Do you have a toddler who struggles to stay in their bedroom at night? You’re not alone. Little feet like to wander at night and toddlers have one pit stop…..your bedroom! Aside from the potential dangers of wandering by themselves at night, the disruption to your sleep and your child’s sleep can have a significant impact the next day.
Consider the following options to help minimize nighttime visitors:
Know when to make the transition from a crib to a bed
Making the transition from a crib to a bed can cause regression in healthy sleep patterns, so it’s important to evaluate whether or not your toddler is ready. As a guideline, I recommend waiting until a child is three years of age. They will have a greater understanding of what is happening and can be involved in the process of making changes to their room and bedtime routine.
Before making the transition, talk to your child about the upcoming change, invite them pick out new furniture and bedding and let them participate in preparing their room.
Use reward charts
Despite trying, talking to your child about staying in their room during the night is rarely effective. I suggest using reward charts. They are visual and use positive reinforcement to encourage the desired behaviour.
Tips for using reward charts:
- Be consistent and use the chart regularly until you feel your child no longer needs the encouragement.
- Hang the chart in your child’s room to remind them of the new expectations.
- After your child wakes up, let them add stickers for each task that is completed properly. Tasks can include:
- falling asleep by themselves
- not calling out at night
- staying in their bed all nigh
- staying in their room until it’s time to get up
- Include a small reward when all tasks are completed properly. The reward is intended to motivate your child to cooperate, so it’s important that it is immediate and tangible.
Sleep Tip: Reward charts are also a great way to encourage your child to complete the steps in their bedtime routine, such as having a bath, getting their pajamas on and brushing their teeth.
Introduce a clock
Clocks are also a great way to encourage your child to stay in their room at night and can complement the use of a reward chart.
There is no shortage of clocks designed specifically for toddlers, but an inexpensive digital clock can be just as effective. Start by covering up the minutes on the clock and emphasize the importance of the number seven. Let your child know that they need to stay in their bedroom until the number seven appears on their clock. A picture of the number seven beside the clock will further reinforce this concept.
For more great sleep tips for you and your child visit The Sugar Plum Sleep Co. at www.sugarplumsleep.com.