Admit it; you miss those nights where you can sleep without worry.
If you have a toddler, you may already struggle to get a good night’s sleep. You might lay awake worrying if they are ok, or you might only have a light sleep, just in case they need you during the night.
You know the struggle already that I am sure of!
My son went through a phase of waking during the night and wouldn’t settle unless he was moved into our bed.
I needed to know how to keep a toddler in their bed at night, and boy, did I need it fast!
A night of unbroken sleep is essential for children’s growth and development, so you must build a healthy bedtime routine.
Let’s take a look at some tips for how to keep your toddler in bed at night.
Reasons why a Toddler might not want to stay in their own bed
First, we need to understand WHY your toddler will not stay in bed.
Ok, so you are not 2 or 3 years old anymore, but try and put yourself in their shoes.
Not literally, you understand.
Toddlers have young minds; they are still not sure about their place in the world, simple things scare them, and it might result in your toddler getting out of bed during the night multiple times!
Here are some common reasons why:
This is the big, number 1 reason toddlers do not stay in bed during the night.
Darkness frightens them.
It is called nyctophobia, not just kids who suffer from it.
As a toddler, you have a very active imagination. When you are a toddler and you have woken up in darkness, things in the room might look unusual.
Instead of thinking logically, they panic and get scared. Keeping a toddler in bed is a challenge when they fear the dark, right?
Fear Of Being Alone
This is very closely linked to darkness. One of the worst things about life is that you need to talk about ‘Stranger Danger.’ It needs to be tackled, but it should not even exist in a perfect world!
When you begin discussing ‘Stranger Danger’ with your toddler, you tell them that there are people in this world who want to do them harm.
They will take that information in, increasing their fear when they are alone. That will result in them getting out of bed in the middle of the night when they wake up.
They Have Bad Dreams
We have all been there, you have a terrible dream and immediately wake up.
In your semi-sleep haze, you are unsure what is real and what is not.
Now imagine how that feels for a toddler!
What You Can Do To Help
In this post, I tackle all 3 of the reasons above.
The critical point here is that when faced with a troublesome habit that your toddler has gotten into, you need to understand why they do it so that you can tackle the reasons head-on.
How To Keep Toddler In Room At Night
Let’s take a look at the tips for how to keep a toddler in bed at night!
1. Night Light
Illuminating your toddler’s room will give them some confidence when they wake during the early hours. IT will help your toddler stay put instead of waking you up for comfort.
A nightlight will allow them to see what is going on in their room, but it also takes away the fear of darkness itself.
There are many kinds of nightlights that you can try, and I have found (after buying quite a few) that it is best to give them a nightlight that they are interested in.
My son loves superheroes, specifically the Avengers! So I bought him a Hulk Night Light, which he loves.
You undoubtedly know the kind of thing your toddler likes, so pick a nightlight that will take them to a comfortable pace as soon as they wake up and reduce the chances of them getting out of bed.
Pick a character from your toddler’s favorite film, and search for a nightlight!
2. Nightlight projector
Get your toddler to sleep and stay in bed peacefully with an awesome light projector!
It isn’t just for when they wake up during the night. If your toddler goes to sleep relaxed, they are more likely to stay asleep longer.
A light projector worked for my son, and it has worked for a friend’s toddler when they have told me how difficult it is to get them to sleep.
A light projector will help them stay in their room during the night, but it also makes the whole process of GETTING a toddler to sleep much easier.
3. Put Up Some Photographs
Familiarity is calming for most people, and your toddler is the same.
If they want to get in your bed at 3 am because they are scared and worried after the ‘Stranger Danger’ talk, why not add some familiar pictures around their bed?
I printed out a few photographs and stuck them on my son’s wall. Then when he wakes up, he can see them and remember that we are only in the room next door, he does not need to be concerned, and it increases the chances that he will stay in bed.
This is a fantastic tip for keeping a toddler in a room at night and an easy one to implement!
4. Use Your Scent
Sometimes, it only takes a few seconds when they are asleep to wake up and realize you are not with them.
You CAN head this off during those few seconds without actually being there.
If you want to know how to get your child to stay in bed, why not spray a little bit of your familiar scent on your toddler’s bed. Before they even open their eyes, they will immediately smell you.
As your scent hits their nostrils, they are more likely to drift back to sleep. All without causing you to break your sleep!
Sure, you might have some expensive sent, but it is worth a night of unbroken sleep.
5. A piece of your clothing
Very similar to the tip above, but this time do not spray any scent onto the clothing before placing it in your toddler’s bed.
When they begin to wake up, they will feel your clothing, which may help them stay in bed and not wake you up.
6. Talk to them about nightmares
Toddlers are clever. They may not seem it when you have to repeat yourself 6 or 7 times for them to get their shoes on, but do not let that fool you.
Speaking to your toddler about their nightmares is an excellent way of removing their reality.
When they wake in the morning, discuss what dreams they had. If they had bad dreams, discuss why they are not real and explain that dreams are simply dreams.
They will listen, it may only be for a few minutes, but they will listen. The more you repeat the process, the more it will sink in.
When can I expect it to improve?
I am not going to lie here. If you are continually putting your toddler back to bed each night, there is a danger that it has simply developed into a habit.
Habits like stopping pacifier use, for instance, are hard to break.
All you can do is implement the tips on this page. Always put your toddler back to bed when they get out.
Positive discipline is a big thing for me. You can only achieve so much by using regular discipline, but there are no limits to being positive.
Each night that your toddler stays in their bed, make a big deal of it. Reward them, praise them, tell them how proud you are of them.
This positive approach should be extended to the rest of your parenting style, too; you will be surprised at how much it improves behavior!
If you are struggling with how to keep a toddler in their bed at night, I feel for you. I have been there.
Most parents have probably been there in the past, and it is all part of bringing up a child.
Who said it was going to be easy, eh?
As I said above, the key is to realize exactly what drives them to want to crawl into your bed in the early morning hours. It is only then that you can systematically fight back!
Let’s retake a look at the reasons why your toddler may not want to sleep all night in their bed:
Fear of the dark.
Resolution – night lights or light projector.
Fear of being alone.
Resolution – your clothes or your scent.
Resolution – Discuss nightmares and dreams.
It may also be a sign that your toddler loves you and wants to spend more time with you!
All in all, developing a good bedtime routine will help. Stick with it!
Good luck getting your toddler to sleep in their room. Please have patience, have a plan, and always put them back to bed!
You will need it.