When Will My Little One Sleep Alone?
“My child won’t sleep in their own bed!”
“There’s no room left in our bed!”
So it may feel like there are ten in the bed, and the little one…yes they are in your bed and everyone is rolling over. We’ve all been there, but why and do we need to be?
We often encounter exhausted family members, that couldn’t get the littlest member of the family to sleep last night or even the three nights before, and everyone ended up in the same bed.
Firstly, this is a normal journey, no need to fret. However, let’s try to get you a little more than ‘forty winks’ every night, with some simple strategies that you can implement now.
Firstly, let’s be sure that your bedtime routines are consistent:
- Try to avoid technology for at least an hour before bedtime
- Keep bedtime at an early hour for those under 4 years between 7-8 pm is the limit
- Be sure that dinner has been eaten, evening snacks too if needed and those teeth are brushed and clean
- Encourage your child to choose their favourite sleepwear and then grab your storybook
If all of the above are in place, the lighting is low and the story has been read, let’s begin…..
Your child is feeling something, a fear, a worry, a concern. They don’t want their bed as you offer them more security, warmth, and comfort.
Here’s a tip from a Mummy who has been there, place a blanket or small mattress on the floor and lay or sit there. You might start with your cheek on the edge of their bed, talking to them about the amazing day that they have had or the dreams yet to come. You may like to hold your child’s hand or stroke their hair or their back.
You want your child to know you are there with them, that sleep is on the way and for now, you are here.
In these initial stages, stay with them until they sleep, tears may come, hold their hand gently, screams may come, stroke their hair, and wipe their tears. Help your child to understand that Mummy / Daddy are so proud of them for laying in their bed, for closing their eyes in their bed, and eventually….for falling asleep in their own bed. Talk to your child of your love for them, of your confidence they will sleep all night in their own special bed. A cuddly toy or comforter is always a help for little children, just be sure not to give babies who cannot roll or push themselves up with their forearms toys or blankets in the bed.
Maintain the routine of sitting next to your child for 2 weeks, don’t sneak off for laundry or ‘daydreams’ Netflix, stick to it. Then as your child becomes settled with the routine, begin easing away, slowly.
In the second stages, place a baby cam in the room and as your child gets very drowsy, tell them you are going to wash the dishes, or talk to Mummy/Daddy, or write your emails, and you will watch them on the camera and come back later to check on them. Be sure to wait till they are drowsy and sleep is already on the way before making any moves.
The third stage is about setting the room, being certain the child is comfortable, and then talking about going to do something and coming back to check on them later. Explain Mummy/ Daddy isn’t sleepy just yet, but you will also sleep later. Your child needs the security of you being close, still with them in the house, and of course, available if needed.
If your child wakes in the middle of the night, go to them, sit with them, talk to them. If they are under 4 years and it’s already 4 am, they’ve slept since 7:30, it’s time for the praise!
“You slept the whole night, you slept in your own bed, you slept so well, I am so proud of you!”
This may not be easy, as at 4 am, it surely doesn’t feel like the whole night, but it is 8.5 hrs later, so it certainly feels that way to a child. At this point, if you can, let them come to you. Let them sleep a little with you, after all, you are their everything, they need that close contact and unrelenting love.
During the daytime, be sure to share the praise, “Teacher, did you know xxx slept the whole night, in their own bed!” “Daddy, xxx slept by themselves, the whole night!” Your child will begin to grasp how excited everyone is and join you in that excitement. Those 4am’s will soon become 5am’s, 5am’s may reach 6 am. Sadly, parents, the 6 am maybe the latest for some of us, but if your child has slept from 7:30 pm-6 am, that’s plenty of golden sleeping hours.
If you would like to stay up a little later on the weekend, that’s ok too (1hr max) but try to stay in the routine, it will help you and your child dramatically.
You may find yourselves fluctuating between the stages, getting to two and having to go back to stage one, or making it to three and going back again, this process can take 1-3 months or even more, to get there. When you get there, you’ll never look back.
Happy Dreaming, Intensive Praise, and a Rested Family. Magic.
JINS Al Safa