Think about it for a sec, if you were a little one where would you like to sleep? Alone in your big bed or cozied up next to the warmth of a parent?
I think it makes a lot of sense that youngsters like to sleep with mommy and daddy. But there comes a time when big kids belong in their own beds.
When it's time to transition to a new bed, any bed, what are you doing? That's right, you are teaching your child a new habit. The easiest way to teach a new habit is to introduce a new routine. "Oh, it's June 1st that's the day big kids get big beds!" Discuss with excitement this new milestone. Ask your child to draw out what they want their big bed to look like (with your help of course). Draw and talk about where the stuffed animals will sleep, how your child will sing to the animals to help them get used to their new bed etc. Just introducing a new routine with clear time-frames and expectations provides an opportunity for your child to climb into.
Next, develop rituals to go with the new routine. Another special way to help your child get used to sleeping in their own bed is to develop a nightly ritual that will help soothe their anxiety and get them to stay in their bed and this activity should be something your child can look forward to when going to bed. The ritual can be as simple as reading a book together in a special area of the room, or perhaps taking a bath and listening to soothing music, even establishing a special hug and kiss that is only given before bedtime. With these rituals, you give your child something to look forward to when going to bed.
Can you imagine having the bedroom of your dreams when you were a kid? How exciting and fun would that have been for you? If you want your child to sleep in their own bed, then decorate your child's room so that he or she will want to spend more time in it! Give your child the opportunity to tell you what he or she wants in their room to make the room inviting, age-appropriate, and something they love! Also, consider the size of your child's bed. Some children become intimidated by large beds. The transition from crib to a twin size or larger bed is a bit scary, especially for sleeping on your own at that age. There are toddler beds that are designed to help with the transition from cribs to bed. In fact, these toddler beds come in fun themed designs that will appeal to your child, for instance a race car or a castle.
Rules of Thumb
To review, here are four rules of thumb to help your child transition to his or her own bed.
1. Discuss when and how your child will be transitioning to their own bed. Enthusiastically tie the experience to a date, holiday or change in season so that your child experiences a sense of newness.
2. Draw it out, write it down and post it up. Being multi-sensory allows the new habit get into your child's brain through multiple pathways.
3. Develop a new ritual. Rituals lead to security helping to reduce anxiety associated with change, so create a new bedtime ritual.
4. Establish the rule that your child is to sleep in their own bed. If your child comes to your room at the unsuitable hour of 4 a.m., immediately walk them back to their bed and remind them of the rule to sleep in their own bed. You may be exhausted, but you are doing a great job at enforcing your rule of thumb! Stay calm, be loving and your child will learn.
Developing a new habit takes some planning and patience. Once you decide to do it, stick calmly to the plan and your strategies will become effective over time.