For many 1-year-olds, drifting off to dreamland doesn't come easily. If you've been lying down with your little one or cuddling him to sleep, or if he has suddenly developed anxiety at being left in his room alone, sleep time may be downright stressful. You can teach your tot how to relax and fall asleep on his own by using a calm and consistent approach to his bedtime routine.
Make sure your 1-year-old is warm enough, but not too hot. AskDrSears.com recommends a bedroom temperature of around 70 degrees. Give your little one warm pajamas in winter months, as young children tend not to stay snuggled under their covers.
Keep noise in the home to a minimum. Your 1-year-old does not necessarily need silence to sleep in, but too much noise is likely to distract him or keep him from being able to relax.
Set up a bedtime routine that will relax your tyke and become familiar to him. Have a set bedtime, and maybe give him a soothing bath or story. Parenting expert and author Elizabeth Pantley advises that children often need to be taught how to relax, and your toddler is more likely to feel sleepy if he is sitting still listening to a story.
Be consistent. However you choose to react to your 1-year-old when she cries or protests, make sure you stick to it. Alanna McGinn, a certified infant and toddler sleep consultant and the founder of Good Night Sleep Site, says on the PBS Parents website that toddlers learn how to sleep quickly as long as you don't give mixed messages.
Don't rush back into your toddler's bedroom as soon as she cries out, as you need to give her a chance to get herself to sleep. Baby sleep specialist and author of “Baby Secrets" Jo Tantum says five minutes is a suitable amount of time to leave a 1-year-old crying -- any longer and she may become too stressed to sleep.
Do not interact with your little one too much when you go back into her bedroom. Lie her back down if you need to and soothe her with a few quiet words and a gentle stroke before leaving the room again. You may have to do this quite a few times to begin with.
Sit on the floor of your 1-year-old's room while she drifts off to sleep if she is used to sleeping with you. This will help with any separation anxiety, but let her sleep on her own. Sit further away from her crib or bed each night until you are sitting outside the door.
Be patient, as it may take a few nights or more to establish a good sleeping pattern.