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How to get toddler to stay in bed

toddler refusing to stay in bed

My son is 28 months old and refuses to sleep in his own bed anymore.  He is in a toddler bed and was on a great routine for a while.  One day he decided he was not sleeping in his own bed anymore.  He started by coming into my room in the middle of the night to sleep with me if he woke up.  Now he will not even lay in his bed for a nap.  I have started driving around at nap time for about 15 minutes until he falls asleep.  I tried not to start that habit, but he is terrible when he misses his nap.  He is so miserable if he doesn't get enough sleep and I am concerned for all of our sanity!  For a while it was just trouble at nap time.  Now he has realized he can do the same thing at bed time.  We have a routine that we follow every night before bed so he knows what to expect.  He gets in his bed without a complaint and lets me tuck him in and walk out.  15 minutes later he comes out of his room and wants to play or go to my bed.  I have tried placing him back in his bed every time he gets up over and over.  We have done this for over an hour with no luck.  He seems to think it's a game, even though we do not give him any encouragement.  We place him in his bed and walk out every time after the first attempt.  Please please help me find a solution to get him back in his bed before we all go crazy!  I have considered getting him a twin or full size bed if that would make him more comfortable, but I think he should have plenty of room in his toddler bed.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!!  Thank you!!

You are at a parenting crossroads that all parents come to. You could continue to return him to his bed every time he gets out. You could continue to drive around until he falls asleep. My guess is you now realize that this approach is exhausting and failing to teach your son anything. Each night he pushes you farther and farther. He understands what you want and he understand that he is disobeying. He also knows that their is no consequence for this type of disobedience. Left unchecked his nighttime routine will continue to worsen and you will begin to see more daytime disobedience.

You need to set up a new plan with new limits. We use a variety of discipline techniques in our family. “Time out” is great, but really doesn’t work to teach a child to stay in their bed.

Two simple suggestions

1.) Lock the door - We use the child proof locks on the inside of our younger boy’s bedroom doors. Their bedroom is located in a position that they could theoretically get outside without our knowledge. We use the locks as part of a layer of security to insure their safety. You could easily use the same locks to solve your current problem.

2.) The two gate system - My favorite technique is described in moving to a toddler bed.

Once you (and your spouse) choose a new plan it must be consistently employed. If your son cries until you open the door or take down the gates then your plan will fail. By giving into his crying you would effectively teach him to cry for what he wants. Set up a new system and consistently stick to "the rules". The first few nights you begin your new discipline technique it will be tough. Once he understand the new rules and sees you are going to stick to them his behavior will improve. Hang in there!

 

Written March 2013 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician

 

 

 

 

 

gregorygordonmd.com is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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