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How To Keep a Toddler In Bed: Helpful Nighttime Strategies

how to keep toddler in bed

Are you confused about how to keep a toddler in bed at night? Kinedu has terrific resources and tips so you and your little one can rest!

To a toddler, the world is an exciting place filled with things to see and explore, even at bedtime. So, you may wonder how to keep a toddler in bed when they are no longer in a crib. Thankfully, this stage of childhood doesn’t last, and you can help make the transition to a big bed easier for you and your child. 

Not every baby will move from a crib to a big bed as they grow. Some children will co-sleep with their parents, while others may use a bassinet or portable cradle. No matter what sleeping arrangements your toddler has currently, changing their routine can bring some opposition and fear.

Why Your Toddler Won’t Stay In Bed

Each child is unique and will have their reasons for not staying in bed, even when it’s time to sleep. In addition, there may be one or more things causing your young one to get out of bed when they should be sleeping.

Learn more about toddler sleep and get tips and tricks with Rebecca Spencer’s Masterclass! 

Some common motivations for toddlers to leave their beds include: 

  • Potty breaks
  • Needs attention or help with something
  • Wanting to play 
  • Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)
  • Cannot self-soothe 

Potty Breaks

Toddlers will mature at their own individual rates, which can make bedtime a chore. If your little one is potty training, they may be nervous about nighttime accidents. Often, young kids will get out of bed if they have to go to the bathroom or need help with a potty break. 

Needs Attention or Help With Something

Small children may seek any excuse to get your attention, especially when testing your boundaries. Is it typical for your toddler to ask for a glass of water or an extra hug? Your child may take the opportunity to get out of bed since they know you will give them attention. 

Wanting To Play

Sometimes the bedroom is a fun place to be, even at nighttime. If your toddler has fun toys, books, or other items to distract them from sleeping, they may get out of bed more often. However, having access to their favorite toys can make it harder for your toddler to settle down at bedtime.

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) 

Children don’t like to miss out on any fun, interesting things, which can make bedtime tougher. Unfortunately, this situation can be common in homes with large families where younger ones want to stay awake with older siblings. So if your toddler thinks they will miss something by going to bed, they may continue to get up

Cannot Self-Soothe

Self-soothing is a coping tool that can help a child fall asleep independently. If your toddler cannot self-soothe and relax to go to sleep, they may get out of bed and come to you. Looking elsewhere for comfort can result in a toddler who won’t stay in bed

How To Keep a Toddler In Bed

If your youngster dislikes staying in bed, they aren’t alone. Thankfully, with patience, proactive methods, and consistency, you can keep a toddler in bed and get some sleep! 


It’s important to recognize that this phase will not last forever. Although a lack of sleep can make it more challenging to handle a tired toddler, you will both be sleeping soundly in no time. 

Download Kinedu and get access to expert-led live and on-demand classes on baby & toddler sleep!

When figuring out how to get a toddler to stay in bed, following these tips can help.  

  • Maintain a consistent bedtime routine
  • Stay in the room while your child falls asleep
  • Use positive recognition 
  • Avoid giving attention to negative behaviors

Maintain a Consistent Bedtime Routine

One of the best methods you can do when learning how to keep a toddler in bed is to stick to a consistent bedtime routine. Some parents find it helpful to start winding down for bedtime earlier by giving their child a warm bath and reading a story. 

When you follow the same bedtime routine, your toddler will know what to expect and will be less likely to get out of bed. In addition, sticking to your boundaries for bedtime helps your child recognize what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Stay In the Room While Your Child Falls Asleep

Some children may experience separation anxiety, which motivates your toddler to get out of bed and come to you for support. Although staying with your child may not be an ideal bedtime routine, sitting in your toddler’s room as they settle into bed can reinforce a comforting presence. 

After some time, your child should settle down at bedtime without having you stay in the room with them.

Use Positive Recognition

Try to avoid punishing your child when they get out of bed. Kids will respond to attention, even negative attention. Therefore, you want to make a big production when your toddler stays in bed but minimize the time you spend correcting their behavior when they don’t. 

Rather than punishing your toddler for getting out of bed, using positive recognition can have a lasting impression. For example, you can try a reward calendar, sticker chart, or another motivational way to recognize and reward your toddler when they remain in bed.

Avoid Giving Attention To Negative Behaviors 

When determining how to keep a toddler in bed, parents should remember to avoid giving attention to kids who act out negatively. If your young one gets out of bed, bring them back to their room without making a big deal about it. 

Limit the time you talk and interact with your toddler. Instead, simply state facts, like “beds are for sleeping and it’s time to sleep now”, as you encourage them to return to bed. The less you engage with your child, the less likely they will get out of bed and come to you. 

Wrapping Up

Grasping how to keep a toddler in bed can be challenging. Your youngster may use one or more excuses for getting out of bed instead of sleeping. Thankfully, you can help your toddler fall asleep in their bed and stay there with consistency and patience. 
For more information on sleep habits, download Kinedu and access expert-led classes on baby sleep and other important topics for parents.

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