Do you have a toddler who is a night runner? (A toddler who can’t seem to stay in bed at night.) This has been the story of our lives the last several years. We have 4 kids, and each child has required a different approach.
Typically little ones escaping from their beds tend to happen when you move your child from crib to toddler bed. With a toddler bed, there is this new sense of FREEDOM! NO rail to climb over, just a little barrier and FREE REIGN of their room, or worse — the house.
Let’s talk toddlers staying in bed, here are some tips that have helped us over the years and hope these will help you keep your little one put (and asleep!)
Here is a round up of advice from parents who have been thru toddlers escaping their bedrooms, not sleeping, running around the house, not wanting to sleep, wanting to party – oh the fun! Let’s look at ways to help curve the behavior and help you and your toddlers get some zzz’s!
We use this for our toddler, it works well now – he is older (4) and gets the concept. The idea is that the toddler alarm clock shows a certain color when it’s okay for your child to get out of bed.
ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE! I am so not a routine person by nature, so this is a VERY hard thing for me, but kids really do thrive on routine and the bedtime routine is NO exception. Make sure each night your general bedtime routine is the same. We brush teeth, go potty, get into pajamas, say our prayers, sing a song, tuck in, push play on their music and then reiterate that it’s bedtime – no getting out of bed. Bath time and reading is not every night, so I don’t say that’s’ routine.
Something that I’ve learned over the years is that kids need to know the rules and if they don’t know and I don’t tell them, I shouldn’t get mad at them. Case in point — if the kids aren’t suppose to get out bed, they need to be told that. Setup and define bedtime rules and reiterate these before bedtime.
When your toddler escapes, tell him one time “it’s bed time, we are going back to bed.” Walk him or her back to their room. Any excuses, crying, screaming or words they say – block them out and just get them back in bed. I’ve heard everything from “I’m thirsty!” to “I not tired.” Nope, of course if there is an emergency or if the kid needs to go to the bathroom (for real, my kid has stood at the toilet for 15 minutes pretending to need to pee – these kids are something else!) – attend to the situation but the biggest thing is it’s a matter of you not listening to their excuses.
If they leave the room 10 times – walk them back without comment 10 times. I know, it’s a pain in the butt, especially when you are half awake and their room is upstairs and you WERE sleeping.
I’m not a mom to judge, some parents reverse the lock on the child’s door to keep them in their room. Personally, as great as it sounds – I fear safety so we haven’t reversed the lock. That said, we have used a baby gate on the door. We shut the toddler’s door, then put the baby gate up. Then, when the child goes to leave their room – there’s a baby gate in the way. While sure they could technically climb over the baby gate – it’s a deterrent.
Is your child going to bed too early? Perhaps it’s time for your child to lose one of their nap times? While toddlers do need a good amount of sleep – there is a chance that maybe your child just isn’t tired. Evaluate the complete situation if night after night you are dealing with your kid getting out of bed with a ton of energy. Perhaps it’s more than your kid just wanting to play.
This option may not be available for everyone, but perhaps you can find a way to make it work. Remove all toys for the bedroom. We have a playroom and put a rule that all toys need to stay in there. This helps with room clean-up, but also we have a child who loves to play by himself and have found him staying up all night and playing.
If you don’t have a playroom, consider putting toys in bins that can be moved into a closet or hallway.
We have a baby video monitor that let’s us not only see what is going on in the toddlers’ room – it also let’s us talk to them thru the monitor. Typically the first 30 minutes after we’ve put them to bed, we will watch the monitor to make sure they are attempting to sleep and aren’t up running and around, destroying the upstairs.
Here is the baby monitor that we use – Lenovo Astra Digital Baby Video Monitor.
A little positive re-enforcement never hurt. Put together a simple reward sticker chart. It’s amazing how well cheap stickers make kids so darn happy. Put a reward (trip to Dollar tree with $1.08 does wonders in this house!) and be diligent in working with your child when they do what they are suppose to, reinforce the good.
This is the last thing you want to hear, I know. But patience. Patience as your child learns this new routine. Patience as your toddler tests their boundaries and explores their new freedoms. Patience as you aren’t getting the sleep you need and neither is your toddler.
Remember, that this too will pass. In the trenches, it’s hard to think about seeing the light when you are buried deep in toddlerhood but it will pass and somehow you will survive.