Sleep Training a Toddler
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been in the process of sleep training Chloe for the past few months. To my surprise, I’ve been getting tons of questions about how I’m doing it! So today, I thought I’d share a step-by-step on how Allen and I have gotten Chloe to sleep in her own bed!
But before I get into it, I want to mention that there’s no right or wrong way to raise your child. You have to do what’s best for you and your lifestyle- just like Allen and I have done to fit our lives! Some moms are into co-sleeping and I know some parents who are really against the cry-it-out method. What I’ve realized is that every mom I’ve asked about sleep training gave me a different answer on what worked for them! With some trial and error, I had to navigate what would work best for Allen, Chloe and myself!
So take my techniques as less of a guide and more like suggestions for you to try out! Take bits and pieces that work for YOU!
To give you some backstory, Chloe was in her crib up until she was about 2 1/2 years old. Then it finally happened: she figured out how to climb out of her crib! That’s when Allen and I realized she needed a big girl bed. Before she outgrew her crib, I used to have her fall asleep in my bed and then transfer her to her crib. She would usually stir awake during the transfer, then cry for a little while before finally falling asleep.
So in-between that time, Allen and I had Chloe sleep with us in our bed until we figured out what to do. We knew we needed to figure it out fast because we knew it wasn’t good for our relationship or our lifestyle. For example, I usually workout early in the morning, but with Chloe in the bed with us- she would wake up when I did and then I wouldn’t be able to work out leaving me feeling frustrated.
To get back into the swing of things, we had to sleep train her, and here’s how we succeeded:
1/ The Bed
There are so many different options for a ‘big kid bed.’ Some cribs can transition into a toddler bed, but ours didn’t. You can also swap out the crib for a toddler bed- but I realized that since she’s growing so quickly- she’d outgrow it in no time. That’s why we decided to go with something called Montessori style ‘floor bed’ technique. I did a lot of research on this before starting to transition Chloe into her “big girl bed” and found that it’s so much safer and makes her more independent.
Instead of getting a brand new mattress, we brought up the full-sized mattress from our guest bedroom. Since she tosses and turns so much when she sleeps- the full sized bed gives her plenty of room to move around. And with the mattress on the floor, ifshe so happens to fall off the bed, it’s very close to the ground. Similarly, since it’s so close to the ground, she can easily get on and off the bed without climbing up or down from anything.
I know there will be mixed feelings about this, and to be honest I wasn’t the biggest fan of it either at first! Allen and I have this glow in the dark door knob guard (check it out here) which basically makes it very difficult for your toddler to open the door, thus essentially ‘locking them in.’ Since we know Chloe’s habits- we knew that the second she woke up in her big girl bed- she would come right across the hall to us so we tested this out.
Since she’s learned to stay in her room after a few weeks of using it- we don’t have it on her door as much anymore.
If you’re planning on using this, make sure everything in your child’s bedroom is childproof, and be sure to have a nanny cam/monitor on to keep a close eye on them! The door knob guard was essential for me to teach Chloe to not immediately panic and leave her room in the middle of the night.
4. Baby Cam
I can’t tell you guys how much I love this particular baby cam! When you’re a parent, you realize that anything could happen, so having peace of mind of always being able to have a watchful eye on Chloe feels amazing. After having a number of baby camsand testing them out, I totally fell in love with this one. So much so that I’ve ordered it for my pregnant girlfriends as a baby shower gift!
It easily connects to Wi-Fi and can be accessed via an app so I can see Chloe in her room no matter where in the world I am! (I can also make sure Allen puts her to bed on time when I’m traveling LOL!)
Not only can you control the camera itself, changing the direction it’s facing remotely, but you can also speak into it and play music! You can hear echoes easily in our house so if Allen or I walk past her room while she’s asleep, it will reverberate into her room and wake her up which is why I love the music playing ability of this camera! I play white noise to keep her relaxed and undisturbed!
5. Night Light
A night light is essential as Chloe, and most kids in general, are afraid of the dark. Chloe helped us pick out this adorable fluffy white cloud night light (check it out here) so we know she loves it. Allen and I also stuck glow in the dark stars (like these) on her ceiling to give her a little bit more light. We told her that if she ever got scared- to just look at the stars!
6. Light Up Alarm
We didn’t use this for Chloe, but my business partner Lauren used it to sleep train her daughter! It’s basically a clock that you can set to glowing green when it’s okay for your child to leave their room! Check out the alarm here!
Just like I talked about in the post here– I love using books as a way to introduce new things to Chloe. So when I began to sleep train her, I bought these picture books to help explain her transition into her ‘big-girl bed!’ We talked to her about it every night for a week or so before the transition and it got her really excited about the idea!
So those are the essentials and now I’m about to explain our method:
First, we put her to sleep in her room by reading her books and getting her sleepy. Instead of leaving her room when she’s fully asleep, I leave when she’s gotten drowsy enough to still realize that I’m leaving her. That way she’s not startled if she wakes up alone and eventually, we want her to fall asleep by herself! For the first 2 weeks, she cried every time I left. So for the first few days, I would go in, comfort her again and start the process all over again. After that, she was fully aware of what we were doing and to my surprise, she wouldn’t cry that for long and then put herself to sleep!
She can’t fully go to sleep herself yet, so it’s baby steps. The key is consistency and not giving up! It was really hard at first, but it’s the only way to do it. The next morning, we always tell her how proud we are and suddenly she would wake up proud of herself because she slept through the night all by herself!
We’ve come a long way, but we still have a LONG ways to go but before we know it, she’ll be able to put herself to sleep! And like I said, it’s not easy but you have to do what’s best for you and your family’s lifestyle.
If you have any questions or sleep training tips that have worked for you, please let me know below!