Can the Sleep Fairy Help Your Toddler Sleep Through the Night?
My son goes through spurts when he tries to get into bed with me at night. It isn’t usually a big deal because sometimes I don’t even notice he’s crawled into bed with me until I wake up in the morning and find him there, but other nights he’ll crawl into bed and try to start talking to me about Curious George’s latest hi-jinks or whatever else is on his mind, and that doesn’t make for a very good night’s sleep.
A friend told me about “The Sleep Fairy,” which is a method she used with her children and swore up and down that I would have my son sleeping in his own bed within a couple of nights and I would soon enjoy a full night’s sleep without interruption.
The Sleep Fairy Method
1. Tell the kids a whimsical story about a sleep fairy who goes around putting little trinkets under the pillows of little children who don’t get out of bed at night. Apparently there is at least one children’s book on this topic so if you don’t feel up to creating the story on your own you can seek out the help of a book that already has the story written out for you.
2. Buy up a bunch of little trinkets and treats. For my son I bought up some plastic frogs, lizards and bugs. For my daughter, I bought some stickers and scented lip balms. I hid all these items in the closet so they wouldn’t see them.
3. If the kids stay in bed all night, not calling out to you or sneaking out to see what’s going on (I told my older daughter that going to the bathroom was permitted, of course), you sneak a surprise under their pillows before you go to bed. They wake up to the surprise and a lot of praise from you that they stayed in bed all night.
4. The next night, repeat the whole process over again.
It Really Does Work
I tried it, and on the first night my daughter got a surprise because she stayed in bed but my son had wound up in my bed so he didn’t have one under his pillow. He was really upset about it and I actually felt a little guilty about the whole situation, but then the next night he slept in his own bed followed by several more nights of the same.
Sleep Fairy Concerns
It was great to have the bed to myself at night, but after about a week of this method I started to have some concerns about the whole process:
- Should I have to bribe my kids to get them to sleep through the night?
- What happens if they get out of bed after I’ve already placed the surprise under their pillow and gone to bed myself?
- My son’s older sister, who is 5 and not quite as accepting of whimsy as her younger brother, started asking if I was really the Sleep Fairy.
All in all, it seemed like a somewhat deceitful, potentially expensive method to make sure that the kids stayed out of my bed at night. I decided it was time for The Sleep Fairy to flutter off to someone else’s house. I sat my kids down and told them that The Sleep Fairy was moving on to help other kids sleep through the night. Both my kids were sad to hear that she had gone (and taken her surprises with her) but they soon forgot all about her.
Once in a while my kids will still get into bed with me, but I’ve since set some ground rules. If they want to crawl into bed with me they need to do it quietly and to not wake me up. There is also no stealing blankets or pillows, and for goodness sake, no kicking. This works well, and now the times when they try to get into bed with me at night are few and far between. I actually like waking up to find one (or both) of them snuggled up next to me every now and then. I figure it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be too big for that, so I’m trying to enjoy it now while I can.