After over a year of fighting the sleep battle every night with my toddler, I figured out exactly what to say to him as part of our bedtime routing to get him to go to sleep quietly on his own in his crib.
I say the same thing to him every night and this has made bedtime so much better for my son and for the whole family.
Before I get into what I say, I have to say that we did sleep train our son. In fact, we sleep trained him several times because it is pretty easy to get out of the sleep training bedtime routine when our son is sick and we want to snuggle him to sleep, or when we travel and he needs us there with him to fall asleep in a new place.
We used the Sleep Lady's Sleep Shuffle Method after a friend recommended it, and it was successful for us every time. It worked when we first did it when our son was 10 months old, and it worked most recently after we got home from a long trip when our son was 2.5 years old. She has sleep training strategies for every age.
This was a very gentle sleep training method without any tears. Some whining, lots of hugs and reassurance, but no actual tears. I would recommend it. For $29 it is SO WORTH the hours and hours of free time my husband got back over the last two years because we didn't have to lay down with our son to get him to sleep - which sometimes took over an HOUR!
And sleeping through the night is priceless.
No, I don't get anything out of you signing up for the course. Just a PSA to help you out if you're struggling getting your toddler to sleep on his own.
That said, I figured out a consistent thing to say to my toddler every night as I am putting him down to sleep.
Yes, this is long. Yes, this is repetitive. But I believe it lulls him into a safe, happy, sleepy mindset and reassures him that it is okay for him to fall asleep.
I turn off the lights and say the following to my son as I hug him in his room:
Goodnight my love. Sleep well. You know how to fall asleep on your own so well - you did it last night and you can do it again today. We had a wonderful day today together. We played, we ate, we went to the park [add some other things, but don't mention anything TOO exciting that might wake up your child!]. We will have an even better day tomorrow, you will be with mama and papa all day [or you will be in school with your friends].
Goodnight baby. We are right here at home with you. We are not going anywhere. You are not alone. Sleep well. I love you so much. Goodnight my love.
I say this to my son in a quiet, monotone, boring voice.
We are trying to raise our son trilingual, so I also repeat this in Russian. When my husband is putting our son to sleep, he says this to our son in Spanish (well, some of this, he thinks this is a little lengthy haha).
I think the key thing here is to have a repetitive message that calms him down, but also to let him know that we are not leaving him alone! If I said "we are in the next room" he would feel like he is missing out on something in the next room. Instead, I tell him that we are home right here with him (hey, it's not a lie!).
This also reassures him that he *DOES* know how to fall asleep on his own.
Related post: My one easy tip for how to avoid toddler meltdowns.
Sometimes our son whines a little before falling asleep. Sometimes he needs one of us to come back in and give him a hug, in which case I hug him and say all this to him again. But this has been working for us for months and I wanted to share it with you!
I hope this helps you with your bedtime routine and reduces the anxiety that toddler can have about going to sleep on their own.
Tell me in a comment below. Do you have any special bedtime routines to help your child fall asleep on their own?
Psst! Did you know this is actually a blog about picky eating? If you have a baby or toddler who can be picky with food, check out a few resources from this blog:
- 20+ ways to get your toddler to eat if they refuse
- 13 kid-friendly hidden vegetable recipes
- 52 Weeks of Sensory
- Division of Responsibilities in feeding
- Feeding therapy for picky eating
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