How to put your toddler's night visits to rest

Kinderling News & Features

Is your little one dropping by nightly? Popping up by your bed and scaring the bejesus out of you? Night visits from toddlers might be cute for the first millisecond, but they quickly become tiresome for already sleep-deprived parents. 

Kinderling listener Catherine recently asked our resident expert Chris Minogue how to deal with her nearly three-year-old son visiting her three times a night. 

According to Chris, it's "a very common problem and persistence does usually fix this problem." Here's her tips on how to deal with a late-night space invader.

1. Consider dropping the day sleep

Got a wandering child? According to Chris, it could be because they're not tired enough. If the child's old enough like Catherine's, she says it could be time to ditch that day sleep. 

“At three, I think it’s reasonable that we can decrease, slowly wean it down and then get rid of his day sleep,” Chris advises. 

2. Set expectations before bedtime 

Before your child lays down, Chris suggests laying out the plan for the night. “Explain to him before he goes to bed that you’re not expecting him to get out of bed,” Chris suggests. Make this a consistent part of your night routine. 

Watch Chris's Helpline live chat: 

3. Take them back to bed – and don’t engage with chatter

If they do come by for a catch-up, walk them back to bed and don't chat - unless it's absolutely necessary.

“Try not to engage in a conversation," warns Chris. "He’s going to get sick of you not engaging and then he’ll sleep longer and longer."

4. Consider star charts to reward sleep-throughs

Chris says that star charts and other such rewards can help children stay in bed, but it does depend on their ages. If they’re close to being four, Chris thinks it could work, but of course, be prepared to follow through with the goods if they succeed.

Another hot tip? “Try not to put too many things on the star chart,” Chris advises.  Instead, just focus on sleeping-through as the goal. Hopefully, sleep and sanity follows not long after. 

Check out Chris' book Bringing Baby Home on the Pan McMillan website