If you’re in the trenches right now at bedtime, I FEEL you. It’s a hard time when you’re spending 1, 2, 3+ hours trying to get your freaking kids to just SLEEP already! You’re wondering how to get your toddler to sleep alone.
I also want to reassure you that you’re making the right choice by even attempting to do this. My husband and I didn’t even TRY for so long because we felt guilty about it!
Aren’t you supposed to WANT to spend time with your children?
But those hours before they sleep?
Those aren’t QUALITY hours.
Basically, you’re their crutch for falling asleep. It’s not fun for you, and really, it isn’t great for them because they aren’t learning to fall asleep on their own!
I am a huge advocate for co-sleeping. We’re the only culture that puts our babies away from us in another room for the night and it’s not good them. You can read more about that here.
However, there does come a time when you want your own bed back because your baby is now a toddler (or preschool age!) and they need to sleep on their own or with a sibling. The time I’m talking about in this post is basically the limbo where you’ve gotten them out of your bed or a crib (yay!) but they need you be in their new bed with them until they fall asleep (not yay.)
So, how do you get your toddler to sleep alone, without tears?
*Please note, this is what worked for OUR family. We’re not experts. We’re parents of 3 kids. We experimented and found something that worked. Hopefully, this can work for you too!
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Ditch The Guilt
If you’re spending 2 hours every night lying in bed with your kid or kids and it looks something like this:
- Hopeful, at first, that they’ll just magically go to sleep and you can get out of there!
- The hope fades as minutes tick by in utter darkness with their writhing bodies pressing against you and you start whisper yelling “just go to SLEEP!”
- The hope is gone, you’re frustrated beyond belief because you cannot believe you spent all day either with them or working and now the last hours of the day that could be yours are spent in a hot, dark room and damn it- you’re falling asleep.
- You slip into sleep along with your kids and when you snap out of it you’re groggy, annoyed as hell and realize it’s 10pm.
So, what do you have to feel guilty about if you want to skip that shitshow every night? My husband and I finally realized that we weren’t spending beautiful quality time with them- we were spending 2 more hours just being annoyed and angry. What’s the point if they’re ready to sleep on their own?
It sets you up for a better day the next day because if you have 2 hours of freedom to reset and recharge, you wake up a lot happier to see them again.
Ditch the guilt of thinking you’re taking something away from them- you’re giving yourself and your kids a beautiful gift. Freedom for you and the gift of falling asleep on their own for your kids. That’s a great skill to be learning!
Let Go Of Your Expectations
If you’re expecting it to go a certain way, try not to. You never know how your child will react to change. It might go smoothly or it might not. Go in with a sense of curiosity.
Be ready to try different things until something works.
Stick With It
Make it happen, but in a kind way. You can be firm and let them know you mean business but still be kind.
Make it happen, because if you are stuck in bed with them every night for multiple hours, the benefits of getting through this are off. the. charts.
We now have from around 7-730 to whenever we go to bed to do whatever we want but didn’t even realize how badly we needed this until we got it.
We’re happier, have sex more and look forward to seeing our kids in the morning because there is no bad taste left over from the night before.
I truly hope this helps you my friend. Truly.
How To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Alone:
- Go through your regular pre-bed routine (brush teeth, go to the bathroom, etc.) Make sure that your kids have a stuffy or something to snuggle.
- Explain that tonight is going to be a bit different. Whether you read them a story or sing them a song, tell them you’ll still do that but after you’re not going to lie with them. You’ll sit on the edge of the bed for 10-20 minutes and then you’ll be leaving. Do this one more night.
- On the third night, move to the floor after the story or song. Do this another night.
- On the fifth night, let them know that after the story or song you’ll be leaving right after.
- Please experiment with different times and repeat a certain step as much as you need. Our son was 3 when we attempted this and he had an older sibling to sleep with so what worked for us may be different for you if this is your first child and younger than 3.
The one thing that you can always count on with kids is that you can’t count on anything. Just when you think you have it figured out, the phase ends or something changes and you’re wondering what the hell is going on again.
Our kids are now in a new phase, one where they’ve discovered how fun it is to sleep without mom or dad and they’ve become loud and wild.
So, now we’re figuring out this new phase and how to get them to be quiet. Once we figure it out, we’ll let you know ?
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