toddlermonitor SLEEP EXPERT SERIES: How to break the habit of laying down with your child
OUR SLEEP EXPERT SERIES WITH MAGGIE MOORE HELPS YOU AVOID A COMMON NIGHTIME CHALLENGE
It happens innocently enough. All it takes is one bad storm, one sickness, or even transitioning to a big kid bed too soon. Your child wants you to lay down with them to go to sleep, and they refuse to fall sleep until you do lay with them. Before you know it, the amount of time you lay with them each night becomes progressively longer. They lay there wanting to talk to you and you are pretty sure they aren’t even trying to fall asleep.
As you lay there, you think of all the things you need to get done around the house. Laundry, dishes, paying bills… the list goes on and on. Not to mention, you have 30 shows on the DVR you want to get caught up on, and you would like a little time with your spouse. Before you know it, YOU fall asleep lying in bed with your child. Suddenly, you wake up at 11:00 pm confused as to why you are sleeping in a twin bed. Does this sound familiar?
If it does, you are like the majority of families I work with who have toddlers. Fear not though – there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Set bedtime rules
Children at this age thrive on positive reinforcement. It is very important to involve your child in establishing bed-time rules to get their buy-in. Work together to establish, as a family, what rules are realistic for your family. Some that tend to work well are:
- We go to bed without a fight
- We go to bed without parents laying down with me
- We stay in bed all night
- We don’t come into parent’s room
Review the bedtime rules each night before bed so the expectations are clear, then reward your child for doing well. If they go to bed without a battle, they get a sticker, and so on. When they get a set number of stickers, they get a reward, like an experience with parents. If they miss a rule or category, acknowledge it and move on.
Instead of laying down with your child at bedtime, tell them you have to go unload the dishwasher, but you will be back to check on them in five minutes. Show them that you set the timer on your phone and assure them you will come back when it goes off. Most importantly, return at the time you tell them you will; maintain your child’s trust.
Each subsequent night you should increase the amount of time between checks, allowing them more and more time to be in bed independently, thus increasing their chance of falling asleep independently. Show them that you have confidence in their ability to fall asleep without needing you to lay down beside them to do so.
If you find the two strategies above aren’t working, don’t worry! There is a sleep training method designed just for older children in situations like this. This method is covered in my Sleep Training Guide to get Moore Sleep. For more information on 1:1 help, visit getmooresleep.com
Like most things in life, it is important to be consistent. Consistency breeds results. When it comes to your child’s sleep, most things are not an overnight quick-fix!
Maggie Moore is the Founder and Head Sleeper at Moore Sleep. She is a certified pediatric sleep consultant through the Family Sleep Institute, which means her sole focus and objective is getting your baby on a healthy sleep schedule so the whole family can get the sleep they need.
Like many parents, Maggie and her husband struggled with getting their son on a healthy sleep schedule and he was unable to fall asleep independently. As a result, her family was losing precious sleep every night.
Maggie became a firm believer when, shortly after hiring a certified pediatric sleep consultant, her son began sleeping independently at bed and nap times. It was a turning point that resulted in not only restful nights, but waking up fully rested with the energy to face the day. Maggie knew right away she wanted to become a certified consultant herself so she could help other families struggling to get the sleep they need.
Maggie and her family reside in Southern Indiana (near Louisville, KY). She received her bachelors in Journalism and a second concentration in Communications & Culture from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Follow Maggie on Facebook and Instagram.
- Danny Mitchell