We recently received a Facebook message from Adelyn in Melbourne asking us for suggestions to solve her 4 year old son's sudden sleep issue. Toddler nightmares can be scary for little ones and their parents as they try to comfort there babies not knowing exactly what they see.
Her little one has become terrified at nighttime. He hears noises and "sees things". He comes running out of his bedroom (up to 10 times a night).
Most nights, he is going off to sleep quite well, but after 3 or 4 hours he wakes up so scared from his nightmare and can't go back to sleep.
Other times, it was taking him over an hour to fall asleep.
They've tried a lot of products, routines and strategies but nothing was working. They also have an older daughter and younger son, who also needed attention and love at bedtimes. They were exhausted and desperate.
They had always given lots of kisses, cuddles and comfort at bedtime and through the night, but Adelyn and her husband didn't want to start staying in his room whilst he fell asleep or have him in their bed when he woke in the middle of the night - as these could quickly become habits that are hard to break.
We are always here to help, so we came up with 9 top tips to try to solve the problem and soothe her little one. Not everything worked for Adelyn but she was really grateful for our help.
9 tips for helping with toddler nightmares
1. Change the position of the bed/cot. It's like a fresh start and a new perspective when you're facing a different way - perhaps further away from the window or door. If your little one is old enough, make it a fun daytime activity and a game to set up a new configuration of all furniture.
2. Wash and change the linen. You don't have to buy new doona covers etc but maybe you have a spare one in the linen cupboard to change to. Talk to your little one about how they are feeling at night. Tell them you are going to put some new, happy "sleepy sheets" on the bed. When you're in the laundry ready to wash, let your child put in the "happy powder" (laundry detergent) and some "sleepy juice" (fabric softener) and a few drops of "dream drops" (lavender oil). There's nothing like fresh linen to get you cosy at night.
3. Sleep consultants believe using "white noise" (any low frequency, consistent sound) for all ages from birth through to late childhood is the most practical and effective sleep aid. Studies around the world confirm that children sleep better with background noise. It will lessen the liklihood of your child hearing wind and trees and outside, which can cause alarm and start nightmares. Children are less likely to hear creaks and bangs and drips inside the house. Compact white noise machines are set and forget - they play all night long, and can help your little one drift to sleep, and stay asleep. The Homedics Sound Spa is the most popular machine in our store.
4. A warm colour night light (red, orange, pink) will create a soothing ambience for your little one to reduce their fear of the dark. Cool colour lights are not recommended (blue, green, white) as they can interrupt the production of melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for helping us fall asleep, stay asleep, and a host of related health and immune functions. The Aroma Bloom Vaporiser (available in our store) has a built in soft glow night light and the Homedics Sound Spa Lullaby (available in our store) has dual 'white noise' and night light functions (the light has rotating pictures that project onto the ceiling). Himalayan Salt Lamps are a warm, ambient colour and also release negative ions as your toddler sleeps. A small hand held torch can also be great for tactile children and lets them feel in control of the light.
5. Set up a dream catcher in a special part of the room to catch the bad dreams. Children can design their own, or add special touches to a store bought design. Explain to your child the story of a dream catcher and how it's helped children all over the world for hundreds of years to sleep calmly. Read Grandmother's Dreamcatcher by Becky Ray McCain.
6. Diffusing organic essential oils (available in our store) through a cool mist vaporiser creates a purified mist that is easily breathed and absorbed. The Aroma Bloom Cool Mist Vaporiser runs for over 15 hours on intermittent mist and humidfies the air, releasing negative ions into the environment. A few drops of Child Calming Remedy Organic Essential Oil (sweet orange, lavender, mandarin, Roman chamomile) will calm and soothe your little one. This vaporiser also has a built in night light.
7. A sleep spray is a simple water spray bottle filled with a few drops of organic essential oil (like the Child Calming Remedy above). Let your little one do a few sprays around their room at bedtime. The story you tell is up to you. Maybe call it "Angel Spray" or "Happy Spray" or "Dream Spray".
8. Using a weighted blanket or weighted cuddle toy is beneficial for highly tactile, sensory children and can help increase Serotonin and Melatonin levels overnight. These blankets or cuddle toys work by providing input to the deep pressure touch receptors throughout the body. Like a firm hug, weighted blankets and toys help little ones feel secure, grounded, and safe. The Cozy Plush Lavender Heat Packs (available in our store) contain lavender scented millet seeds, and can be warmed in the microwave. They are weighted on the inside for great cuddling and super soft to touch on the outside.
9. Be mindful of images and ideas from TV, movies and computer activities. Little imaginations are absorbing all sorts of messages and whilst most are G rated and fun, one idea can cause concern and become re-imagined as something truly frightening and unsettling for little ones.
Adelyn tried a number of these ideas, and after a month, has reported a significant improvement in overall bedtime routine, settling and deep sleep. We are so glad we could help and hope these ideas can help your family too. Click our ALL PRODUCTS and VALUE PACKS pages for the best gadgets for good health and good sleep XX