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Step-By-Step Guide To Teach Your Child To Sleep Alone: Tips For Parents

Your sleep depends on your child's sleep, so it's safe to say that when the child starts sleeping alone, a whole new world opens up for you. As for getting a toddler to sleep alone, it takes quite a bit of effort. Of course, the moment your little one switches from a crib to a bed, you may expect him to sleep through the night, but don't hold your breath because, as you know, kids are never easy to manage.

There is a good chance that your child is incessantly crying due to the change. It is important that you develop the habit of making your toddler sleep alone from a young age if your toddler refuses to sleep alone. As they grow up, you may have to deal with a certain degree of stubbornness. Don't worry; all you need is a good sleep training method to help your child fall asleep on their own.

At What Age Should Your Child Sleep Alone?

A child must be taught to sleep alone at the appropriate age. If you do it too soon, the child may develop separation anxiety or a sense of detachment. It can become extremely difficult to break that dependency if done later. Doing it on time is, therefore, essential [1].

You should try to make your child sleep independently once he or she is around 2 to 3 years old [2]. However, some children may take several months or even a full year before they can fall and stay asleep on their own.

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Step-By-Step Guide To Teach Your Child To Sleep Alone

Listed below are a few tips that can help your child learn to sleep on his or her own, gradually becoming accustomed to the practice [3][4].

Step 1: Start Slow With The Day Training

  • Do not force your child to sleep alone all of a sudden. Set one or two days of the week during which they will sleep alone and observe their reaction.
  • Establish a habit of enforcing bedtime during the day.
  • Do this during the day practice once or twice a week.
  • It is best to perform this training in the morning or afternoon, at least a few hours before bedtime.
  • Make it fun by keeping it light-hearted. Let your little one tuck you into bed for a couple of minutes. The goal is to get your child excited about going to bed.
  • When your children stay in bed alone, do not forget to praise them.
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Step 2: Take Frequent Breaks While They Are Alone In Bed

  • As a first step, determine how long it takes for your child to fall asleep after lights out. It should be easy to do if you stay with your child until they fall asleep.
  • Establish a solid bedtime routine. Tuck them into bed after brushing their teeth and putting them in pyjamas.
  • You should watch the clock and check how long it takes them to fall asleep. Once they are slightly asleep, get up and tell them you are going to fetch something and will be back in 2 to 5 minutes.
  • If your child is still in bed when you get back, give them praise and positive reinforcement - stay with them until they fall asleep.
  • The next day, repeat the same procedure, but increase the amount of time you spend 'on a break'. Slowly, your child can spend more time alone at night.
  • This technique's only disadvantage is that it requires additional energy and patience to complete.
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Step 3: Use The "Excuse Me" Training

For rebellious children who refuse to sleep, experts recommend using this method. The practice is a variation of the previous one. The difference is that it involves taking many short breaks throughout the day. According to paediatricians, it is particularly effective for children who cry or get up when you leave, even for a moment. A little patience is all that is required [5][6].

  • As in the previous case, you must sleep train once or twice during the day while maintaining your regular bedtime routine.
  • Just for a moment, turn off the light and leave the bedroom. You might ask your child to excuse you for a moment because you need to turn off the lights or use the restroom.
  • Leave the room for 30-60 seconds.
  • When you return to the bedroom, tell your child some kind words, so they feel that staying in bed alone is a great achievement.
  • Step out again for a short period. You may need to repeat this process 20-30 times on the first night. On the second night, increase the time you are away so the breaks will be longer each night.
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Some Extra Tips For Parents

  • Create a ritual out of it.
  • Be firm, patient and show your presence; however, offer them support whenever necessary.
  • Appreciate them when they follow through.
  • Keep distractions away.
  • Never use sleep as a threat.
  • Sleep separately in the same room.
  • On A Final Note...

    If your child can stay in bed without you for a week, that's a win. However, the process of sleep training requires patience and practice. Eventually, your child should be able to sleep alone with a little bit of patience.

Story first published: Friday, July 15, 2022, 16:36 [IST]
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