Tips for Getting Your Toddler to Stay in Bed
Having trouble keeping your toddler in bed at night? You are not alone. When making the switch from a crib to a bed, some toddlers like to explore their newfound freedom. Here are some tips on how to keep your toddler in bed at night.
Establish a Consistent Routine
Routines help your child know what is coming next and creates a sense of security. When you establish a bedtime routine for your baby or toddler, you are helping her understand what comes next … bedtime and a good night’s sleep!
You can start with a bath and pajama time. Let her have some tubby time and then help her get into her pajamas. Then move to a calming video or a bedtime story.
Verbalize to your toddler that when the video or story is over then it will be time to brush her teeth, use the potty; wash her hands and cuddle up for bedtime. When the story is over you can then let her know that now she needs to brush her teeth, use the potty, wash her hands and then cuddle up for bedtime. These verbal reminders should continue until cuddle up time.
Repetitive words and statements help reiterate what is coming next and will ensure that there are no surprises. This is in contrast to simply saying “Okay, time for bed,” to which many toddlers react with surprise or a tantrum.
Cuddle up time involves having your child climb into bed and cuddle up with her stuffed animals. It can be her giving her each of her stuffed animals a hug or you giving each of her stuffed animals a hug. Try to do it in the same order each night so she knows that when your or she hugs the last stuffed animal it is time to turn out the lights.
Allow Your Toddler a Sleep Toy
There is nothing wrong with allowing your toddler a sleep toy when she goes to bed. This could be a musical stuffed toy or a small book. Sometimes if your child is not sleepy she can still go to bed at the set time and have her sleep toy to look at or cuddle until she falls asleep.
My own secret—I have allowed my daughter to go to bed with a sticker. She plays with it and puts in on her stuffed toys or book until she falls asleep. Some mornings she wakes up with it on her forehead or in her hair but the fact is she stayed in bed and fell asleep all by herself which is wonderful and stress-free.
Always Guide Your Toddler Back to Bed
When your toddler makes the “great escape” and climbs out of bed and into the hallway, simply hold her hand, say “it is time for bed” and walk her back to bed. It is important not to remain quiet and relaxed—even if she is laughing, smiling, or crying, stay quiet and remain calm and walk her back to bed.
Sometimes this can go on for an hour but if you react, get upset or indulge your toddler (by reading another book or bringing her to bed with you to co-sleep) you will be deviating from the routine and will be setting yourself up to the same issue every night.
Stick to your established routine and walk her back to bed each time she climbs out of bed.