Parent Question: We moved our 28 month old to a toddler bed about two months ago. The transition went well until a few weeks ago when our son decided he didn't want to sleep on the bed anymore. He now will only sleep on the mattress on the floor. He sleeps on a mattress on the floor at daycare (he attends twice a week). Any tips on getting him back in the bed?
Your question has an easy answer; it’s okay to leave him on the floor. Eventually he will show interest in sleeping on his bed again. When that happens certainly encourage him to do so and make a big deal of his new interest. At this point show no interest in him wanting to sleep on the floor, just have the ‘ that’s okay’ attitude and say no more about this new dilemma.
Before you use this response I would sit down with him, as he is over 2 years and you can simply ask him why he wants to sleep on the floor. It may be as you suspect, as this is what happens at daycare. Alternatively you may find it is due to a fear i.e. falling out of the bed, something under the bed and if it is, there are strategies you can use to solve these fears and I would recommend that you solve these as soon as you can. Then work on getting him back to the bed.
If however there is no fear and he really has no reason. I would follow the approach outlined above. I would leave the bed in his room and use it to have story time and cuddles etc. again without any pressure, however slight.
When he is taking some interest in the bed again, I would use this opportunity to get a little stamp and tell him when he sleeps in his bed for a whole night in the morning you will give him a little stamp on his hand. You can pick these up from most newsagents for about $2. It is amazing how motivated children become for a stamp on their hand.
Gradually after a couple of weeks of stamps, eventually there will be a day or so where he forgets about the stamp and this reward will fade away. Be sure not to give in and give him the stamp when he has not achieved a whole night in his bed because he becomes difficult, cries and wants it. This learning is part of the process and his internal motivation.