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 my son becomes totally parched, needs endless cuddles, a story, a kiss (or 100), the potty, and just ‘one more‘ bed time story. Dealing with bed time 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 I love my son, there comes a time when I need a break and I need to know that he is safely tucked up in his bed, but boy oh boy do toddlers love to push the boundaries. So, here is what has worked for us:
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Get A Gro Clock
Put yourself in your toddler’s position. They can’t tell the time. They have no idea when 7am is or 11pm, or any time really. This 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 my son gets a great big grin on his face when the time changes and he knows its 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 but the top three are the ones that I would recommend the most. 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. How cool is that?! Personally, we have the Gro-Clock and we love it because it doubles as a nightlight!
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 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.
My son still can’t open his bedroom door, but if he could I wouldn’t hesitate to put a lock on it until he is old enough to handle the responsibility of having unsupervised free range in the house.
In truth, he doesn’t get out of his bed until one of us comes to get him and that is where the next point comes in.
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.
We transitioned my son out of his crib around 15 months. Initially he didn’t even try get out of his bed but there have been times over the past year where that boundary has been pushed and we’ve had to discipline him for it. It has only taken one or two nights of staying consistent for him to return to staying in 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 will power (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 day time routine can help tremendously in this area.
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 from 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.
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.
This is what has worked for us so far and I’m so pleased that my son happily waits in bed until we come get him in the morning. He sleeps with a mountain of stuffed toys so he’s got plenty to entertain himself with while he waits.
Share with me what tactics have worked for you and if you have any questions leave those in the comments too.
Until next time!