Three of my four children have slept in my bed on a regular basis into their toddler years — and while I’ve loved co-sleeping for the better part of the last 15 years, my husband and I are ready to have our bed to ourselves.
I love snuggling up to our tiny offspring as much as possible, but part of me (specifically my neck and back) loathes my nightly attempt to cling to the very edge of my bed while trying to get a few hours of sleep with our three and a half year old. Every morning Jordan and I wake up to a new game of “guess what hurts”, and we’re totally over it. The funniest thing is that Mara, who’s two has been sleeping in her crib since she was two months old — while Chloe and Trav managed to avoid the crib altogether, jumping straight into toddler beds around age three. Our third child Harrison reminds me of Trav at his age. Travis would start the night off in his own bed, then wander into bed with me around 3am. He did that off and on until the end of kindergarten.
We bought Harrison a toddler bed when we moved the the new house last year. He’s only slept in it once, and Jordan was right next to him on the floor that ONE time. Harrison either prefers to sleep on the couch in our room until midnight, then hop in bed with us — or sleep with my mom in her room.
With 2020 being a complete dumpster fire, it hadn’t been a priority to get Harrison acclimated to his own bed, but when we came back home from our road trip to Montana last week, we decided that it was time. I might be a little rusty, but here’s what we’ve been doing with him, and what’s worked in the past.
How to Encourage Your Child to Sleep In their Own Bed
1 Create a Special Bedtime Routine
My littles LOVE the word special, so we tend to overuse it. Our special bedtime routine includes a boogie down dance session, a warm bath, picking out special pajamas, brushing the sugar bugs off their teeth, a parade around the house saying goodnight to everyone, and a bedtime story.
2 Make Them Feel Secure
Our toddlers aren’t afraid of the dark, but Mara has to have her special blanket and her babies — which are her five, favorite stuffed animals. If your child has a hard time being separated from you at night, try introducing a blanket, toy or nightlight for comfort.
3 Stick to the Program
If your child is like Harrison, and likes to slip into your bed in the middle of the night, take them back to bed each time. Don’t make a big deal of it, just pick them up and take them back.
4 Leave Them Alone
Harrison used to need one of us in the room to fall asleep. Now we tuck him in, read aa bedtime story, kiss him and leave. For Mara, we go through the fanfare of a goodnight parade where she kisses everyone and says goodnight, then we tuck her with her special blanket and all five of her babies, and leave.