Just when you think you have got to the stage where you can sleep peacefully through the night, your toddler hits you with a surprise! They no longer enjoy sleeping on their own. Nights = ruined. But what makes your toddler afraid of sleeping alone? They were perfectly fine last week…..
Getting your toddler to sleep is easy, KEEPING them asleep is now the challenge.
Table of Contents
- What makes your toddler afraid of sleeping alone?
- 8 Tips to make your toddler less afraid to sleep alone
- 1. Talk to them
- 2. Be mindful about what they are watching
- 3. Get a light projector
- 4. Get some plug-in nightlights
- 5. Fool them
- 6. Get them to talk about their dreams
- 7. Spend as much time with them as you can
- 8. Think about any changes in their life
What makes your toddler afraid of sleeping alone?
There could be many reasons why your toddler has suddenly become afraid of sleeping alone. Let’s have a rundown of the most popular reasons:
- They regularly have bad dreams
- The darkness scares them
- They miss you and know you are only a cry away
In the tips below, I take a look at addressing these issues so you can get back to getting a full night sleep…..that is until they wake up FAR too early and expect you to play IMMEDIATELY.
8 Tips to make your toddler less afraid to sleep alone
Here are the 8 tips, but bear in mind the list is not exhaustive. Ultimately, you need to ask your toddler why they do not like sleeping alone.
When writing these tips, I attempted to talk to my toddler to identify any reason why he wouldn’t want to sleep alone. It was tough because his attention span is worse than a fish. I managed to get some info from him though, between random leg punches (he is doing the punching, by the way).
1. Talk to them
Find out why they are afraid of sleeping alone
This is the most obvious first step and one that cannot be ignored.
Sure – you probably won’t get much sense out of them, but if you listen carefully they will give you a few hints.
As I sit here typing, I call my son over to ask him. The conversation genuinely went like this:
Me: Why would you not like sleeping in your own bed?
Toddler: Can I have a sandwich?
Me: Ok, only once you finish talking to me. Why would you not want to sleep in your own bed?
Toddler: Can I have peanut butter and butter?
Me: Just answer the question man!
Me: Ok, but you know monsters are not real, right?
Toddler: They are real Daddy, there is one who lives in your room.
2. Be mindful about what they are watching
Toddlers have got to the stage where they begin to concern themselves with things and objects that did not scare them before.
They are now learning that there are things in life to be scared of. When they are babies, they only have 2 fears, loud sudden noises, and falling.
As they progress through life, they begin to learn about other things that scare them. These fears are exacerbated by what they watch on TV. Even cartoons have scenes that introduce things to be scared of.
Be careful about what they watch on the TV, or on their tablet.
Ultimately, being scared of things is part of growing up. It is our job to teach them about irrational fears.
3. Get a light projector
I used a light projector when my son was smaller, and I use one now that he is a toddler.
There are tons of options out there, and I have even put together a list of the best light projectors to get your Baby or Toddler to sleep.
These light projectors are a great way to induce a relaxing sleep, and going to sleep in a relaxed mood should lay the foundations for a full nights sleep!
4. Get some plug-in nightlights
In my sons room, we have 1 plug-in night light, and 1 battery powered Hulk night-light (He loves the Avengers!).
When kids first begin to get a fear of the dark, every item they see in their room has the potential to scare them!
Shadows in the dark – clothes hanging up in their room. In the dark, these can look pretty concerning to a toddler. If the room is illuminated (but not too much), when they awake, they can see these items are nothing to be afraid of and will (hopefully) comfort themselves and drift back to sleep.
5. Fool them
A few years ago, we went on a family vacation and my son slept in the same room as us.
We did not realize this was going to be a problem when we got back home, but it was. He would not settle down unless he could see one of us in his room. I am not going to lie, it took away at least 1 hour of precious time each night, and I wasn’t happy about that!
It was time to play dirty!
Here is what I did:
I got a pillow and dressed it in one of my tops. I agreed that I would lay outside his room until he fell asleep. After a few minutes, and when he wasn’t looking, I replaced myself with the dressed pillow.
My evenings suddenly opened up to be much more productive! He didn’t have a clue…..but one day, I will tell him.
6. Get them to talk about their dreams
We have all been there. You have literally just woken up from a bad dream, and for the first few minutes, you still think it is real.
In the morning, you remember your dream and think about how stupid it was!
Follow the same process with your toddler. Ask them in the morning about what was in their dream that scared them. Use that discussion to pinpoint exactly why it was a silly dream. Put their mind at rest that it was only a dream and it wouldn’t actually happen in real life.
Try to add some comedy into how they remember their dream, for instance, if they had a bad dream about spiders, get them to imagine a spider with a set of rollerskates on. Get your toddler to imagine it trying to stay on its feet!
Once they see the funny side, the fear factor will be much lower.
7. Spend as much time with them as you can
You may be thinking that your toddler is afraid of sleeping alone, but that may not be true.
Your toddler might simply miss you! If you work long hours and you do not get to see your child much, it is really important that you devote a lot of time to them when you can.
I am lucky, I get to spend a lot of time with my son, but I understand why some parents are not able to spend as much time with their kids.
8. Think about any changes in their life
Has there been a huge change in their life recently?
Most changes in behavior can be attributed to a change in life, so it is just a case of pinpointing exactly what that was.
It could be a new house, it could be a new pet, it could be something they have recently started watching. Have you read them a new book recently?
When we are chilling out, I am guided by my son on what we are watching (within reason, obviously). He tends to vouch for ‘Scary’ things to watch. He is also a little obsessed with TV programs and films that are not for toddler’s eyes. I am not talking about Horror movies, even things like Harry Potter and Pirates of the Carribean are too much for a toddler to watch.
Let’s face it though, some kids books are pretty wrong eh? Take The Little Red Riding Hood. (Spoiler Alert) in the end, the Granny gets eaten. Then a man arrives to cut Wolf’s stomach open and free her! That kind of thing can play on the mind of a toddler, so be aware.
Ultimately, you need to find out the reason why your toddler is afraid of sleeping alone. Only then can you do something to improve the situation.
The most important thing is that you speak to them about it. Kids will give you hints and clues as they mindlessly grasp for the right words to use!
Placate them by explaining why they shouldn’t be scared of certain things (like the dark etc).
If your toddler is afraid to sleep alone, then good luck, and work through the tips! I am sure you will get a successful outcome.
The result is that you get to sleep the whole night!