TOOLS

Toddler 2-5 Years

The following contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission when you click the links provided and make purchases. We try our best to suggest quality products in an effort to help you make the best decision for you and your family. Obviously, these tools do not have to be purchased to ensure a good night's sleep, however, they are merely suggestions that will get you thinking in the right direction and certainly may make the process easier. They can be used to help facilitate the implementation process as well as a gradual process.  

 

  • LOVEY: Make sure there is a lovey in the bed with the child. A lovey can be something that is already known to the child and in use for bedtime, a new one that the child assists in picking out, or use an old one in addition to a new one so there are two (or 3). Ideally, use a stuffed animal that the child is already attached to. If one is not present, it may help to get something specific that your child picks out and loves so it can be used as leverage if what is expected (staying in bed) does not happen. If buying a new one, involve your child in the process by taking your child to the store to pick one out. Or go through the house and find potential lovies that your child likes. Maybe it is a stuffed animal, a favorite toy, or even a favorite blanket. Look for something that is important, that the child is interested in, and something that the parent can say, ‘this will help keep you company at night as Mommy does’. Finally make sure that the objects DO NOT make any noise, music or have lights. The goal is to ensure that the lovey provides comfort but doesn't become a distraction that keeps them from sleeping.  

    • These lovies can be used as leverage if the child is not sleeping, calling out to you or trying to come out of the room or bed. 

      • In order to do that, tell your child ‘‘the lovies” (stuffed animals/toys) will have to come out of the room and be with me if you aren’t relaxing your body and going to sleep’. Remind him/her about receiving the stickers (or TV time) as well if he/she stays in the room and bed. 

    • If it comes to the point where the child is no longer staying in the room/bed and having a difficult time sleeping, go into the room and without emotion remove one of the lovies. If there continues to be a disruption in the bedtime process (not relaxing and moving towards sleep), remove the other. If you have ‘threatened’ to remove the lovey, follow through. This process can backfire if the parents are not following through with the threat to remove the lovies.  

    • Examples include: 

  • SHEETS: Take your child to the store to pick out new bed sheets or keep the ones that are in use already. The idea behind getting new/different sheets is to incentivize your child to do as they should. If that tactic will work, then get new ones (it's worth the investment). But if it's not something that is of value for your child, don't spend the extra money. If you decide to get new sheets, you can tell your child that they will be picking out their own special sheets because it is time to start sleeping in their own bed. Don't start using the sheets, however, until the rules of the room and bed are explained and understood by the child.

  • SOUND MACHINE: The sound machine listed below, although expensive, is preferred because the quality of the sound can be controlled. It’s useful for the gradual phase as well as once the implementation process is completed. A simple box fan or an app on your phone can be used in its place as well. The sound machine will help drown out extraneous noises from cars, dogs, siblings, etc. Keep the sound machine close to the bed at medium ‘volume’/speed for now. Eventually, though, eliminate the sound machine (after a few months of the child sleeping through the night). The idea is that once the child is ‘trained’, small noises, even if they wake your child, will not interfere with them soothing themselves back to sleep. It can be used occasionally and intermittently once it's eliminated for many scenarios including if there are guests at the home while the child is sleeping, there is a thunderstorm, the TV is on for the parents, or to use during travel. The sound machine is not something that should be used ‘forever’ because it becomes a crutch, eventually, that the child comes to depend on and cannot sleep without. Therefore, use it at the beginning of establishing good sleep habits but ultimately eliminate it by turning the sound down every few nights until it's completely off. 

  • CRIB TEETHING GUARD: This helps eliminate your child from chewing on the wooden crib rail as they are pulling to stand especially when teething. 

  • GIRL/BOY SLEEP BOOK: These are great books about feeling independent and sleeping in their own bed. This can be one of the books that the parents always pick at night before and during implementation. Of course, it is for little kids but it goes over all the things that can go wrong at night and talks about empowering the child to do things on their own to fix it. 

  • TIMERS AND CLOCKS: 

    • SAND TIMER: This is to use during cuddle time before naps and bedtime so the child knows how long the caregiver(s) plan on staying and cuddling before leaving the room. Inform the child that they can flip the timer to start it but when all the sand is gone, ‘it’s time to rest and relax and go to sleep’. There are several below including a 10 and 20-minute timer. For bedtime, the 10-minute timer can be flipped twice for cuddle time. If a longer cuddling process is required, use the 20-minute timer. It can be split up 10 minutes for Mom and 10 minutes for Dad to cuddle. If only one parent is doing a bedtime routine, it can 10 or 20 minutes. For naps, stick to only 10 minutes of cuddle time. Whatever amount of time is decided, remember to stay consistent for each sleep time so the child does not get confused. 

      • Also remind your child that once the sand is done, there is no more flipping the timer, even if you’re asked, try not to give in. Warn your child that it will only be flipped once or twice (depending on how long you decide it will be) and that is it. Stick to what you say and if there is continued persistence, say, ‘I know you want it to go longer, I do too, but the sand is all done’. If you decide to cuddle for 20 minutes for bedtime and 10 minutes for a nap, then it may be best to get a 20-minute timer to use at bedtime and a 10 minute one for the nap so your child doesn't realize that it can be flipped over and over to get more time. Resist the urge to flip it over and over to get more time. Decide, if flipping the timer would be something that would be enjoyable for the child and something that can easily be put away once cuddle time is over and ‘time is up’ or is it something that is going to become a ‘toy’. You don't want it to become a ‘toy’ or distraction. 

      • There are also timers of varying times that can be used for multiple uses such as brushing, eating, getting dressed, etc. A kitchen timer, timer on your phone, or the Time Timer, below, can be used in place of the sand timer as well. If using your phone be mindful of the blue light and turn it on ‘night mode’ if using it at bedtime.  

    • TIME TIMER: This visual timer is used to solve time perception problems at all ages and is ideal for kids who have difficulty with transitions. It beeps when the time is up and can be used during mealtime, bathtime, bedtime routine, or any other transition or timed event that is needed during the day. 

    • ALARM CLOCK: This is an alarm clock that turns green when it's time to get up for the day. Set the timer for whatever time the child needs to get up for the day. If your child gets up before then, say, ‘is the nightlight green, if not, you need to go back and lay down, you don't have to sleep if you don't want to but you can't call out to us, come in our room or disturb us. You can get up when the night light is green.’ Or you can use the Sun/Moon clock and tell your child they ‘can get up when the sun comes up’. If you use that clock, ask, ‘has the sun come up’? When your child says no, say, ‘it is time to go back to bed until the ‘sun’ is up’’. When this tool is used, ensure that the rewards are earned for staying in bed until the night light turns green and consequences given if your child doesn't stay in bed until the night light turns green.

    • TIMER: These timers can be set: 

1. Once the child wakes so the next sleep interval can be determined. If cues are noticed earlier, the timer can help determine what those intervals are and similarly see how long your child was able to stay awake (3 hrs, 6hrs, 7.5 hrs, etc).

2. Each time a caregiver comes out of the room, during the implementation phase, so that it can be known how long you must wait before going back in the room to soothe (1, 3, 5, 7, etc minutes). 

3. Once the child falls asleep so it can be known how long the nap length was. 

  • NIGHT LIGHT: It is important to have a nightlight in the room so your child can see where they are as they are falling asleep as well as if/when they wake in the middle of the night. The night lights listed below have different themes. Your child may like them and it is something you could say they will get for sleeping in their room all night. A regular night light is fine as well. Both the ‘OK to Wake Clock’ and ‘Teach Me Time Alarm Clock’ have night lights as well and may be enough. The goal is for the room to be bright enough so your child can see where they are when waking in the middle of the night, but not so bright that it hinders them from falling asleep. The goal is to avoid blue light nightlights. 

  • BLACKOUT CURTAINS: Make sure to use them in the room for naps AND bedtime. The room should be pitch black, even during the day for a nap, with the exception of a night light. The goal is that the child should be able to ‘see’ where they are when going to sleep as well as upon waking. Once the child is sleeping through the night for a period of 1-2 months, allow some light to enter the room, but not a lot. Below is a link for blackout film which can be used temporarily in your child’s room to block out any light that comes in on the sides of current curtains and darken it more so. Or simply use black garbage bags to block out the light. Turn off any other lights especially lights from electronic devices and keep them off during cuddling time and bedtime routine with the exception of a lamp that can be on during book time. If your child is used to sleeping in their room for naps and it's not too bright, getting new curtains may not be necessary. 

  • CHILD SAFETY DOOR LATCH: Consider installing a child safety latch on your child’s bedroom door or yours so that you are alerted to when they are attempting to come into your room in the middle of the night

    • Door Monkey

    • If you install a safety device on your child’s door, look into getting a video monitor. (see below)

  • VIDEO MONITOR: It is good to have a monitor to use during the implementation process to visualize if something is wrong (the covers are off, loveys have fallen out, your child is out of bed, etc.) The goal is to ensure safety and that can be done best if you can see your child but they can't see you. If a new monitor is needed, look for the feature of two-way audio communication. This feature is useful when a ‘command’ such as, ‘it’s time to go to sleep, get back in your bed’, can be given without going into the room and inadvertently getting into a conversation with the child about how many bobos they have. If it will be frightening for your child to hear you talk through the monitor, then don't get that option or don't use that option until they are older to understand it. Also, borrowing one from a friend or getting one from a local consignment shop are options as well. It is important to have the option of a monitor during the implementation weekend as well as afterward so the child knows that you can see them, hear them and help keep them safe. Discuss with and show the child how the monitor works before using it. 

  • PARENTING WITH LOVE AND LOGIC - Raise happy and well-behaved kids with positive, loving tools. The Love and Logic approach to parenting is built around the science of caring and respectful relationships. An authentic, loving connection between parents and their children forms the foundation of good behavior and healthy decision-making. 

  • STAR REWARD CHART/CALENDAR: Below is a star chart that is ready for purchase. Using marker and paper/poster board to make one is fine as well. The goal is to have a visual for your child to see and understand the idea of rewards and consequences. 

    • Determine what your child will get the star for. It can be all of the things listed below or some of the things. Ideally, all of the things listed below should be done to get a star. In the morning or even right before bed, make a big deal about whether a star was earned or not, for the behavior the day (and night) before. Or one star for each thing can be given so that there is more incentive each day. 

    • At the end of the week, count up the stars (5 out of 7 for the week is good- if only getting one/day), and take your child to the dollar store, for example, to pick out a prize. Or something special can be done at home (extra TV time, phone/iPad time, candy, sugary yogurt, extra cuddle time at night, movie night, a special date with mom or dad, small toys, stickers, etc). Tailor this to your child and be consistent. It will keep the interest in doing what needs to be done in order to get the ‘rewards’. 

    • At the end of the month, a bigger prize can be reward such as going to a toy store, going out for ice cream, or even more TV time (figure out what the best incentive will be). Treats that are not part of the regular diet can be used for the weekly or monthly rewards, such as juice, chocolate milk, or GoGurt, for example, if the expectation of staying in bed all night is reached. 

      • Once your child is on the right track and meeting the expectations, eliminate the sugary rewards as well as the other rewards.   

    • Pick out stickers that they will enjoy and look forward to receiving daily. Or regular star ones from the dollar store are fine as well. Find something that your child loves that can be the ‘reward’. Even if stickers aren't of interest for your child, mark a star on the reward chart to determine how many are earned. 

    • A sticker should be earned for doing some or all of the things below. When a month or two has passed of doing the chart, eliminate the prizes.

      • Not making a fuss when the caregiver leaves the room at nap and bedtime. 

      • Letting caregiver leave without multiple requests for water, more books, etc.

      • Lets the caregiver leave when the sand timer is complete. 

      • Wakes at the appropriate time (when the night light turns green), doesn't come out of the room before then.

      • Doesn't bother you (or sibling(s)) if wakes early.

      • Doesn't call out to the caregiver before it is time to wake up or in the middle of the night.

        • If your child wakes too early, at 530am, for example, offer a sticker if they are able to stay in bed until 545 without calling out to you (or coming in your room). Then offer two stickers if there aren't any calls to you until 6 am. And 3 stickers if the child is able to make it until 615 without calling out and 4 stickers if no calls until the alarm turns green (at 630am).  Adjust this process for your particular wake time. This can be done if the early wake-ups start occurring as early as 2 or 3 am as well so the child can be rewarded for staying in bed until that time. Over a period of weeks, start adjusting the clock so the night light turns green at later and later times, 230am, then 3 am, etc. until a more reasonable wake-up time is reached. 

        • Reward Chart 

  • ROUTINE CHART: Create a checklist for yourself and your child so that everything that needs to be done before bedtime, is done. Examples include brushing teeth, drinking water, getting all pee-pee and poo-poo out, hugs and kisses, checking boo-boos, etc. 

    • This checklist is for anything that your child would say is still needed when the caregiver is ready to leave the room. Make a picture diagramed chart of these things so your child will be excited to check it off and they (and you) can get to bed knowing that all things were checked off. When leaving your child for the night and he/she says they are thirsty or forgot to pee, you can say, ‘you’re good, sweetheart, you already checked that off the list’ or ‘we took care of that already’. Continue to reassure the child that all their needs have been met. Below is a link to a chart that is ready to purchase, or use craft paper to make your own.  

  • BOOSTER: The goal here is to have your child sit and focus on his/her meal when it is time to do so. If they are capable of sitting in a regular chair without getting up during mealtimes, ignore this section. But if that is or becomes an issue, consider putting your child in a booster seat (or high chair) or at least threaten to buckle them in one if they aren’t sitting still to eat meals and snacks. Eating may become more of an issue during the implementation weekend. Remind your child that sitting with you at the table is a privilege. Say, “I have to trust that you are going to make a safe choice.  A safe choice means staying in your chair during mealtime. If you chose to get up from your chair, I will have to buckle you in so that I know you are safe.” Again, if you use this threat, follow through with it.    

  • CUPS: The goal is for your child to ingest 16-20 oz of milk during the day. It can be offered in an open cup or sippy cups listed below. Use one type of cup for water and the other for milk. Eliminate juice from the diet and use it only for special occasions.  

  • PLATES: Make sure to incorporate fruits, veggies, and protein into all meals, if possible. Use a portioned out plate to help with the visual for your child. ​

  • PLACEMAT: The Superpower Foods Placemat is an effective tool that helps the pickiest eaters learn how to appreciate new food in a fun and imaginative way.

  • INSTANT POT: Use this cooker to make fast and nutritious meals that can be ready so less time has to be spent on dinner and bedtime can be on time.