What’s inside: An often overlooked solution to toddler sleep issues – and it’s one that parenting books won’t tell you! With one simple switch, our toddler immediately started sleeping through the night!
WHY WON’T THEY JUST STAY ASLEEP?!?
As a parent of a new baby, you count down the days until they start sleeping through the night.
In fact, the promise of a restful night’s sleep when your baby hits the toddler stage is usually what gets you through those sleep-deprived newborn days!
But what happens if your toddler never sleeps through the night?
Are Toddler Sleep Regressions Real?
I never dreamed (no pun intended) that my toddler wouldn’t sleep through the night.
In the first year, we dealt with quite a few baby sleep regressions. I accepted that I didn’t get an “easy sleeper,” but I looked forward to getting a good night’s rest once we hit the toddler stage.
Boy was I mistaken!
At 22 months, we were still being woken up at least once, sometimes twice a night to cries of “Mama! Dada! Where are you?!” Going on three full years without solid sleep was really taking its toll, and I knew my poor little girl must be exhausted too!
Toddler sleep regression?
More like our toddler never slept through the night to begin with!
“Why won’t my toddler sleep through the night?!”
If this is you too, I want to share a surprisingly simple toddler sleep solution that worked INSTANTLY for us.
Seriously, the first day we tried this was the first day we ALL slept an entire night through.
It’s definitely worth a try! Perhaps it will be the magic toddler sleep trick for you too!
I felt like we had tried everything…
Different bedtimes, different pajamas, her favorite dolls, night-lights, cuddling, cry-it-out…you name it! I read countless articles and books on toddler sleep regression and toddler sleep training, and even tried breathable crib mattresses to keep her cool at night.
But nothing worked.
We got lucky a handful of times, but in her first two years of life, I could count on one hand the number of times our toddler slept through the night.
One day my mom suggested something that I hadn’t thought of.
Do you think she could be sensitive to sugar and caffeine?
My initial reaction was outrage: I do NOT give my kids caffeinated drinks at all! No soda, tea…nothing…never! My mom knows that!
Then my mom dropped the bomb:
What about chocolate?
Chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine, and both girls do get the occasional treat.
Except that was the problem.
The treats had become more than just an occasional surprise. Once I started thinking about it, I realized that every time I turned around, someone was handing my girls candy or cookies or ice cream.
Whether it was Daddy bringing home fried Oreos from his food truck, or a family member popping in to say hello with a surprise ice cream sundae, or even the bank teller passing a sucker over the counter — sugar was everywhere!
I prided myself on the fact that as a family we ate very healthy: home-cooked meals every night with lots of vegetables and lean proteins. And I thought that we were reasonable about sugar consumption.
However, our girls were getting far more sugar than I realized, and even a bit of caffeine from chocolate treats.
Does chocolate disrupt sleep in children?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that both kids and adults avoid chocolate before bedtime. That’s because chocolate contains caffeine, which even in small amounts can be detrimental to good sleep habits.
How much caffeine is in chocolate?
Believe it or not, a typical serving of dark chocolate contains about as much caffeine as a cup of tea.
Milk chocolate contains about a third of the caffeine of dark chocolate, but even that could be enough to affect a child, as children are more sensitive to caffeine.
On the day that my mom suggested that chocolate and other sweets were negatively affecting our littlest’s sleep, I thought back to what she had eaten the day before.
I was ashamed when I counted up the cookies I had watched our daughter eat.
I might not have given them to her myself, but I allowed others to feed her an excessive amount. Maybe 5 cookies total — that’s more than I would ever eat in a day and it is INSANE for a not-quite two year old!
That night she had woken up twice. I hung my head in shame.
What happened when we cut back on sugar and chocolate
The good news: we can make a positive change at any time!
That very day I announced to my husband and my visiting mother-in-law that the girls were not to have any more sugar for the rest of the day. Period.
I explained that I wanted to see the effect it was having on our toddler’s sleep.
That night our daughter slept through from 9pm to 8am. ELEVEN hours straight!!
I couldn’t believe the immediate impact that cutting out sugar and chocolate had on toddler sleep.
The next day I again made the announcement: no sugar after her lunchtime treat (that was snuck in without my knowledge…though that is another story.)
That night our toddler slept from 9:30pm to 11am. MORE than TWELVE hours straight!!
And the next night it was twelve hours again!
And the next night was ten hours!
More than one night in a row of sleeping through the night has NEVER happened before. Sleeping more than twelve hours straight is unheard of for our youngest daughter.
This was four nights in a row of sleeping around twelve hours straight. It was like a miracle!!
I don’t care if anyone thinks it is a coincidence…I am sold!!
It might not be what’s going on around your child that’s keeping them awake.
I think with sleep issues, we often look for external factors as the cause: noise, temperature, discomfort, etc. However, sometimes it is important to consider what is going on inside our bodies!
I can’t believe I missed this for so long — I know the effect that sugar has on ME, but I hadn’t thought about what it was doing to my girls.
Maybe a couple treats won’t keep every child up at night, but for my little girl (who didn’t even have a taste of processed sugar until after her first birthday) it was obviously too much. And if you’re stuck in the exhausting cycle of sleepless nights like we were, it is definitely worth a try!!
Our new “house rules” when it comes to sugar:
- Only one small treat per day
- Absolutely NO sugar after dinner
And we are ALL sleeping better because of it!
Pin this post:
More toddler sleep tips:
More Recommended Reading:
*Affiliate links provided for your convenience; read our disclosure policy here.
Kelly is a friend and colleague whose work has changed the lives of countless families. Her new e-book shares the recipe to:
- Stop feeling overwhelmed. Get a handle on the swirling chaos of to-do items and appointments and “should”s in your head.
- Set yourself up for a happy day, every day. Find out the ingredients you need in your day in order to become your happiest self.
- Catch yourself before you lose your cool. Learn what to do when you lose your patience with a temper-taming toolkit of proven tools to get you back on track.
- Heal after the storm. For the days when you do lose your cool, you’ll get the exact steps to flush the bad mojo from your body and repair the relationship with your child (or your partner).
Grab your copy of the e-book for Kindle, Nook, or iBooks:
More of our most popular parenting posts:
Last updated on February 12th, 2020 at 07:19 pm