Just when you think you can settle in to a good night’s sleep after the stresses and strains of having a newborn, your little one becomes a toddler and loves to get in and out of their ‘big bed’, worries about being in the dark and doesn’t want to go to sleep. How best to deal with these issues so that you can enjoy the odd night of uninterrupted slumber?
Moving into a child’s first bed is a big transition for them, and can be stressful for both the child and parents. Realistically, it can take up to 8 weeks to settle in properly to a new bed and so during this time. To ease this transition, it’s best to keep the new bed in the same place as the cot and to line it the same – if there was a cot blanket, move this across. Make sure the new bed has a guard-rail fitted so it’s not easily rolled out of as this will no doubt result in nocturnal tears, disruptions and maybe even injury. However, toddlers easily develop the habit of jumping in and out of bed voluntarily during their new routine. Remain firm but not angry with your child and praise them lots when they stay in bed. It’s frustrating yes, but it won’t last forever: once the routine is established, it should stick. If your toddler does like to roam at night, make sure you’re not up all-night worrying – fit a stair gate and keep doors closed.
When it comes to stalling bedtime, get one step ahead by anticipating requests. Firmly agree how many stories you’ll read and how much you’ll eat and drink before bedtime. Unlike newborns, toddler’s daytime sleep habits do impact on their nocturnal activity so keep any naps before 3pm to avoid them being wide awake and resisting bedtime later.
At this age, night time anxieties are high but can be combatted easily. Reassurance to your child that they are safe and you are nearby alongside the installation of a night light can help calm them enough to fall asleep easily. Whilst you may not want your child to hear what’s going on outside of their room, leaving the door slightly open (particularly if there’s a light on outside) can be comforting and nurtures a nice open environment.
If your child calls out for you, schedule set-visits in throughout the evening so that they are assured you’ll attend. Don’t run for the room every time they call but keep setting timed intervals to allow your child to self-soothe and fall asleep naturally.
When it comes to mornings, it’s likely that your toddler will want to get up before you do. Explain it’s not getting up time yet and allow them to get on with what they want to – some children will go back to sleep, whereas others will rest or play by themselves. It’s likely they’ll soon get bored and fall asleep again, so give them some space and allow them to relax.
Thankfully as children age, they get more used to spending time alone and bedtime routines will be easier. Until then, stay firm and chilled out: and make sure that you keep your own routine in place for a good night’s sleep too!