When Your Toddler Won’t Stay in Bed

When Your Toddler Won’t Stay in Bed

If you’re having a hard time getting your toddler to stay in bed, you’re not the only one! Nowadays you can find lots of tips, routines, and advice online to help them form the habit. Different methods will work for different toddlers, so keep trying techniques until you find one that sticks.

The Camping Out Method

This method starts with you sitting by your child as they fall asleep. You can leave the room once they fall asleep, and if they wake up, you can help soothe them back to sleep. After a few nights of sitting next to them, put a chair near their bed and sit in that instead of with your child. Once your child adjusts to that, move the chair a little further away. Eventually, you’ll move the chair out of the child’s room, and your child will be able to fall asleep on their own.

The Ferber Method

This technique was created by Dr. Richard Ferber, the founder of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA. Some people mistakenly believe that this is the same as the “cry it out” method, but that’s not true.

The theory behind the technique is that you end up teaching your child how to soothe themselves to sleep. You accomplish this by putting your child to bed after a nice, loving bedtime routine, and then checking in on them periodically. Between check-ins, you leave them by themselves for incrementally longer periods of time. This gets confused with the “cry it out” method because you’re supposed to leave your child for designated periods of time, regardless of their reaction. However, the Ferber method does have you check on your child once the designated period of time is over. This is not a technique for every family, nor one that I recommend to everyone, but is a well-known technique that works for some families.

Use a Positive Reward System

For every night that they stay in bed, give them a sticker on their “Stay in Bed” chart. After so many stickers, give them a reward, like a special outing with a parent or a yummy treat. If you usually shut the door while they’re falling asleep, you could “reward” them by keeping the door open as long as they stay in their bed. You could also give them something special at breakfast when they stay in their bed the night before.

These are just a couple of the methods you can try to get your little one to stay in bed, but there are lots out there to choose from. Just remember, routines take time to become established. It might be hard, but don’t give up! As you experiment with different methods, try out each one for several nights before moving on to the next one on the list.

For more information on the web, visit healthychildren.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding your toddler, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.