Time for Bed. These three words have magical powers. Not only do toddlers immediately get amazing bursts of energy as soon as you say those three words, but they also discover that they are hungry, thirsty, and need to go to the bathroom 3 more times. Time for Bed is the perfect way to discover that the favorite animal is missing, the pj’s are dirty and the bedroom floor is covered with mega blocks. And getting a toddler into his/her bed is only half the battle. Figuring out how to keep a toddler in their bed is even more fun. Here are two tips that have worked for me getting my own toddler to stay in her own bed without pulling my hair out.
Stick to a Routine
Having a bedtime schedule is crucial to helping toddlers stay in their bed. There needs to be a routine that is followed every night so they can get all the extras done before it’s actually time for sleep. Decide what is important to your family. You may want to make a chart to help your toddler establish this routine. Try to start the tasks at the same time each night so that the child will understand the process. Do the extra drink of water, search for their favorite stuffed animal or pajamas before you actually expect your child to go to bed. They will then come to expect it making it a lot easier for you.
Sure, we all want our children to do things because it is the right thing to do. But when you are training your toddler and forming lifelong sleep habits, you may need to add incentives. Offer stickers or fun rewards if your child stays in bed like they are supposed to. You may call it a bribe but I call it an incentive and trust me, it works.
Tip: If your child habitually gets out of bed multiple times each night, then you might want to offer rewards for every time they do not get up. Have 5 new stickers, fruit snacks, or little toys sitting out on the kitchen table. Every time they get up, you take away one of the rewards. You might need to hit up the Dollar Store or thrift store to stock up on incentives and prizes.
Now if your little one is having nightmares or are afraid of the monster in the closet or under the bed and want to sleep in bed with you, I suggest you do let them but put them back to bed once they are fast asleep. You may also stay in their room with them, whichever is your preference until they are fast asleep. A nightlight can also help in a situation such as this.
Getting your toddler to stay in their bed is not an easy task for most parents, but it is possible to teach this good habit. Got any other tips?