Infants and toddlers often have a hard time learning to sleep alone. Experts recommend that babies sleep in the same room as you until they are at least six months old.
But when the time comes to transition them into their own rooms, it can be a very frustrating and challenging time of parenthood. What are some tips to help this shift go more smoothly?
Make the Room Comfortable and Safe
Look at some lights that are bright enough to help them feel secure, but dim enough to allow them to fall asleep. Projection devices in which patterns are displayed on the wall or ceiling of a bedroom can be good choices. Be mindful of furniture or clothing that may cause creepy shadows and get ready to make adjustments as needed. Very soft and soothing music can also be helpful.
Create Bedtime Routines
Start setting good habits and family customs for bedtime. For younger children, sing a bedtime song together or read the same book reserved only for nighttime. Put on a special light or give them a favorite toy as they lie down (for safety’s sake, be sure to take the toy away when they fall asleep). Toddlers should be reminded of the transition to bedtime several minutes beforehand. They can help shut off the lights in the room, pick out a favorite story or toy, and turn on a night light. Make bedtime as close to the same time each night as possible. If your child knows what to expect at bedtime, she will feel increasingly secure and comforted.
Stay with Them Until They Fall Asleep
Reading a story or creating a custom tale is a great bedtime tradition. Now’s not the time for excitement; read softly and slowly. Have several books on hand and he may fall asleep before the stories end. But if not, have patience and sit with him until sleep occurs. Try not to engage. Talk softly and encourage deep breathing. Progressively moving farther and farther away from your child may also ease the transition. Start next to her, holding her hand. Then, sit next to her, but without touching. Then move to a nearby chair...and so on until you are almost at the door...then you may be able to eventually move out of the room altogether. If she is still apprehensive, promise to come back and check in on her in five minutes, and be sure to do so.
Don’t Let Them Sleep with You
If your child shows up at your bedside, calmly carry or bring him back to his own bed. You may have to sit with him for a minute, but make sure he remains in his room. Soothe him, don’t reprimand--now is the time to create security and comfort.