The all-too-familiar scene…
You’re stuck in your kiddo’s dark room at bedtime, quietly waiting for them to fall asleep. Once they finally do, you have to sneak out of their room, praying the floor doesn’t creak and wake them up…
Many of us have fallen into this common bedtime trap.
It wastes our evening time and can cause BIG problems with your child’s sleep.
Let’s figure out how to get you out of there!
>>Watch this blog on my Awesome Little Sleepers YouTube channel! 👇
Redefining the toddler bedtime routine
Most of us have been here before.
The bedtime routine is over, but your child wants you to stay in their room. They don’t want to be alone. Maybe they’re having a little separation anxiety, or maybe they’re in a new big-kid bed that feels unfamiliar, or maybe there’s no rhyme or reason - they just want you to stay.
These moments pull at our heartstrings. It feels like nice bonding time, leading us to stay just five more minutes until they drift off.
But sometimes, five minutes becomes thirty minutes… or sixty minutes. And staying with them once-in-a-while becomes every. single. night. It’s a slippery slope.
Did you know that getting in the habit of always staying with your child while they fall asleep can actually make it harder for kids to get to sleep?
Children can start associating the presence of their parent with going to sleep – losing their natural ability to self-soothe and fall asleep alone!
Remember when your child was a baby and addicted to their paci? They couldn’t sleep without it.
When a parent stays with their child at bedtime until they fall asleep, they’re basically turning themselves into a giant paci – an object that MUST be there in order to sleep.
And guess what? Anything that the child needs to fall asleep at bedtime, they’re going to need throughout the night, too. It’s a domino effect where your ‘help’ during the bedtime routine doesn't stay confined to bedtime.
Without the skills to self-soothe and fall asleep alone at bedtime, little ones can find themselves waking up more during the night.
When you’re sacrificing instead of sleep training, nobody wins
I hear from parents all the time, confused because they thought they were helping their kids get better sleep. After all, how does rubbing their back to sleep or holding their hand cause any harm?
The harm starts when the child inevitably starts waking two and three times overnight NEEDING that same support.
This is also a sacrifice for parents. I mean, we parents love our kids, but we need some 'me-time' too!
Think of all the things you could be doing with your evening….
Reading a book, watching your favorite show, cooking, talking to your spouse.
Dedicating hours to your kids’ bedtime routine means sacrificing all these things.
3 sleep training tips to stop your kids from developing an over-reliance on you
Kids can become anxious about sleep as they get older when there is an over-reliance on parents.
And parents? Well, exhaustion, frustration, and even resentment can creep in. I don’t want this happening to you!
If you’re already in this all-too-common scenario, here are 3 steps to regain those peaceful nights:
Establish a solid bedtime routine. Y’all should have a predictable sequence of events that happen before bedtime to signal to your child that it's time to wind down. The same steps should be followed each night regardless of who puts them to bed.
Have a specific plan to get out of their room after lights out. This is truly the goal of all “sleep training” methods - get your child comfortable falling asleep without you so they can sleep through the night. There are many, many ways to do this - you can do it quickly and they could fall asleep by themselves on night one, or more gradually over time where it may take a couple weeks until they’re totally comfortable.
And remember, consistency is key. Once you lay out the bedtime routine and decide on a plan to get out of their room at bedtime, stick with it. It'll make things easier for your child. You know kids: if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile. Giving in is like an invitation for kids to ask for more!
Now, imagine your child confidently hopping into bed after a cozy, quick bedtime routine. And you, enjoying a peaceful evening.
Teaching independent sleep isn't just good for you—it's beneficial for them, too.
Kids develop self-confidence, enjoy better sleep, and learn valuable self-soothing techniques that will last a lifetime.