Toddler Sleep Training
How To Get Toddlers To Sleep In Their Own Bed
While co-sleeping may be a fine solution for some families, many parents find that sharing their bed with a child leads to sleepless nights and exhausted days for everyone. Though toddler sleep training may sound like a daunting or heartbreaking task, the promise of better sleep for you and your child is a healthy, loving choice. Any parent who has recently conquered how to keep toddlers in bed can attest that the short term pain is well worth the long-term gain!
Below is a round-up of seven top toddler sleep training tips to make it a heartfelt process with faster results.
How To Keep Toddlers In Bed
Sleep is essential for all of us. Children who experience poor sleep regularly are more likely to develop hypertension, obesity, headaches, and depression, while those who are able to catch the recommended number of z’s each night - 11 to 12 hours - have healthier immune systems, mental wellness, and memory performance.
Among adults, poor sleep is similarly linked to low productivity, irritability, a haggard appearance, and increase risk of a variety of diseases. What’s more, that flip-flopping toddler between you and your partner can also pose challenges to the health of your physical relationship which, in turn, can create further emotional turmoil. Naturally, in such states, it’s hard to be the best parent you can during waking hours.
Deciding that your child needs to sleep in their own bed does not mean you love them any less. Rather, sleep training, when done in a healthy, supportive way, is actually providing them the tools they need to become more independent
How To Get Toddlers To Sleep In Own Bed
A simple online search will uncover a variety of toddler sleep training methods that each indicate theirs is the answer for how to get toddler to sleep alone. Yet the truth is that there’s no one-size-fits all solution. So, instead, here are seven universal tips that can put you and your toddler on the right track for the good night’s sleep you both need.
- 1 Start With a Plan
Whether you’re a single parent or part of a team, make sure everyone is aligned on when sleep training will begin, what the process will be, and how to communicate toddler bed training with your child. This latter part is especially important as keeping your toddler in the loop with clear expectations is hugely important. The following words can offer a supportive starting point: “You’re going to start sleeping in your own bed tonight. If you get out of bed, we’re going to walk back to your room together, because you need healthy sleep and so do I.”
- 2 Stay Active During the Day
Consider your own sleep patterns: do you fall asleep faster and sleep better after a day of physical exertion than a lazy day? During the first few days of toddler sleep training, it’s worth going the extra mile in planning activities to tucker out your tot. Likewise, while toddlers should have generally limited screen time, it’s particularly essential to make sure screens are turned off during the hour before bed.1
- 3 Create a Nighttime Routine – And Stick To It
A simple, consistent bedtime routine signals to your child that sleep is coming. The three b’s are a helpful bedtime guide: brush hair and teeth, read a short book, place in bed.1 You might also consider starting your routine with a nighttime bath and a soothing Bedtime(R) wash, followed by a gentle massage with a calming baby lotion.
- 4 Break It Down With Intervals
During the first week of sleep training, a caregiver can help the child understand that they’re neither alone nor being punished by returning to the toddler’s room after increasingly long intervals. On the first night, you might only leave the room for three minutes, then five minutes, then ten minutes, and so on, providing a brief, reassuring check-in at each interval. Each night, you can continue to add time between check-ins.
- 5 Offer Ambient Distractions
Help get your toddler’s mind off going to bed alone by offering a stuffed animal or comforting blanket, or by playing soft, relaxing music or white noise. Similarly, products that project soft lights on ceilings or walls may also offer the distraction needed to get to sleep without stimulating your child’s mind in a way that actually keeps them awake. If your toddler wants a bottle, offering water instead of juice or formula is best for their dental health.
- 6 Put Them Back in Their Bed
There will be occasions when your child leaves their room. When this happens, it’s essential you return them to their bed, regardless of the time or frequency of visits. Such consistency reinforces the expectation that they will be sleeping alone all night and may ultimately be the most important of all toddler sleeping tips.
- 7 Stay Positive & Reward Success
Sleep training can be a scary experience for your child and a frustrating experience for you. Act from a place of compassion by acknowledging such realities, but provide kind reassurance. When your toddler does sleep through the night, drop to their eye level and praise them for their success. You might also consider a sticker chart with a small weekly prize for further incentive and reward.
Remember, toddler sleep training doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it may be a few weeks before you’ve officially cracked the nut on how to get kids to sleep in bed and achieve fully uninterrupted sleep. Still, if you’re finding your child to be especially uncooperative, fearful, or challenged by routine awakenings each night, speak with your pediatrician to learn if there may be an underlying issue such as sleep apnea. More likely than not though, with just a bit of determination and kindheartedness, you and your toddler will be on your way to a sound night’s sleep soon.