If your toddler pops out of bed in the middle of the night or insists on sleeping your bed, keep your rules firm and consistent. Don’t let your child sleep in your bed just this one time, because she will learn to expect that you may let her do it again. Instead of fighting you with the hope that you will eventually give in, your child will learn to trust you as an authority figure. Once your child realizes that sleeping in her own room isn’t so bad after all, the struggle is over.
Practice a consistent bedtime routine every night, preferably in your child’s bedroom. Before bed, follow a routine that you and your child can do quietly together, like reading stories, talking about the day and saying prayers. Repeat the same activities every night so your child is calm and ready for bed.
Phase out your child’s comfort objects, recommends Dawn Margolis of BabyCenter. Your child may feel more comfortable with a teddy bear or favorite toy by her side, but she may have trouble going back to sleep if she can’t find it. Encourage your child to sleep with a different toy every night, so she does not become attached to one specific stuffed animal.
Keep your child’s room exactly the way it will be in the middle of the night. If you plan on turning off the hall light before you go to bed, turn it off when your child goes to bed. This way, your toddler will not get nervous or upset if she wakes up in the middle of the night and her room looks different.
Stay consistent when returning your child to bed. If your child gets out of bed, return him to bed, no matter how many times he gets back out. After you show your toddler that you are not going to back down, he will eventually stop the power struggle and go back to sleep, says the Mayo Clinic.
Allow your child to get back to sleep by herself if she is not bothering you, says the Mayo Clinic. If your child is awake in her room, let her cry or call to you for a few minutes to see if she will go to sleep alone. Soon, your child will teach herself to go back to sleep on her own.
Tips and Warnings
- Just because your child is sick or has had a nightmare does not mean she has a free pass to sleep in your bed for the night.
- Consult a doctor if your child is having frequent nightmares or getting inadequate sleep.
About this Author
Madison Whitfield has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She has written hundreds of health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming articles for numerous print and Internet publications. Whitfield earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from New York University, where she studied writing.