One of the most common toddler sleep problems King sees in her practice is parents moving their toddlers into a big bed before they are developmentally ready. “If a toddler has not fully developed their impulse control (the ability to want to do something and not do it), they will really struggle staying in a big bed all night long.” In other words, your little escape artist will start bouncing out of bed to find mommy at all hours of the night.
The solution: King recommends waiting until as close to 3 years old (or later) before moving your child. “And if they do wake up and come out of their room, have a system in place to remind them to stay in bed!” Calmly but firmly walk your child back to their room and tell them matter-of-factly that it’s time to sleep. (You may have to do this again and again and again until they get the message.)
2. The Problem: Your Toddler Will Do Anything to Avoid Bedtime
When we conducted our sleep survey to see what time kids were going to sleep and waking up, we also asked respondents to tell us about their bedtime routines. And pretty much all parents of toddlers were dealing with some serious delay tactics.
“We do dinner, bath, three books of her choosing, we go outside to say night night to the moon and stars, then precisely five songs, she lays down in her crib, three more songs with intermittent yawning and holding her hand, or sometimes my child tells me what all went on at daycare—she will literally do anything to keep the bedtime routine going. She then asks for milk, potty, socks, you name it. In total, our ritual takes two hours and is very extra,” one mom told us.