Last updated September 9th, 2020
We love our children–seriously we do–but it can be frustrating helping them in their next developmental step. While it’s sweet that they want to continue sleeping with their parents, knowing how to get a toddler to sleep in their own bed is essential.
You might be dealing with bedtime refusal right now, where your child refuses to fall asleep, or even go to bed.
If you keep prolonging bedtime or even extend your caregiver interaction with your child, these problems may persist. Children have the skills to sleep in their beds independently, but they might lack the motivation to do so.
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Have A Pre-Set Bedtime Routine
Knowing how to get a toddler to sleep in their own bed after co-sleeping starts with a set routine. You want to make bedtime fun, but you also want to help your child relax.
You can read them their favorite story to engage their imaginations. You can even have bath time beforehand, so the warm water and gentle activity will relax them.
Playing soothing music, or even singing a lullaby to your child, are both effective methods. If appropriate, you and your child can even say prayers together.
It sounds corny, but cherish this time with your child. It’ll undoubtedly be frustrating, but you get to watch your child’s face light up at their toys or their favorite story. Allow yourself to share the joy that they feel in all these activities.
As you continue this routine every night, your child may eventually adopt some of these activities themselves as they get older. For now, it’ll soothe them knowing what to expect.
Let Them Select Their Bedding Or Toys
How to get a toddler to sleep in their own bed involves giving them a choice or two.
Remember that bedtime is supposed to be fun and about what will make the child relaxed and comfortable.
You can see what kind of sheets or bedding they would like or what toy they would like to use for sleep.
The more excited they are about using those sheets or those toys, the more eager they may be to sleep in them.
Make Sure Their Bedroom Is Comfortable
Sometimes, a child may be afraid of sleeping in their own room alone. You can find a night light shaped like your child’s favorite cartoon character, or you can find a dim rotating lamp that projects fun colors or shapes onto the walls. They can watch the shapes or colors until they fall asleep.
Other security items, such as a blanket or a stuffed animal, might also provide comfort.
However, don’t overcrowd the child’s bed with stuffed animals. Having too many toys in the bed might encourage your child to play rather than sleep.
Make sure that the bedroom is a comfortable temperature, and that your child has enough blankets. White noise, like a box fan, can also help soothe your child.
Gently Put Them Back To Bed If They Get Up
Establishing a bedtime routine is all well and good, but the child might sometimes get out of bed.
It might be frustrating if they keep doing so, but don’t punish your child for that. They love you and want to be with you, and there’s no use raising your voice when you’re all trying to sleep.
If your child gets up, don’t engage them. Don’t talk to them or try to soothe them verbally. All you should do is pick them up and carry them back to their bed. Just being with you for a short time might be enough to soothe them back to sleep.
It might not be unusual for you to do this many times in one night, but eventually, your child should associate sleeping in their own bed with comfort and relaxation.
Place Certain Limits At Bedtime
Although bedtime is supposed to be quality time between you and your child, you must set ground rules.
For instance, your child might request a glass of water or get out of bed a certain number of times, so set a limit on those actions.
Adjust Naps to Match Bedtime
For your child to be tired come bedtime, you can adjust their daily nap times. Similarly, don’t give your child any caffeine before bed. Even if they consume some during the day, it might still disrupt their sleep.
Children mostly consume caffeine through chocolate products, like chocolate syrup or milk, or even soft drinks. A little caffeine in moderation is all right, but not too much.
Use Bedtime As A Positive Experience
We’ve talked a lot about how bedtime should be fun and relaxing. On the same note, don’t use bedtime as a punishment for your child, especially when trying to help them to sleep in their own bed.
If you send them to their room prematurely, they’re not going to want to sleep.
Also, let your child know that you’ll see them in the morning. Tell them you love them, along with a hug or a kiss. Do what you can to let them know that they’ll see you soon.
While it may seem daunting to help your child to stop sleeping in your bed, think of it as a chance to bond with your child.
You can play imaginative games during bathtime, and engage their imaginations when you tell them a bedtime story. But above all, make sure that your child is calm and comforted enough to fall asleep.
Don’t worry about your child getting up in the night. As long as you put them back to bed without verbally engaging them, they will eventually be comfortable sleeping in their own room, especially without punishing them. Knowing how to get a toddler to sleep in their own bed takes time and patience, but you can do it.
If you think it’s time for your child to move from a crib to a toddler bed, this link might help you.