A toddler can learn to fall asleep on her own and she can also learn how to soothe herself back to sleep if she wakes up. Since she was born, you responded quickly to her every cry, coo and wail and anticipated her needs. Now that she’s older, she can be taught how to rely on her own internal resources so she can get herself back to sleep. This is not a process that is completed in a week--it will take time, so plan carefully how you’re going to teach her this important skill.
Slow your child down early in the evening. It’s easier for him to wind down for bed time when he’s been occupied with quiet activities like doodling or listening to a story. Depending on what his bed time is, start the slowing down process at least three hours before, says the Your Parenting Solutions website.
If you try to get your toddler to make a sudden switch from riding his tricycle outside to getting ready for bed in less than 30 minutes, he won’t be able to transition so quickly. The goal is to get his body to recognize bedtime so he feels sleepy naturally.
Follow the same bed time routine every night so your toddler can predict when it is time for her to go to bed. She’ll protest less if she follows a predictable routine, because she feels comfortable inside that routine, according to the Your Parenting Solutions website.
Introduce a bed time chart with pictures of her doing activities related to bed time. Paste or draw pictures of clocks showing the time for each bed time activity. As she gets more used to her bed time routine, she’ll go through each bed time activity without needing a reminder from you. Read a quiet bed time story to her to further assist her transition to sleep time.
Help your toddler get himself to sleep while you are not in the same room. He is learning how to get himself to sleep by using new habits. Don’t teach him that he can get you to give in. Instead, start by sitting next to his bed as he falls asleep. Gradually increase your distance to his bed by moving your chair to the middle of the room, then at the door, then right outside the door, recommends the Your Parenting Solutions website. Give him a stuffed animal so he can better self-soothe during this transition.
Allow your toddler to climb into bed with you if she can’t get back to sleep by herself. She should be able to soothe herself back to sleep because she has been learning to go to sleep on her own, according to the Your Parenting Solutions website.
Give your toddler the opportunity to learn to self-soothe when he wakes up during the night. Rather than running into his bedroom on his first holler or cry for you, hold off and see if he can figure out how to get back to sleep himself, according to the Baby Center website.
Things You'll Need
Help your toddler to see you as an advocate for getting ready for bed. She should be able to see you as “on her side,” as she learns her bed time routine. Let the clock be the bad guy if your toddler resists learning her bed time routine.
Don’t try to trick your toddler’s body into getting sleepy by pushing bed time forward. He’ll become too wound up and have an even harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. Find an earlier bedtime that fits his biological clock.