You got the sleep-training thing down long ago.... well, sort of. Your preschool-aged child goes to sleep happily in her own room, and has for years, but still wakes every night at some point and crawls into bed with you. What to do?
1. Sleep Train — Again
Changes in routine and environment, even growth spurts, can undo well-established sleep patterns. As a result, many parents find themselves sleep training their children multiple times as they grow from babies to big kids. So it's no surprise that Cayleen T. recommends a SuperNanny sleep training technique that is also a bigger-kid version of "the sleep lady shuffle" (Kim West's no-cry approach to helping babies and toddlers sleep).
In SuperNanny's "stay in bed technique," as Cayleen describes it, "You do not communicate with the child. Even if they cry and beg for you (to read a book, to get a glass of water, to have a snack) [you] stay sitting and quiet [and] do not engage. If the child gets out of bed, place them back in bed and sit back down without saying a word. You may have to sit for a long time the first few nights, but you will see it improving each night the technique is done properly."
Cayleen adds that "the hard part" comes later in the night, when your child comes to your room. As hard as it is, "You must get up and walk them back to their room." Your actions have to communicate very clearly and consistently that your child's sleeping place is her own bed.
I think it helps to communicate with your child beforehand that you're going to be working together on helping her to sleep in her own bed. The fact that you can explain what's going to happen to an older child, and that she's capable of understanding what you want from her, can make sleep training easier at this stage than it was when she was a baby or toddler.
2. Let Your Child Choose Her Bedding
Circle of Moms member Poppy D. points out that it helps your child if she can choose the bed and/or bedding for her solo sleeping experience. Not only is it fun, it's empowering. If your child has some control over her environment, she is much more likely to enjoy spending the whole night there.
3. Put a Big Mattress on the Floor
One choice that has worked well for my family is keeping a queen-sized futon in the floor of our son's room. It's big enough for one of us to cozy up with our son and read to him, and also big enough to accommodate his toys and comfort objects.
4. Add a Softly Glowing Aquarium
Cheryl B. took the creative approach of outfitting her daughter's room with an aquarium. Her three-year-old had been afraid of the dark, and not only does the aquarium cast a soft light on the room, it provides calming entertainment during the bedtime hour.
5. Create a Soothing Bedtime Ritual
Many moms, myself included, find that establishing a calming bedtime ritual in your child's room puts her on track for a peaceful night of sleep in her own bed. I let my son choose the books he wants to read each night, and usually offer to read one or two fewer than I'm actually willing to read so that he can negotiate for more. And I no longer wait for him to fall asleep mid-sentence. I let him know that after we read this book (then this page), that we're going to say "night-night" to all the characters and tell them we'll see them tomorrow. I have to say, it's worked like a charm!
In the beginning, my partner or I would go back in after a few hours, to make sure he didn't get out of bed looking for us when he woke up alone. Now, if he wakes up and calls out, he waits for someone to come tuck him back in. It usually takes less than five minutes for him to fall back to sleep. And some nights, he doesn't budge at all.
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.