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What to do when your toddler sleeps on the floor

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Struggling with sleep habits

You've transitioned your kiddo to a toddler bed, but now she wants to sleep on the floor. Should you embark on a struggle to get her sleeping in her bed or let sleeping dogs lie? From four reasons your child may have developed these sleep habits to how to get her back into her toddler bed, find out what to do when your toddler sleeps on the floor.

Struggling with sleep habits

Why toddlers sleep on the floor

Before you start panicking about the fact that your little one has ditched the toddler bed in order to sleep on the floor, try and pinpoint the reason for the change in sleep surfaces. Experts suggest that your toddler may head to the floor to catch some shut-eye because of:

Independence: "Toddlers are looking for any opportunity to be the decision-maker and do what they thought of themselves," explains Deborah Gilboa, M.D.,

Security: For some youngsters, Kevin C. Smith, Ph.D., CBSM, Pediatric Sleep Psychologist, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri, says that the "security of sleeping under something like a desk, or in a confined space like a closet" is the reason a toddler may move her sleep quarters to the floor.

Fear: Dr. Gilboa advises that "sometimes toddlers have a bad dream and get a little gun-shy about sleeping in their bed. They remember being afraid but don't remember why and occasionally associate it with the bed itself."

Daycare: Toddlers can be creatures of habit, so for some heading to the floor for slumber, it may be what she knows. "Some toddlers sleep on mats at daycare and want to replicate this at home," reveals Dr. Smith.

Get tips on parenting feisty toddlers with development, behavior and parenting tips >>

Is it okay for toddlers to sleep on the floor?

Regardless of the reason she's ditched her toddler bed, Dr. Smith reassures you that there's nothing to worry about. "If your child is sleeping on the floor for one of these reasons [above], check to see if he seems rested after a night's sleep, and does not complain of soreness or stiffness. If so, sleeping on the floor is not considered to be harmful and most kids outgrow this behavior."

How to get kids back into the toddler bed

To make your youngster more willing to transition back into bed, "create some happy emotions to associate with the bed during the day like a stuffed animal party and then reassure the child at bedtime with the certainty that the bed is a nice place to be," suggests Dr. Gilboa. Just be sure to refrain from pushing the issue.

Get tips on helping kids overcome their fears and phobias >>

While you know what to do when your toddler sleeps on the floor, Dr. Smith warns against a red flag with these sleep habits. "Children that sleep on the floor so they can prop themselves up against the wall may do so because it makes breathing easier at night. If this is the case, discuss this with your child's physician." Otherwise, try and pinpoint the reason your toddler wants to drift off to dreamland on the floor and know that eventually, she'll rediscover the love of her toddler bed.

Cozy up to more tips on toddler sleep

How to get baby to sleep through the night
Sleep and toddlers: How to create soothing bedtime routines
Bedtime for toddlers: 10 Steps to sleep without tears

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