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10 Calming Activities for a Child or Toddler Who Won’t Sleep Without Mom or Dad

Is your toddler refusing to sleep without mom or dad? Discover the reasons behind this behavior and learn effective calming strategies to help your young children sleep independently, get enough sleep, and improve broken sleep cycles.

If I wasn’t yet tired enough after a long day of chasing around my 2 and 3 year olds around, the mere thought of bedtime felt exhausting.

It seemed like no matter what our routine looked like, it ended with their bedroom door being flung open the moment I left their rooms.

To make matters worse, the power struggle only ended with them in our beds each night.

Let’s be honest, my husband and I needed quiet time and to end our nighttime sleep disruptions.  

It’s not uncommon for toddlers to resist going to bed or to wake up in the middle of the night and refuse to go back to sleep without their mom. While this behavior can be frustrating for parents, it’s important to understand the reasons behind it and to find effective calming strategies to help your child learn to sleep independently.

You may also like: 3 Reasons Why You Failed at Gentle Parenting

For the Toddler Who Wont Sleep Without Mom or Dad              

There are several reasons why your toddler may be refusing to sleep without you. One common reason is separation anxiety, which is a normal developmental stage that many toddlers go through.

They may feel scared or anxious when separated from their primary caregiver, which can make it difficult for them to fall asleep on their own.

Other reasons may include a fear of the dark, nightmares, or simply wanting to be close to their parent for comfort and security. The good news is, understanding the underlying reasons behind your toddler’s behavior can help you find effective solutions to help them sleep independently.

Establish a good bedtime routine

The best way to fix any sleep problem and to help your toddler sleep independently is to establish a consistent bedtime routine.

This routine should include calming activities such as a warm bath, brush teeth, story time, or singing a lullaby. Some kids love a bedtime story, white noise machine or a stuffed animals to cuddle with, while others (especially older children) really need time away from electronic devices or video games before bed.

By following the same routine every night, your toddler will begin to associate these activities with sleep and feel more comfortable falling asleep on their own. It’s also important to stick to a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Be consistent even on weekends, to help regulate your child’s sleep schedule.

With patience and consistency, your toddler can learn to sleep independently and feel more confident and secure in their own bed.

Other products that may help include a rocking chair for your toddler’s room, blackout curtains, or dim lights.

Also Read: 7 Steps to Break Screen Time Addiction in Kids

Gradually decrease your presence at bedtime.

If your toddler is used to falling asleep with you by their side, it can be difficult for them to transition to sleeping independently. One effective strategy is to gradually decrease your presence at bedtime.

Start by sitting next to their bed until they fall asleep. Then move to a chair in the room, and eventually to the doorway. This gradual process can help your child fall asleep as they feel more comfortable and secure. It’s important to be patient and consistent with this process, as it may take several weeks for your toddler to fully adjust to sleeping independently.

Are you also having a hard time sleeping? Read these Tips for Moms Who are Having Trouble Sleeping

Use positive reinforcement to encourage independent sleep.

Positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool in encouraging your toddler to sleep independently.

Consider implementing a reward system, such as a sticker chart or small prize, for nights when your child successfully falls asleep on their own. Praise and encourage your child for their efforts, and make sure to celebrate their successes along the way. This positive reinforcement can help your child feel motivated and confident as they work towards sleeping independently.

Also learn what fills your kid’s emotional cup – so they can sleep well at night.

10 Calming Activities for Toddlers and Kids

Eliminate bedtime tantrums and sleep deprivation with these 10 calming activities to encourage quality sleep.  

  1. Make up a bedtime story where someone in the family is the main character (make sure it is silly!)
  2. Play 5 Rounds of “Would you Rather” (would you rather be a fish or a bird?)
  3. Play I spy in bed. This is a fun way to get your kid comfortable in their room
  4. Listen to calming music and close your eyes
  5. Do some relaxing yoga that promotes a good night’s sleep
  6. Ask these 5 questions about their day
  7. Pray or sing a song together
  8. Spend time coloring – print these Aesthetic Coloring Pages
  9. Swap roles and pretend to be each other (think Parent Trap)
  10. Enforce a ‘No talking only singing’ rule.

Related: Calm Down Cards That Teach Kids Self Regulation (click here for free download)

Seek professional help if necessary.

If your toddler’s sleep issues persist despite your best efforts, it may be time to seek professional help. A pediatrician or child sleep specialist can help identify any underlying medical or behavioral issues. This may be contributing to your child’s sleep difficulties or what kids worry about. They can also provide personalized strategies and support to help your child learn to sleep independently. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you feel like you’ve tried everything and your child’s sleep is still a struggle. Big changes such as a new baby at home or new school can also cause sleep regression.

Final Thoughts on a Toddler Who Won’t Sleep Without Mom

Parents, your circadian rhythm is important too. If your toddler won’t sleep without mom (or dad), you aren’t getting much sleep.

When you develop a consistent routine and incorporate these calming activities, you will finally get the sleep you need to have an amazing day!

Make sure you read about a failproof methods for sleep training here.

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