How to Keep Your Toddler in Their Room at Night

Does your child keep opening the door to come to your room now that they’re in a bed? Learn how to keep your toddler in their room at night!

How to Keep Toddler in Room at NightYou finally made the transition from a crib to a toddler bed. One that allows your child not only to roam the room, but to open the door and leave.

But every night, right on cue around two in the morning, he climbs into your bed. You don’t mind the snuggles, but he clearly takes up bed space, leaving everyone sleep deprived.

Without the crib to keep him contained the way he used to be, he now keeps getting up in the middle of the night. Besides your bed, he has also been found playing in the living room (and even eating a snack!). You spend half the evening trying to get him to settle back into his room, leaving both of you tired and upset.

Why you should keep your toddler in their room

As you might have guessed, there’s no one right answer for this situation. I’m guessing though that, if you’re here, you’re more concerned with keeping your child in her room than debating whether to do so in the first place.

Below, I’ll share several tips on how to keep your toddler in her room at night, along with best practices to make this transition easier and smoother. But first, let’s talk about a few reasons to keep her in the room (in case you feel guilty for doing so):

  • This is temporary. As she transitions into a toddler bed, consider this a temporary situation, not a permanent one.
  • You’re still checking in on her at set times. You’re not just closing the door and calling it a night. Instead, you’re checking in on her several times until she falls asleep.
  • She’s safer in her room. More than likely, her baby-proofed room is safer than if she were to roam the other rooms of the house. You also know exactly where she is in case of a real emergency.
  • She was already “confined” in her crib. If the thought of keeping her from opening the door breaks your heart, remember that she was already “stuck” in her crib. Think of her room as an extension of the crib—before, she couldn’t get out of the crib, and now the same is true with her room.

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How to keep your toddler in their room at night

You tried walking her back to her room except, over two hours later, you ended up relenting and letting her stay in your bed. She’s walking all over the house, and you’re afraid she could hurt herself along the way. No one in the family is getting any sleep or feeling rested.

So, how can you keep her in her room at night? Take a look at these tips and methods below:

1. Use a toddler alarm clock

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Some toddlers get out of bed not in tears or frustration, but because they don’t know when they can. “Wake up time is at 7am” doesn’t help when your toddler doesn’t know when 7am happens.

One tool to help is a toddler alarm clock. Many either light up a particular color or play a tune at a certain time, signaling to her that she can get out of her room. Rather than figuring out the numbers on a digital clock or the hands of an analog one, she sees a clear cue when it’s time to get up.

2. Have a consistent bedtime routine

Predictability helps ease your child’s anxieties about what comes next and when. By keeping a consistent routine at bedtime and even for naps, he learns that this is simply the way things are. The familiarity makes it much easier to comply than to fight being in his room.

One simple way to stay consistent with your bedtime routines is to start at the same time every night. Then, do the same activities in the same order, such as taking a warm bath, changing into pajamas, and reading two books. You can also offer a special lovey to signal that it’s time to sleep.

3. Stop stall tactics

Does your toddler insist on getting for various reasons? Maybe he says he needs to go to the bathroom, drink a glass of water, or that his blanket fell off the floor.

Address his typical stall tactics before settling him into bed. For instance, take him to the potty right before bed and explain that this is so that he doesn’t have to get up in the middle of the night. Show him that you’re tucking his blanket under the mattress so that it doesn’t fall off.

And set boundaries by refusing to meet his unreasonable demands and requests. Sure, he can have a bedtime story, but not 10 of them. He can go to the bathroom once or even twice at night (especially if he’s potty training), but any more than that and it’s likely become an excuse to get up.

4. Prevent your toddler from getting out repeatedly

The last thing you want to do is to pull the door shut on one side while your toddler tries to pull it open on the other. Instead, make sure to close the door so that she can’t roam the house.

You can also reuse your baby gate as a barrier. Place it on the doorway, preventing her from getting out. She can still open the door, but won’t be able to leave.

And lastly, see if you can try different approaches and “negotiate.” Maybe she can play with a few quiet toys in bed or you can leave the door ajar so she can see the hallway light through the gap.

5. Check in at set times

Keeping kids in the room doesn’t mean you close the door and never check on them. Instead, check in at set times. Once you close the door, set your timer for 5 minutes, at which point you can go to your toddler’s room and remind her that it’s time to sleep.

Repeat the same at 10 and 15 minutes (and every 15 minutes thereafter if needed). She can feel reassured that you’re still here while getting the message that she should sleep in her room.

Keep your check-ins brief, too. The goal isn’t to calm her down so she stops crying, but for you to make sure all is okay and for her to know you’re here. Keep these check-ins to no more than 30 seconds, popping your head in to reassure her.

Want to see what she’s doing between these check-ins? Use the baby monitor you used when she was an infant. This is a great way to check on her without having to go into her room (and riling her up even more).

With consistency, she learns that the only option is to stay in her room at nighttime.


It’s no fun when your toddler keeps getting out of her own bed to come to yours or roam the house. Whether in the middle of the night or the morning, keeping her in her room can help the whole family feel rested.

Make sure to keep her in her room so she doesn’t roam the house while you’re asleep. Have a consistent bedtime routine for predictability, and avoid unreasonable stall tactics.

Check in on her at set times so she knows you’re here while getting the message that she should sleep in her room. And lastly, an alarm clock can send a clear signal when she can get out of it.

Soon, she can stay in her room all night—long past her usual 2am wake ups.

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  1. So is the door left locked all night? What do you suggest i do when my LO wakes in the middle of the night and can’t get out and is crying? Thx

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi there! That’s totally up to you. You could sneak in the room once you know she’s fast asleep and remove the lock. You could also use a baby monitor or leave your door open so you can hear her if she cries at night (and at which point you should check in on her).

  2. What if the my LO has to pee? His issue is, he wakes up at 5:30am to pee and then doesn’t want to go back to bed. The bathroom is in the hallway so he has to leave the room. Not sure if it’s worth it to put a potty in his room?

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi there! Waking up at 5:30 can be pretty challenging since it’s close enough to wake up time that it can be hard to fall back asleep (especially if you’re walking out to pee). I wouldn’t discourage him from peeing if he really has to. But one thing I would try is to limit his liquids after dinner, and do one last potty before being tucked in bed. That way, he has less of a need to pee in the morning.

  3. Hello, I cam across your article in desperation. I recently switched my 23month old from crib to big girl bed. The first few nights she did great, was super happy about her bed and everything was great. She didn’t get out of bed, didn’t cry or anything. Went to bed like she did in her crib. Peacefully. Now, about a week later, she’s started freaking out. Crying and screaming like she is dying at bedtime and nap time, seriously freaking out like I’m surprised my neighbors haven’t called the cops bc if I didn’t know any better it’d sound like someone was torturing her. Is this normal? Is it just another sleep regression? Delayed reaction to the big kid bed? I tried the whole picking her up and putting her back in bed a over and over for hours without saying anything until I was just so exhausted I left the room and shut the door. She cried at the door, and I spoke to her over the baby camera every few minutes while I tried to pull myself back together. I went back in and did the same thing, picked her put her back in bed, except this time I stayed sitting on her bed. (was thinking I’d try a version of the chair method that I used for past sleep regressions in her crib). She fell asleep. I left and woke at 12:30am to her screaming crying at her door. I went in and just laid in bed with her and actually fell asleep so I ended up staying the whole night in there with her. I was tired. Today I layed with her for her nap bc I didn’t have the fight in me. I’m stressed about tonight, idk what to do. I have my sisters saying to leave the door cracked so she can come find me at night, to just lay with her till she falls asleep. And I love my daughter I do, but I do not want to have to do that every night. Lay with her till she falls asleep I’m a strong believer in parents having time together. Basically my question ig is what should I do? Should I keep putting her in bed till she stays in bed along with the chair method? Or should I let her get out of bed and just cry at door while I do the cry it out method of checking in every 5-10-15minutes? Or should I keep putting her in bed, walk out and only come back to put her back into bed and also do the checking in every 5-10-15 minutes? Is this even normal? That she’s so scared of sleeping alone in her bed? Am I damaging my relationship with her? Please help. I inky have my sisters to turn tk for parenting advice and their youngest kids still sleep in bed with them and like I said I love my daughter, but I need alone time with my husband so having her sleep with us or us in her bed is a no go. Please help.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Big hugs, Aubree <3 I can so relate to the frustration and exhaustion of this experience. I do agree that you should keep putting her in bed but only at the 5-10-15 minute check-ins. That way, you're not going in every time she cries, but you're also reinforcing the idea that it's time to sleep. With consistency, she can hopefully learn that it's okay to be asleep in her big bed.

      I would also talk to her the next day and ask her why she thinks she cries at bedtime. She might reveal a few things you're not aware of, like a new fear of shadows or she wants to spend time with you. If you could get to the root cause, it might help with how you tackle the problem. But you want to do this when she's calm, not when she's crying in the moment.

      Hang in there, mama <3

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