How will I persuade my child to stay in bed all night? This is a question many parents ask me when their toddler discovers how to climb out of their cot, necessitating a permanent move into a single bed.
Here are my top 10 tips for a smooth transition from cot to bed:
Don’t make it a big issue!
Many parents talk and deliberate about moving the child into a bed for weeks. It’s just a natural milestone that needs to be kept simple and straightforward and implemented with the minimum of fuss.
Don’t involve the child too much in the decision
There’s no point making a big deal about it and taking them to choose a new bed and bedding. Children as young as two often struggle with the concept of seeing a bed in a shop and not understanding how and why it’s going to end up in their bedroom! This can actually unsettle them and just make already difficult nights, worse.
Hold back on the praise
Don’t keep telling the child how “grown up’ they are and “what a big boy” they are now, having a ‘big’ bed. It’s better for them to see the move as a normal thing that occurs as we grow bigger and simply need larger beds. Just because they are resisting the confines of their cot and climbing out doesn’t mean they want it to be acknowledged that they are growing up. There’s a good chance they like being seen as a baby – especially if there is a new baby brother or sister on the scene!
Clear the diary
Choose a quiet period to make the move from cot to bed, when you have little or no immediate travel plans or other social disruptions. You need to keep life calm and implement the change with your full focus.
Let your child explore their new bed – briefly
Set up the new bed or take off the cot-bed sides during the afternoon and get the child to help you if he’s interested in doing so. Allow the child to briefly explore his new bed but don’t let him jump up or down on it or stay on it for too long, playing with toys – it’s his bed and somewhere to sleep, not to play or mess about in!
Set the bar
Draw up some bedtime rules outlining what will happen during the night, for example – lights off, door closed, no getting out of bed until I come to get you in the morning.
Then ask your child to decorate the rules with special stickers before pinning them up on his bedroom door. Read these rules to your child every night as part of the bedtime routine.*
Keep calm and carry on
Try to keep things as normal as possible, carrying out your usual bath and bedtime routine. Then, after goodnight kisses and cuddles tuck little one up in his new bed and leave the room with a firm but reassuring “Goodnight, it’s Sleepy-time now”.
Don’t be afraid to be stern…
If he then gets out of bed go back into the room and sternly say “Back to bed, it’s sleepy-time”. If he doesn’t get back in of his own accord then try and make him do so by ‘herding’ him towards the bed and if you have to pick him up to put him the bed then do so, but don’t scoop him up for extra cuddles in the process. Calmly and firmly put him back into bed whilst delivering the same ‘sleepy-time’ message and try not engage in any conversation with him.
And to continue being stern …
However long it takes and no matter how many times he gets out of bed, continue with the same method of putting him back – he WILL stay there and go to sleep, eventually! Continue with this exact same method if he wakes and gets out of bed during the night.
Pretend it never happened
When its morning time enter the room with a bright and cheery “Good morning” and don’t refer to the nights events other than to praise him for enjoying the first night in his new bed – no matter how many times he got out and you had to put him back! It will get easier as each night passes, promise!
- For the full details and guide on my “cot to bed” process plus a list of the tried and tested bedtimes rules, you can download an “instant help” directly from my website at www.alisonscott-wright.com