There’s nothing better than cuddling up to your child in your bed and having a blissful night’s sleep. But the reality of having a toddler in your bed feels more like a wriggling, kicking, noisy octopus sharing your space.
If your little one is making their way into your bed most nights chances are you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. If you feel ready to try some ways to keep them in their own bed – read on.
We’ve got plenty of ideas for you to try out. Decide what suits you and your family and give it a go.
1. Have a chat
Often our toddlers understand a lot more than we give them credit for. So a good first step if you want to change the behaviour is to talk to them about it.
Depending on their age you could say something like ‘From now on you are going to stay in your own bed at night time. You’re a big boy now and you don’t need to sleep in my bed anymore. So if you wake up through the night, just roll over and go back to sleep, OK?’
Sure they might look at your blankly (or just say ‘Ha ha! No way!’) but you might be lucky and on some level the message might just sink in.
2. Set the scene
Make a fuss about how great their big bed is and make it really inviting.
It might mean a new bed (if they are transitioning from a cot), some new sheets or pillows, a night light, a new comforter or teddy, or any other way to get them excited about being in their room.
Let them help choose the new things, and talk often about how great it is for big kids to sleep in their own bed.
You could even mention some other older friends or cousins who love sleeping in their own bed all night long.
3. Try a sticker chart
Kids love getting rewarded, so encourage positive behaviour by creating a sticker reward chart.
Decide on a prize and a time frame for them to work on – for instance, after 5 consecutive nights in their own bed they get to go to a favourite playground or get a small toy.
4. Create a bedtime ritual
Many kids benefit from a regular routine in the lead up to their bedtime. This helps them settle down for the night, rather than trying to get them to bed when they’re all hyped up or upset. It could be something as simple as this:
- Bath time or shower
- Put pyjamas on
- Use the toilet and brush teeth
- Read two books in their bed
- Have kisses and cuddles
- Say goodnight
5. Keep visits short
If your child does pop in to your bed, set up a plan where they can stay for ten minutes and then you will take them back to their bed, once each night. If they come straight back in or come in again later, you can take them back to their bed right away.
This is tough to do when you’re tired, but it helps to set up the new routine and encourages them to understand that they can’t stay in your bed anymore.
Don’t hear them come in? Place a bell on your door so that you do.
6. Reduce any triggers for night waking
Talk to your child if they are old enough, or have a think about whether there are any changes you could make to stop them from waking up in the first place.
- if traffic or neighbourhood noise wakes them, you could consider some soundproofing techniques for the windows
- if the room is too hot or cold you may need to adjust the temperature with heaters or fans
- if it gets light at 5am you could get some darker heavy curtains for the window
- if they have anxieties or worries that are causing bad dreams it’s important to talk about these with your older child
- if their room is too dark they might benefit from a small night light or a torch by their bed.