No matter how exciting it may be, there are going to be new challenges to face, and sometimes parents can be just as confused as the baby they’re taking care of. For instance, how do you know when your baby is hungry? How do you know when your baby is anxious, grumpy, having a stomach ache, or sleepy? As your baby grows into a toddler, their motor skills will improve, but their communication skills are still somewhat limited to pointing, laughing, crying, and hitting. So how do we know what our toddlers are trying to tell us?
Sometimes our toddlers want to be put down for the night, but parents can be oblivious to the symptoms of sleepiness. Their sleep patterns are much different to an adult’s, and they exhibit symptoms of drowsiness much different than what adults do. This article will focus on the distinct symptoms of a sleepy toddler, and it’ll also give you some pointers on when the best time to put your child to bed is.
Note to the readers: the symptoms that appear on this list are not in any order, and your child may exhibit one or several of these symptoms.
Many parents may misinterpret their child’s slapping of their own cheeks as being a symptom of boredom or just being cute. We admit, it’s hilarious when a toddler holds onto their own cheeks, but they might be trying to communicate that they’re about ready to fall asleep.
Adults might tug their ears or wipe their eyes repeatedly as a sign of frustration or stress. For toddlers, it might be a completely different story. Tugging ears and wiping eyes mainly means that they’re trying to fight away the drowsiness that’s slowly settling in. It might also be an indication that they’re feeling discomfort due to a large buildup of earwax (in this case, consult your pediatrician). If you see your child playing with his or her eyes and ears, it might be time to take them back to the crib.
Even adults have glazed eyes or empty stares when they’re sleepy. The same applies to toddlers as well. When they stare blankly at walls or objects, it means that they’re losing focus and need to recharge. You can lift them up and rock them gently bounce them up and down in your arms. This should put them to sleep in no time.
New parents might think that toddlers who suck their fingers are mainly hungry or just looking for something to play with. Oftentimes, it means that they’re about to fall asleep and are looking for a warm bottle of milk to bring them to dreamland. If you’re trying to help your child break the unsightly habit of sucking on their digits, give them a soft toy to chew. This is especially helpful for teething babies whose gums are constantly irritated.
Adults yawn excessively when they’re tired, bored, uninterested, or sleepy. Toddlers yawn because they just woke up (another common cause in adults) or they’re going to fall asleep soon. If you see your child yawning, make them a bottle of milk and let them drink while gently falling asleep.
We don’t mean that your child will be on edge or frustrated. When a toddler appears uneasy, they usually can’t stay still or are looking for something to pique their interest, but more times than not, they just want to hit the hay.
The way your toddlers curves his or her back might be an indication of sleepiness. For example, if your toddler curves backward, they’re just stretching or just about to get up and move. If your child curves forward, it means they don’t have the strength to move and are about to fall asleep on their face. Take them to a soft surface like a bed or crib and let them doze off peacefully.
Toddlers can be a little loud at times, but even new parents can grow accustomed to the sudden change in decibels within their homes. However, when a toddler becomes silent, it can be a sign that something is wrong – imminent stomach ache, boredom, or sleepiness. If your toddler is silent and unwilling to engage in activities, it means that they’re trying to catch some Zs. Take them to bed and let them dream.
This is the exact opposite of the previous item. Signs of sleepiness come in all forms and sounds, and fussiness is one of them. If your child is crying or seems restless, it might mean that they’re losing a battle to the Sandman. Oftentimes you can let your child drain his or her energy, but you can help them overcome a crying fit by laying them down in bed and letting them play with their favorite toy while their eyelids become increasingly heavy.
As babies grow up, their sleep schedules change drastically. For example, newborns should be put to bed whenever their tiny little eyes close. Pre-toddlers should be put to sleep much earlier than your own sleep schedules, sometime around 5:30 to 11:00 PM. However, for toddlers aged 1 to 3 years, they should be put to bed between 6:00 and 7:30 PM. Naptimes are probably a thing of the past for toddlers, so they’ll need to be put to bed early in order to recharge and wake up at an appropriate time.
Not every toddler is the same, and their sleep schedules might depend on how stimulated they are throughout the day. In general, you don’t want to put your child to bed too early since they might wake up screaming in the middle of the night. Too late and your morning schedule will take a hit as it fits around your toddler’s wake-up time. New parents should experiment with different times and see which hour is best for their own toddler.