We’ve all been through it. You’ve put your toddler to bed. Bedtime was soothing and calm. The little one fell asleep and appeared to be out like a light. Then, an hour or so later, they show up looking wide awake.
When your son or daughter was just a baby, you might have responded to waking times by calming him or her back to sleep. That said, now that your child’s a toddler, it’s possible to teach your little one to use his or her own abilities to get back to sleep. It’s a process that can take time, but both you and your toddler are able to get through it successfully. No, really! All you need is a bit of planning and a lot of patience.
Use the following steps to teach your toddler to fall asleep without you after waking in the night.
- Use a healthy bedtime routine – When your child starts winding down early and goes through the same routine at the same time every night, he or she will become more restful. The more restful your child is before actually falling asleep, the more likely he or she will be to remain sleeping through the night.
- Choose the right bedding – Soft, comfortable bedding can make a big difference to your child’s comfort. This includes the right toddler pillow. A pillow made in the right size and with the proper amount of fill will keep your little one comfortable all night and less likely to wake up out of discomfort.
- Leave the room before your child falls asleep – At bedtime, make a habit of being a part of the winding down routine, but leave once your little one is calm and yet still awake. This will help your child to become more accustomed to falling asleep without your presence. Do this gradually. Start leaving when he or she is drifting off. Then start heading away earlier and earlier.
- Promote self-soothing – Give your child a lovey to snuggle. This can be very comforting and help your little one to feel soothed even when you’re not there.
- Stay calm – If your child continues to get up and seek you out during the night, be very calm. Don’t carry on a conversation and resist the urge to issue corrections or give a lesson. Instead, quietly walk your little one back to bed, tuck him or her back in and head out once more. Try to ignore whining, crying or anger. The goal is to show that getting up in the night won’t bring any further attention. It will only return him or her to bed again.
- Wait before reacting – If your little one wakes during the night and calls out for you, try waiting a few minutes before reacting. Sometimes, your child is actually tired enough that after a few minutes, he or she will self-soothe and fall asleep without you.
- Be consistent – Try to repeat the same steps every night regardless of whether it’s bedtime or you’re sending your little one back to bed after waking up and climbing out. The more you are consistent, the more successful your efforts will be. Breaking your strategy will only lead to setbacks.
- Praise – Don’t forget to dole out the praise the next morning when your little one makes it through the night without getting up. After all, it’s an achievement and it’s worth celebrating!