Safe Sleeping Tips for Toddlers
Every parent knows that bedtime can be stressful to navigate. As well as coping with bouts of crying and sleeplessness, parents must consider the safety of their child’s sleeping space. In the first months of their lives, babies are at risk of developing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While the condition is rare, the CDC recommends a range of strategies to reduce the risk, including that parents place their babies on firm, flat surfaces.
Once your child enters their toddler phase (between 1 and 3 years old), the good news is that the risk of developing SIDS is significantly reduced. However, it’s still vital you look after your child’s sleeping space and consider any potential safety hazards. While your little one is probably better at sleeping soundly through the night, toddlers are inquisitive and cheeky by nature, increasing their risk of falling out of bed or having nighttime accidents. With this in mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to safe sleeping for toddlers.
1. Keep hazardous objects away from the bed or crib
Avoid placing hazardous objects within grabbing distance of your toddler’s bed or crib, as they could pose an injury risk. We particularly encourage you to look out for potential choke hazards such as curtains, blind cords, electrical wires, and mobiles. Sharp or heavy objects such as picture frames and lamps also pose a significant risk to wandering hands, so it’s important to create as much distance as possible between your child and surrounding objects. Just remember not to underestimate the length of their growing arms!
2. Avoid large plush toys
As your child grows into a toddler, you may feel eager to add small blankets and stuffed animals to your child’s sleeping area for comfort and improved sleep. It’s best to avoid investing in large plush toys, however, as they present suffocation risks and could provide the leverage your toddler needs to climb out of their crib. We also recommend you regularly wash your child’s favorite teddy bear in hot water using mild detergent to get rid of any nasty germs and dust mites!
3. Invest in a crib rail
As your child starts finding their feet, they may become more active during the night. Excitable toddlers are more likely to fall out of bed and injure themselves. Fortunately, investing in a crib rail will encourage safe sleeping and prevent your little explorer from making nighttime voyages around the house. When searching for a crib rail, it’s important to avoid options that shift and slide — Hiccapop’s crib rail uniquely secures itself to almost any bedframe, keeping your child safe all throughout the night.
4. Let your child sleep in a position that suits them!
After your little one’s first birthday, it’s totally acceptable to allow them to fall asleep in a position that suits their preferences. Unlike young babies, toddlers who sleep on their stomachs aren’t at risk of suffocation. In fact, letting your toddler explore potential sleeping positions could boost their ability to fall asleep quickly, save you from sleepless nights, and prevent nighttime knocks!
5. Think carefully about when to move your toddler out of their crib
Making the switch from a crib to a toddler bed can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. As well as giving your child a greater sense of independence, a toddler bed will give them space to grow. However, getting the timing right can be tricky. Most toddlers make the switch when they’re around three feet tall – roughly between the ages of 18 and 36 months.
However, every toddler is different, so listen to their needs! If your little one struggles to stay still and frequently attempts to crawl out of their crib, it’s best to wait a few months to avoid injuries caused by falls. Children who are well-behaved and keen to catch up with their older siblings, on the other hand, may adapt to a toddler bed very quickly. If your child struggles to adapt to their new bed, don’t hesitate to bring the crib back for a short while. Waiting a little longer doesn’t represent a parenting failure – rather, a supportive step to keep your child safe.
If you and your toddler want to find creative solutions to transitioning out of a crib, you can even simply move a mattress to the floor for a short period of time. In the case that your child rolls off, any falling risk is virtually mitigated from being so low to the ground.
6. Try to keep up your child’s bedtime routine
Transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed can be a little disruptive to your toddler’s bedtime routine. However, it’s important not to get sidetracked! Maintaining a consistent routine complete with lullabies, bedtime stories, and baths will help you bond with your toddler, improve sleep, and reduce the risk of dangerous nighttime shenanigans.
7. Assess whether you want to co-sleep with your toddler
Many parents sleep in the same room as their newborns and young babies to ensure they stay safe through the night (although it’s worth noting that you should avoid bed-sharing, as it increases the risk of SIDS). When your baby becomes a toddler, however, the benefits of co-sleeping start to diminish. As your child becomes more confident in their sleeping patterns, they (and you!) may sleep better in a separate room. While most toddlers sleep safely and soundly in separate rooms from their parents, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor for tailored guidance and advice.
8. Invest in a night-light
Many toddlers and young children express fears of the dark. Although darkness helps release a sleep hormone known as melatonin, a small amount of light is perfectly safe and will calm your child’s fears. There are tons of night-lights on the market offering a warm, comforting glow, so feel free to go shopping! Don’t worry about weaning your little one off light at this stage – they’ll grow out of such fears at their own pace.