So your child really is ready to move to a bed. He’s old enough, mature enough, developed enough. Or maybe he’s even asking for it.
But she’s got all these super great sleep skills… and you quite like having her stay in bed all night, thank you very much. Just the thought of returning to those nighttime wakeups or evening battles drains you…
So how can you keep progress and also make this change?
Get Him Involved
The great thing about toddlers is that they CHAP! They are able to understand sentences, processes, and abstract concepts like The Future.
So super cool.
And that means that you can get your little guy involved to help him own this.
And THAT means that he will be more likely to follow through and do his part of the work.
So talk about it.
Sit down for a Mommy-Tatty-Big Kid meeting. Talk about how you notice how big she’s getting. Point out all the things that he can do now that a younger sibling cannot do, or new things he’s achieved.
Talk to her about what having a big kid bed is going to mean. What your expectations are. How he’ll know when it’s OK to come out of bed. What the consequences will be. (More on all of those below)
I know, I know. I say it all the time. (And I say that I say it all the time ?).
But this is THE BIGGY. Inconsistency is not only super confusing for your child, it is the source of great frustration for many many parents. Don’t fall into the trap.
Remember that when things change, children will always push boundaries, but that does not mean that they want you to move them. Staying consistent with your expectations – and letting your child know that those expectations are not going to be changing – is a huge piece in making the transition smooth and uneventful.
Involve your child by having him color in an Expectations Chart – a picture of a child laying in bed, a picture of your OK to wake clock (see below) etc.
Give him a way to know when it’s morning
By this point, your child is able to understand that bright outside means day and dark outside means night. Which is great.
And not so great.
Look, I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be up whenever the sun is up – and I certainly don’t go to sleep (or put my kids to bed!) when the sun is down! It’s the 21st century, folks, and the sun no longer dictates our days and nights (for better or for worse!)
You and I can read clocks, so if that’s what we’re measuring time by, it’s important that our kids know that, too.
No, I’m not telling you to expect your child to read a clock. I’ve got two simpler solutions for you:
1. The OK to Wake Clock
Super simple to set up and really easy to explain, this is probably one of the smartest bits of baby gear out there, and there are loads of different options. You can get a classic Red Light – Green Light style or cute OK to Wake by Mirari
2. Magic 7
If you have a spare alarm clock in the house, then it might just be easier to go with this idea. Put duct tape over the minutes of a digital alarm clock, and show your child what a “7” looks like. Explain to him that he cannot come out of bed until he sees the “Magic 7” in the morning (you can draw it on a piece of paper and hang it in his room so that he remembers what it looks like).
Consequence (Or, following through)
I’ve had people tell me that “I tried the clock and it didnt work!”
So if you’re worrying about it working, then I’ll be blunt: it won’t work unless you do.
The clocks are not magic. They will only work as long as you make sure to follow through.
So – how do you make sure your child’s clock “works”?
At bedtime – Before your child is in bed, review what your expectations are and what the consequence will be if she does not follow through.
If your child comes out of bed – take her back to her bed, remind her about the clock and then give her a small but meaningful consequence (such as taking away her lovie, closing the door, etc.). Stay calm when implementing the consequence – make it something very matter of fact (you did x which causes y) rather than something you’re upset, frustrated or overwhelmed by.
Sound like a plan? Sound doable?
Let me know how it went in the comments below!