Why won’t my child stay in their bed? And other toddler sleep questions answered
If you thought that sleepless nights as a parent would be a thing of the past after the first year or so…you were probably disappointed when you came to find that at 2 or 3 years old, sleep is still a bit of a battle.
It’s typically around this age that you will be transitioning your little one into their toddler bed – and we know how change can go down like a lead balloon in a child’s world.
However, fret not as, in conjunction with Joey by Koala (and their brand-spanking new Joey Bed) we asked Australia’s leading Mothercraft Nurse Chris Minogue to share her expert advice on toddler sleep.
Chris has over 35 years of experience and has worked with thousands of families around the world – so you know you’re in good hands!
Kiindred: How much day sleep do 2-3 year olds need?
Chris Minogue: Generally, as a three year old, they’re coming towards the end of their day sleep. So, between two and a half and three, they’re really reducing the amount of day sleep because it’s affecting their night.
They’re going into bed, let’s say around the 7-7:30pm mark and they’re getting up between 6 and 7 in the morning. So at night, they’re probably having around 11 hours asleep.
K: So, how does it all work with the balancing of day and night sleep?
Often, it’s actually the day sleep that’s affecting the night, so that is what needs to be reduced or dropped. But it’s not just having a two hour day sleep one day and none the next, it’s a process. It’s those slow transitions that we often use because this age group need things to happen in small stages and consistently. So it still may take another three weeks before you actually drop the sleep.
K: At what age or stage should we move children into their toddler bed?
CM: Usually around two and a half. What’s happening cognitively at this age is they have a greater understanding of what we’re asking and, in a way, what consequences are. It’s really around the two and a half year mark, where you can actually have a conversation with them about staying in their big bed and that they can make that transition across.
K: How can we make the move from cot to toddler bed easier on our little ones?
CM: When you get over that two and a half age/stage, what I tend to start doing is mimicking a bit of that toddler bed behaviour in their cot. I’m letting that child get used to the idea of how you sleep in the bed – you go in the bed, sleep on the pillow, Mummy or Daddy will tuck you in and give you a kiss and a cuddle. If you mimic that for about a month before it happens, usually that transition from cot to toddler bed is so much easier than just ripping them out of a cot and putting them in the bed.
K: Is it advisable to make big changes if there’s a lot of transitions going on in their world such as a new sibling arriving? Or is it best to wait?
CM: It’s always best to wait. The last reason I’d take a child out of the cot is because there was a new baby coming. Instead, we would angle that adjustment across to their toddler bed as being because it’s the right age to do it, not because there’s a small squeaky person coming up behind you that needs to get in your bed.
When you’re making that transition, I would maybe dismantle the cot and put it in another room – the Joey by Koala Kookaburra Cot is super easy to assemble and disassemble, so it makes this process way easier.
If you could just put it in another room, even if it’s only just for a week, and get that child really comfortable in their big bed, then I think they won’t care about who’s in the cot.
K: What about the kids that come creeping in the night? Is that because they’re waking up due to sleeping too much in the day or is there something else going on during the stage?
CM: Generally, when a child’s coming into a room, it’s for some sort of comfort.
When the child is happy as a lamb and wants you to read them a story or wants you to go outside and watch television, that’s related to the amount of sleep they’re having. A child who just wants to creep in the middle of you, and have a quick cuddle and then rolls over and goes back to sleep? That’s comfort, and you’d have to know exactly what’s going on for the individual child as to why.
K: What about temperature? Can being too cold wake them up?
CM: In the change of the seasons, I think we have to be aware of what the children are experiencing so when those nights get cooler you could put little flannelette sheets on the bed, or brushed cotton ones when it gets warmer.
If they are blanket kickers, then there’s a couple of things you can do. You can put much warmer clothing on them, you can use a quilt holder so it doesn’t slip and slide. But some kids really do actually enjoy sleeping above the blankets and not under, so if that’s the case, then you just have to put a bit more warmth around them.
K: What about siblings sharing rooms – can you have your toddler share a room with your baby?
Absolutely you can. I am a big believer in children sharing rooms because I think it builds a relationship between them.
When your child is ready to transition from their cot into their toddler bed, Joey by Koala has you covered. Their Joey Bed Base and Joey Kids Mattress are both designed to last from ages 3-12 and to grow with your child thanks to its adjustable leg height. The mattress is not only safety certified but is designed to protect against night time accidents. If you think your little one needs another layer of protection, the Joey Bed Base is compatible with a removable Joey Guard Rail (sold separately), so you can have complete peace of mind…and hopefully a full night’s sleep!
This is a paid partnership between Kiindred and Joey by Koala.