As a mom, I worry. All the time. About everything. If you are not an overly anxious mom, more power to you. I wish I had more of you in me! But keeping little ones alive and otherwise safe generally has me a little uptight. One thing I worry about is how to keep a toddler in bed during the night! Even the best and most attentive moms don’t always know what their children are capable of. I recently had a friend tell me a story about her preschooler being brought home by a police officer in the early hours of the morning after opening the garage door! Thankfully, this child appears to only have been outside a few minutes, but you never know what could happen.
As a result, I keep my kiddos in a crib as long as possible. Until they are climbing out on a regular basis, or express a genuine desire to have a “big kid” bed, I see no reason to take them out of a crib! A contained toddler is a safe toddler!
Give them options
Once we do transition to a “big kid” bed, we allow our child as much say as possible in terms of their bed and bedding. A child who has chosen his bedding himself is much more likely to be excited to be in it!
We always felt better using a bed rail or bed bumper - at least until we were confident our child wouldn't fall out of bed every night. It was also a great barrier to keep them in bed. More freedom than a crib, but still feels a little like more of an enclosed space.
Use a clock and conversation
This is also the time that we like to introduce a clock that changes color when it’s time to get up. Keep in mind that these clocks don’t work for every kid, but they certainly work for some! When our children are in a “big kid” bed for the first time, we have a conversation about staying in bed all night. We explain that this is for their own safety and that if they need mom or dad, they can just call out to us, as we will hear them on the baby monitor. When it’s time to get up, the clock will change color to green.
Keep that bedtime routine
To keep a toddler in bed, consistency is key! Stick to the bedtime routine that you’ve already established as closely as you can. Even if your child’s bed has changed, the bedtime routine shouldn’t! Routines help children feel secure and know what to expect. This is especially helpful if your child was already sleeping all night in a crib.
Make nighttime waking’s boring
Similarly, if your kiddo gets up, calmly and rationally take them back to their own bed. Consistently. The calmer and more boring you can be, the better! Don’t say much other than, “I love you” and “It’s time to sleep now.” You might have to do this several times a night at first, but after a few nights, it will only be one or two. Although it’s easier in the short-term to let your child crawl into your bed, it makes your sleep pattern more difficult in the long-term!
Have it all available
Finally, our tip we use the most to keep a toddler in bed - have everything your child needs right there by his bed. Any lovies, blankies, stuffed animals that they prefer should be easily accessible. Same with a cup of water and a nightlight. Whatever your child might ask you for in the night-have it right next to them.
What has worked for you to help your young kiddos stay in bed all night?
About the Author:
Stacy grew up in Minnesota but spent the next several years of her life traversing the globe, temporarily setting down roots anywhere and everywhere. Stacy is extremely passionate about the world of adoption and foster care, having spent a year in Uganda adopting her oldest daughter in 2008. Stacy married her husband Jesse in 2011, and they moved to Oklahoma City to grow their family. They currently have three children; a 12-year-old girl, a 6-year-old boy, and a 1-year-old boy. Though she will be parenting for the rest of her natural days, she deeply appreciates the age differences between her kids. Stacy obtained a Master’s degree in child psychology in 2007, but currently uses it only on her own children! A stay-at-home mama since Baby #3 was born, Stacy has stayed busy keeping her children alive and relatively entertained. She loves her little crazy crew fiercely and uses writing as her creative outlet. When she’s not chasing her kiddos, Stacy is likely traveling or daydreaming about traveling. She also enjoys coffee shops, copious amounts of “cop drama” shows, and perusing Pinterest for ideas that have little chance of ever getting done. But they’re good to have. Just in case.