Deciding to transition your child to their own bed is a big deal, both for you and your child. It’s a milestone that means they are growing up. But when is the right time to do it?
Many parents choose to co-sleep with their baby, since doing so allows them to look after their baby during the night and avoid 2 a.m. trips when they start crying. However, it’s important to keep in mind that co-sleeping may increase the risk of fatal accidents, especially as a child grows older.
Generally, experts recommend that the sooner your little one learns to sleep in their crib or bed, the better. It may be easier to train toddlers (between the ages of 1-3) to sleep in their own crib since they can’t get out.
But what about when they transition to a toddler bed? How can you deal with your toddler repeatedly trying to crawl into your bed each night instead of your own?
How to encourage your toddler to sleep in their own bed
Here are some tips to help you encourage your child to sleep in their own bed and ensure that they have a safe and restful sleep.
Don’t rush the process
It’s normal for toddlers to have separation anxiety. Don’t expect your little one to suddenly be fine with being all alone in their own bed at night.
Take small steps. You may sit in their bed initially until they fall asleep. Then later, switch to sitting in a chair while they go to sleep. You may even allow a little time in your bed, such as 15-20 minutes, and then make them sleep in their own bed.
Make the transition exciting
Sleeping in their own bed should not sound like a punishment but an achievement. Motivate your toddler with encouraging words, and tell them how fun it will be to get a “grown-up bed” just like mommy and daddy. You can even let them help pick out their bedding.
Reward them when they succeed
Whether it’s a small sticker, star, or their favorite meal, reward your toddler when they do sleep in their own bed. They should feel that sleeping in their own bed is something to be celebrated.
As tempting as it may be, don’t give into the fatigue. Sometimes, parents may allow their child to sleep with them because they are too tired for the late-night wrestle in getting them back to their own bed. But remember that the pain you’re going through now will pay off in the long run.
If your toddler is sick or scared, you can set up a mattress or folding bed close to your child’s bed. This reinforces to them that their place for sleeping is their own bed, not yours.
Teach them to go back to sleep on their own
Instead of telling your child not to get out of their bed when they wake up in the middle of the night, teach them ways of following back to sleep. Show them how to count sheep, take deep breaths, etc. as ways of trying to fall asleep again.
Encourage their independence
Put your toddler to bed when they are sleepy and not when they have dozed off. It will help your toddler to learn how to sleep on their own.
And don’t lose your cool when trying to put your little one to sleep, especially if they get stubborn and cranky because they don’t want to be separated from you. Boost your toddler’s sense of independence by letting them dictate their sleep routine, such as picking their pajamas, their bedtime story, and their lullaby.
Follow a sleep routine
Make your toddler follow certain routine activities before bedtime. These include brushing their teeth, taking a bath, and changing into pajamas. These activities will train their mind to be ready for sleep.
Stick to a regular bedtime schedule
Having a consistent sleeping schedule helps ensure that your child gets sufficient sleep. This helps train your toddler’s mind to sleep on schedule.
Make sure your toddler’s sleeping space is safe and comfortable
Male sure their bedroom is quiet and at a comfortable temperature. Use a firm mattress and train your child to sleep on their back, not their stomach. Avoid using sleep positioners for your toddler or placing extra toys or blankets in their bed, as they may cause accidental suffocation.
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Pacheco D. Children and Sleep. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep