It’s a topic that inspires much discussion and great variety of opinion, but getting your toddler to sleep in their own bed is often tricky. Well known experts such as Dr. Spock and Dr. Sears have very different views and approaches. As parents you need to consider your family needs and that of your toddler to determine what works best in your home. Children sometimes become nervous and insecure once the sun goes down, and parents end up reactively co-sleeping, in order to avoid battles when they are trying to rest. Giving our children the confidence to be independent as they grow begins with learning to sleep on their own. At Bluebonnet Schools, we foster an environment that allows our children to feel safe, which encourages independence and confidence. The following are tips for getting your toddler to sleep in their own bed.
Establish a bedtime routine. Transitioning from being active to sleeping is not something most children do easily without a cool-down routine. One part of the routine may be to have a regular story time every night before bed. Being consistent is the key to success in getting your toddler to sleep in their own bed. Creating a picture chart of your “night-night” routine can be very helpful when discussing with your little one what happens next. It should be bright and colorful and have pictures of the child doing the various activities with the time and title. (A really fun project for you to work on together and hang in their room). Visual reminders are extremely useful in getting your toddler to sleep in their own bed.
Remain steady and stand your ground. This is the tough part, but it’s necessary. Lying down with your child or rocking them to sleep will only serve to set a different routine. Once you have completed your routine, tuck your toddler into the bed and assure them you are just down the hall and will check on them in a little while. If they come into your room, return them to their bed, tuck them in again and reassure them you are just down the hall. They may resist, and it may take time, but firmly and lovingly stick to your guns: Mommy and Daddy have their bed, the children have their beds, and everyone stays in his or her own space at night. If they get out of bed, put them back in their own bed, gently but definitively. Getting your toddler to sleep in their own bed may require some internal fortitude on your part, but it’s worth it.
If your child is used to sleeping in your bed every night, your work will be harder. Once a pattern is established, getting your toddler to sleep in their own bed can be an arduous task. For the first few nights, you may need to sit near but not on their bed, in the child’s room until they falls asleep. No talking necessary. This offers reassurance that you are near. After that, move a little further away from your child, until you are finally able to give it up entirely.
Rewarding efforts and bravery. Rewards can be helpful in establishing desired behaviors. Try a chart, with stickers for each night they stay in their own beds, and prizes earned for a few nights in a row. Another ingenious idea is to leave love notes from mom or dad, or the stickers for their sticker chart under their pillows when they sleep in their own beds. The excitement of a personalized note or getting to place the sticker on the chart may help curb the desire to sleep with mom and dad.
Getting your toddler to sleep in their own bed is just one step in creating independent children who grow into strong and capable adults. Another step is finding the right preschool, where they can interact and thrive in a warm and nurturing environment that helps children reach their full potential. Bluebonnet School is such an environment which provides opportunities for learning through play and growing in confidence. Visit www.bluebonnetschool.com for more information, or connect with the online community on Facebook and Twitter.