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.
Let’s take a look at what you can do do you have a toddler afraid of sleeping alone…
What makes your toddler afraid of sleeping alone?
There could be many reasons why your toddler has suddenly become scared 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 advice below, I look at how to solve these concerns so you can get back to sleeping well until they get up too early and demand you to play IMMEDIATELY.
PS – it could also signify that your toddler loves you and wants to spend more time in your company!
8 Tips to make your toddler less afraid to sleep alone
Here are the 8 tips, but remember that the list is not exhaustive. Ultimately, it would be best to ask your toddler why they do not like sleeping alone.
When I was preparing these tips, I tried to talk to my child to see if there were any reasons he wouldn’t want to sleep alone. It wasn’t easy because his attention span is that of a fish. But, in between random leg jabs, I managed to glean some information from him (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 they will give you a few hints if you listen carefully.
As I sit 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 gotten to the stage where they become concerned 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 kids grow older, they learn about more things that frighten them. What they see on television exacerbates their concerns. Even cartoons include situations where scary things are being introduced.
Be careful about what they watch on the TV or 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 many options, 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 whole night’s sleep!
4. Get some plug-in nightlights
In my son’s room, we have 1 plug-in night light and 1 battery-powered Hulk nightlight (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!
Clothes hung up in their room and cast shadows in the dark. In the dark, these can be pretty frightening to a youngster. If the room is sufficiently illuminated (but not overly so), when they awake, they will notice that these items are nothing to be terrified of and will (hopefully) soothe themselves before falling back asleep.
5. Fool them
A few years ago, we went on a family vacation, and my son slept in the same room as us.
When we returned home, we had no idea this would be a problem, but it was. He wouldn’t sleep unless he saw one of us in his room. I’m not going to lie, it stole at least an hour of my precious time each night, and I wasn’t happy about it!
It was time to play dirty!
Here is what I did:
I purchased a cushion and dressed it in one of my outfits. I agreed to wait outside his room until he fell asleep. After a few minutes, I replaced myself with the clothed cushion when he wasn’t looking.
My evenings suddenly opened up to be much more productive! He didn’t have a clue, but I will tell him one day.
6. Get them to talk about their dreams
We have all been there. You have just woken up from a bad dream, and you still think it is real for the first few minutes.
In the morning, you remember your dream and think about how stupid it was!
Repeat the process with your toddler. In the morning, ask them what they saw in their dream that worried them. Use that dialogue to determine why it was a foolish dream. Assure them that it was all a dream and would never 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 think your toddler is afraid of sleeping alone, but that may not be true.
Your toddler might miss you! If you work long hours and do not get to see your child much, you must devote much time to them when you can.
I am lucky to spend a lot of time with my son, but I understand why some parents cannot spend as much time with their kids.
8. Think about any changes in their life
Has there been a massive 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’re relaxing, I direct my son’s attention to what we’re seeing (within reason, obviously). He usually recommends ‘scary’ movies to watch. He’s also a little infatuated with TV shows and movies that aren’t appropriate for toddlers’ eyes. I’m not referring to horror films. Even Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean are inappropriate for a toddler to watch.
Let’s face it, though, some kid’s books are pretty wrong, eh? Take The Little Red Riding Hood. (Spoiler Alert) in the end, 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, it would be best if you found out 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 the right words!
Placate them by explaining why they shouldn’t be scared of certain things (like the dark etc.).
Good luck if your toddler is afraid to sleep alone, 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!