Last updated on May 26th, 2024

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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Would you like to have me answer your toddler sleep problem in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!

If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s toddler sleep problem video:
Hi, Kim West, The Sleep Lady and today, I’m going to answer Kat’s question from Australia. Here’s what she wrote in:
“My 2-year old boy is finally sleeping through the night and having a 1 or 2-hour nap in the afternoon, something I never thought I would see happen. However, in the last few days, he has been waking in the night climbing out of his cot (or crib) with the sides still up. He leaves the room  he shares with his sister and comes in to our room in the middle of the night. Last night it happened at 1:30, 2:40, 4:15 and again at 5a.m. Each time I had to get out of bed, walk him back to his room, put him back in his cot and sing him to sleep.” (Let’s remember to go back to that sing him to sleep.) “One of those times he came in carrying all three of his favourite softies and said he was scared. I reassured him even though I have to admit, I’m not the most patient parent when I’m woken in the middle of the night. He does go back to sleep relatively easy most of the time but now that he’s realized that he can climb out of his cot and come in to our room, something that’s really worrisome all by itself, I’m concern that this will be the end of our peaceful nights. I have only just gotten my all night sleep back after five years. I have a nearly 6-year old daughter too who my boy shares a room with and I’m recovering from postpartum depression. So, I’m desperate not to lose it again. To complicate things further, we’re also about to move to the United States in three months and we were thinking of transitioning him in to a bed as we will not have a cot anymore. Given that his climbing out already, what should I do? He’ll be two and a half by the time we arrive in the U.S. which you said was the earliest age to think about transitioning him from cot to bed. Any advice, greatly received. Kat”
Okay, Kat, you have a lot going on here. As you may know crib tents have been recalled in the United States and the only other company that I’ve seen selling a crib tent which is like a mesh tent on top of the crib is sold from Australia. So that may be an option IF you feel safe and comfortable with that especially if you feel your child is too young to understand “stay in your bed all night long”.   You can still stay by his crib and reassure him but at least you will be able to prevent him from getting out and endangering himself in his room or going to other parts of the house. The decision is completely up to you.
If you decide you want to transition him to a bed because you are moving in a couple of months then be prepared to return him to his bed frequently or consider gating his door.
I want you to check in with yourself and figure out if you’ve been singing him to sleep at bedtime so that he is looking for you to do that again in the middle of the night. If that’s the case, then I would tell him,  “1 minute of singing and that’s it, sweetie. No more singing.” And if he starts  fussing at bedtime, then that’s  your sign that you were singing too much. Reassure him from your chair position whether it’s by the bed or in the hall on the other side of the gate. And then in the middle of the night when he comes to the gate – you would say, “It’s not time to wake up, sweetie. Get back in your bed and I’ll come and tuck you in but you have to get back into your bed yourself.” You don’t want to open the gate or climb over the gate until he gets back in the bed himself, or you could perpetuate the sleep problem.
You might also want to try a wake-up light. You can get an appliance timer attached to a lamp or find a wake-up toddler clock. It is possible for him to understand this concept. You just have to be super repetitive and every time he wakes up during the night say, “You need to stay in your bed until the  wake-up light comes on.” Each time he wakes up and comes to the gate, have him get back into his bed himself before you go in and give him one quick tuck in.
Be careful, if he starts to ask for more singing,  more tuck ins,  more water in his cup and on and on.  You want to be reassuring while still sticking with your boundaries for example: “I hear you, honey but we’re all done with singing or tuck ins. You need to lie in your bed and mommy will sit here until you’re asleep.” Continue to move your chair every three days as I have outlined in my book.
And of course, plan on some regressions when you move to the States– huge time difference and a big life change. If you don’t regress too far or stay regressed too long, you will be able to get back on track and get that great sleep that you’ve been enjoying until recently. It’s just around the corner. Good luck!
Here are two other articles you might find helpful:
Two Year Old Sleep Tips
Tips for Routines Busters (like moving, holidays, illness)
Sweet dreams,
The Sleep Lady
Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you can relate to Kate, please share what worked for you.Please feel free to click the “reply” link under this article and leave them a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!