You are not alone with this one! So many parents struggle with the change from cot to bed and the problems it can cause. Lots of parents end up sleep deprived and opting for allowing them into their own bed just to catch any sleep they can. This can be so tiresome on parents but also toddlers! Here are my five tips to bed hopping;
- If a child is in a bed under 2 ½ years they very often struggle. They do not understand the concept of their sleep space and that they should be staying there for the whole night. This can be very exciting for an infant and the concept of getting in and out of bed can become almost like a game.
- When you know the bed hopping has to stop decide on a week you are going to tackle it head on. Have a clear idea of how you want this to look. Think about what you are going to do and have a plan that you know you can stick to. Make sure you are clear with this and have your partner onboard too so you have the consistency from both of you. You may decide each time your child gets out of bed you will walk them back and not pick them up. You may decide that you need a baby gate to help in this. Whatever you decide make sure that you continue with the approach, don’t get to the 7th time of doing it then get cross and shout. You need to be calm when you implement your routine.
- Leading up to implementing your plan, make sure you discuss it with your child. Tell them at a time of day when you know they will listen to you – mid morning rather than before bed! Say things like ‘Mummy knows how we can help you stop waking, we are going to have a great plan next week so you have a nice sleep at bedtime.’ Or even involve a favourite teddy in it or introduce a night/day clock to explain the concept more imaginatively. Children love things that involve them and their special belongings. Get them excited about this new plan. Don’t worry too much if you don’t think your child fully understands, keep telling them each day though. From around 20 months they will understand this. When you do talk about your exciting plan don’t talk about what you don’t want them to do, keep it positive and paint the picture of the good things that will happen.
- Guide your child through the plan and set little milestones that you know they can achieve. Things like; ‘before bedtime tonight you are going to have your milk really nicely,’ or ‘you are going to brush your teeth all by yourself aren’t you?’ By setting including things that you know they can do makes them see they are doing a great job at bedtime and sets a positive mindset for implementing your plan. When your child wakes in the night be bland with your approach and most importantly – CALM! Tell them consistently it is not morning yet and you would like them to go back to sleep. Remember to include their special teddy or day and night clock if you use this as part of your approach to help encourage them and help them understand. Don’t talk about the plan here, it is too confusing for them, you can discuss their progress in the morning with them making sure you emphasise the things that were positive.
- Make sure your response is the same on every wake up for as long as it takes. It will be hardest
for the first couple of nights and you may find you did 34 times walking back to bed! But
make sure you keep going and the next night there will be less. They will eventually learn
from the same approach that they are getting nothing from you. Keep your voice calm and be
boring, never get cross this will only make the situation worse and more difficult. Keep
really calm – bland and boring- whisper. Switch your tone to night time mode so there is
clear distinction – never cross. You may find that they begin to use diversion tactics asking
for a drink or certain objects, try not to engage and keep persisting with ‘it is not morning
yet, I would like you to go back to bed now, night night.’ Things need to be that clear and
that boring. Eventually they will learn that getting out of bed is pointless as they only
get walked straight back.
I can’t stress how important it is here for you to be consistent. It will be tough in the beginning but it will become easier and you will find that eventually you are just walking straight back to bed with much less tears. Remember, discuss progress with your child and let them know when they are learning – be positive and try to be as calm as you can.
Laura, Babbaboo Sleep.
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