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How do you get your toddler to stay in bed?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I'm at my wit's end.  DD2 is now 3 years old and has had "access" to her big girl bed (a regular twin size bed alongside her sister's) since shortly after she turned 2.  The reason I say she has "access" is because she simply will not stay in the bed unless she is already asleep.  At first, we let her fall asleep in the crib and then moved her to the bed so that she could experience waking up in the bed.  After months of doing this, I decided to bite the bullet and put her to bed in the bed and just continue to return her to bed every time she got up (I figured this would last a few days).  Each night I spent 2 hours chasing her back to bed.  It all became a game to her.  I even tried going to bed myself and turning off all the house lights so she would stay in the room.  She took herself downstairs, turned on a light, and started looking at books.  The more I told her to go back to bed, the more entertaining she found it.  I did this for 2 weeks.  On the night that I found myself playing the game for 3 hours straight at 11:00PM, I gave up.


The next night I told her if she got out of the bed she would go in the crib, and this became the new routine - bed, crib,bed.  Then she got really good at getting out of the crib safely and quickly.  So we stopped using it.  My sister suggested I let her fall asleep in a carseat if she doesn't stay in bed, so that was the next step (I had an extra one from DD1).  Every night, when I put her to bed, I explain that if she gets out of bed she'll have to go in the car seat.  Every night she promises to stay in bed, and every night she ends up in the car seat.  At first, she used to like falling asleep in the car seat, but now she cries and says it's for babies.  I hate putting her in it, but I can't keep chasing her back to bed unitl the wee hours.  We both need to sleep.  I feel like the car seat is just replacing the crib. It helps her fall asleep, but she's not actually learning to stay in bed.


Anybody else going or have gone through this?  Any advise?  Please help...she got out of the car seat also tonight.

post #2 of 14

When you say chase are you in another room? What if you place a chair beside her bed & immediately place her back in the bed when she gets out. Do this without talking & very calmly. That is what I have been doing with ds & he now stays in his bed -- now if he would just go to sleep....

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you, Lifeguard, for your reply.  I forgot to mention that's how we started.  There is still a rocker in her room, so I sat there and silently put her back to bed each time.  I think the fact that I was in the room was just too much fun for her.  She would just immedately get out of bed again as soon as I put her in.  She made a game out of me picking her up and putting her in bed.  That's when I decided I needed to just leave the room.  Maybe I will try it again, though.  Maybe my presence there will remind her that the consequence is going into the carseat.

post #4 of 14

If she had her way, where would she prefer to sleep?  With my son, as soon as we converted the crib to a toddler bed, he decided he wanted to sleep on the floor in his room.  We had tried the whole moving him into the bed after he was asleep, but he would just wake up and move back to the floor.  I realized that as long as he's getting sleep, I'll let him sleep where he wants to.  Now we're getting ready to move him to his big boy room and I'm wondering if he'll sleep in the bed this time.

post #5 of 14

We are not at this stage yet, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but why does she need to sleep in the bed? Could you let her set up an area to sleep -- a corner of her room with some blankets, a sleeping bag, the couch -- and just let her fall asleep wherever she is comfortable? It sounds like the whole thing has become a bit of a power struggle, and maybe once she realizes you aren't going to tell her where to sleep, she will choose the bed on her own. Or maybe she will become better able to vocalize what it is she dislikes about the bed, once she's had the opportunity to sleep in several different places. 

post #6 of 14
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

We are not at this stage yet, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but why does she need to sleep in the bed? Could you let her set up an area to sleep -- a corner of her room with some blankets, a sleeping bag, the couch -- and just let her fall asleep wherever she is comfortable? It sounds like the whole thing has become a bit of a power struggle, and maybe once she realizes you aren't going to tell her where to sleep, she will choose the bed on her own. Or maybe she will become better able to vocalize what it is she dislikes about the bed, once she's had the opportunity to sleep in several different places. 


That's what I was thinking. We have a 2.5 year old boy and my mantra has been, "Choose your battles". Is this one worth having? I mean, it might be. But maybe not. Maybe you should just let her sleep where she wants to sleep.

This is how we finally accomplished pooping in the potty with my son. Once I decided that he will just decide to poop in there when HE wants to and let him get to that point on his own, he started doing it.
But, I could also see how it could be a safety issue if she just won't stay in her room. If I let my DS have access to the house while we slept, it could be a problem.

post #7 of 14

We have actually put a baby gate on ds' door. If we're not in the room he can get out of bed & roam his room but he can't leave. We can hear him & he can hear us. Maybe that would be an option. Then you could just ignore the fact that she isn't in bed.

post #8 of 14

How does she fall asleep?  Are you with her?  Or does she fall asleep on her own (in the crib)?


Why cant she sleep in the crib?  She climbs out?  Is the issue she just isn't staying in any bed all night?


DD is 2, so a little younger, but I have to lay with her on a futon mattress on the floor and sing to her until she falls asleep.  She will not fall asleep in her toddler bed, there's just no way.  And I'm too tired at the end of the day to fight with her on the issue.  DD usually still wakes 1-2 (or more) times a night and calls out for me, so I stumble in and lay her back down.  Sometimes I need to lay with her for a bit for her to settle.


post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you mamas for your responses.  I know everyone means very well, and I wish it really were as easy as letting her fall asleep wherever she wants to.  I don't think the problem is that I'm telling her where to fall asleep as much as it is that I'm telling her to fall asleep.  When we first put the bed in the room, we left the crib in there also because I knew this was where she preferred to fall asleep.  She loved the big girl bed but still asked to sleep in the crib, so we let her...until she started climbing our of the crib as quickly as we put her in there.  I think part of the problem is that she is not handling the freedom of the big girl bed too well.  Although she tells me that she wants to sleep in the bed and promises to stay in the bed, the temptation of getting up and roaming the world just calls to her too much.  Before, when she felt like she couldn't get out of the crib, she would fall asleep pretty much right away and on her own.  As soon as she mastered getting out of the crib, it was no longer a place where she could fall asleep.  The same thing happened with the car seat at first.  As soon as she went in there, she would turn on her side, cuddle with her lovie and fall asleep.  Now she spends most of the time trying to get out of it, because she knows that she can.


One night I let her just roam the house, because I figured she would just play until she got tired and then just drop wherever she was.  I found her in my vanity playing with my make-up...not a pretty situation.  She's just not that kind of kid.  She will just go and go indefinitely if there are no boundaries.  I would let her sleep anywhere as long as she were sleeping.  Letting her stay up until 12, 1, 2 or who knows when is not a habit that I really want to start now, since one day she'll have to go to school and really have to go to bed at a decent hour.


So the only two suggestions that I haven't tried are sleeping in the room with her or putting a gate at the room door.  I have reasons for not having gone in either of those directions.  One is that I don't want to create another problem by having her get used to me sleeping in her room and then waking up in the middle of the night calling for me to come back, and the other is that I have never liked the idea of having my kids fell like they are "locked" in their room.  However, given where we find ourselves now, I think I will have to choose my poison.


Thank you everyone.  I really needed to "talk" this out with someone.  We were really having a rough night.

post #10 of 14

I guess I see the baby gate on the room door as just making the room a big crib.

post #11 of 14

I may have to do the baby gate thing too! Ugh. Every night is a battle with DS. he won't let me lay down with him, and he doesn't want me to leave the room. He just doesn't want to go to sleep and screams and fights for at least 45 minutes. At least if there's a baby gate at the door, he'll get the idea eventually that he has to at least lay down, whether he goes to sleep or not. I'm not looking forward to the third trimester of this pregnancy! I'll be sooooo tired :)

post #12 of 14

I am currently dealing with this issue, though my 3 yo ds has a different approach - he refuses to sleep anywhere but my bed. This is new. He easily transitioned from co-sleeping with me to his own "big boy" bed - an awesome toddler firetruck bed, I might add - and slept peacefully in it for a solid year (from age 2 until 3). Suddenly, for the last month, he is terrified to sleep in his room, and will only fall asleep in my bed. This wouldnt concern me overmuch except that he is so used to sleeping in his bed (or was, anyway) that when he wakes up in my room around midnight because he has to pee, he is disoriented, and inevitably pees the bed (MY bed). He has never once peed in his own bed, not at  nighttime or any other time since we potty trained over 6 months ago. This is frustrating in the extreme. I dont mind him sleeping with me, I'm a single mom, and I have always allowed him access to my bed, though I have certainly enjoyed having space to stretch since he moved into his own bed :) But now the bedtime battle is him refusing to sleep in his own bed, or in his own room, and the nights I give in and let him crash out in my bed means about 90% of the time I have to change a wet bed when I head to bed. Very frustrating.


As for your dd and the baby gate - if she can climb out of a crib, chances are, she can go over the baby gate. My son does. One night in the midst of the bedtime power struggle, I sat in the doorway of the room. I placed him in bed, rubbed his back, gave him a drink of water, did all the soothing things I could to settle him down, told him he needed to remain in bed to sleep, then retreated to the doorway. I sat in the doorway, and every time he got out of bed, I very calmly and matter of factly walked him back to bed, tucked him in and went back to my post in the doorway. We did it several times, and there were some tears, and I think a temper tantrum, if I recall correctly, but eventually it wore him out, and he stayed in bed. Essentially, I became the baby gate lol.gif.  That was months ago, though, and I dont know if he would give in as easily now. It sounds as if your dd has limitless energy to bounce back and forth, too. Try not to make it a game, or to show reaction or feeling, frustration, or any emotional response. Be very quiet, very calm, and dont talk. That was the only way I was able to let my son know that I was not going to play, not going to get angry, not going to react - he got nothing out of it but my calm silence as I escorted him back to his bed. And always "I love you" and a kiss, so he knew I wasn't angry, just insistent.  Bedtime struggles are so hard. I hope you find a solution, keep us posted, because I'm looking for one too!

post #13 of 14

The original post sounds exactly like our situation. Our son turns 2 this week. At 17 months, he was big enough and active enough that he could climb out of his crib, so we took the side off and started working on getting him to stay in bed. It was a disaster. For the next 5 weeks, I spent between 4 and 7 hours a day trying to keep him in bed. Everything turned into a game. I tried every recommendation listed here. If i sat in the room with him, it took progressively more time for him to fall asleep. If I put up a baby gate or tried to let him fall asleep wherever he wanted, he simply didn't sleep. He could go for hours, until he eventually either needed to eat or needed a dry diaper. When he did sleep, he never slept well. I finally gave up. Somewhere i ran across a something that said that if you hadn't succeeded in getting them to stay in bed within a week, using the same method every time they got up, then they simply weren't ready, to give it a few months and try again. So, we ended up turning the crib around (one side is taller than the other) and putting nonskid pads like you'd use under a carpet under the feet. Without the nonskid, he'd push the crib out from the wall with his feet and get out that way. That worked and he slept well until a week ago.


At that point, all the nonskid in the world was not enough to keep him from pushing the bed out, and he figured out how to climb out over the side. So we're back to trying to get him to sleep in his bed without any options left for keeping him in bed if this doesn't work. I've heard of lots of people having luck with the stand and the door and calmly and emotionlessly walk them back to bed approach, but we're on day 4 and I'm losing faith. Since he knows he can get up, he has been several times a night and naps are a nightmare.

So i'm curious, since this thread was started a few months ago, if anyone has anything else to suggest or any reports of how things are going?

post #14 of 14

DD has been sleeping on a mattress on the floor since she moved to her own room at 15 months. we always closed the door, and she always stayed in bend. 8 weeks ago she learned how to open her door. I had always thought once she could open the door I would just let her be able to get herself up, but once she knew she could get out, it was hours getting her down for the night, and she wasn't napping at all. since this started just days before DS was born we broke down and got a doorknob cover and put it on the inside of her door.

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