Getting your toddler to sleep in his or her own bed is a big job. More than likely you have brought this upon yourself by allowing your child to sleep with you. All hope is not lost, however, with persistence and communication.
A big part of making the switch is figuring out why your child screams and cries whenever he put in his own bed. Some of the most common reasons is due to separation anxiety. However, your toddler may also have worries of being in the dark or “closet monsters.” As soon as you have figured this out, find a creative way to incorporate a solution into a bedtime. If they are scared of the dark, simply allow them to pick out a friendly night light and if they are scared of monsters, check in the closet and under the bed to reassure them that there is nothing there. You could also give them a spray bottle filled with water and tell them to spray it at the monsters if they come and it will make them disappear.
One of the main reasons it is so hard to get your child to fall asleep alone is failure to have a routine and sticking with it. Your child has to see that what you say goes. If you give into their crying every night and allow them to climb into bed with you, they are going to think that they can do that every night. You have to be firm and make sure they understand that you mean business.
A normal bedtime routine that works well goes something like this:
1.) Bathe your child
2.) Get their pajamas on
3.) Feed (either breast or bottle)
4.) Brush their teeth
5.) Read them a bedtime book or sing a song
6.) Stay with them in the room until they fall asleep
If this routine is done properly, it should only take an hour to an hour and a half to get your child to sleep. When you are leaving the room, be careful not to wake them up with the door. This will result in having to sit in the room until they fall asleep again, which may take another hour. Whatever routine or method you want to try, just make sure to be consistent. This means you have to pay attention to time and order.
Reassurance is key when trying to get your toddler to sleep by themselves. No matter what, make sure that they know you are there. The best way to do this is to give them a good night kiss and tell them that you will stay with them until they go to sleep. As with everything involving developing good habits with your child, praise them when it is owed. The next morning, if they make it through the night in their own bed, tell them how proud you are. It will be a very freeing experience for you once you have started them on a nightly routine. This will enable you to spend more time with your partner and maybe, if you have a babysitter, you can even go out for dinner and a movie.