Does your toddler really need a feed at night?
Sleep challenges for toddlers and young children can be more challenging to resolve than for babies. Toddlers are typically strong-willed, have active imaginations, a strong desire for independence, and struggle with separation anxiety.
The last thing you want is an energetic toddler awake in the middle of the night. Not only do YOU need your sleep, but a sleep-deprived toddler can be more challenging during the day. Sleep deprivation can lead to increased limit-testing and tantrums… many more tantrums. Nobody wants that!
Toddlers rarely need a feed at night
Toddlers rarely need nutrition in the night, except under rare circumstances where your doctor may advise you on. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your toddler won’t down a large bottle of milk or enjoy a good feed, but this is more likely to be related to habit, not hunger.
How can you tell the difference? Typically, by the consistency of the wake-up times. You’re likely hungry for your meals or snacks at the same time every day because you’re used to eating at those times. It’s a habit, and your body gets used to it. The same goes for your toddler. They become used to having that feed at a similar time every night, so they wake up ready for it, just as you may be ready for a snack at 4 pm every day.
“I’ve tried giving water instead”
That’s usually a recipe for tears or a tantrum. If you were expecting your favourite beverage (tea? wine? gin?) and received a glass of water instead, you would be annoyed, especially if you had no warning, right? Your toddler can’t likely regulate their emotions as well as you can, so very unlikely to mask their disappointment.
Many have tried watering down their milk instead. Your toddler can tell the difference and won’t be too pleased either. So, what should you do?
Break the habit FOR your little one!
Your toddler is unlikely to have the incentive to break the habit on their own, so you can break it instead. The good news is that it’s much less likely to cause tears and can work in just a few nights. If you have any concerns about weight or nutrition, please consult your doctor first.
The simple way to disrupt the habit is to bring little Johnny his milk (or whatever) about an hour before he typically wakes up for it. By disrupting his sleep (which is scary, I know), you’re disrupting his sleep pattern; he’s more likely to get back to sleep quickly because you woke him instead of waiting for him to wake naturally. You just need to continue doing the same for the next 4-7 nights AND reducing the amount given every night and then stop. The wake-up habit will be gone most of the time, AND so will the hunger habit. It works so well!
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