You’ve made that BIG (read dreaded) transition from crib to bed and your toddler just won’t stay put in that beautifully designed room you made for him, well I’m not surprised (harsh, I know) BUT it’s a big new world outside the rails of that crib he loved so much. Cut him some slack and prepare yourself with these 10 tricks to keep him in his bed and sleeping soundly. You’ll all rest easier knowing he won’t be jack-in-the-boxing out of his bed forever.
1. Make it special.
I know you put a lot of work into designing and choosing the perfect decor for your little one, but allowing him to take part in the decision process may help him stay in his bed at sleep time. Does he have a favorite character or toy he’s into? Make his bed a special place where he’ll want to rest his head and stay there for the duration of nap or night time.
2. Comfort zone.
Most children have a special comfort item they’re attached to whether it’s a pacifier, stuffed animal or blanket. Keep those security/comfort items in the bed and only allow them to be used at sleep time.
3. Safe zone.
Is the room too dark? Too noisy? Maybe a little too scary for your toddler? Well keep it safe with “monster spray”, and a nightlight! Some children need just a little ambient light and reassurance that there aren’t monsters hiding under the bed or in the closet. Monster spray can be something as simple as a spray bottle with a little water.
4. Sticker chart.
Most toddlers will do anything for a sticker and positive reinforcement goes a long way. Reward your child with a sticker for both getting into bed without a fuss and then again for staying in bed. Keep rewards attainable. After 3-4 days of earning all his stickers allow him to choose a small prize or a special treat. Work up to a week and let him choose a “bigger” reward.
5. Pitch a tent
Maybe the transition to a big kid bed is scary because there’s so much open space for your little guy. Pitch a tent on the bed! You can buy tents specifically to use in a bed, it provides a sense of security and the feeling of a crib without being in a crib. It might be just what your little one needs while making that big transition.
6. Stick to a schedule.
This might be obvious for some of you, but sticking to a schedule, especially at bedtime can be very helpful for successful sleep. Keep the bedtime routine consistent–bath, pj’s, stories and sleep; or whatever it looks like for your family stick to it! Kids thrive on consistency and routines.
Along with a consistent bedtime routine stick to low key and relaxing activities leading up to bedtime. If you have some time to fill after dinner and before bath time consider doing puzzles together, coloring or sharing stories about your day. Whatever you choose be sure it won’t rev up your child and have them bouncing around before it’s time to settle down for the night.
8. Sleep begets sleep.
Avoid skipping naps and messing with your child’s sleep schedule. You’d be surprised how easily a normal tired child can turn into an overtired hyper child. Stick to your bedtime routine and schedule, you’ll all be happier in the morning!
9. Shut the door.
This might seem over simplified but shut the bedroom door. Maybe you thought keeping it open would help your child feel more secure but it could be keeping them up and interested in what’s going on in the rest of the house. So, close the door!
10. When all else fails…
Your little one keeps hopping out of bed after implementing the other tricks and tips, don’t worry it won’t be like that forever. Be consistent and return him to bed each and every time. Do not engage with him or show any emotion, simply put him back in his bed. It might take a dozen (or thirty) times before he gets it, but it won’t last forever and in the end you’ll all be sleeping soundly.
What tricks have you used to help keep your little one in bed? Share in the comments and join the discussion!