How to Get Your Toddler to Stay in Bed

Get your toddler to stay in bed.
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You spent years teaching your child how to sleep through the night in his crib. Now, you’ve transitioned to a toddler bed and freedom from guard rails has renewed the nightly bedtime battle. If your little one continuously pops out of bed to wander the halls, employ tried-and-true strategies to return to quiet, sleep-filled nights.

Stay True to the Bedtime Routine

If it worked once, it will work again—eventually.

Transitioning to a “big kid” bed was a big disruption to your child’s sleep routine, so it’s vital to continue to incorporate the routine leading up to bedtime.

A good bedtime routine should be 15 to 30 minutes long, could include a bath, a book, a song—whatever works for your family—and some quiet time, rather than anything too stimulating. Do it as consistently as possible to help your toddler to understand that when he climbs into that bed, it’s really sleep time.

Be as Boring as Possible

In your toddler’s eyes, you’re having a blast downstairs with him. You’re probably watching his favorite TV shows, eating ice cream and playing with puppies while he’s stuck in his room. So why wouldn’t he pop out of bed to beg and plead to return?

Rather than give him what he wants, whether it’s another story or a little cuddle time, tell your child, “It’s bedtime,” and silently return him to his room.

If he doesn’t think he’s missing out on the fun, he might be willing to sleep.

Employ the ‘Door Trick’

Give your child a little control by allowing him to keep the door as open as he wants, as long as he stays in bed. There are two ways of doing this: One, if he gets out of bed, close the door halfway.

If he gets up again, the door is shut.

The other option is to close the door the first time he gets out of bed, but reopen it for one to two minutes. The next time he gets out of bed, it’s closed for three to four minutes. If he stays into bed and the door stays open, reward your child with praise.

Offer Rewards

For some reason, toddlers love stickers. So, use that to your advantage. Create a sticker chart that allows him to earn a sticker for every night he stays in bed. If your toddler isn’t one of the many that really enjoys a sticker, find a reward that works (though, steer clear of using junk food—then you’re simply substituting one bad habit for another).

Stick to Your Guns

There isn’t one one-size-fits-all solution to this bedtime dance that so many parents experience, and routines get messed up when you’re on vacation or if a babysitter is minding the child. If you’re as consistent as possible, though, there’s a better likelihood that your tricks to keeping your toddler in bed at night.

Additionally, while it’s tricky to resist giving an upset toddler a quick cuddle to calm him down, it might only prolong the pain—or not. You know your child best and understand when he truly needs you and when he might be playing up the tears for attention.

Stick to your guns, be consistent, but use your instinct as well. And, when it comes down to it, tell yourself over and over that very few parents have trouble keeping their teenagers in bed, so this too shall pass.

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