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How to Get Your Toddler to Stay in Their Bed All Night

flickr / Oğuzhan Abdik

It’s not to tough to figure out when your child is ready for a toddler bed. The real trick is how to keep a toddler in bed — their own, and not yours, obviously. The transition to getting and staying in a toddler bed can be problematic for even the best sleeper. Not only does your kid suddenly feel unfettered, but they can also walk out of the room to indulge their curiosity about whatever noises mom and dad are making in the night.

For some parents this is no big deal. They have an open bed policy and it doesn’t matter where their toddler sleeps and long as their toddler is sleeping. For other parents, alone time is crucial. That means having a kid that stays put. It also means another round of sleep training.

The Sleep Schedule

Keep the bedtime routine as sharp as it once was. But this time look at it with a critical eye to make sure any changes in sleeping habits haven’t put you in an impossible situation. Is your kid still napping? Is that nap too close to bedtime? Is bedtime too early? These are things that will make your tiny night own want to hop out of bed and party.

How to Prepare for Toddler Sleep

Make sure your kid is primed to know what you are expecting. Explain that big beds are for big kids and they are perfect for sleeping. You can make a sticker chart for stay-in-bed rewards if you’re into that kind of thing. In terms of the bed itself, make sure that it has all the great stuff they remember from their crib, except for the spit-up stink.

Fatherly IQ
  1. When was the last time you yelled at your kids?
    A couple days ago
    Within the last week
    I can’t remember. I don’t yell very often
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Sleep Training Your Toddler

The training itself goes by many names, most of which include the word “walk” in them. That’s because you’ll be walking back and forth between your bed and theirs. Maybe all night. The simple steps are:

  1. Complete the bedtime routine as normal. Including hugs, kisses, and encouragement.
  2. Leave quickly without fanfare, and no answering last-minute pleas or requests.
  3. If your kid gets up, walk them back to bed calmly, tuck them in again and remind them they need to stay in bed. Leave the room.
  4. If your kids get up again, walk them back to bed calmly and now silently. Tuck them into bed. Leave the room.
  5. Repeat.

This is not an easy or quick thing to do. It may take a night before it works. It might take 5. But it will eventually work. The key is to remain completely calm and quiet in the face of whatever your kid throws at you. Even if they are literally throwing things at your face.

Need motivation? Just think of the quiet nights of conversation with only you and your partner in bed. Or having sex.