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5 Common Toddler Sleep Problems and Solutions

Sleeping toddler

It’s a nice idea to think you just put them to bed and they sleep peacefully until morning.

It’s a lovely idea to think you can put your toddler to bed at night and not worry about them until morning. But as many parents of toddlers already know too well, that’s not always the case.

Things like teeth grinding, breathing pauses, sweating, twitching and jerking, and nightmares can keep toddlers from getting a restful night’s sleep, and when they don’t sleep well or enough, it can lead to problems during the day.

Here are five common toddler sleep problems, according to BabyCenter.com, as well as potential solutions for all of them:

  • Breathing Pauses 1 of 5
    Breathing Pauses
    Some toddlers might experience breathing pauses while they're asleep. It could be a sign of sleep apnea, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a potentially serious sleep disorder.
    However, occasional breathing pauses (along with snoring and snorting) aren't necessarily a cause for concern. Breathing patterns can change during sleep and many toddlers also sigh in their sleep, which might make them appear as if they've stopped breathing for a brief time, but it can, in fact, be normal.
    If you suspect your toddler might have sleep apnea, a doctor should be consulted so that potential complications such as a heart problem can be diagnosed and treated.
  • Sweating 2 of 5
    Sweating
    Despite the room temperature being perfect comfortable and their bedding and pajamas being seasonally appropriate, some toddlers will still sweat enough at night to wake up soaked through.
    Nighttime perspiration is usually nothing to worry about because it's probably a sign that the body is "restoring itself". For toddlers who sweat a lot a night, light cotton clothes are recommended for sleeping and rooms should be kept on the cool side.
    Livestrong.com advises that "if a toddler is sweating excessively and it appears unrelated to body temperature control, speak to your pediatrician to rule out medical conditions like hyperhidrosis."
  • Nightmares 3 of 5
    Nightmares
    Toddlers aren't too young to have nightmares, which are often caused by stress and anxiety and occasionally by fevers or medication. They tend to happen later at night when they are deeply asleep.
    The Cleveland Clinic advises ensuring toddlers who experience nightmares get adequate sleep, have a bedtime routine that is light, happy and fun, discuss the nightmares during the day, and are comforted, coddled and reassured so that they can sleep more peacefully.
  • Twitching, Jerking and Restlessness 4 of 5
    Twitching, Jerking and Restlessness
    It's not uncommon for some toddlers to twitch or jerk or flex their ankles for a few seconds a couple of times a minute for as long as a few hours while falling asleep or while they're already sleeping. It won't hurt them, but it might prevent them from getting a peaceful night's sleep.
    The twitches and jerks could be a sign that their levels of iron or folic acid are insufficient, which can be discussed with their pediatrician.
    It can also be a sign of restless legs syndrome, which, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, is a disorder in which there is an urge or need to move the legs to stop unpleasant sensations.
    Techniques such as gentle stretching exercises, massage and warm baths can help muscles relax and lead to a more relaxed night's sleep.
  • Teeth Grinding 5 of 5
    Teeth Grinding
    Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding or the clenching of jaws, and according to KidsHealth.org, two to three out of every 10 kids will do it, although most outgrow it.
    Kids grind their teeth as a result of tension, anxiety, pain from an earache or teething, allergies, or their teeth not being properly aligned.
    Teeth grinding isn't harmful, but it's worth mentioning to the dentist to double check there are no problems.
    Soothing a toddler who grinds their teeth at bedtime with a bath, backrub or extra cuddling might help alleviate the problem.

For 5 more common toddler sleep problems and solutions, go to BabyCenter.com

Photo credits: iStockphoto

More from Meredith on Babble’s Toddler blog:

Read (even) more from Meredith at Babble’s Mom blog, follow her on Twitter, and check out her weekly column on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post at MeredithCarroll.com

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