Bedtime and Toddlers: The final frontier

sleeping_toddlerA big concern of parents of toddlers is how to get them to sleep independently once they can scale the crib walls, or have graduated to a junior bed. The solution requires patience, stamina, and a true desire to make this happen. All toddlers are capable of independent sleeping. If you have made a decision, however, about co-sleeping with your toddler and have set up a family bed, then you should know that there is no “harm” in this choice. Living with a toddler requires lots of energy and all that matters is that everyone get a good night’s sleep.

Here are some tips to help alleviate the struggles associated with bedtime:

  • Keep the bedtime routine short (no longer than half an hour) and simple. For example, after the bath – read up to three stories, sing one song, say goodnight to the favorite stuffed animals, say goodnight to your child, then it’s lights out.
  • You should make it clear to your child (who is no longer in a restrictive crib and can open doors) that you mean business. If he keeps coming out of the bedroom, he should be returned as many times as necessary.
  • Use a reward system for staying in bed. You cannot force your child to go to sleep, but you can force her into a bedtime. What she does in bed after that time is up to her. This may take a lot of work in the beginning, but it will pay off later.
  • The alternative to this method is staying with your child until he falls asleep. If your child becomes used to this, or if the child has been sleeping with you, the transition to sleeping alone may be more difficult. Most children should be able to go to sleep on their own by age three, even if they have been raised in the family bed.