Once upon a time, we thought that transitioning our child to a toddler bed would be easy. We'd be able to get rid of the crib and be at a point in our parenting lives where we could tuck our toddler into his bed, and he'd sleep through the night. We had blissful thoughts peacefully swimming through our heads of each family member sleeping through the night gently tucked in their beds. And then reality set in.
Our toddler no longer confined to his crib didn't want to sleep in his room. He suddenly liked our room and our bed. Instantly our sleep patterns were thrown into disarray, and we learned we were not alone when this happened. We talked to our friends, family and the experts and luckily we found that with a few modifications, getting our toddler to sleep in his bed could be achieved quickly.
Here are tips for getting your toddler to sleep in their bed so that everyone gets a full nights sleep!
Talk up the Toddler Bed
Start talking about the toddler bed well before bedtime so that the toddler knows what to expect at bedtime. Make it super positive. "Tonight you get to sleep in your very own grown-up toddler bed just like mommy and daddy have."
It's important that you transition to the toddler bed when there are no upheavals in the toddler's life. For example, don't try to transition to a toddler bed when you are potty training when a new baby has just arrived, if the toddler is ill or if you are moving or going on vacation.
Use a Reward System
Most children are motivated by rewards. Use that to your advantage. Make up a system that works for you whether it's a sticker chart, play dough fun, a treat box or going out for a reward after a specified amount of time.
Stay in the Room With Them Until They Fall Asleep
It is probably the most controversial of the tips.
Some parents disagree about staying in the room as they fall asleep, but we think you should transition your way out of their room after they fall asleep over the course of a few days. The way it works is that each night you stay in the room with the child while they fall asleep, but you move farther and farther away from the bed. So, you are not SLEEPING IN THE BED with them. By the 3rd or 4th night the parent is at the door to the child's room. This way the child knows that the parent is nearby, but they are not sleeping with them.
Shut the Door
It is necessary for some children and not others. Some children need to have the door shut to go to sleep. The light from the TV or background noise from the house just makes it too difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. Some children find that an open door is an invitation to wander, too.
Put Them Back in Bed
If your child gets out of bed, put them back in their bed without engaging them in conversation, immediately. Eventually, they'll realize that even if they get out of bed, they will not get anything except put back in bed.
The most important tip for getting your toddler to sleep in their bed is to stay consistent and to not get impatient with them or the process.
Here's to restful sleep for all!