“How do you get a nearly 2.5 year old to to self settle at night without having to lay next to her in her own bed? !!”
2.5 years is a tricky age, they definitely not babies, and not easily sleep coached into staying in bed and staying asleep all night. But at the same time, they don’t usually respond in the same way as a 3 year old does to rules, and consequences.
Does your 2.5 year old show any signs of having self control, and being able to delay her gratification? If she doesn’t she might be better off staying in a cot until closer to years old.
If she has been jumping out of the cot, or her younger sibling is in her cot, then you have no choice, but understand that she might not have the self control just yet to stay in bed when the temptation to get up and play is very strong!
If she is used to you lying down next to her, there is probably an element of separation anxiety at play also. With this in mind, your first step would be to get her used to sleeping with you sitting on a chair by her bed, rather than in her bed with her.
Don’t get involved in arguments, or begging sessions. Just pick a mantra to say to her and repeat it if she speaks to you. I personally like “shhhh” and “shhhh its sleepy time”. This is my response to every questions, from “can I watch another Dora DVD?” to “I am not tired, mummy lie down with me”.
You need to be in it for the long haul, don’t get frustrated or angry at your wee one. You have all night and you won’t leave (pee before you start this! Consider a camel pack of gin and tonic!) until your wee one is FAST asleep. Toddler’s are good at appearing to be asleep and then you get up to leave, and they cry out. You are back at the start of the 2 hour marathon you just began!
Once you think she is asleep, just wait another 20 minutes, have a kip on the chair.
3 nights in, and the marathon should be a light jog. If its still a 2 hour marathon, you are being too interactive. Back off how much you are talking/touching etc.
If you have progressed to a light jog and you are out of the room in under 30 minutes, well done!
Next stage, moving your chair towards the door. Just small movements every 2-3 days as your toddler gets used to you slowly moving away, but staying consistent.
A week or 2 into this plan and you will have a toddler who sleeps on their own, and after a nice bed time routine you can walk out!
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