My first child slept between my husband and me for the good part of his early life. It’s what worked best for us, until it didn’t work anymore. Sleeping with him eventually shifted from easy to impossible, and I became desperate to get my little leech into his own space.
Now we have another child, and we’ve all learned how to sleep in our own spaces. Getting that peaceful, uninterrupted sleep is glorious, however, when sickness strikes or travel breaks our routine, I find myself on a sliver of mattress, with my limbs tangled with those of my kids until it hits me, yet again, that I need some space and rest.
Apparently I’m not the only one. A reader wrote in about an issue she was having with her toddler, and sleep expert Lauren Olson chimed in with advice.
Betty, 33, of New Hampshire explains, “I have a two year old who has slept through the night in his crib for a long time. When he was sick recently, he would wake up during the night, and I’d bring him into bed with me so that we could all get some rest. He is now better, but is still waking during the night. Sometimes I like to snuggle him in bed, but I honestly don’t sleep that well with him. There’s just not enough room and he moves around too much. How do I stop the night wakings and keep him in his own space without him feeling punished or without sacrificing too much of my own sleep?”
“Hi there and thanks for your question! Having two of them myself, I know toddlers can be master manipulators, and establishing healthier sleep habits with them can be very tricky! Here are two options that you can think about:
Option A: If you wish for him to sleep in his room all night independently, I would encourage that! Take him out to pick out a new paint color for his walls, or a new blanket for his bed, or a tiny stuffed animal from the dollar store if nothing else- make it fun! Talk about how at the end of the week, you’ll do a “special night” where you’ll watch a movie together that he gets to pick out and have a treat, and afterwards you’ll BOTH spend the night in his new room. Based on his communication level, he may not be able to respond but he should understand at this age. Use verbal reassurance at night during any wakings, telling him to lay down and it’s “time for sleep”. After 3 nights, begin using the “Sleep Lady Shuffle”, essentially moving farther & farther away every 2-3 nights until he’s asleep and repeat this step for any night wakings. Contact me at email@example.com if you’d like help or assistance in doing this; like I said above, it can be tricky!
Option B: Allow him to continue sleeping in your room, but create a space for him separate from your bed, perhaps on the floor or in another corner of the room. You can use the steps above for night wakings, or at bedtime if you wish as well.
Good luck! If you think you’d be better off establishing healthy sleep habits alongside each other, I’m happy to do so! Toddlers are my favorite to work with, and the potential is quite amazing as well. Thank you for your question, and visit me on www.sleepandthecity.com for more sleep tips, or on Instagram (@sleepandthecity) for daily sleep tips & giveaways! ~Lauren, founder of Sleep and the City”
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