So, your little one has gotten into the habit of sleeping with a stuffed animal? Don't worry, you're not alone. Many toddlers and preschoolers grow accustomed to sleeping with a stuffed animal or lovey, since it can be a source of comfort. The problem is taking that stuffed animal away when the time comes. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as taking candy from a baby. It may be necessary, though, if your little guy is getting ready to start preschool, where he'll be taking naps and can't bring his lovey.
How to Get Your Little One To Sleep
Cut out caffeine at least three hours before bedtime, or better yet -- eliminate it completely, because caffeine can cause your little guy to have trouble falling asleep, and potentially contribute to health problems. Caffeine is a type of drug that stimulates the nervous system and can cause agitation, nervousness and behavioral problems in your little guy, according to Kids Health and the American Psychological Association.
Talk to your child during the day about how big he's getting and sleeping without his stuffed animal. Tell him, "You're getting to be such a big boy now! I'm so proud of you and I think you're big enough to start sleeping without your lovey." Look him in the eye and explain to him, "You can still play with him during the day and he'll always be here. He just can't sleep with you anymore since you're a big guy now."
Allow your little man to play with his stuffed animal until it's time to get his bedtime routine started. When the time comes, let him put his stuffed animal up himself. Choose a safe place together, where his lovey can spend the night. This way, he knows where to find it in the morning. Tell him, "As soon as you wake up, your lovey will be waiting for you and ready to play!".
Go to your sweetie pie if he wakes during the night crying for his stuffed animal. Tuck him back in and tell him "It's okay sweetheart, your lovey is sleeping. We don't want to wake him. Go back to sleep and you can have him as soon as you wake up in the morning." Keep at it -- and he'll be sleeping without that stuffed animal in no time.
Setting Up a Nightime Routine
Work on setting up a bedtime routine that you can stick to every night -- and make that your priority. Your cutie pie needs at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night, so plan around that.
Start each night with time for your little tornado to start winding down.
Feed him a light snack and a little drink to keep him from waking up and asking for his stuffed animal.
Give your kiddo a warm bath and let him pick out his favorite pajamas
Tuck him into his bed in his own room and spend some time cuddling with him and reading stories. Tell him goodnight, cover him in smooches and turn off the light.