How to Get your Child to Sleep in her Bed
Establish a regular night time routine. For example, dinner, shower, brush teeth, story time and then get into bed. This will signal to your child that bedtime is approaching and enable her to come to terms with the idea. Print a bedtime routine chart which will help with this.
Remind your child to go to the bathroom just before going to bed. She will have one less excuse to leave her room and it will decrease the chance that she wakes up in the night to go to the bathroom and then decides she doesn’t want to sleep on her own.
Print a sleep chart and give her a sticker every time she stays in her own bed all night. Make a big deal every time she gets a sticker.
Promise her an award when she completes her sleep chart or give her a sleep award certificate. The award does not necessarily have to cost anything. It can be a visit to the park, baking cookies together, etc.
Explain to her that she is not allowed to get out of her bed or leave her room.
Be assertive and consistent. Your child might cry, nag or explain how hungry, sad and/or lonely she is. You could write a book full of kids’ excuses not to sleep in their bed. Kids know exactly what they need to say to get their own way. She might start crying and telling you how much she needs a hug and kiss. All you want to do is go over and give her hugs and kisses and stay with her. Remember, it is your child’s job to see what she can get away with but it is your job to set the limits.
Make sure that she has everything she needs to sleep. She might need a glass of water next to her bed. She might like sleeping with a specific toy next to her. If she does not feel comfortable in the dark buy her a night light that will give her enough light so as to make her feel safe. Make sure that her bed is comfortable and she is warm/cool enough. Leave no room for legitimate excuses! If there is one she will find it!
Don’t lie next to your child until she falls asleep. If this becomes habit it will have to continue and you will have to do it each time she wakes up in the middle of the night. Your child needs to get used to falling asleep on her own.
Every time she leaves her room take her back to her bed. Calmly explain to her that it is bedtime and she needs to stay in her own bed.
Never bring your child to your bed or allow her to stay there. Sometimes she starts crying in the middle of the night and you are exhausted and have to get up early for work. The very last thing you feel like doing is taking her back to her own bed and starting an argument at 2 a.m. It is so easy to have her crawl in your bed and go back to sleep. You will both probably be back asleep within seconds. The problem is that it signals to your child that it is OK to leave her room and come into your bed at night. In the short run, it is easier to just allow her to crawl in your bed but in the long run it is worth it to take her back to her room and explain that she is not allowed to come into your bed at night. After a while, she will realize that it is no use coming to your bed since you will just take her back.