How to Get Your Kids to Sleep Without Stuffed Animals

By Kay Ireland
Stop nighttime meltdowns by making teddy optional.
Stop nighttime meltdowns by making teddy optional.

If your child is attached to sleeping with a sea of stuffed animals -- or even just one well-loved bear -- he likely enjoys the security and comfort of these items. Of course, when bedtime is delayed because you have to find a beloved bunny or arrange your child's stuffed animals just so, the constant need for the security items can become inconvenient. Help wean your child from his stuffed animal dependency by taking a few simple steps that show him he can sleep sans the stuffed animal army.

Wait for the right time to limit the number of stuffed animals that your little one sleeps with each night. If you try and wean her from her favorite bear during a time of transition, like a move or a new baby, you're going to be met with more opposition because your child likely looks at that toy as a symbol of stability. Wait until your little one is calm and your family lifestyle is stable before you begin the process.

Limit the number of stuffed animals available to take to bed. If your child usually has three that she loves, ask her to choose one instead. This gradual limitation can help create a slow but steady detachment to the comfort items, according to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. This preps her for the gradual removal of stuffed animals altogether.

Play with her stuffed animal during the day. If your child only uses stuffed animals to sleep, it may be helpful for her to see them as daytime toys so they're less of a nighttime crutch. Have a teddy bear picnic, include stuffed animals in a tea party and keep her stuffed animals out during the day so she understands that they are toys -- just like her other playthings.

Bring your child to the store and choose a "mature" substitute, if she's willing to make the trade, suggests the tome "The Mom Book: Insider Tips to Ensure Your Child Thrives in Elementary and Middle School." For instance, perhaps she really wants a pricey art set or a new dollhouse. Explain that in order to purchase the "big girl" toy, she must first agree to stop sleeping with her comfort items. The lure of something new might be enough for her to finally cut her attachment and understand that she's big enough to sleep solo.

Expect some type of regression, even if your little one seems completely weaned from her stuffed animals. In periods of change, transition or fear, she may revert back to needing her comfort items, and that's fine. You can wait, and try to wean her again when the dust settles. You may even find that she naturally weans herself, as she gets older.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.