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One of the biggest worries for parents that favour gentle and attentive parenting is the transition of their toddler from their shared bed to sleep independence.

If you are a parent that is content to allow the transition to occur purely as an ‘organic’ process, that is, when your child is developmentally ready, it can be a wonderful experience as you watch their emerging confidence and independence flourish.

But sometimes all good things must come to an end, sooner rather than later – toddlers are ‘messy’ sleepers!

So, if you have reached your sleep deprivation pain point and can no longer tolerate disturbed sleep, don’t feel guilty about making the decision to reclaim your own restful sleep space. After all, sleep is also essential for YOU.

Chronic sleep deprivation from disturbed sleep will impact on you physically, emotionally, and mentally and if you are not getting good restful sleep, you are compromising your own health.  This can compromise your ability to parent well, which ultimately affects the well being of your children.

Transitioning can be done in a beautiful gentle and loving manner and totally in line with your gentle parenting ideology.

Take a moment to think about the support they had when they were sleeping by your side.  You can bet they settled and slept well because they felt safe, loved and nurtured.

The key to helping your child transition to independent sleep is to create the same conditions…because you know they work!



Relaxation is the key but HOW do you get them to relax in the first place?  

Your toddlers emerging independence, defiance, language development and mobility is not only wonderful, but also challenging and quite likely to erupt all at once, when the ‘comfy’ sleep arrangement changes are ‘not’ to their liking.

BUT did you ever consider music as a form of relaxation?  Traditionally, lullabies were used to get little babies to sleep; they formed part of the routine. You held your baby close and rocked or sang, and baby fell asleep…or not, when placed in their crib.  No matter… Baby could gently ‘cry’ itself to sleep.

But today we have different expectations and lullaby sleep music should reflect a more gentle ideology.

It should have lyrics that are positive and promote re-connection and have the ability to actually help children relax into deep sleep.  Good sleep habits can then form very quickly when sleep becomes associated with the same sleep music as the cue to relax.

Here are some things to keep in mind to make the transition easier:

  • Your toddlers’ emotional cup needs to be filled. Sometimes bedtime is the only chance they get to make it known.  Re-connection and relaxation are what you both strive for. When they feel re-connected to you, they can relax.  When they relax they can fall asleep. When they are asleep, you can reclaim your evening.
  • An extra feed or bedtime snack high in protein will stop hunger waking them during the night. After all busy little people burn lots of calories!
  • Development of fears and imagination can be very frightening, especially at night. A night-light, keeping the door open and reassurance are all helpful. If they have a ‘monster’ under the bed, a good tactic is to ask the monster to take your hand and ‘show him to the door’ with a firm goodbye and don’t come back! ‘Monsters’ are very real in their minds and toddlers don’t ‘get’ “monsters are not real”.
  • Lullaby sleep music is not just for babies!   What you did with your baby…singing, patting, rocking and humming also works extremely well for the toddler age.  In fact your toddler will love the attention, feel safe and be able to relax.  Sleep associated lullaby music specifically for sleep settling, is proven to promote deep sleep. A soft toy or special blanket can also be a comforting aid.
  • Again ROUTINE cannot be over-emphasized.  Regular bedtime and 12-14 hours sleep will make all the difference to getting good sleep for optimal development, improved behavior and a toddler you will enjoy.

Regardless of your child’s age, it all comes down to this – if your child is not relaxed, they will not be able to fall asleep. Provided they are in good health and their physical needs met, remember, all ages need love and connection…really a recipe for life!

ROUTINE, RE-CONNECTION and RELAXATION promotes gentle sleep solutions. Try it with lullaby sleep music… it just could be the missing link to your child sleeping well.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • I think we need to be a little firm sometimes too. It’s good for kids to have a routine, especially around bed time. I have seen a lot of my friends struggle with getting their kids to sleep/sleep in their own beds. I feel so bad for them because they are just so exhausted. I just want to tell them to toughen up a bit, but in a nice way! Its not my place though.

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  • Perfect timing. Something I need to start doing. Thank you

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  • Have been just talking with a friend about this, she loved this and was able to get some great tips to help her

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  • Or, just don’t start the habit of sharing your bed, start independent sleeping from the say they’re born. It’s so much easier

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  • I always read these articles hoping something will work for us. We are desperate to get our two year old sleeping well. We have good nights. Including some where she doesn’t need a dummy. This usually follows with going completely backwards. I know she can sleep, she did at 9 months but regressed at 11 months. I hope some of these tips help her and us.


    • Many parents have said similar things as you, and I have also experienced it with my last child. Since developing Nigh’ Nigh’ Sleepy Head, it is simply the answer to establishing a consistent bedtime strategy that works. No Cd player? No problem! We offer free digital download.

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  • One of my kids loved his bed another took me 4 yrs to transition.

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  • love this article, so true.


    • So glad you enjoyed reading my article. Although new to the blogging scene, it gives me great satisfaction and joy to share my thoughts, experiences and knowledge to younger mums…we’ve all been there!
      We also love to share interesting articles/current research on our f/book page nigh’ nigh’ sleepy head. You may also like to nominate me in the top 100 bloggers. See our f/b page to enter for your chance to win prizes.

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  • Great article. I didn’t cosleep with mr 5 but have been using nigh nigh sleepyhead with him successfully, especially when he’s unsettled or in a strange place. Miss nearly 1 is cosleeping but I woke with her leg over my neck the other night so maybe some transition time after this bout of teething is in order. I use nigh nigh for her too, when sleep seems far from her mind. The lyrics are great And very affirming. So much more relaxing than rock a bye baby… have you ever really thought about that? Why on earth would somone be calmed by the idea of the baby and cradle falling out of a tree!?!


    • Thanks for your comments. We at Nigh’ Nigh’ Sleepy Head totally share your sentiment regarding ‘rock-a-bye baby’. Its yesteryear lyrics are so out of context with gentleness and nurturing.
      Deb Herdman

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  • sounds awesome and looks great

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  • Children that keep getting up just haven\\\’t got to the point where they are relaxed enough to fall asleep. The Nigh\\\’ Nigh\\\’ Sleepy Head music has special features that promote deep relaxation, including volume that automatically decreases. See other mums comments about how it has made bedtimes so much easier for them and their children at http://www.nighnigh.com.au

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  • A lot of great tips in this article, I’ll be keeping this one in mind as our 16 month old has been waking at night & with another one due in a few weeks, I need all the sleep I can get.

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  • i like that point about the routine! so important and kids will get into it and it becomes easier! i get them ready for bed and put them in bed. my 2 year old will get up but i keep putting him to bed. lol

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  • I remember those days. thankfully they do pass!

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  • Great article but make sure if you are giving late night snacks to children that you give them the right ones.. fatty, sugary, spicy and caffeinated foods are a no no.
    thanks for sharing your article.

    Reply

  • I totally agree about routine being important. Once out of whack it’s a case of Aghhhhh…

    Reply

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