Sleeping · Toddlerhood

The Toddler Bed Experiment

Objective: To (one day) have our toddler sleep in her own bed in her own room.

Method (initial hypothesis): Sleep was good. Maybe one or two brief wakings but it was consistent (barring illness). However, someday soon the cot is going to be too small and kid will need a bigger bed. So we bought a toddler bed and put it in the kid’s unused bedroom in the hope that she would find it interesting and we could move towards getting her to sleep there. But no rush, it’s pretty clear she’s not in any hurry to sleep alone at night. Hardly surprising, I don’t like sleeping alone at night either. We’d just go with the flow, as ever.

Method (actual): Aba got a cold, and the snoring was bad. The kid and I were both being woken, up to 5 times a night. The only one getting any sleep was Foghorn Leghorn so something needed to change. Very abruptly, one Monday evening, I decided to do the bedtime routine in the kid’s bedroom. The idea would be that I would put her to sleep in her bed. Sleep in my bed until she woke and then spend the rest of the night with her on the newly acquired air mattress. This was bought at the same time as the toddler bed because I’m not stupid and had envisaged that any move of this nature would involve me sleeping on the floor for a period of time.


A promising start. The first night the kid slept for over 6 hours in her bed. When she woke she wasn’t distressed but equally wouldn’t settle back in the bed. Instead, instantly passed out when I brought her back to my bed.

From then on the time spent asleep in the toddler bed got shorter and shorter and the level of distress upon waking increased. To the point where by the end of the week she would wake after 2.5 hours, point to the door, sob “this way” and only be content if laid on our mattress between both of us. Apparently sleeping alongside Foghorn Leghorn is preferable to sleeping alone (for what it’s worth kiddo, I concur).

By the start of the next week, the kid would be sobbing “this way” whilst her pyjamas were being put on, just in case my tiny little mind was stupid enough to continue battling with her and the bed.

At this point, we reverted to co-sleeping in the main bedroom. Only now, even the sidecar cot would not be entertained.

Over a month since the start of this experiment and the little one will start the night in her cot but if she wakes in the middle of the night (which she inevitably does), she’ll have a quick feed, dive out of my arms and face first onto our mattress, wave her arms, like she’s making a snow angel to mark her sleep space and promptly pass out.


1. There are no quick or magical solutions. One excellent night does not (necessarily/usually) mean the beginning of  a new normal. Ha! You wish!

2. It is entirely possible to sleep on a sliver of mattress whose width is considerably smaller than the width of your arse.

3. Consider alternative sleeping positions. For instance, sleeping horizontally at the foot of the mattress is not as bad as you think it might be. It is certainly more comfortable than being woken by a toddler sized foot in your face.

4. Nature is cruel. For the time she did spend in her bed, I would wake hourly wondering why the monitor was quiet, and would check it was still working (not that I actually needed a monitor – there are precisely 12 paces between my bed and hers.)

5. I’m not at all upset about the failure of the experiment. Truth be told, I kind of missed the munchkin when she wasn’t in the room. 

6. For now, everyone’s sleep is better together.

7. No teenager still sleeps in their parents’ bed…. right?


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