Parents focus a lot on sleep issues with babies, but if you ask us, the real struggle begins once your kids hit toddlerhood. Babies wake up throughout the night, sure. But they're babies, and they can't go anywhere! A toddler in a big kid bed is mobile and curious and can talk their way out of going to sleep in their room and staying there. But toddlers may also have a hard time processing a change to their routine and getting used to something new. So as exciting as it can be to finally get your toddler their own bed in their own room, they might not share your excitement right away. If you're struggling to get your toddler to sleep in their own bed or a new room, these tips might help.
One of the best ways to set yourself and your toddler up for success when it comes to sleeping in their own room is a solid bedtime routine. Toddlers, for all their chaos, thrive on routine! But if your toddler is new to sleeping in their own bed or a new room, it's important to begin the process early. Start setting your bedtime expectations in the afternoon; for example, spend some time in your toddler's room during the day so they can get comfortable in the space, and talk to them about how parents sleep in their room and bed and kids sleep in their own rooms and beds. Give yourself plenty of time before bedtime to get them ready for bed - a lot of parents find a relaxing bath is helpful, or you can set aside time for a bedtime book.
If your toddler starts the night in their bed, but makes frequent visits to your room every night, now is the time to get tough. We know it's easier to just acquiesce and let your toddler stay in your room, but if you want to break them of that habit, you'll have to start being firm. When they get up and come to your room, take them immediately back to their room and bed, give them a quick kiss and hug goodnight, and leave. No snuggles, no water, no prolonging the inevitable. Your toddler will very likely not be happy with this new system, but after some time, they'll get the hint and stay put.
If your toddler has been sleeping in your bed every night, this transition is even harder. On the first few nights of them in their room in their bed, you may need to camp out on the floor (but not in bed with them). After a few nights of this, move from the floor to a chair in their room and sit quietly until they fall asleep. No talking, no cuddles, just your presence to soothe them. Each night, you'll move farther and farther out of the room, until eventually your bedtime routine looks similar to the one described above.
If you want to keep your toddler from leaving their room at night, consider a baby gate at their door. No one wants to lock their toddlers in their rooms, we know. But we also don't want roamers who end up in our beds every night, either.
The Next Morning
Hopefully, it was a good night! But in the beginning, some nights will definitely be a struggle. If your toddler had a not-so-great night, don't criticize or harp on it. Be encouraging, and go over the new bedtime and sleeping rules again. Make sure they understand that there's always the next night! If they slept in their own room like a champ, definitely give them some praise for a job well done. Also, don't be afraid of rewarding their successes - incentives like small treats or toys can help encourage your toddler to get on board with the new rules.