Getting Your Child to Sleep Alone at Night… Yes, It’s Possible

When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Follow these tried and true practices that will help you be successful in getting your child to sleep alone in their bed as soon as possible.

Getting your child to sleep alone at night… is that ever going to happen?

Do you find yourself asking this question every night? Then you’re probably also familiar with being kicked in the ribs unexpectedly by your toddler at night. You might be thinking it will all go away pretty soon; however, that rests in your hands.

For some families, getting their child to sleep ends up being a battle more often than not. How about getting them to sleep in their very own bed? Well, that’s a totally different story. And when desperation and lack of sleep starts to kick in, you finally give up and pull your child back into your own bed. At least you’ll both get some sleep, right?

We’ve put together a great plan to help you get your well-deserved eight hours of shut-eye back again.

No more delays
The sooner you start, the better.

As heartbreaking as it can be to get your child out of the bed, it’s important to start early. Don’t wait until your child is a “little older”. Get ready for all the tears, wails and cries of, “but mummy, don’t you love me?”.

Parents can easily feel conflicted about this separation, but getting through with it sooner rather than later, will help both of you in the long run. At the same time, don’t decide to make the switch if you’re in the midst of potty training, are going on vacation or are expecting a new baby. Instead, wait until your routine is more regular, then commit.

Create a sleepytime book

A picture book can help young children understand their new sleeping situation in a very positive way. Creating a routine is crucial for children because they associate going to sleep with activities such as reading a book or talking about their day.

You can create a homemade “sleepytime book” yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just stapled-together paper illustrated with stick-figure pictures that your child can colour.

Use positive words

Talk to your child about the changes that are about to come so they will understand your reasoning and not feel abandoned. Instead of harsh words and reprimands, try to use positive words. Maybe something along the lines of: “It’s important for children to learn to fall asleep on their own in their beds. It helps them grow up healthy and strong and mummy and daddy can rest better that way, too.”

The chair routine

Having your child sleep alone is probably not going to happen overnight. If you’re in their room when they fall asleep and not there when they wake up, they’ll call out or come looking for you. And that’s exactly what you don’t want!

Have you heard about the so-called chair routine? It starts with sleeping in their room, on the floor. Yes… sounds a bit crazy but it all pays out in the end.

After two to three nights, switch to sitting quietly in a nearby chair until your child falls asleep. You can read them a book to ease the sleeping process. Each night slowly move the chair farther and farther away from the bed. Eventually, you’ll move near the door, then to the hallway and eventually back to your own bedroom.

Give it at least a week or two, but don’t feel pressured and don’t despair if it takes even longer.

You can encourage your child to sleep alone at night with patience, firmness and emotional support. You can use one or as many tactics as you wish, but just remember that being loving and consistent will have a greater impact on the successful outcome of your “nightly adventure”.

Read more about efficient ways to smooth out your child’s transition from baby cot to big bed.

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Playgroup NSW leads play-based programs and services for NSW families with children birth to school age, offering development, shared experiences, and family support, that results in active citizens and inclusive communities.