When my oldest daughter turned two, she learned to crawl out of her crib. Getting her to stay in bed after that point was ridiculously hard, as you’ll read in this post.
But once we got her a bed of her own, decked out in Minnie bedding, she slept like a champ. It was a miracle!
Well, that same 2-year-old girl is now three, going on four. Her bedtime is at 8 p.m., and she wakes up the next day between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. It all depends on how loud her younger twin sisters are while she is trying to get sleep. Sometimes, she will hear them, wake up, and say, “I’m trying to sleep! Be quiet!” She really loves her sleep, and is a very good sleeper.
But sometimes, that same good sleeper wakes up to nightmares, or wakes up in the middle of the night, sees the light is off and is not happy about it. And sometimes she wakes up for no reason at all.
When this happens, she does one of two things. One, she goes to the bathroom, sneaks in my room, and goes back to sleep. I find her once I wake up, laying there so peacefully in my husband’s spot since he is works during the night. Or two, she wakes up, maybe goes to the bathroom, and goes straight back to her room.
Don’t you just love it when the latter happens? But what about when it doesn’t? Here are some tactics you can use if your child is having a hard time staying in bed all night.
Figure out the problem and correct it
Why is your child waking up? This may be the hardest question to answer, especially if they can’t communicate very well yet. What keeps them from staying in bed? What are they complaining about? Is it something simple like you turned off their light before you went to bed? If so, just leave that light on. Get a dim nightlight, and just keep it on all night. Some kids can sleep with light and aren’t affected by it.
Or maybe it's something a little more complicated. Maybe it’s a scary dream, a loud noise that happens at the same time every night like the heater turning on, OR maybe they are sleep walking. Sometimes my daughter will be crying, and actually sitting up in her bed. I go in and lay her back down, and she's still asleep but now calm. It's the weirdest thing. It's like just the sound of mom telling her she's loved stops whatever is going on in her head. If you can find out the problem and nip it in the bud, that is the easiest option.
Use a sticker chart
If you think your child is getting out of bed for no reason, other than to get in bed with mom and dad, try using some type of reward system. Sometimes we forget that positive reinforcement works well to correct problem behaviors. And let them be involved in making/choosing the sticker chart, or the stickers you’ll put on it. The more fun you make the process, the more they are likely to do it and succeed.
Once it’s made, reward your child with a sticker every time they stay in their room all night. If your child is potty trained, make sure they know that they are allowed to get out of bed to use the bathroom, but they need to go back to their own bed to get their sticker. You don’t want to have a wet bed every night!
Use silent motionsPicture this. Your child gets out of bed. They come and find you, wanting to get in your bed. You get up, walk them back to their room, without a word, lay them back in bed, and say nothing at all. For some kids, this may be the only way for them to realize that they don’t get playtime with their mom just because they woke up. This is a silent, “get back to your own bed” method that actually works quite well.
If you’ve tried all those tips, and nothing else is working, comment below and I’ll write some up more tips just for you!
Good luck mamas!
*Sleep is essential. We need sleep to function, to take care of our children, to keep up on every single task life throws at us, to keep our sanity. Are you getting your eight hours or do you have a baby who is keeping you up? Let’s remedy that! In the “Rested Mamas are Happy Mamas” series of our blog, sleep expert Jackie calms all of your sleep woes. Have a question or problem that needs fixing? Comment on the series, and a blog will be published just for you!*