So, I must confess: I was terrible about putting KJ in his own room at night after he was born. I kept his bassinet in our room, and once he outgrew it, I let him sleep in our bed. We had the hardest time getting him to sleep in his own room and he still sometimes sneaks into my bed in the middle of the night. With Bentley, however, we did things a little differently, and it really seemed to work for keeping him in his own bed.
Here are 11 things that can help keep your toddler in bed at night, based on what worked for me:
Start off on the right foot. As soon as Bentley started sleeping for four or more hours straight through the night, I started putting him in his own crib in his bedroom. Up until then, I kept him in a bassinet in our room only because he was waking up every hour or two to feed, and it was too much to go get him every hour.
Make sure he uses his crib — in his own room — for at least a year. This will get your baby used to being in his own space at night, and not in your room.
When your baby transitions from the crib to a toddler bed, make it a HUGE DEAL! Let her help you decorate and explain to her how much fun it is to sleep in a big girl bed in her own room!
Don’t just put them in bed and leave the room. Spend time with them at night by tucking them in after a bath, lay with them, and read stories. I even stay in the room and scratch their backs until they fall asleep. It gives them comfort to know they aren’t in their room without a parent.
Keep a special sleepy time blanket on their bed. You could even use your crib bedding blanket —it will give them a sense of safety, since they used it in their crib as well.
If your toddler happens to wake up in the middle of the night and comes to your room, take her right back to her bed. Then lay down with her for a few minutes until she falls back asleep. It is so uncomfortable to sleep with a little one in your bed… they move so much! Trust me, taking them back to their bed will help you to sleep better once you get back to your room.
Choose a room for your kiddo that is very close to yours. Just so you don’t have to venture too far to take them back to their bed at night.
Try not to let them eat or drink an hour before bed unless they are super thirsty and need a little water. A lot of times, they wake up because they need to go potty, and this will help avoid that.
Put them in Pull-Ups at night while you are potty training them. A wet bed in the middle of the night is no fun, so the Pull-Ups will prevent any big leaks and will keep you from having to change out all of the bedding at 2 a.m. Also, a waterproof mattress cover is a must when you start putting them in those cute little undies at night.
Make sure you invest in bedding that is comfortable. There’s nothing worse than staying over in someone’s guest room who has super uncomfortable sheets and a blanket and pillows that aren’t comfortable. Imagine doing that to your kiddo? We love the jersey sheets that feel like a T-shirt. And comfy pajamas are a necessity too!
Just remember: Nothing happens overnight. It takes a while to train a child into routine. Don’t give up! Keeping a toddler in his or her own bed at night will give you better sleep and therefore you will be able to be a better, more alert parent throughout the day. It’s worth it!