You used to think only babies caused sleep deprivation in parents. Now you have a 3-year-old who still wakes up during the night or maybe just started midnight shenanigans. To get your toddler to sleep all night in his own bed, think routine, comfort and boundaries. Your child needs to feel that his bed is a safe and cozy place of rest while also recognizing that when mom and dad say "time for bed," he is going to be left alone for the night and won't be allowed to leave.
A consistent bedtime routine can help your toddler sleep all night, according to research published in the journal "SLEEP." Performing the same activities every night in the same order -- bath, pajamas, book, bottle -- gives your toddler a feeling of security and helps her relax.
Many toddlers like to snuggle a special blanket or "blankie" as they go to sleep. Sleep with the blanket yourself one night so that it smells like you, and your toddler can be comforted by your scent instead of running to your room in the night for comfort.
Give your toddler a favorite stuffed toy to keep him company at night. Tell him his plush friend will keep him safe so he doesn't have to be afraid of the dark or call for mommy or daddy.
Soother to Suck
Orthodontics say night use of soothers is safe for toddlers. Sucking on a pacifier all night can be comforting for toddlers and at this age they can insert it in their mouths themselves, so you don't have to worry about them calling for you in the night to put it back in if it falls out.
Warm Sleep Sack
If your toddler tosses and turns in her sleep and a blanket doesn't stay put on her, consider buying a sleep sack. Sleep sacks keep toddlers quite warm and cozy and they also make it more difficult for them to stand up or climb out of their cribs.
If your toddler hasn't figured out yet how to climb out of her crib, consider keeping her there until she outgrows it. A big-girl bed is not necessary and if a crib prevents your toddler from getting out of bed there's no reason to get rid of it.
For toddlers who frequently leave their room at night, consider installing a baby gate on their bedroom door. This way, they can feel the security of having the door open and see the hallway light on, but they are totally prevented from leaving their room during the night.
Eliminate All Excuses
Before your toddler gets into bed, make sure they've gone potty and have had a drink of water and anything else they might ask for as an excuse to delay bedtime or get up in the night.
Sleepover in Their Room
Transitioning from sleeping in mom and dad's bed can be a huge adjustment at this age. Acclimate your child to sleeping in his own bed in his own room by sleeping on a mattress beside his bed for a few nights. Then move the mattress to the hall.
Fun in the Fresh Air
Nothing wears out a toddler like running around outside. Chase your little guy untill he’s tired and ready to collapse on his bed and snooze all night.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images