You recently moved your toddler from a crib to a bed. You thought it would be a smooth transition, after all she seemed ready and slept well in her crib, but bedtime has now turned into an uphill battle! Her energy seems to peak at bedtime, and you’re even getting visits in the middle of the night. Sleep (or lack thereof) is a common parenting challenge. If the kids aren’t sleeping the parents likely aren’t either. The results can be miserable and frustrating for everyone involved! So, how can you get your toddler to sleep quickly and stay in her own bed for the entire night? Here are our toddler sleep tips:
Set Expectations Early
Moving to a bed from a crib takes some adjusting, but setting sleep expectations early helps to ease kids into this new phase. As sleep consultant Rebecca Earl, founder & owner of The Sugar Plum Sleep Co. says, “Setting boundaries from the start is important. Moving to a bed means a lot more freedom and children that were great sleepers can try to push boundaries during this transition. I would also recommend waiting until a child is old enough (2.5 to 3 years of age) before making this transition.”
Be Consistent and Set Boundaries
Be consistent with how you handle both bedtime routines and middle-of-the-night awakenings. Establish a bedtime routine that may include a bath and one or two stories. Also determine your response to awakenings and stick to it. Kids are often putting off the inevitable with requests for more bedtime stories or one more cup of water. If you set boundaries and stick with a consistent plan, you will help to diminish your toddler’s need to push limits as she’ll know what to expect.
Reassess Nap Time
If your child’s refusing to go to sleep at night, perhaps it’s time to shorten her daytime naps, move nap time to earlier in the day or abolish them altogether. On the other hand, you might need to see if she may need a longer nap than she’s getting. Kids who are well rested will often go to sleep quicker than kids who are over-tired.
Limit Screen Time
Watching television before bed or playing a game on the iPad can have a negative impact on toddler and preschooler sleep habits. The Canadian Paediatric Society discourages screen-based activities for children under the age of two and a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that kids who watch more TV are more likely to lie awake longer.
Leave the Room
It might be tempting to stay in the room with your toddler as she falls asleep, especially when she cries for you to stay! Resist the urge to give in and leave the room after you’ve tucked her in. Encouraging her to fall sleep on her own is a positive step towards establishing her independence.
It’s a milestone when kids transition from a crib to a bed and it’s a monumental step towards independence when your child sleeps all by herself in her big-girl bed. Reward accomplishments with praise and cuddles. You might also want to consider offering a visual incentive such as a reward chart.
Getting kids to sleep and stay asleep is a common parenting challenge, but by maintaining a consistent schedule, setting boundaries and rewarding accomplishments you and she will enjoy a good night’s rest in no time.