My husband and I are trying to transition our 2-year-old from a crib to a toddler bed — but we are unsure about the best way to do it. Our daughter is willing to go to bed easily enough; she goes to her room at bedtime, lies down and lets us cover her with blankets. But as soon as we leave, she gets up. If we leave her door open, she comes out. We've tried closing the door and letting her cry, and eventually she falls asleep. But I'm not sure this is the right approach because I don't want her to develop a fear about bedtime. What do you think?
Don’t worry--your daughter isn’t going to develop an irrational fear of going to bed. Her cries of protest are normal, and even though it’s tough, you’re responding in the correct way, by letting her cry it out. If you don’t give in, my guess is that within a week or two she’ll be falling asleep on her own just fine.
One of the things you can do to ease the transition from crib to toddler bed is to establish some new bedtime routines. This could involve reading a story, praying together, and even rubbing her back or singing her a calming lullaby. You might also install a nightlight in her room.
Unfortunately, many parents unwittingly contribute to bedtime battles by giving in to their child’s cries. Even though it may seem like they are doing the most “loving” thing by comforting their child or letting them come into their own bed, they’re actually interfering with their child’s ability to learn to fall asleep on their own.
Let me recommend an excellent book that I know you’ll find helpful. It’s called “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child,” by pediatrician and children’s sleep expert, Dr. Marc Weissbluth. You can find the book online or in many larger bookstores.
Thanks for writing Darcy. I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.