Has your toddler taken over your bed? Are you and your partner sleeping on the very edges of the bed, clinging to the sides so you don’t fall off, while your toddler is laying horizontal in the middle? If this sounds like you, and you are living on coffee to get through the day, you may be considering transitioning them into their own bed.
Another reason you may want to transition your toddler into their own room is if you are expecting a new baby. Transitioning your toddler before the baby arrives will help them to not associate their baby brother or sister with getting moved out of the big bed.
If you are ready to start this transition, it can feel a little overwhelming. Don’t despair! We have all been there, and we have some tried and true tricks that can help your little one transition to sleep in their own bed with minimal tears on both of your parts.
Make Your Toddler’s Room Sleep Friendly
The first thing you want to do is make sure their room is set up for sleep. If you have a playroom, move all of the toys out of their room, except for their snuggly stuffed animals, or anything they associate with sleep.
If you don’t have a playroom, make sure the room is cleaned up with all of the toys put back where they belong. If there are toys all over the room, it can cause your toddler to be overstimulated before bed, which isn’t good for anyone.
Lighting is really important when toddlers are winding down at night. Have a light option in their room that you can dim while they are getting ready to go to bed. A nightlight is also helpful in giving them just enough light to not get scared of the dark.
You can also make the room conducive to sleep for a toddler by making sure the temperature isn’t too hot or too cold. Most toddlers don’t leave their blankets on, so you don’t want them waking up because they’re too cold.
Create A Wind Down Bedtime Routine
It’s important to create a bedtime routine for toddlers. It’s hard for anybody, but especially toddlers, to go from running around and playing, to sleeping. The best thing to do to help your toddler wind down is to create a bedtime routine.
The bedtime routine can include a warm bath, brushing their teeth, and reading a few books. When you’re sitting in their room during the bedtime routine, dim the lights to create a relaxing environment. Make sure to get lots of snuggles in to last them (and you) through the night.
If you’re finding that your little one isn’t able to calm down during their bedtime routine, perhaps you can create a calm down corner in your house. This is an area where they can rest and begin to calm down from the day. Your calm down corner should be free of anything that is overstimulating to your little one.
Set Clear Expectations
Before you help your toddler make the transition into their own bed, make sure to set clear expectations. Help them understand that they will be sleeping in their own bed. If they express that they are scared or nervous, let them know that you understand how they are feeling, but are confident they can do it.
Make sure to not only set the expectation that they’re to go to sleep in their own bed, but they also need to stay in their bed. Sometimes this last piece is hard. They may wake up in the middle of the night, get nervous, and head to your room. This is normal, as long as you have set the expectation, be consistent, and bring them back to their room.
Make Small Changes
Whether your little one has been sleeping in your bed since you brought them home from the hospital, or they just started sneaking into your room, it can be hard to break the habit. If you’re uncomfortable going completely cold turkey in one night, you can make small changes over the course of a few weeks. Cold turkey may also lead to many tears and frustration for both you and your child, which is never calming right before bed.
One way to slowly transition your little one out of your bed is by sitting with them as they fall asleep in their own bed. Once they fall asleep, leave their room. You can do this for a few nights.
Once they’re more comfortable, put a little distance between you and them. Maybe sit in the middle of the floor until they fall asleep. Finally, move to the door and sit there until they fall asleep. This will help them gain more confidence and get more comfortable in their own bed.
Stick With Positive Reinforcement
Making a change in the bedtime routine can be very hard on both of you. You’re both tired from the day and it’s easy to lose your patience. Now is the time to focus on the progress they are making and provide them with positive reinforcement.
This can be as easy as offering an extra book before bed for staying in their bed all night. You can also use a sticker chart if your toddler is receptive to them.
When your little one wakes up in the morning, give them praise for sleeping in their own bed! Once they make the transition, they’ll be so proud of themselves and will welcome the extra compliments.
Like most things involved with parenting, consistency is key. Starting a new bedtime expectation is no different. Once you have set your expectations, you need to be consistent. When bedtime comes around, follow through with the bedtime routine and tuck them in.
If your toddler gets out of their bed, calmly put them back in. This may take a while, but they’ll soon learn what you expect from them, and they’ll end up sleeping in their own bed.
If they’re getting up in the middle of the night, even though it’s easier to just let them climb in your bed, don’t do it. Kids are so smart, and by allowing them to stay in your room, they will continue to come into your room each night. When you notice them in your bed, wake up and take them back to their own bed.
Every kid comes into their parents’ room in the middle of the night once in a while. They may have a bad dream, hear loud thunder, or they’re just struggling to sleep. That’s totally normal!
In certain cases, you may need to help them calm down and soothe their fears, but if it has become a habit, help them back to their room with minimal conversation.
Give Extra Snuggles During The Day
This transition can be a big one for your toddler, especially if they’ve spent their whole life sleeping in your bed. Help your child ease into this transition by offering extra snuggles during the day. Giving them more one on one time with you can help them feel more confident in sleeping in their own bed at night.
While you are getting in those extra snuggles, pull up the Caribu App and play a game together or read a story. You can even call up grandma and they can tell her all about their new bed. Help them pull up a blank drawing sheet to draw their big kid bed for grandma. Helping them take ownership of their bed and new routine can help ease them into the transition at night.
Helping your toddler to sleep in their own bed at night can be tough. Any parent knows that making any changes at night isn’t the ideal time, but bedtime has to be the exception.
There are ways to help ease you both into a new routine, with minimal tears. Make sure their room is set up to be a cozy place to sleep. Once their room is set, take a look at your bedtime routine and make sure it helps your toddler wind down before going to sleep.
Once their room and routine are set, set clear expectations with your toddler. This transition can be made easier by making small changes each night, offering positive reinforcement, and being consistent. Don’t forget to give them extra snuggles during the day to show them you are always there for them!
At Caribu, we know how hard big transitions can be. We also know that with the encouragement of those around our children, they can feel more at ease making changes. That’s why we have created a way to engage with our loved ones even from miles and miles away.