You’re probably all too familiar with the struggles of getting your baby to sleep through the night. Then just when you’ve got it figured out, it’s time to ditch the crib and move into a toddler bed. This brings about a whole new set of sleep issues. Now instead of just waking during the night, you’re little one can leave their bed and come into your room. Here are some tips on keeping your toddler in their own bed for a better night’s sleep.
What Has Your Toddler Up at Night?
Waking up can be a normal part of the sleep cycle, it’s how easily you fall back asleep that distinguishes great sleepers. While babies may wake up due to hunger, toddlers wake up for different reasons. Potty training accidents, nightmares or night terrors, and random questions or thoughts about life are just a few of the reasons that may have your toddler traipsing to your room in the middle of the night.
How to Handle the Wake Ups
While you might not be able to keep them from waking up, how you handle their nighttime visits can have an effect on whether they fall back to sleep or come looking for you. Most of the time your child is just seeking comfort which may be as easy as a hug or they may be looking for you to host a slumber party in your bed. If you’d rather not share, try implementing some of these ideas, but above all remain consistent with your approaches.
- Set up the routine: Just as you did with your crib bound baby, keeping a consistent bedtime routine is key for successful sleep. This routine should help her wind down and get prepared for the night ahead. Part of this routine will also be what you do when she gets out of bed during the night. Whatever way you choose to get her back to bed, you should stay consistent in your actions.
- Proper training: Hopefully by the toddler age your child is able to fall asleep without any help from you or some other aid. Don’t spend the wee hours of the morning searching for his lost lovey because he’s never fallen asleep without it. Try to phase out those sleep aids, including you, so that your child can fall asleep on their own. The easier time they have with this, the less likely they are to come seeking you in the middle of the night.
- Set the stage: As part of your bedtime routine, talk to your child about what is expected of them tonight. Let them know that even if they wake up, they should stay in their bed and go back to sleep. Work it in somehow that it’s the privilege of a big kid to get to stay in their own bed all night.
- Offer incentives: Kids love to be rewarded for a job well done, even sleeping through the night in their own bed. You can offer up a sticker chart, pancake breakfast, or extra snuggles in the morning if she doesn’t get out of her bed during the night.
- Discuss fears: If your toddler is having nightmares about ghosts or monsters, be sure not to just brush these feelings off as irrational. Using a nightlight may help some children while others may fair better reading or watching stories that address these fears. You can also search his room together as part of his bedtime routine to show him that there is nothing hiding there.
- Return, return, return: Even if you’re groggy and disoriented, return your child to her own bed immediately. Try to resist the urge to pull back the covers and let her in your bed even once because that’s what she’ll want every time. Just tell her it’s time to go back to your own bed and sleep until morning.
When trying to find a strategy to keep your toddler in his bed all night, be consistent. Give each new technique at least a week before you decide that it’s not going to work. Switching it up more frequently than that will leave your child confused and unsure of what he’s supposed to do. Above all, don’t worry. After all, you made it through the baby sleep difficulties, keeping your toddler in his own bed is just another step is becoming a successful lifelong sleeper.