So we’re right in the thick of sleep training our toddler – “stay in bed, don’t come out, no screaming the house down…” – and I’m a true softie when it comes to sleep training, so *thank you, husband* for saving my sleep. Here’s some practical tips from a pragmatic bloke to any sleep deprived parents who might just be thinking of throwing in the towel…there’s hope!
Post by The Husband
Sleep training a 2-3 year old.
I finally put my 2.5 year old daughter to sleep without sitting next to her for 1-2 hours each night. Yes I knew all the theory, and yes, I even trained my two older children to sleep in their beds by themselves. But no, I hadn’t trained this particular daughter yet despite having achieved this basic sleep training in my older kids by the time they were about 6 months old!
There’s something about having a 3rd child – maybe we just had less time to train her, thought we knew what we were doing so didn’t put in the effort, or just thought that she’d just do whatever the siblings did without us having to really teach her. We were wrong.
So let me encourage you bleary eyed parents, it is possible to get kids to stay in their beds and fall asleep by themselves, but you do need persistence.
Practically, I’d have to say, it probably should be done by the father. Secondly, the mother will need headphones or be in another part of the house that is very far away or sound proof! Given that most of us don’t have sound proofed rooms, the most practical thing is to have mum busy with the other kids or listening to music. The reason for this is that if the mother hears the cry of their toddler, she is likely to cave in and go give the child a huge hug and you’re back to ground zero.
For those who advocate huggy, huggy, just let the toddlers sleep in my bed until they don’t want to and I never really needed that extra space in our bed anyway – that’s fine, do it your way. But for the rest of us who want to be able to have some normality to our lives, this is what you gotta do.
Step 1 – Decide on a night when you are going to do this
Both parents need to be onboard and ready. It’s going to be a battle. You – dad – need energy, and a strong back. Also don’t do it when your child is sick, or there are other things going on in family life.
Step 2 – Do your usual winding down routine.
Read the bible/book that you normally do, give the milk, then …
Step 3 – Put her to bed, say goodnight, and then walk out the door.
Yes, you read that right, walk out the door. For those of you, like me, who have been trapped in the prison of your toddler’s room, sitting on that toddler bed, I know you feel that you are NOT allowed to leave. But.. You are.
Stand out of sight just around the corner and wait.
Step 4 – Get ready for the Pitter Patter.
About 2 minutes later, there will be pitter patter of little feet. Remember when the “pitter patter” was a good thing? This version of pitter patter is not good. It means she doesn’t think she needs to stay in bed. It means she’s requesting you to stay in prison.
Step 5 – Tell her to go back to bed, then carry her back to bed
Step 6 – Repeat Step 3-5 for as many times as needed.
I would say on average it takes about 35-50 times.
Yes, you will feel like giving up. Yes, she will wriggle and yell. But yes, you will get there.
Your toddler will work out a few things to keep you distracted from your goal. Some ones I faced :
- “I need the toilet”
That’s fine, take her to the toilet. Do what you gotta do without having too much conversation, then go back to Step 3.
- “I need tissue” (for the snotty nose)
Again, that’s okay, just wipe her nose and go back to step 3.
- “I want to play”
For this one, just say no and go back to step 3.
- A lot of crying
Yes, this is going to happen dad. It will pass, don’t give up. If you give up on the 33rd time, you’ll probably have to start from square one again tomorrow.
- “I’ll wash your car, study math, and do the laundry”
This is unlikely. But in case it happens, stick to step 3.
Believe me, it’s better for your toddler that you do this, and it’s better for your marriage and for the rest of your family. Plus you’ll be free from the prison so that you can actually do something useful with you evenings.