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!
You 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.
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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.
Get more tips:
- 5 Tips to Try When Your Toddler Wakes Up Too Early
- 6 Tips to Get Through the Toddler Sleep Regression
- Transitioning to a Toddler Bed at 18 Months
- How to Handle Your 1 Year Old Waking Up at Night and Not Going Back to Sleep
- Toddler Fighting Sleep? 5 Tips You Can Try
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