Toddler Keeps Getting Out of Bed: 8 of the Best Fixes

August 7, 2019
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I see you there…sitting outside your child’s door, frustrated beyond belief because your toddler keeps getting out of bed.

Oi! Toddlerhood brings on a whole new set of challenges. Am I right?!

When they start learning new words it is so cute, but then all of a sudden they can USE them.

Most of the time that is helpful, but when bedtime rolls around it can turn into a nightmare really quickly.

Somehow your child becomes totally parched, needs endless cuddles, a story, a kiss (or 100), the potty, and just ‘one more‘ bedtime story.

Dealing with bedtime excuses is another topic for another day though. For now, I want to share with you how to keep your toddler in their bed.

Because, as much as you love your child, there comes a time where you both need a break from one another and they just need to sleep.

happy toddler keeps getting out of bed

What to Do When Your Toddler Keeps Getting Out of Bed

Before we can delve into the tips for solving the issue of your toddler not staying in their bed, we need to first address why you even want to work on it in the first place.

Why You Want Your Toddler to Stay in Their Bed

They Need Sleep

It is a plain and simple fact that children require a certain amount of sleep in order to grow and develop in a healthy way.

Wanting your toddler to stay in their bed and sleep is not a selfish want. It is for your child’s own good.

We all know that we don’t always choose what is best for us when it comes to our health and well being. Children are especially notorious for this.

I mean, how many times have you caught your toddler right before they were about to jump off something ridiculously high, or shove some foreign object down their throat?!

Giving your child boundaries is a super important part of parenting and teaching them to stay in their own bed is just a part of that.

It is for Their Safety

I’ll talk more about this point further into the post, but I’ll briefly touch on it here.

Teaching your toddler to stay in their own bed is also for safety reasons.

As a parent, I like to know where my child is at any given point during the day or night. I don’t want to wake up to my toddler in the living room getting into things that they shouldn’t.

Heaven forbid that in an emergency they go wandering around the house instead of waiting in their bed for me (remember, we’re talking about toddlers NOT older children).

I need to know that my toddler will stay in bed until I say it is safe to come out.

Mom Needs a Time Out

I have a certain admiration for parents that are able to co-sleep. Personally, it has never worked well for our family for several reasons.

One of which is because this mama needs a break. I am touched out by the end of the day and I need a little space so that I can unwind and prepare to face the next day with the right attitude.

My children need their sleep and I need a break. If you feel the same way then there is nothing wrong with that.

So now that we’ve been able to talk about the why behind it all, let’s talk about strategies to use in order to teach your toddler to stay in their bed.

A word to the wise, this process takes time. We as humans can be slow to adapt, but that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing isn’t working.

Give it time and remain consistent.

#1 Prepare Your Toddler for Sleep

This may seem like we’re going back to basics but sometimes we can get more relaxed about certain things the older our children get.

Think about when your toddler was a baby and all the things you would do in order to encourage sleep.

You’re probably not quite as strict about all that now so it can be helpful to take a look and see what can be improved.

Do you have a good wind-down routine in place for your child so that their body is prepared for sleep?

A great place to start is with a bath. The warm water is soothing and will help relax their muscles.

After that, it is a great idea to have storytime. A couple of books while being snuggled up on their bed is a great way to encourage sleepiness.

Another tip is to have some essential oils diffusing during storytime. Lavender is a favorite of mine and a long-time known aroma for encouraging sleep.

#2 Get the Routine Right

Your toddler’s routine during the day can definitely make the task of teaching them to stay in their bed either more difficult or easier overall.

This is because if they’re overtired or under tired, it is going to affect bedtime.

If you have an overtired toddler, meltdowns are inevitable and will make the whole process a lot more challenging.

Equally so, an under tired toddler can be quite the challenge. If they’re not tired, your task of keeping them in their bed is likely to turn into a battle because they have plenty of energy to burn off.

Try and make sure that they’re getting age-appropriate sleep during the day and also lots of time to burn energy and exercise.

It can also be very helpful to help them understand their routine using these routine cards. You can print them out and use them to help your child with the whole process.

#3 Get A Gro Clock

Put yourself in your toddler’s position.

They can’t tell the time.

They have no idea when 7 am is or 11 pm, or any time really. The Gro Clock is SO helpful when you’re trying to teach your toddler when the right time is to get up.

This clock teaches them exactly that. It’ll show them when it is time for sleep and time to be awake.

We have a video monitor and when my son was really little, he would get a great big grin on his face when the time changed and he knew it was time to get up.

It’s cute and this clock has been a wonderful tool for us. I can’t recommend it highly enough. You can introduce it as early as 18 months. 🙂

There are a bunch of options available which I’ve linked for you below.

Toddler Clocks

I’ve heard some awesome things about the Gro-egg because it also uses colour to let you know what the temperature of your child’s room is.

#4 Lock The Door

I know some people feel dubious about this because locking your kid in their room sounds awful. What if there’s a fire and they’re stuck in there?

I actually prefer them being locked in, especially in the case of an emergency.

I would much rather know exactly where they are than go into their room and find that they have wandered out looking for me.

When my son couldn’t open his bedroom door we didn’t worry, but if he could I wouldn’t have hesitated to put a lock on it until he was old enough to handle the responsibility of having unsupervised free range in the house.

Now that he is older, he doesn’t come out of his room unless he needs to use the bathroom or there is something wrong. Most of the time he just calls for us.

#5 Discipline

Whatever your method is, this is the time to use it.

Don’t feel bad. (easier said than done, I know)

I know it isn’t fun but ultimately putting boundaries in place for your toddler will help them thrive no matter how much they may protest initially.

(Read more about toddler discipline –> HERE)

We transitioned both children out of the crib around 15 months of age.

Initially, they didn’t even try to get out of bed but there came a time with both of them where that boundary was pushed and we’ve had to discipline for it.

It took a few nights of staying consistent for them to return to staying in bed.

How To Stop Your Toddler From Getting Out of Bed

I get that some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of discipline in these cases. In fact, I’ve seen all sorts of methods recommended for keeping toddlers contained in cribs until they’re quite a lot older.

Whatever works for your family, but my personal opinion is that children are more than capable of understanding boundaries at a young age.

The older they get the stronger their willpower (and louder their protests!).

Do what works for you, but I can attest to the fact that this method works.

Discipline and then keep interaction at a minimum. Our conversation would typically look like this:

I understand you don’t want to stay in your bed, but sleep is very important to keep you healthy and to help you grow so you must stay in your bed.

One little thing to note is that having a solid daytime routine can help tremendously in this area.

#6 Use the Super Nanny Method

The super nanny method is not a method that we have personally used with our children but I have friends that have done so with success.

Be prepared to dedicate your evenings for a few nights in order for it to work.

What you’ll do is sit outside their door waiting for them to get out of bed.

As soon as they do, you take them by the hand and put them straight back in bed, reminding them that it is time to sleep and that you love them.

The second time you can be firmer, reminding them of the expectations that are in place.

After that, you simply return them to their bed every time they get up but with no talking.

The idea is to give them no real attention because even negative attention is said to encourage their behavior.

You do this over and over again until they resign themselves to staying in bed.

#7 Stay Consistent

Above all, stay consistent.

It is completely unfair to set a standard and then cave in. Your child will end up confused and upset. They will feel insecure when they don’t understand what is expected of them.

Imagine having the rules changed on you all the time.

It isn’t fun.

And as much as toddlers are completely adorable, they’re also very clever. Your child will quickly pick up on the fact that they only have to keep pushing until mama or daddy finally caves and they get their way.

#8 Understand that They’re Still Loved

In our home, we don’t co-sleep. Not because I’m against it, but simply because it doesn’t work for us.

You can read more about that HERE if you’d like.

And yes, I teach my children from a young age that sleep time is when mama says, but despite the strong boundaries that we’ve set up, our children are immensely loved and secure in our affection for them.

My son knows that if he’s scared or needs something we will be there in a flash.

Jack's June 2018 Summary (3 Years, 3 Months)

This is what has worked for us so far and I’m so pleased that my children stay in their rooms until 7 AM every morning.

They have books and stuffed toys so they’ve got plenty to entertain themselves with if they wake early.

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