If you are having trouble getting your toddler to sleep through the night in their own bed, you are not alone. Sleep training is one of the hardest jobs that parents of young children must do. But no matter how much your toddler fights going to sleep, getting a good night’s rest is important for both of you. If you are having trouble getting your toddler to sleep through the night in their own bed, try these tips for sleep training success for toddlers. You may find yourself surprised at just how quickly they can work.
Pick the Right Time for Sleep Training
- Sleep training is stressful enough on its own, so it is important to pick the right time. If you are currently dealing with other stress in the family, such as illness or a particularly stressful time at work, now is not the best time for sleep training. Wait until the other stress has subsided and then proceed with your sleep training plans.
Prepare Yourself for Battle
- Toddlers are typically stubborn by nature and are likely to fight your sleep training efforts the first few nights. There will likely be tears (maybe from both of you). Remind yourself that as long as your toddler is not sick, hurt, or hungry, a little bit of crying will not hurt them. While they may cry a lot the first night or two, this typically subsides very quickly and will completely disappear within a week or two.
- Toddlers are creatures of habit. When your toddler cries at 3 am, if you go into their room and allow them to get out of bed, they will likely continue to cry each night at 3 am because they have learned what “works”. Once you have set your expectations, enforce them consistently, no matter how hard it may be at first. With time, your toddler will adapt to these expectations.
Create a Bedtime Routine
- You can use a toddler’s need for consistency to your advantage by creating a bedtime routine that you follow every night. Typically this routine will include a final glass of milk, bath time, and a bed time story. Once your toddler has learned this routine, it will become a comfort to them and will signal to them that it is time to settle down and get some rest.
Eliminate Middle of the Night Snacks
- Unless your toddler has special medical considerations, they should be capable of making it through the night without getting a drink or a snack. If your toddler is used to getting a drink or snack in the middle of the night, this can be a hard habit to break. The easiest way to wean your child off of a midnight snack is to only offer them water during the night. The water will satisfy them if they are truly thirsty, but is not enticing enough to encourage them to keep waking up to snack.
Find a Comfort Item
- Giving your toddler a comfort item can help them self soothe themselves with when they wake up during the night. You will have to experiment to discover what works best for your child. Some ideas for comfort items are a soft blanket, a small pillow, a small plush toy, a toy that plays soft music, or a machine that projects light designs on the ceiling.
Sleep training your toddler may lead to a few hard nights with little sleep for both of you. However, once your toddler is successfully sleeping through the night in their own bed, all your struggles and efforts will be worth it.