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  1. #1

    How do I get my 4 year old to fall asleep in her bed at night and not on the couch?

    Hi! I was wondering if anyone had any tricks to get my daughter to fall alseep in her bed at night instead of the couch. If I put her upstairs in her bed she throws a tantrum and won't sleep. I could be up there for 4 hours waiting for her to sleep. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Hi,

    Do you have a bedtime routine? Many parents find that having a routine where the child starts to do quiet activities and get ready for bed helps them to fall asleep at night. Many children find a bath before bedtime relaxing (you could put a couple of drops of lavender oil into the bath water) and makes them feel sleepy. You could read two bedtimes stories, or sing a bedtime song, before she goes into her bed so she gets used to knowing this is time to go to bed. Putting a child to bed at the same time each night can also help them to fall asleep quickly. Children who have plenty of exercise each day also tend to fall asleep quicker at night.

    I really like the gentle parenting technique which Elizabeth Pantley (who wrote the No Cry Sleep Solution) discusses in this article: Read Your Baby's Sleepy Signals. Many of these 'sleepy signals' (e.g. rubbing eyes, looking glazed, becoming more quiet) are also shown by toddlers and older children.

    I hope some of this helps.

    Please do post back and let us know how you are getting on.

    Best wishes,

    LJ

  3. #3
    With a child that age I think a routine and discussion would be the best route. Sit down with her, explain that she is a big girl now and it is time for her to begin sleeping on her own. You may need to add some extra form of comfort for a while, like leaving on the hall light or finding her a special toy to sleep with each night.

    Other than that stick to a strict routine, as LJ mentioned. Once you've bathed her, read the stories, tucked her in, then she should be tuckered out enough to give in to sleep without much of a fight. You may need to adjust bedtime and napping schedules for a while, but she will eventually sleep on her own. It is process.

    Best of luck,
    Angela

  4. #4
    Hi CarlsonAng,

    You've received some very good advice from Angela and LJ. At the age of 4, there really is no room for negotiation in whether she will go to sleep in her bed or on the couch. You know that she will get better sleep in her bed and you may have other things you'd like to do in the room where the couch is, so bed is best for your daughter.

    Your daughter has been conditioned to sleep on the couch and that is where she prefers to be, so - yep! she'll probably throw a fit if you try and just put her in her room.

    I have some suggestions but please know that this will take some dedication and effort on your part, and it won't happen overnight (though it may happen in a week).

    My guess is that your daughter enjoys being in the same room as you and that may be one reason why she doesn't want to be in her room. If this is the case, it's a matter of her being alone that she doesn't like. It could also be that she wants to watch TV until she falls asleep. You didn't mention this, but if this is the case please let me know because I can give other suggestions.

    I'm going to go with the assumption that she doesn't want to be alone. In this situation you would tell her that you will lay down with her until she falls asleep but also let her know that if she pitches a fit you will have to leave because you're going to relax or try to go to sleep too, and you won't be able to do this if she's crying. Be sure you say this before you even enter the room.

    In fact I would first call her away from couch that she likes to sleep on, and call her into another room. This could be the bathroom, to brush her teeth and get her pajamas on, or it might be the kitchen, where you offer to give her a cracker with nut butter on it or a scrambled egg or maybe even just a little milk (not a lot because you don't want her to wet the bed, and giving her too much to drink will set her up for failure in that area). Children do well having a little protein before bed. After you've given her the food, let her know what the plan will be.

    "We're going to go into the bathroom to brush your teeth, and then we're going to go and get your pajamas on (this can happen in her bedroom). After you have your pajamas on, I will tuck you into your bed and read you a story. Would you like me to read you a story? Then I'll lay down with you and snuggle you until you go to sleep. If you throw a fit, I will have to leave, and you will have to stay in your room by yourself."

    So now you've set the tone for the evening (lots of love and touching and a quiet story time) and you've also set the expectation (you will sleep in your bed tonight). Be sure the TV is off so she won't be tempted to go and lay on the couch (if the TV has been on in the past, she will be conditioned to like entertainment and noise until she falls asleep - you want to remove those distractions).

    Once you've set the expectation, then don't give in. If she pitches a fit, just stand up and start to walk out. If she comes after you, say, "you need to stop crying and then I will stay". Telling her exactly what she needs to do is better then asking her if she's going to stop crying. If she stops, (or you see her trying to stop) then lay back down with her. You can sing to her, you can tell her a story, but try to get her to relax. If she continues to throw a tantrum, then you would need to leave - but you could check on her a few minutes later and remind her that she needs to stop crying so that you could come and lay down with her again.

    If you're able to get her to go to sleep, while you're laying next to her, then you'll want to get up and sleep in your own bed.

    You could do this for 5-7 nights, and then make the next transition. Once you've got her going to sleep in her room, then you take the next baby step, which is letting her know that you will lay down with her for 10 minutes. You'll actually want to try to get up before she's actually asleep. If she's not asleep, you can tell her that you need to go and check on something in the kitchen, or you need to get something for daddy, or you need to use the restroom, but that you'll be right back. This will help her to get used to you not being next to her the whole time, and a small milestone for her will be to stay laying in bed for a few minutes until you return.

    When you leave the room, be sure to return in just 1 minute, to begin with. You can eventually lengthen that to 5 minutes, or even 10 minutes. But eventually she will be able to go to bed on her own, and you won't have to lay down with her. You can snuggle her each night and read a book before bed, or sing a song or tell a story, and that will be your normal bedtime routine that she will look forward to.

    Please let me know if this gives you some ideas and if you try it, I'd like to know how it goes. We're here to support you and encourage you. You know that it's best for your daughter to sleep in her bed, so you'll want to train her to do this. After all, you probably don't let her eat candy all day long, even though she would love to do it. You know it's not good for her - you know she needs fruits and vegetables to stay healthy and happy. She also needs good quality sleep to stay healthy and happy, so I'd encourage you to make the extra effort now to help your daughter to learn to go to sleep in her own bed rather than falling asleep on the couch.

    Warm regards,

    Kate

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