The day your child goes from a crib to a “big kid bed” marks a big step in their growth. Still, any mom will tell you that the biggest step isn’t getting your child the bed. It’s getting your child to stay in it.
But the tearful pleads for one more story and midnight requests for bathroom trips can make the journey to sleep independence feel like an uphill one. That’s why we’ve compiled our best tips for helping kids sleep in their own beds.
Tell Your Child the Plan
Open communication is the first step in helping your child make any big change in their life. And bedtime isn’t the time to bring up the change. Sit your child down during the day and explain—in a way that’s not shaming or belittling—that you have noticed they’re sleeping in your bed, and it’s time to sleep in their own.
Prepare Yourself for Consistency
Communication is the easy part. Usually, in the light of day, your child won’t mind saying yes. It’s when night falls and your child’s fears set in that they’ll test your parental resolve. Your consistency is the factor that will determine how successful your endeavor is.
When your child tries to get in your bed, take their hand, lead them to their room, and put them back in bed. Do this every time, no matter how many times they get up. Keep your emotions neutral during this. A positive or negative emotional response is what they want, and it’s important they see this isn’t the way they’ll get it.
Pro Tip: Positive Reinforcement
Kids respond well to positive reinforcement. Adding a reward for sleeping in their bed all night, like a sticker chart or token system, usually goes a long way. And make sure you’re consistent in this, too.
Set Up a Nighttime Routine
For some kids, the transition from play to sleep is what’s most challenging. If you don’t have a bedtime routine established, establishing one can often ease some of the anxiety of going to bed. For instance, you can sing a special song for brushing their teeth or washing their face or create a laminated bedtime checklist they can check off with a marker.
Make Their Room Sleep-Ready
Sometimes, it’s the room itself that’s making kids weary of staying in their beds. For example, they may have trouble sleeping if the air circulation keeps their room warmer if they’re hot sleepers. Here are a few ways to help your kids sleep in their own beds by adjusting their rooms:
- Get blackout curtains
- Add a nightlight
- Invest in a white noise machine
- Add a fan or space heater for rooms with temperature issues
- Put a diffuser with lavender essential oils in the room
The journey to sleep independence is a rocky one. But with a lot of patience and a lot of tenacity, you and your child will have more peaceful nights in your own rooms.