The Best Thing I Ever Did for My Daughter’s Sleep
My four-year-old daughter has always needed help to fall asleep. Throughout her life, I’ve nursed her to sleep, rubbed her back, cuddled with her, and even read her guided meditations as she drifted off. I don’t mind; I know she won’t need our help forever, and I’m happy to provide the comfort and connection she craves.
What’s more daunting than getting her to fall asleep at bedtime, however, is her tendency to wake up in the middle of the night. As a baby, she often woke every hour to be nursed back to sleep, and as a toddler, my husband and I often found ourselves on the floor of her bedroom rubbing her back multiple times throughout the night.
She followed a typical progression when it came to her sleep surface: from bassinet to crib to toddler bed. At three years old, she was still in her toddler bed, and we were still taking nightly trips to her room to comfort her back to sleep. She was in a convertible crib-to-toddler bed, so when I found out I was pregnant with twins, we knew we needed to convert her bed back to a crib to use for one of the babies.
That’s when we discovered an unexpected solution to her nighttime sleep troubles.
A Twin-Size Bed Was a Miracle Worker
A few months shy of three and a half years old, we took our daughter shopping for her very own big girl twin-size bed. I didn’t know if she was ready. I was worried she would fall out of bed or that it would make her already fractured sleep even worse. Without much of a choice, we set up her kid’s couch as a landing pad and hoped and prayed for the best.
The first night she slept in her new bed, I was ready for a long night, so much so that I camped out on her floor. After lying there for a couple of hours with no wake-ups though, I made my way back to my bed.
Then, something amazing happened: I woke up at six a.m.! Like any parent whose child sleeps through the night for the first time in a long time, I immediately went to her room to make sure she was okay. And there she was, sleeping soundly. She looked so tiny and so peaceful in her big girl bed.
As happy as we were, my husband and I were kicking ourselves a little bit. Apparently, all she needed was a cozier, comfier bed to get a better night’s sleep. I think there were a few other things we did to ease the transition that helped her sleep well, too. First and foremost, we included her in the process. For a few weeks before buying the new bed, I talked to her about the change so she would be prepared. I gave her some headboard options to choose from, and she picked out her own sheets and comforter. We also took her to the furniture store so she could try out mattresses and choose the one she liked.
The first night, we left her toddler bed in her room as well so she could sleep there instead if it became obvious that sleep wasn’t going to happen in her new bed.
For so long, I was hesitant to move her to a different bed because I was afraid it would only make things worse. It’s normal to fear the unknown; most of us do it. I’m so thankful the imminent arrival of our twins encouraged us to move her to a new bed sooner than we would have otherwise.
If you’re struggling with a toddler who doesn’t sleep well, I encourage you to try a change. Maybe start with a new cozy blanket and a comfy pillow, or take the plunge to a twin or even full-size bed. You won’t know if your kid will sleep better in a bigger bed, though, if you don’t try. Hopefully, you’ll be just like us and everyone in your family will start getting some more shut-eye.
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