How to Get Your Child to Sleep

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How to Get Your Child to Sleep Without Lying with Him/Her

bedtimeroutineHave you become a regular in your child’s bed?  While the practice of lying with your child to help him get to sleep can be stressful, it’s not as uncommon as you may think. Babies typically fall asleep in their parents’ arms while feeding, so it makes sense that they will continue to associate their parents with sleeping. But don’t worry, you don’t have be used as a pillow forever. Here are some ways to get your child to sleep on his own.

Establish a Bed Time Routine

The most important thing you can do when it comes to getting your child to sleep in his own bed is create a consistent bedtime routine that you commit to using every night, without fail. If this routine is firmly in place, your child will sleep in his bed more easily and eagerly.

Look for ways to create a routine that takes place at around the same time every night, For example, between 7:00 and 7:30 each night, you may have your child bathe and brush his teeth. After that, you may agree that you will read three stories of his choosing. Reading these three stories in his bed with him will give him some of the comfort he is used to having when he sleeps with you. It also gives him time to get sleepy.

For the first few nights, your child may cry and try to return to your bed, or show up with requests that you join him in his bed. No matter what happens, be consistent and calmly return your child to his bed without giving him any other feedback. Simply bring him back to his bed, hug him and say goodnight.

Eventually, your child will fall asleep on his own, and each night he will drift off sooner. In the end, he will begin to associate the bedtime routine with sleeping in his bed alone, and he will start nodding off right after story time. If you are consistent, this may happen much faster than you expect.

Be Replaced

Since your child was getting comfort from you to fall asleep, replace yourself with another cuddly object, such as a stuffed animal or a special blanket. Granted, these synthetic items will never take the place of a parent, but they can provide some security for those first nights of uncertainty. If this item is something new, it also may make your child excited to sleep on his own with his new cuddly object.

Limit Distractions

A ticking clock, a distracting night light, or an open window are all things that parents may overlook when they are trying to figure out why their child is not falling asleep. It is hard to know what a little one might find frightening or disturbing, so the best thing you can do is go through the room with fresh eyes. Look for glares from car headlights shining through the window and color changing night lights you can’t stop watching. Then, listen intently. Do you hear the TV from downstairs? Do you hear any buzzing from appliances? If so, try to limit these sights and sound so your child can get a good night’s rest. 

Employ the Gradual Retreat

If your child is reluctant to sleep on his own, try the method of the gradual retreat. When you say good night explain to him that you will stay close while he falls asleep, but that you cannot talk to him anymore this evening or get in his bed. With this technique, on the first night you sit right on your child’s bed as he goes to sleep. Stay there for a good while, maybe 20-30 minutes. Do not make eye contact or speak with your child during this time. If he is still awake after you have sat on his bed for the allotted time, move to a nearby chair, or the floor. Again, make no conversation or eye contact. Continue this pattern of waiting and moving further away until you have made your way out of the room entirely or your child is asleep, whichever comes first.

The next night, start next to the bed in a chair or on the floor. Then, on the following night, start a few inches closer to the door than the night before. Eventually, you will no longer be in the room and your child will have gradually gotten used to the idea of sleeping on his own.

Make it Fun

If your child is going to be sleeping on his own for the first time, a new bed or comforter set might be just the thing to get him excited about the idea. If you can find sheets and blankets with his favorite character on them, he will most likely be ecstatic at the prospect of going to bed that night. One mistake to avoid is allowing him in the bed with the new sheets before bedtime. This will deplete much of his excitement. Instead, put on the new sheets right before bedtime and let him jump in.

When All Else Fails

If you have been using a bedtime routine, the gradual retreat, new stuffed animals and enticing bed sheets in a room free of distractions for several weeks consistently and your child is still having difficulty transitioning to sleeping on his own, it may be time for desperate measures, such as the cry it out method. This means you still carry out the bedtime routine and give a comfort item, but then you explain to your child that you are leaving and you will not see him until the morning. Make sure he does not have to go to the bathroom or need a sip of water, and then leave the room. Do not return when your child calls for you and if your child runs out, simply continue to put him back in his bed or crib. This option can be painful for all parties, but many parents say it works.

The key to successfully encouraging your child to sleep in his own bed without you there is to be patient. The process can be a lengthy one when a child is particularly stubborn or fearful, but losing your temper will only set back any progress you’ve managed to make. Stay calm and patient with your little one as he reaches this scary new milestone.

Related content:

  1. How to Get Your Child to Fall Asleep
  2. How to Sleep Train a Child Without Crying
  3. A Quick Review of Safe Co-Sleeping
  4. Tips for Ending Toddler Bedtime Battles
  5. 10 Exercises Kids Can Do to Wake Up in the Morning
  6. How To Feng Shui Your Nursery

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