Toddlers, Beds and Sleeping

Sleeping is the most sought after activity by people from all walks of life – but most importantly Mums!    Busy parents want nothing more than have a nice deep sleep or share couple time with their partner at the end of the day. But what happens when their toddler  won’t go to bed, stay in their bed, go to sleep, and stay asleep?  How do parents get their child to sleep in their own bed?

This is a REALLY common problem, so you are not alone!

Prior to the birth of your baby, you have most likely prepared a bassinet or a cot. Some parents buy a bassinet first and assemble it in the master bedroom since it does not take up much space, and can be convenient to hear your baby and feed baby in your bedroom at night.  A bassinet would typically be used for around 4 to 5 months before the baby outgrows it, and then transfers to a cot.

Other parents may prefer to get a cot straight away (and skip the bassinet) as it saves money, particularly if the cot is a model that can be converted into a small bed or sofa later on. As the child grows, his need to stay close to his parents, especially to his mother who has altruistically fed him day in day out, intensifies too. So although the parents are trying to adjust the child to sleeping in a cot – they are often drawn back to their mother and the warmth and comfort of her bed.

Children generally sleep in a cot until they are between 2 and 3, when they are then ready for a Big Bed (single).  Often if they climb out of the cot is a good indication that its time to change.

Parents who have practiced co-sleeping with their child may also find it difficult to get him to sleep on his own bed.

Teaching your toddler to stay in their own bed, and to stay settled, is one task that cannot be completed overnight. But with practice, wits, and patience, it can be done.  Here are a few tips about adjusting to these changes.

It is important that the child is well-informed of your plans.

The child may not completely understand (or even agree) about the plan but at least he is fed with the idea that he can think over and over again. Remember, a child’s mind is like a sponge – it absorbs ideas that are presented to them.

Make the transition fun by giving them the privilege to set the theme of their bedroom.

Decorate the room with posters or images of his favourite characters – an economical way is to download and print colouring sheets and let him colour them all. Then you can post them on the wall to complete his perfect theme.

Get him a toy or blanket that he can cuddle as he goes to sleep.

Set a bedtime routine (i.e. drinking warm milk, brushing his teeth, reading him a book, and kissing Papa and Mama good night) to allow his body to slow down and relax.

When your child does not sleep straight away, it is worth checking up on his daily activities.

Perhaps he had a longer nap time than usual, or wasn’t active burning energy during the day.

If he wakes up in the middle of the night due to nightmares, give him a hug and calm him down and tell him relaxing stories.

If he gets scared of a dark room, consider getting a night lamp and get him to befriend and enjoy the shadows that he sees. Friendly glow-in-the-dark stick-ons may help too. Or you could get some air-fresher in a can and call it “monster spray” to get rid of the scaries.  Imaginations can be intense so you have to get him to see the positive side of things.

Whenever you settle a child, try to stay outside of their bed, and stroke their hair or pat their tummy until they calm down.  Resist yourself from hopping into bed with them, as they have to know that they are sleeping alone in their bed.

Never scold a scared child when he wants to sleep in his parents’ bed.
Instead, gently bring him back to his bed and help him settle down. A bed should never be seen by a child as a place of punishment but as a place of total comfort.
it can be very difficult if they keep waking numerous times during the night, but try to be persistent from the start.  Gently take them back to their own room and settle them.

If you take the easy way and let them get back into bed with you, then they will think this is ok and will not learn any different.

A child who learns to sleep on his own bed gives his parents their own time and space back.  And sleeping will be an absolute source of comfort and delight once more.