All you need is one full night of sleep, right?
Your toddler’s inability to sleep on their own is now becoming a drag. Lack of sleep, and dare I say a reduced chance of ‘mommy and daddy time’ is beginning to take its toll on your life.
If this is you, then you must be desperate to know how to get your toddler to sleep alone! I’ve been there, and in this post, I will give you some tips for overcoming this issue.
Table of Contents
- Reasons Why Your Toddler Does Not Want To Sleep Alone
- Transitioning to Toddler Bed
- Negative Sleep Associations
- Unhealthy Habits
- Bedtime Resistance
- How Can You Encourage Your Toddler to Sleep Alone
- Communicate Effectively
- Remain Persistent But Be Calm
- How to Deal With Crying
- Have a Daytime Talk
- Teach Your Toddler to Self-Soothe
Reasons Why Your Toddler Does Not Want To Sleep Alone
Toddlers should be able to fall asleep on their own and alone. The reason why most toddlers develop a chronic pattern of dependency is due to how their parents respond during those anxious nights that happen here and there.
Naturally, our children should develop the capacity to master their fears and soothe themselves.
Despite this, some toddlers are just afraid to sleep alone, even after reassuring words and checking under the beds. So, why is this happening?
Transitioning to Toddler Bed
Toddlers may go through a stage where they realize their separation from mommy or daddy and the fact that they need to sleep on their own. This usually happens when a toddler is transitioning to a bigger bed.
As they learn to push boundaries, they will go through phases of not wanting to be alone.
As a result, they may want to climb out of their beds and seek proximity or closeness to their parents at night.
Negative Sleep Associations
Between the age of 2 and 5 years, imagination begins to develop in a toddler’s mind in earnest.
At this stage, magical thinking and things such as fears and nightmares or night terrors start to emerge and may be challenging for parents who are looking for ways on how to toddler to sleep alone.
Since the toddler is not able to separate imagination from reality, they may become very unsettled hence resist sleeping alone.
Toddlers feel safe when close to those they love and tend to cling around all the time. Clinging happens especially in times of stress of uncertainties that result in bedtime fears.
When fear develops, it’s natural to find them needing comfort from those they are attached to, like parents or babysitters. It mostly develops in toddlers who get separated from their parents during the day.
Some parents are not aware that the bedtime habits they allow or encourage can lead to sleep problems on their children.
It becomes challenging to make changes later once these habits have developed. Though not impossible, it’s worth making an effort.
It will be easier for a toddler and parents if ground sleeping rules and routines are set earlier to avoid problems later.
Mostly, toddlers above two years may refuse to go to bed and sleep while watching TV with their parents.
A mild resistance of bedtime refusal is when a toddler delays his bedtime with open-ended questions, unreasonable requests, crying, protests, and temper.
These are unjustified attempts to test their parent’s good nature and limits, and not necessarily bedtime fears.
How Can You Encourage Your Toddler to Sleep Alone
Getting a toddler to sleep alone is enough of a circus, and you need to figure out how you are going to tackle bedtime.
If your toddler is struggling to sleep alone, some decisions may help to cope with the situation, which comes with some challenges.
First things first, you need to be firm and tell your toddler why they need to stay in their bed and sleep.
Once a parent has set that expectation, it’s time to apply some bedtime routines on how to get a toddler to sleep alone. Some tips may help.
When a toddler is feeling insecure, he will tend to cry as you are leaving the room. You can verbally reassure him that you are going to attend to something, and he must stay in bed. If he gets out of bed, take him back to his bed and physically put him on it.
Do this without arguing or talking. He will get to the point that it’s time to sleep, and you mean business. Most likely, a toddler may want to test you, so keep taking him back and back again until he stays.
Remain Persistent But Be Calm
If the toddler follows you immediately, try sitting on a chair in the room. Reassure him of your presence by sitting close to his bed. Tell him you are going to sit right there, only once, and do not do any more talking.
Don’t get into his bed or allow him to be out of bed or sit in your lap. When he is asleep, leave the room.
How to Deal With Crying
The toddler stage is full of emotions, and some days can be full of all the extremes of emotional response a toddler can have.
Many of their roller coaster ride experiences are groundless and unjustified. As you try to break the unhealthy sleep associations, your child may cry, be present, and responsive.
Your presence as he sleeps shows you are responding but teach him how to cope with difficult emotional situations. Show him even if he cries, the fact will not change.
Have a Daytime Talk
As you are helping your toddler to cope with the difficult task of sleeping alone and becoming more independent, create some time during the day and talk about it with him. Show him some love and express how proud you are of him that he can now sleep on his own.
Take time to listen to him and remark on his progress.
Teach Your Toddler to Self-Soothe
Self-soothing is an art that a toddler can learn through some self-made strategies to soothe themselves to sleep. It involves useful, yet straightforward self-managed tools like sucking a dummy or a toy, swaddling, or self-exploration.
You can also use soothing strategies like a light projector to settle your toddler.
You could start by keeping him at arm’s length if he used to be a bedside sleeper. Then bring a crib for him in your room instead of putting him in his place from the get-go. After a few days, help your toddler transit to his room.
It’s a personal choice. For infants, not only are parents close by to respond if something goes wrong, it easier for the breastfeeding mom to nurse throughout the night. But, as toddlers develop, it becomes more problematic as they may develop unhealthy parental fixation and also their presence may hinder marital intimacy, jeopardizing a marriage.
Children should sleep in the same room as their parents for the first six months up to one year.
Parents may get a night of good sleep when their toddler is in another room, but toddlers may only feel safe in the presence of a parent. But, the good thing is that falling asleep is a habit, and children can learn it.
While some may have some difficulties falling asleep than others, all children eventually start to learn how to fall asleep without the presence of their parents.
It may take some time to learn the habit, but children will finally learn to put themselves into sleep on their own eventually.