Want to know the biggest mistake I notice parents make it when it comes to toddler sleep?
They transition to milestones too early!
And I get it–many parents are excited to move away from the “baby” stage.
But oftentimes transitioning to more mature sleep patterns or habits can backfire BIG TIME.
So today, I’m sharing 3 things you might be doing too early when it comes to toddler sleep training.
#1 The Crib to Toddler Bed Transition
The crib to toddler bed transition is something I tell parents to put off for as long as possible.
Oftentimes, parents tell me they want to move their toddler to a bed because they need the crib for a new baby.
Or that their toddler started climbing out of the crib so they need to move him to a bed for safety reasons.
But I’m here to tell you that the longer you wait to move your little one to a bed, the better.
Why? Because most toddlers have zero impulse control, which makes it nearly impossible for them to stay in a bed when they’d rather explore their rooms or hang out with their parents.
Not being confined to those four crib walls is a recipe for disaster!
What can you do instead?
If you need a crib for a new baby and don’t want to fork over the cash, considering borrowing one from a friend or scouring Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, or yard sales for a good deal.
And if your toddler is a climber, use a sleep sack, which will keep him from getting his leg over the railing.
BONUS TIP: If your toddler can unzip his sleep sack, put it on backwards!
Related: A Sleep Consultant’s Top 8 Sleep Tools
#2: Dropping the Second Nap
It’s tempting to drop that second nap, isn’t it? You feel trapped by the nap routine and being stuck at home isn’t fun.
But hold on to that nap for as long as possible, because toddlers–especially young toddlers–need plenty of day sleep to make it through the evening and get a good night’s rest.
You read that right: if your toddler doesn’t get an adequate amount of day sleep, they’ll probably be overtired by bedtime and have a harder time falling (and staying!) asleep at night.
So how do you know when it’s finally time to drop the second nap?
First, your child should be at least 12-18 months old (preferably closer to 18 months).
If they fight or downright refuse their second nap for two weeks but take their morning nap with no problem, or if they consistently have a difficult time falling asleep at night, it might be time to transition to a one-nap schedule.
I suggest holding off as long as possible. A good way to do this is to push out the morning nap slowly over a number of days–maybe 15 mins every 3 days until your child is closer to the midday nap and a second nap will not be needed.
As you spend some time pushing out the first nap, the second one can become more of rest time until it is eliminated all together.
#3 Introducing a Later Bedtime
I can’t tell you how many times a parent has told me something like this: “My toddler wakes up so early, so we pushed her bedtime back and now sleep is a mess!”
A later bedtime very rarely means your child will sleep later in the morning. In fact, it often results in an overtired toddler who not only wakes up early, but also has frequent night wakings and tantrum filled days.
And get this: as your toddler begins to drop naps, you’ll probably have to put them to bed even earlier.
So remember: Any wake-up after 6 a.m. is considered appropriate for a toddler. The best way to ensure they’ll sleep later is to leave them alone in their crib until 7 a.m. (or as long as possible).
To Sum It Up
While it might be tempting to rush through the “baby” stage, there are three transitions you should put off for as long as possible:
1. The crib to toddler bed transition
2. Dropping the 2nd nap
3. Introducing a later bedtime
And if you find yourself needing help with your toddler’s sleep? Reach out! I offer a variety of sleep packages to help your family get the sleep it needs!