After a long day, many of us can hardly wait for our little angels to go to sleep. But what if yours take forever to get to la-la land? Here are five tips to help your toddler learn to fall asleep faster — and on her own.
1. Establish a Consistent Routine
Among the first steps in helping your child fall asleep is cueing that it’s bedtime. Circle of Moms member Katherine M. follows the “3Bs” bedtime routine — bath, book, bed — in the same order, at the same time each night. She tries to make sure her children eat dinner at the same time, play a little after they’ve eaten, and then wind down with the first B.
To ensure your child doesn’t get wound up, “Don’t let them run around after bath time,” she cautions. “Just hold her and keep her quiet, then pick a comfy place and read a couple of books.” Once that second B is complete, give [her] a kiss, cuddles, and tuck [her] into bed with a favorite toy and a quiet ‘good night, I'll see you in the morning,” she recommends.
You may have to allow at least 45 minutes for the whole routine, and force yourself not to go back into the bedroom when your child starts screaming for attention. But after a couple of weeks of doing the same thing, Katherine M. says she can "almost promise you that you won't have any more problems." Once a good routine is established, it even works even if the start time is delayed a bit. "As you stick to the same routine," says Katherine, "they will take it as the cue that it's bed time.”
2. Ease Out of the Room
Circle of Moms member Sharon M. admits that she used to love lying down to sleep with her 18-month-old, but once she had another baby, she had to ease out of her toddler’s room. She did it gradually, and began by sitting on the bed instead of lying down.
About two weeks later, she sat next to the bed and held her son's hand. Another two weeks later, she sat next to the bed but did not make any contact with him. After another week, she stood in the room moving closer to the door each night. The last step — having her son fall asleep with completely out of the room — took about 10 days. But now, she reports, he reads a story and gets a cup of warm milk with kisses and cuddles, and he usually falls asleep within 10 minutes.
3. Try a 'Cry It Out' (CIO) Method
Although it’s controversial among Circle of Moms members, Juleen K. says she let all of her children cry it out as soon as she sensed they were old enough to start falling asleep on their own. “I know how hard it is to let them cry. I've done it with all [of] mine and my partner often had to physically stop me from going up and picking them back up. But it does work,” she shares.
(Related reading: To Cry or Not to Cry? Should You Try CIO Sleep-Training? and Is "Crying It Out" (CIO) Cruel?)
4. Boost Your Child's Confidence
Sometimes, a toddler who resists falling asleep is in need of help to become comfortable with separating from you for the night. For Tracey P.’s daughter, the boost was moving her out of her crib. “We found putting her in a big girl bed gave her more confidence and she felt more ‘responsible’ for herself. ... It's just amazes me the difference in her attitude towards bedtime now [that] she is in a big bed,” she says, noting that her daughter climbs into bed all by herself. (Related reading: From Crib to Toddler Bed: 6 Tips for a Smooth Transition)
Katie D. is finding that sleep aids like pulling her son's covers all the way up, making sure he has his favorite stuffed animal, and switching on a white noise machine have been "absolutely wonderful in helping him stay asleep."
5. Relax and Be Realistic
Remember that “just as daytime parenting is a long-term investment, so is nighttime parenting,” said Katherine C., adding that it’s important to develop “a realistic attitude.”
“Sleeping, like eating, is not a state you can force a baby into,” she explains. “Best you can do is to create a secure environment that allows sleep to overtake your baby. A realistic long-term goal is to help your baby develop a healthy attitude about sleep: that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in.”
Additionally, what works one month may change as your child grows. As Circle of Moms member Katherine C. advises, “Keep working at a style of nighttime parenting that fits the temperament of your baby and your own lifestyle. If it's working, stick with it. If it's not, be open to trying other nighttime parenting styles."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.