Is your toddler not sleeping well,
maybe waking up multiple times a night? Or are you co-sleeping and ready to transition her to her own room? There are many different sleep scenarios, but just because they worked for you for a while doesn’t mean they’re going to keep working! You may have to adapt as your child grows and your family’s needs change.
We talk a lot about newborn and infant sleep disturbances, but we often forget to address our toddlers’ sleep. Some families may think it’s too late to change a child’s sleeping habits or routine, but I have a secret for you: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE!
There are some steps you can take to change a toddler’s sleeping habits. If your child is 2 1/2 years or older, keep reading.
How to Change Your Toddler’s Sleeping Habits
Involve Your Toddler in the Solution
Plan a family meeting and discuss what will be changing: removing the bottle or the pacifier, ending co-sleeping, etc. Each family is different, so each family meeting is different. The goal is to empower the child to find a solution with you and feel involved in the process.
We also want him to get excited about the change—and to be prepared. For most children of that age, all they know is their current sleeping situation. For them, this is how it is; they don’t know or remember anything different. We can slowly introduce them to the idea that things will be different going forward, and that the change is fun and positive.
Remember: it’s well worth the effort. If your toddler is not sleeping well, it affects your wellbeing and your child’s wellbeing, especially if she is sleep deprived.
Create a Reward System
Use a reward system to encourage them to progress—and to help them understand when they’re on the right track. Identify three or four goals specific to your child’s sleep habits. Some examples could be:
- I stay in my bed quietly all night.
- Don’t call for mommy or daddy in the middle of the night.
- I Don’t ask mommy or daddy for the pacifier in the middle of the night.
- Hug my teddy bear when I wake up in the middle of the night.
- Don’t ask for a bottle in the middle of the night.
- I cooperate at bedtime.
The actions should be simple and easy to accomplish, especially at the beginning. You can make adjustments as your toddler masters the first steps. Review the chart with your child before bedtime and first thing in the morning. It will help him focus on new sleeping habits.
Your toddler gets a reward (stickers, treats, or whatever tickles your child) when he accomplishes the action on the chart. This, too, will help him feel proud of himself, like he’s part of the solution.
Consider the Room Decor
Introduce a teddy bear or a security object. Your child will appreciate a companion for comfort during the transition. You can go shopping and let her find a stuffed animal, blanket, or another special object she likes. If you are co-sleeping and want to transition her to her own room, you might let her choose her own sheets or pillows. This is another simple way to involve the child in the solution.
Your child needs to feel confident, empowered, and excited about the change, and these three steps will help with that. As a toddler, he or she is old enough to understand what’s happening and play an active role in the process!
If your toddler is not sleeping well, stay positive! I can help you achieve your sleeping goals with your infant and your toddler. For more details on what to do next, call me at 702-355-5082 and I will guide you and your family to sleep.