Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Sleep on Their Own
Anyone even thinking of becoming a parent should understand that their sleep will be constantly interrupted as a baby grows into a small child. This requires an extreme amount of patience and, unfortunately, a tendency for new parents to become prone to sleep deprivation. During such a time, it is not uncommon for parents to take shifts attending to a baby’s every need at all hours of the night.
After a few years of what would be best described as selfless acts of unconditional love, all parents are eagerly looking forward to getting their restful, uninterrupted eight hours of sleep back.
But what do you do when your child refuses to adapt to the new living situation? What do you do when your child shows up in your room in the middle of the night, insisting you let them squeeze right in between you and your partner? Do you turn them away or let them in? Either decision has the potential to make you feel terrible, but in a situation such as this, it is important to keep your eye on the long-term goal: Your child needs to get used to sleeping in his or her own bed, for both you and for them. There are plenty of ways parents have discovered makes this transition much easier.
Timing: When trying to teach your child to stay in his or her own bed, it would be best to choose the least-stressful time you can. Make sure the change isn’t too dramatic. It’s best to focus on one hurdle at a time as a parent.
Environment: To encourage your child to stay in his or her room throughout the night, make it a place you know they will enjoy. Be sure to keep the layout of the room clutter-free and inviting – leave no places for monsters to hide! You may also want to let your child have a hand at designing the room. How much control you give them is up to you. You could let them choose the entire theme, or just a few small pieces.
It is also important to remember that the child’s room should be custom-built for that child. If your child is only a few feet tall, why get them the same size bed an adult would sleep on? Switching straight from a crib to a full-size twin bed could be intimidating for your child. If at all possible, upgrade them from a crib to a toddler-sized bed. Many of these beds will come in themes which can easily fit in with the layout of the new room.
Routine: Setting up a routine with your child will encourage you both to stick with it. Perhaps your child loves being read bedtime stories. Why not make it the last thing you two do together before they go to sleep? Helping your child relax before bedtime will make them more likely to fall asleep. A warm bath every night before bedtime could help this. Making it a requirement for your child to use the bathroom right before bed will also reduce the risk of nighttime accidents.
Attitude: The attitude you take with your child is absolutely crucial. When you finally decide to insist that a child stays in his or her own bed, treat it as though it is a privilege or an accomplishment. “Now that you’re a big boy, you get to sleep in your own bed!” Make it sound like something exciting. Praise your child for when they spend a night in their bed without coming into your room. Make sure they know that you are really proud of them.
Never, ever, allow your child to sleep in your bed after that point. No matter how much they beg, plead, cry, or guilt-trip you, don’t give in! You need to make sure that your child knows that this is not up for discussion, or it would encourage them to develop some bad habits. If they know you will give in, they won’t try their hardest to stay in their room. Although it’s hard (and sometimes even heartbreaking) to watch your child get upset, continue to be patient and encouraging: “We do love you… we’re just trying to help you get used to this new change right now.”
Sarah Danielson writes for Online Doctoral Programs where you can find information about various online colleges and find the school and program that is right for you.