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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Any parent of a toddler knows how difficult it can be to get them to go to bed and stay asleep. There are a number of reasons why a toddler will fight against their bedtime. They may be afraid of the dark, feel like they’re missing out on fun, or may just want to assert their independence.

Since toddlers require 11-13 hours of sleep each day (including naps), it’s important that you do everything you can to ensure the maximum amount of restful, restorative sleep. While you can’t anticipate every obstacle your toddler will throw at you to avoid having to go to bed, there are some things you can do to help your toddler get the sleep they need as he or she transitions from their crib to a “big kid” bed.

Getting to Sleep

The transition from a crib to a bed can be tough for a toddler, especially if it’s to make room for another baby. It’s best to give them lots of praise during this time. Hype up the idea of a big kid bed to help them get excited about this change. Also, consider including them when you shop for a new bed or mattress. Have a couple options picked out, and ask your little one what they would prefer. If you can get your child excited about their new bed, then they’ll likely be more cooperative at bedtime.

It’s also important to maintain their bedtime routine, as that may help ease the transition into a new bed. “Bath-Books-Bed” is a common bedtime formula that many parents find successful. You can help your toddler wind down as you bathe him, talking about the day and what may be coming up in the days ahead. Reading to him before he sleeps will also help them relax and get into the mindset for sleep. Just remember not to read a book that’s not going to excite or stimulate them too much. Let your child choose the books from a few options you’ve selected. Let them also choose the pajamas they’re going to wear and which stuffed animals they want to keep in bed. If your child feels like they’re in control, they might not put up a fight when it’s time to say goodnight.

The Right Mattress

Parents commonly underestimate the importance of buying a high quality mattress for their children. They think that the cheap mattress is the best one to buy because, hey, kids outgrow things quickly. Right? While young children quickly outgrow shoes, clothes, and toys, they don’t necessarily outgrow their mattresses. Kids typically sleep on the same bed for most of their formative years and likely through their teen years. They need a high quality mattress that will last for at least 10 years.

While durability is important, you should also consider support when you buy your child a mattress. As your child’s body grows, he needs a mattress that will provide adequate back support. While it may be more expensive than the alternative, a memory foam mattress is an excellent choice for your toddler’s bed. Not only will it offer the most conforming support, but it will also give your toddler the healthiest sleep environment, as memory foam mattresses are anti-dust mite and anti-microbial. It’s important to protect your toddler from these allergens, as he or she could end up developing sensitivities to them.

Choosing the right mattress for your toddler will ensure that they gets the best sleep possible…when they do, in fact, sleep.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents that want their toddlers to sleep.