You finally made the decision to kick your toddler out of their crib (or they made the decision for you because they kept climbing out!). You made a big damn deal about the new sleeping arrangement to get them ready and willing to get in to their big bed. Maybe you let them pick out a new bed, a new blanket, a new toy to take to bed with them. Everyone is pumped and all signs point to a successful transition.
The first night you put your child to bed with kisses and hugs and head out, closing the door behind you. As you head to the kitchen to pour a glass of wine/beer/tequila you pat yourself on the back for a mom-job well done. And just as you lift that glass of sweet freedom to your mouth, you hear the sound of pitter pattering little feet head your way.
No problem. You answer their questions, grab them a glass of water as requested and usher them back to bed. A few minutes later, they return. With another request. Another question. Another concern. And you imagine that this is just the first night jitters. But as the days turn in to weeks you start to dread the bedtime routine. You end up sleeping in a twin sized bed at 8pm, waking up in the middle of the night not knowing where the hell you are.
If this sounds even remotely like you, then I know you are at your wits end and need some help getting your toddler to stay in bed. Because you need your evening back mama!
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Try these 5 tips to get your toddler to stay in bed:
The number one tip I’ve seen from moms and experts alike is to stay consistent with how you react to your child when they get out of bed. Most recommend the silent treatment approach, meaning when your child gets out of bed and comes out to get you, immediately take them back to bed without talking or discussing or giving in to requests. If the child gets what they want when they come out of their room- be it a hug, water, snack- then they have incentive to keep doing it.This is a good method to try for those kids who you know are just stalling and are acting a little naughty.If your child has a true concern, like fear of being alone, then that can be addressed. But for all those other little stinkers, the silent treatment might be the way to go. Try to make the act of getting out of bed as boring as possible. If they don’t feel it’s worth it, or that it’s not that fun to go and get mom, eventually they will grow tired of it and stay in bed. That’s not to say you won’t have to repeat the silent treatment for a bit until they catch on. But eventually they will give in. And you’ll be glad you stuck to it!
- Mama needs her sleep
Some moms have commented that their toddler will stay in bed at night but will get out of bed first thing in the morning. Like, 5 a.m. in the morning. My oldest fell in to this habit and loved to come in and say good morning at the ass crack of dawn. It always startled the hell out of me. At first we tried the ‘you can wake up when the sun is up’ and that usually worked fine during the week. But on the weekends when we were hoping to get some extra zzzzs our little guy would come springing in announcing to us that the sun was up and so was he. So we decided to get him a child’s alarm clock that would visually tell him it was ok to come out of his room. We used this alarm clock/night light combo that you can set ahead of time to turn a different color when your child is allowed to come out.
The clock worked like a charm! It was a little bit of a pain to set the time up initially, but once set, it was a lifesaver. We were able to explain to our son that once the clock turns green that he can come and get us. Until then he had to stay in bed or play quietly in his room. He took the clock reading very seriously and loved announcing to us when it had changed colors.
- Stickers for everyone
Have you ever felt like raising kids is a lot like training a dog? No? Just me? Well, I stand by that observation. Especially when it comes to rewarding good behavior. Much like you would reward a puppy every time they pee outside and not on the floor, you can opt to reward your child for every night they stay in bed. What does your kid go ape-shit over? Stickers! Make a big damn deal about getting them brand new stickers if they stay in bed and create a chart for the to see their progress. I’ve had moms swear by this method and I think it can really work if your child is motivated by something visual.
- Comfort is king
This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure your toddler’s bed and surroundings are comfy and cozy. You want them to be comfortable with the new set up. They may need to explore their bed a little before being relaxed enough to snooze in it. Let them bring their most loved toys and blankets, anything that will help soothe them.And, just like adults, kids can have weird sleep preferences. My daughter has to hold the corners of her blankets before she can go to sleep. I don’t know why. Kids are weird. So help your child figure out what will be most comfortable for them. Maybe they can try a few pillows to find just the right one. And maybe they need a night light for that added sense of security. Whatever they need, make it happen!
- Patience is a virtue
As with all new milestones, mastering them will take some time. Be patient with this transition. It’s a big one! Staying consistent and positive will be key in your child successfully staying in bed. Before you know days will pass without incident and you won’t even realize it! Well, you might notice that your beer is still cold.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you get your toddler to stay in bed once and for all! Do you have any tips that I should add? Let me know in the comments!
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