I wrote a few days ago about our battle with bedtime with Little Man. After three 1/2 weeks of returning him to his bed over and over, I feel like we have almost conquered this war! PTL. (Though of course last night was horrific! Go figure?) But in those three 1/2 weeks I have learned a few things and hope they will help you in this major milestone with toddlers.
#1 – I believe in implementing timeouts several months before you even think about having to move the child to a “real bed”. This teaches the child the concept of staying in one spot when placed there. Being consistent with timeouts ingrains in the child that you will be consistent with bedtime as well. I sincerely believe this has helped us in the transition 3x over.
#2 – Don’t let the child’s feet touch the floor once placed in bed – if possible. We started seeing huge success when I stood in the doorway (without Little Man seeing me). As soon as he popped his head up off the pillow, I called out “lay down”. It was when he was given the time to leave the bed, get a toy, do something that we had more trouble. Usually I only had to stand in the doorway for 10 minutes. At first I just took my book and read!
#3 – If you have the option, start training with naptimes and use the crib for nighttime only. You are not exhausted and can give it the attention that you need to.
#4 – Be consistent. I can not stress this enough. Toddlers are smart. Give an inch and they will take advantage of it. In their defense, when you aren’t consistent, it confuses them. They are unsure of what you truly mean.
#5 – Decide as a couple what is acceptable and what is not. If you are not onboard the same ship with this, your child will sleep wherever they want to. Make sure your spouse and you have the same expectations for bedtime.
#6 – Your child staying in their bed the first time may not happen over night. Depending on your child and prior discipline, this could take many nights and maybe even weeks. But in the end, it will be worth it. Fight it for a few weeks or for several years to come?? Easy decision for me. This makes a few weeks seem like nothing.
#7 – Continue to be consistent even in the middle of the night. Don’t cave just because you are tired. (I know easier said than done.)
#8 – Always do a “smell” check! The past few nights Little Man has been getting up because he has had a very dirty diaper. I would get up too!
#9 – Go with your Mommy instinct when you can tell something it out of sort. (Like with the dirty diaper.)