goodnight. If your child is showing some resistance towards your plan, circumvent this situation by making him/her time-conscious. Make your baby understand that the clock dictates everything. So you can develop a routine chart with time allocated to each activity, e.g. teeth brushing from 7:00 to 7:10 pm.

3.    Don't Let the Toddler Waste Time

Your baby will try and come up with requests and activities that will postpone the bedtime. If you suspect that your baby is doing this, allow him/her one last request and make it clear that it is the last one.

Always make sure that the bedtime routine also covers his/her frequent requests like pooping or peeing in the potty, having a glass of water or putting the favorite stuffed animal to sleep.

4.    Let Your Baby Enjoy Naps During the Day

Make sure that your baby gets regular naps during the day if your 2 year old won't sleep at night. Amazingly, this will help him/her sleep better at night. Going without a nap for a whole day may cause your baby to be cranky and make sleeping a lot harder.

5.    Let Your Baby Get Enough Exercise, Sunshine and Fresh Air During the Day

Kids need to get enough sunshine and physical exercise (by playing and laughing), so as to relax their bodies and release emotions before bedtime. Some kids even need to cry a little to release the emotional baggage they have been carrying around during the day. Your baby will be easier to get to sleep without the curbed emotions.

6.    Allow Some Entertainment

You can allow your baby to play with his/her favorite toy in bed before time to sleep. Make sure that it is safe and he/she is still in bed, and the lights are dimmed to encourage sleep. Your baby can also listen to music if he/she prefers.

7.    Reassure Your Baby

Your 2 year old won’t sleep on time? Reassure your baby about his/her safety and your presence, if your baby is afraid or anxious about monsters under the bed or in the closet or is just afraid of the dark. Leaving the door slightly ajar may help reduce this fear. Assure your baby that there is nothing to worry about the darkness and that it will help him/her sleep better. If he/she is completely afraid of the dark, you can leave the lights dimmed.

8.    Set Up a Comfortable Bed

Things like warm duvets, white noise device, dark colored curtains, warm pajamas, and dim lights will help your baby feel more comfortable and ensure that he/she doesn't snap out of sleep during the waking sleep. Most children go through the normal sleep cycles where they have a shallow sleep before settling into a deep sleep.

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