One thing I always recommend to families I work with is to have your little ones (12 months and up) sleeping with a small stuffed animal or lovey. You want something large enough that they can find it in their cot easily but not too large that will cause safety concerns or a SIDS risk. Babies, love to put them in their mouths and place them on top of their face. Please do not use something unless you feel it is safe. You also want only one. I often joke with my clients and say, “If you had 7 wives, how attached would you to be to this one?” Once they have begun to bond with this special lovey it should remain in the cot at all times and your little one will begin to look forward to being reunited with their special friend at bedtime and naptime. The idea here is to encourage them to have something they can redirect their dependency on a parent’s touch onto in the night, and it is something they can easily find without having to wake you!
For my older clients who have been dependent on a parent’s presence to sleep, I recommend still using the transitional object but putting something special from Mummy and Daddy on it, say mummy’s old unwashed T-shirt. I used this technique with a 6 and half year old that I worked with recently, who used to need Mummy lying beside her every night to fall asleep (and every time she woke in the night!). They ended up calling her new teddy “Mummy Bear” so she could feel like she was still having a cuddle with Mummy at night.