5 Tips for Getting Your Toddler to Stay In Their Room At Night
First-time parents get all excited about certain milestones, like when their toddlers move to big kid beds. Those first-time parents are suckers. Taking away the bed cage and giving a toddler the ability to roam freely is the beginning of the end! Gone are those carefree nights of knowing your kid is trapped in their bed. Oh, you like watching TV without your tiny person popping in every five minutes? Well, too bad! Your toddler is in a bed now, and unless that bed has some sort of dome on it, they’re going to get out of it. A lot. Infant sleep problems got nothing on what happens with toddlers. If you’re tired (ha!) of the jack-in-the-box routine every night, try these tips for getting your toddler to stay in bed.
1. The first step in getting your toddler to stay in bed is having an airtight bedtime routine.
Toddlers, for all their tornado-like tendencies, really thrive on routine. They can’t tell time, so the bedtime routine is what helps them understand that it is time for bed. Whatever you include in your bedtime routine (bath, story time, snuggle time), the most important thing is that you do it consistently. It can’t become a routine if it’s not done every night!
2. Make sure their schedule is conducive to a good night’s sleep.
If your kid gets out of bed within minutes of lying down, it could be that they’re not tired. Take a look at their bedtime, and if it needs to be adjusted, push it back a bit. Especially if they’re still napping during the day. There should be 5-6 hours between their nap and bedtime.
3. Sticker or reward charts are great for getting your toddler to stay in bed. Bribery works!
You can make a quick and easy chart on a poster board or dry erase board. Let your toddler pick out some cool stickers they love, and then come up with a few items to put on the chart. If they get through bedtime without any issues, they get a sticker. Or if they stay in their bed all night, they get a sticker. If they fill up a week or month of stickers, they can earn a toy they’ve had their eye on or a fun outing with the family.
4. Work the door in your favor!
A lot of toddlers don’t like sleeping with their door closed. So use the door as a reward (or consequence). Start with the door open halfway, and tell your toddler that they door will stay open if they stay in bed. Every time they get out of bed, close the door a bit more. If they get up too many times, the door is shut all the way for a predetermined amount of time (2-5 minutes). After time is up, open the door and explain the rules again.
5. Finally, try the silent walk-back method. This one can be a bit tedious, but it’s pretty helpful at getting your toddler to stay in bed.
Listen, toddlers are going to push your buttons. It’s what they do! Even if your kid is exhausted, the bedtime routine was flawless, and the door is closed, chances are they’re going to get up every once in a while. But instead of making a big deal out of it, try a silent walk-back. Every time your toddler gets up, you silently guide them back to their room, silently put them back in bed, and tuck them in, and leave. If they get up again, you do it again. No talking, no disciplining, no bargaining or begging. If you don’t engage with your toddler when they get up, they’ll quickly lose interest. The thing about this method is that it can take quite a few times for it to work. It’s just a matter of sticking to your (quiet) guns.
Getting your toddler to stay in bed can be difficult. They’re not exactly known for their listening skills, after all. But putting an end to the jack-in-the-box behavior at bedtime will benefit everyone.