Please Stay In Your Bed!
Bedtime (aka the ‘witching hour’ in our household…) can be trying to say the least. You’re tired, they’re tired and all you want is for everyone to be in their own beds and sleeping soundly. Whether they go to bed beautifully but end up starfish like next to you or they refuse to fall asleep alone, Super Granny Andalene has a few fab tips to help.
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Let’s first consider why it is important for your child to stay in her bed before we consider the “how”.
- Children need to be encouraged to have age appropriate independence, eg, attempting to feed themselves from 1 year, dressing themselves at 3 years etc. Falling asleep and staying asleep is one of those milestones that give a child a sense of achievement when they accomplish this on their own.
- Parents need to have time for each other without children around. The biggest gift you can give your child is to love your spouse. Nothing gives them more security than experiencing a loving relationship between their mom and dad. When a parent lies with a child every night to get them to sleep, that parent is then too exhausted to do anything but go straight to bed, with no time for their spouse.
- When you lay with a child to fall asleep, you create a pattern. The child then needs that pattern to fall back asleep when he is in his light sleep through the night. He will not be able to self-soothe to put himself back to sleep, instead, he will need that thing/pattern to enable him to achieve sleep again. Therefore, if you rock your child to sleep, he will need to be rocked in the middle of the night (possibly several times) if you lie with your child and slip out, he will wake up and “need” you to fall asleep again.
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So, taking the above into consideration, how can we help our child to stay in his bed?
- Keep a sippy cup of water next to the bed, make sure teeth are brushed and the final toilet trip has been taken.
- Decide on a predictable, calm routine. I suggest always ending it with a calm (not scary) bedtime story. One dad told me after story time, he puts off the lights, lights a candle and tells a short story in the dark.
- Keep the atmosphere calm, low tone voices softened lighting.
- Stick to your routine, then leave the room with a hug, a good night, lights OFF and leave the room. NO night lights.
- It is advisable to start with a sleep association as early as possible eg a teddy, taggie, blanket whatever.
- If your child gets out of bed, say in a friendly, assertive voice, “Stay in your bed, or I will have to take away your… (sleep association) and close the door”
- If they insist, then do step 6. Hold the door closed for only 5 seconds. Open the door and in a gentle yet assertive way, repeat, “Stay in your bed, or I will have to take away your… (sleep association) and close the door. Goodnight.”
- Sometimes on the first night, this needs to be repeated 3 or 4 times, but then you’re done! 2nd night, maybe twice, then miraculously, generally, they sleep through the night.
- Occasionally this needs to be reinforced in the middle of the night during the first night, then, finally, SLEEP AT LAST!
Remember sleep is so important for us all. But broken sleep takes away the benefits as you do not achieve your 3 deep sleep cycles that are so essential.