The terrible twos, three-nagers, and the unfathomable fours. Bumps in the road are part of raising a toddler. Potty-training, boo-boos, and temper tantrums. You’ve been through it all. Maybe you just got your little one on the right sleep schedule, but there’s one tiny problem you can’t seem to fix. What do you do when your toddler doesn’t sleep in their bed?
You’re not alone. The National Sleep Foundation found that nearly 24% of parents find themselves facing the same issue.
The Need to Take Back Your Bed
Are things getting a little too close for comfort with your ever-growing toddler making your bed their own? Maybe the relationship with your partner is starting to suffer as a result of never having any “you time.” Or perhaps you’re catching an unintentional, yet swift, kick in the gut at 3 am. How can such a small child deliver such force with a small foot, you wonder.
No matter the reason for needing to take back your personal space, it’s important to help your child foster a sense of independence and comfort sleeping in their bed.
How to Help Your Toddler Adjust
If you have a toddler, you know that they’re super attached to their routines. They need the green sippy cup, can’t leave the house without Mr. Rabbit, and only watch Paw Patrol. Routines make toddlers feel safe. Establishing the same sort of routine is essential for promoting healthy sleep habits, too.
1) Talk to Your Child About Their Sleep
The first step to helping your toddler sleep in their bed is to have a clear conversation with them about it. Without a heads up, a sudden and abrupt change in schedule is sure to scare them and may even make your toddler more resistant to the idea. Let them know, “Starting tomorrow, we’re going to make it a goal for you to sleep in your bed.”
2) Create a Calming Environment
Make sure that your toddler’s room is set up in a way that fosters healthy sleep. Some children respond well to white noise machines. Others prefer a nightlight. Identify the key elements that your toddler needs to sleep adequately and implement them into the design of their room.
3) Use Positive Reinforcement
Toddlers may need a little encouragement when transitioning to sleeping in their beds. Use a system of positive reinforcement, such as a reward system. Set small goals at first. Tell your toddler if they can make it one night in their bed, they can have a simple reward (you know your child best and will be able to identify the best incentives).
Then, for greater periods, increase the rewards. Three days gets them something more significant; a week, something bigger. If they make it a month, give them a “grand prize.” Keep track of their progress somewhere they can see, that’s displayed in a fun and encouraging way.
Turn sleeping in their bed into a fun game for your toddler. If there’s anything that’s for sure, it’s that toddlers love fun, and it could be the key to restoring a healthy night’s sleep for both you and your child.
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