We’ve all been there. One minute you’re cuddling up with your sweet little infant at nighttime, and the next thing you know, that sweet baby is four and kicking you all night long.
I am not a fan of the family bed and never have been. While I love my children dearly, I love my sleep and my space, and therefore they are not allowed in my bed. It’s a rule I put in place years ago, although recently my sap of a husband has been letting our four year old creep up in his side of the bed 1-2 times a week. She’s the “baby” and a Daddy’s girl, and he just has a hard time telling her no. I end up having to be the “mean” mom and send her back to bed in her room.
Sometimes we give in because we’re tired, other times because we don’t want to hurt our little one’s feelings. However, if you find your toddler in your bed more often than not, and want to change that, check out these tips below:
1. Make a rule and stick with it. Let your kids know that your bed is not their bed, period.
2. Give them an alternative. More than once I have had a child wake up in the middle of the night after a bad dream. They know they can come to me for comfort, but cannot climb into my bed. Instead, they can bring their pillow and blanket and sleep on the floor beside my bed if they are frightened and cannot get back to sleep. Often times, they just want to know that we are there, and then they are able to fall back asleep.
3. Get them their own bed. If you have a toddler that is still in a crib, but is constantly climbing out to get into your bed, it may be time to get them a new bed. Toddler beds are fairly inexpensive, and a crib mattress fits them just fine. Often times one can be found on Craigslist or at a local consignment sale. Once a new bed has been purchased, you can sell your crib as well, and use that to replace the money spent on the toddler bed, as well as #4.
4. Get them cool, new sheets. Kids love to get new things. Let them pick out a new sheet and comforter set for their bed. They’ll be thrilled to make a decision about something, and should be excited to put the new sheets to use.
5. Make a BIG deal about sleeping in a big kid bed. Toddlers like to feel accomplished and grown up. Making a big deal about how they have their own big kid bed can go a long way. Go out of your way to mention it multiple times a day, giving them props for being such a big kid. Things like: “You’re not a baby anymore, you have this cool big kid bed!” or “Wow, that bed is so much better than my bed, and you’re so big, you can sleep in it all by yourself!”
6. Put them to bed earlier. I don’t necessarily mean an earlier bedtime, but don’t go to bed at the same time as your child. Make sure their bed time is before yours, so they understand that you don’t all go to bed together.
7. Reward chart. A simple daily chart that allows you to mark off each night they slept in their own bed can be a big help. Each morning, you can put a check, smiley face, or sticker on the box for the previous night. If they didn’t sleep in their bed that night, don’t make them feel bad, just be positive and say something encouraging. ”Oops! Let’s try again tomorrow night so you can get a sticker! I know you can do it!” Once they get so many stickers (5, 10, etc.) have a reward for them, such as a special movie or treat. Remind them about the reward each night, so that they’ll have an incentive to stay in their own bed. Slowly extend the number of days to earn a reward until they are fully sleeping in their own bed and don’t need a chart anymore. Maybe even have a mini celebration in honor of their transition in to being an independent sleeper. The one below is specifically for helping little ones transition into their own bed.
Need something ASAP? Here’s a simple punch card page that you can download for free!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a rule in place that children sleep in their own beds. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, and you’re kids won’t be scarred for life because of it. It teaches them that there are boundaries and that they have to follow the rules. Just because you are a parent doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice everything. You need that time and space to rest up properly so that you can be ready to tackle the day when you wake up. Do you still have a little (or not so little) one sneaking into your bed at nighttime? How do you deal with it when it happens?
(Disclaimer: I know that there are many families that are firm believers in the family bed idea. This post is in no way criticizing those parents, but instead offering advice to those with a toddler that they would like to transition into sleeping in their own room.)
*This post includes affiliate links, and I earn a small commission from any items purchased. Maybe even enough to take my kids out for ice cream. Or buy myself a cheap bottle of wine!*
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