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How to Get Toddlers to Start Sleeping in Their Own Beds Without Traumatizing Them

by Zora Hughes, studioD

As your toddler grows, getting kicked in the face by his arms or legs every night can make it hard for you and your partner to get any sleep. If you are ready to move your co-sleeping toddler from your bed to his own bed, you may be in for quite a challenge, depending on how attached your child is to sleeping with you. However, preparing and gradually transitioning your toddler will make the change a lot easier for him to handle.

Prepare your child for this change. At least a week before you start the transition, start speaking to your tot about how big kids sleep in their own beds and in their own rooms. Address any fears he may have and let him know that he will be safe in his room and that you are still close by. Your child may be resistant to you even talking about it at first, but keep talking about it to help him get used to the idea.

Read books to your toddler that address kids learning to sleep in their own rooms. For example, "I Sleep in My Own Bed," by Glenn Wright and "It's Time to Sleep in Your Own Bed," by Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D., both address children's fears and emphasize how special it is to sleep in your own bed.

Let your toddler pick out something new for his room to celebrate his transition. It can be anything from a stuffed animal to a comforter, or even the whole bed. Add nightlights and a music player that plays soft music or nature sounds to soothe your child to sleep.

Spend evening time quietly playing and reading in your toddler's room with him. This gives him a chance to see that his room is not so scary.

Spend several nights with your child in his room. On the first night, lay down on an air mattress in your child's room, next to his bed, but make sure he stays in his own bed. Stay just until he is fully asleep, then go to your own room. Each night, gradually move your air mattress closer to the door, staying only until your child is fully asleep.

Expect your child to come running into your room the first few night if he wakes up. Comfort him, but take him back to his own bed. Stay firm and keep talking to a minimum; when he is falling back asleep, go back to your own bed. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Celebrate once he spends an entire night in his room without coming in to you, to let him know how proud you are of him. You could have a "wake-up party" in his room, where you play music and jump around, or let him pick what to have for breakfast that day.


  • Avoid giving in and letting him sleep "just for one night" back in your bed after you have started the transition. This will only lead your child to believe that if he cries hard enough, he will get what he wants.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Valueline/Getty Images