Whether you started cosleeping at birth or your toddler suddenly wants to sleep with you, getting her to sleep in her own bed is often challenging. Each toddler reacts differently when asked to change her habits, so keeping your own toddler’s personality in mind makes the process easier on everyone. Getting your toddler to sleep in her own bed might happen quickly or take several days or weeks. Patience is key, no matter what your child’s personality.
Look for the root cause of your toddler’s sleeping issues. Consider if the room or bed is uncomfortable, unappealing or scary to your child. He might also be experience separation anxiety or recently went through an illness. Focus on correcting those issues to help your child feel more comfortable in his room.
Talk to your toddler about sleeping in her own bed in a positive way. Avoid criticizing or punishing your toddler if she doesn’t want to sleep in her bed because she might associate that with sleeping in the bed. Praise her for positive steps toward sleeping alone.
Ask your toddler to help you set up the bedroom with you. Let your child pick out new sheets and make the bed with you. Add a few comforting items, such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animals and a book, to make the bed more appealing.
Install a nightlight or give your toddler a toy that lights up, especially if you think a fear of the dark is part of the problem.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, starting with calming activities in the hour or two before bedtime to get your child to slow down. Include elements that work for you, such as a warm bath, reading, singing and rocking together. Make sure all elements of the bedtime routine stay the same each night if possible to create a comforting routine.
Talk to your toddler in a soothing voice as you tuck him into bed. Reassure him that his bed and room are safe and that you are right outside to keep him safe. Encourage him to cuddle with his stuffed animal or look through his book as you leave the room.
Give your toddler a chance to calm herself down if she cries when you leave. Wait at least 5 minutes or longer before going into the room to reassure your child that you are still there. Don’t stay too long and avoid getting her out of bed or doing further bedtime activities with her, as she might think she can get you to stay.
Leave the room again, waiting longer this time before going back in if your toddler continues to cry. Your toddler might cry and fight sleeping in his own bed for an hour or more, but giving in and letting him sleep in your bed lets him know that if he cries long enough you’ll always give in.