You put your toddler to bed only to find them peeking around the hallway corner two minutes later. You hike them back to bed, but out they go again. Or, maybe your tot stays in their room – just not in their bed.
Many parents of young children find themselves in this tiresome situation when bedtime rolls around (we see you, baggy eyes). And we totally understand how frustrating it can be when your toddler won’t stay in bed at bedtime.
How to get toddler to stay in bed? Start incorporating these strategies into your toddler’s bedtime routine to help them wander out of bed less and stay asleep longer!
7 Effective Tips For When Your Toddler Won’t Stay In Bed
While there are many reasons why toddlers won’t stay in their beds, there are ways you can encourage your child to stay in their bed.
Here are seven tips to encourage your toddler to stay in their bed at bedtime.
Spending time with your child before you start your bedtime routine fills their ‘love cup,’ making it easier for them to drift to sleep and therefore stay in bed longer.
Try to prioritize this parent child bonding time after dinner and before starting your bedtime routine.
We know that penciling in this play routine can be challenging if you’re a working parent. Make do with your time – though 30 minutes to an hour is ideal.
It’s simple: ask your child what they want to do and follow their lead. The louder and sillier, the better! Being outdoors also works as a natural reset for the mind and body.
Like adults, little ones get a little hungry before bed too. Let your child choose from a few healthy snack options to fill their belly before bedtime.
Eating a protein-rich snack (like yogurt and bananas) or a snack that contains sleep-inducing tryptophan (such as nut butter, cheese, and wholewheat crackers or toast) also keeps the body from sending out “I’m hungry” signals that can disrupt sleep.
A good time for your toddler to eat their bedtime snack is when you’re drawing the bath.
Routines help children feel safe. A consistent bedtime routine helps toddlers wind down, relax, and settle in for the night. Your bedtime routine may consist of a soothing bath, a picture book, and a little talk about each other’s day.
If you already have a bedtime routine, fantastic! Stick with it or tweak it.
If not, develop a routine that works for your family. You want your child to learn what to expect so their body will relax and drift into sleep easier.
Toddlers wake up and get out of bed for many reasons, but if it’s to use the bathroom (or they wake from a wet diaper), you may want to taper down how much liquid your child drinks after dinner.
Pinpointing how much liquid is too much involves trial and error, but limiting your toddler’s liquids can help curb those midnight wakings.
This one seems obvious, but the more they’re surrounded in their bed or baby crib by lovies and sleepy-gadgets they love, the better. Even new-to-them stuff lying around the house can be a fun bedtime enticer.
Do you have an old nightlight you can plug in their room or glow in the dark stars to stick to the ceiling? A mesmerizing baby night light projector?
You can also encourage your child to choose where they want to put what to strengthen their autonomy. Do they want Mr. Tiger snuggled up with them in bed or on the floor?
Give your child choices and honor them (so long as it’s safe, of course!).
Whether it’s the first time or the 100th, whenever your child gets out of bed (or out of their room), calmly, gently, quietly lead them back where they need to be.
Take some deep breaths. Remind yourself that you are okay and that this challenging behavior will pass.
Keep the lights low, tuck them back into bed, say goodnight, and head out.
Of course, it would be nice if your toddler slept through the night uninterrupted and slept in, but that’s not how most kids sleep from a biological standpoint. Despite the moms in your park playdate group exclaiming that their children sleep soundly, that’s hardly the norm for preschoolers.
Don’t beat yourself up because your child seems like the odd one out. They’re not.
Most babies and toddlers do not sleep through the night, and it’s a common parenting challenge to wrestle a tot into a cot every night. Tweak your perspective on age-appropriate toddler sleep habits to quiet any bedtime anxiety.
You also want to keep track of age-appropriate sleep norms for your child because how much sleep they need depends on their age. Most toddlers need around 10-14 of sleep, including naps.
It may be time to drop naps when your baby turns two or fights their afternoon nap. Skipping a nap (when you feel they’re ready) means they’ll be more tired when the sandman comes.
That’s All On How To Get Toddler To Stay In Bed!
Getting your child to go to bed after you’ve said goodnight can be a challenge for tired parents who want nothing more than to unwind on the couch with their favorite show and snack.
By filling up your child’s ‘love cup’ with one-on-one playtime before bed, you share a special connection moment, which helps them fall asleep easier and stay sleeping for longer stretches.
Creating a consistent bedtime routine is also key because it sets your toddler up for what to expect.
Including old and new plushies and bedtime toys and limiting your child’s liquid intake helps reduce bedtime disruptions, too.
How long has your child been getting out of bed? What advice have you tried already? Please share with us below!