HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE TODDLERS THAT SLEEP IN THE BED WITH YOU. MINE IS 3 AND SHE STARTS OUT IN HER BED BUT COMES AND INVADES MINE AROUND 2-3 AM. SHE SNORES. SHE SUCKS FINGERS. SHE MOVERS FROM ONE SIDE OF THE BED TO THE OTHER. I CAN'T DEAL. I HAVE LUGGAGE UNDER MY EYES AS I TYPE. HERE'S SOME TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE THAT TRANSITION ...
THESE TIPS ARE COURTESY OF PARENTING.COM
1. IT STARTS BEFORE BEDTIME
Start talking about your new bedtime expectations in the afternoon—that way, she'll know what to expect at lights-out. Try saying something like "Mommies and daddies sleep in their beds, and kids sleep in their own beds," says Spivack.
She also suggests making a homemade "sleepytime book"—nothing fancy, just stapled-together paper illustrated with stick-figure pictures that your child can color. If your family recently moved, for instance, and your daughter started sleeping in your bed while she got used to the new house, your story would focus on that and end with how she finally started sleeping happily in her very own bed. A picture book can help young children understand their new sleeping situation in a very concrete way.
2. NIGHT NIGHT TIME
In general, both sleep consultants and parents who've been there say that once you decide to start this sleep training, bed sharing needs to end entirely. No "Well, just for five minutes" or "Maybe tonight because she had a long day." That means midnight visitors get walked back to their rooms, tucked in, kissed and left behind. No extra snuggles, no drinks of water, as many times as it takes. There will be screams and sobs, and kids so resistant you'll have to carry them, wriggling and accusing all the way, to their beds. Which they will jump out of in a split second. You will start to wonder if you will ever sleep again. You will; just maybe not tonight. Keep this up until the new rules sink in.
If your child has been starting out in your bed and sleeping there all night, every night, your job is even less fun (sorry). Take a comforter into your child's room and sleep on the floor—not in her bed—all night long (double sorry). Even though a slumber party in your child's room is probably not your idea of a good time, it's a smart move in the long run. "If you're in her room when she falls asleep and then not there when she wakes a couple of hours later, she will call out or come looking for you," says Jennifer Waldburger, L.C.S.W., cocreator with Spivack of The Sleepeasy Solution. "Sleeping in her room all night pushes the reset button, so to speak, on whatever anxiety your child is having about being there alone. She can wake up and see Mom or Dad each time, then just go back to sleep."
After two or three nights, switch to sitting quietly in a nearby chair until your child falls asleep. But no talking! You want to bore your child to sleep. If she kicks up a fuss, temporarily leave the room. She'll settle down if she knows the reward is that you'll rejoin her.
Each night, move yourself farther from your child's bed—to the door, to the hallway and eventually back to your own bedroom. "If your child follows you, you want to calmly, unemotionally, walk her back to bed every time she gets up," says Waldburger.
3. REWARD THEM WHEN THEY DO A GOOD JOB
ow'd your kid do? If not so great, keep encouraging him and reminding him of the new rules. If he made it through the night—or even made some improvements—bring on the praise. He's a big kid! He can do it! Toddlers and preschoolers, thank goodness, thrive on pleasing you.
Prizes are also generally welcomed by little kids. You could let your child pick a small "sleep treat" from a grab bag in the morning or leave one under his pillow. I admit it: I lured my younger daughter, Flora, back to her bed with prizes. Borrowing an idea from Janie Peterson, author of The Sleep Fairy, I told Flora that the Sleep Fairy (sort of like the Tooth Fairy) leaves stickers, small toys and other goodies under sleeping children's pillows. It worked like a dream. Within a week, she was in the habit of staying in bed, and the prizes weren't even a big issue.