toddler sleeping flickr / Oğuzhan Abdik
Night's Watch

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

For some parents, having a caged baby that sleeps well is about the best thing for a good 5 months or so. But that 5 months creates a kind of parenting psychosis. Because at some point, like a swamp-crazy exotic animal keeper, you and your partner get it in your heads that the baby should no longer be caged. No. The baby should be free in their own toddler bed. And with that, you not only endanger the fragile night ecosystem, but your own precious sleep and sanity.

Sure, you can’t keep your ever growing kid in a crib their entire childhood. At some point they will learn how to escape. Those eggs will be cage-free eventually regardless. But without borders, you’ll be facing a challenge of how to keep them in their bed and out of yours. Luckily, there is a method to do just this. And it’ll merely cost you a week of aggravation.

The Second Sleep Training

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, they can now walk out of the room to indulge their curiosity about whatever a Khaleesi is and why people keep shouting it on TV.

For some parents this is no big deal. They have an open bed policy and it doesn’t matter where their kid ends up sleeping, as long as they sleep. For other parents, they dig alone time with their partner for things like conversation and sex. Okay, mostly sex.

That means having a kid that stays put. It also means another round of sleep training. Here’s how it goes down:

The Routine

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.

The Prep

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.

The Training

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 gets 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.