Secrets of Gentle Toddler Sleep
Gentle sleep is one of the most frustrating aspects of many gentle parents. We need to put our kids to sleep and be able to use that time for ourselves.
But when toddlers get out of bed every few minutes, we often find ourselves worked up and screaming. I've been there. And while it is frustrating, it is very important to remember they will grow out of the fear of bedtime.
Why Toddlers Hate Bedtime
Through the eons of history, a child being alone in the dark was a dangerous thing, and their instincts remember.
According to Anxious Toddlers, two of the top fears of 2 to 4-year-olds are fear of the dark and fear of sleeping alone. So two of those major fears that most children experience make up bedtime, and their instincts are telling them to run--so they do.
When you focus on making your kids feel secure you will help them easily fall asleep.
Personally, I lie with my children until they fall asleep. I don’t care what other experts say to do. It’s my instinct to stay with them, and it works for my children because they feel secure.
Many parents don’t or can’t. And that’s fine. You won’t ruin your child by making them stay in the bed alone. Choose the best habit for your family.
One habit that has always helped me is framing as much of my discipline through the lens of safety as possible. For example, in parking lots, I have always told them to stay close because the drivers can't see kids.
On the occasional night that I want my kids to lay in bed while I finish getting ready, I tell them that they are safe in bed because I only let them do safe things and go to safe places. This really seems to help my 6 and 4-year-old. My 3 and 1-year-old are not impressed.
Creative Ways to Make Kids Feel Secure
I have seen many creative ways of making children feel secure in bed without a TV to distract them.
Of course, there is the classic teddy bear friend.
Monster-Away spray is a cute thing I have seen parents do. Parents make a label that says “Monster Away” and slap it on an air freshener can, or simply a spray bottle with water then spray the room each night while telling the child it makes monsters run away.
I have had great success in giving my littles some quiet toys and telling them that they don’t have to sleep. They just have to lie in bed and play quietly with their toys.
I am not ashamed to say that some nights I work while I play an audio story or YouTube video for my kids while they fall asleep.
Some of our favorites include:
StoryNory is hands down my favorite site for audio stories. You can stream them, read the transcripts, and download them all for free.
Elaine Martin is an Australian hypnotherapist (I believe) who writes and records her own hypnosis stories aimed at helping kids sleep and more! I absolutely love her stories and have been to known to listen to them even after my kids fall asleep.
Storyline Online: The Screen Actor’s Guild encourages its members to record a reading of their favorite book for both their website and YouTube.
Story Time with Miss Becky: Miss Becky reads stories aloud, and you get to see the pictures.
Storytime Anytime: This channel uploads a new audiobook every day so there is always fresh content.
New Horizons Holistic: This channel also writes sleep stories and guided meditations for kids.
I hope these secrets are of some help to you and your family.