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How do you handle a toddler who won't stay in their bed?

(53 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Sat 02-Jul-16 19:29:10

My toddler is 2yr 3m and for the last 3-4 weeks he has been in a bed instead of a cot and it has caused a whole load of issues.

The main one is refusal to stay in his bed.

We have a stair gate across his door and a video monitor so I know he's safe and I can watch what he is up to but to be honest I don't know what is the right way to deal with it.

I'm torn between either completely ignoring him, letting him do as he wishes (within reason) until he eventually gives in/gets bored and goes to sleep...


Going in to him each time he gets out of bed, put him back in it and tell him it's bedtime.

I'm worried the first option means he will be up for hours causing trouble but then I'm worried the second option will just give him attention and turn bedtime into a fun game for him.

Any thoughts or suggestions will be most appreciated.

winnieandwilbur Sat 02-Jul-16 19:57:35

If he isn't crying his head off or trying to scale the walls or tunnel his way out I'd be inclined to leave him. I found mine in a range of places and positions when they were younger but at least they were asleep, happy and quiet. They generally stay in bed now. Occasionally I'll find them on the floor or in their den (under their cabin beds) but they're safe enough.

Convenientflush Sat 02-Jul-16 20:06:18

Put him back in a cot?

Chupachupslips Sat 02-Jul-16 20:10:57

Keep putting him back every time he gets out. It's a slog but that's what worked for us. If I left dd to play she would be still going at 10pm or shouting down

Diddlydokey Sat 02-Jul-16 20:11:34

A) unless He can climb over the stair gate

Doje Sat 02-Jul-16 20:14:32

We tried ignoring DS (now 2.5) but he ended up tired and cranky. He wouldn't drop off until 9pm sometimes!

What's worked for us is 2 things. Firstly, reduced his nap. He now has a nap on some days of 1 hour, and other days no nap at all, depending on how tired he is, and what we're doing that day. Secondly, when we put him down I say I'll check on him in two minutes. This means he (mostly) stays in bed. Sometimes, if he's wide awake, I say we'll check in another 5 minutes, etc, until he looks sleepy.

TheEagle Sat 02-Jul-16 20:15:45

We used to leave DS1 to his own devices to a certain extent. However if he was running amok we would go back up and put him back into bed.

Sometimes he would fall asleep in the middle of the floor grin

We couldn't put him back in the cot once he'd climbed out as it would have been unsafe.

Ragwort Sat 02-Jul-16 20:16:09

We ignored our toddler and after a few nights the novelty of getting out of the bed wore off - although he did fall asleep one night besides the stair gate grin.

Petal40 Sat 02-Jul-16 20:16:28

Neither.....clearly he is not cut out any daytime napping....and or put bedtime later....have a clear routine.supper,bath stories.bed....stay on the bed till he is a sleep......if you have given him enough exercise and he is tired ,he will be asleep in no time.....I did this with all 4 of mine and enjoyed lovely evenings to myself ....this was the routine I followed from day one with each a treat

TheEagle Sat 02-Jul-16 20:17:15

Oh, and in age terms, he's been in a bed since he was 20 months. He's now 2.5.

He hasn't napped since 21 months or so as it was affecting his nighttime sleep.

T0ddlerSlave Sat 02-Jul-16 20:41:08

I disagree with a pp who says he's clearly not tired enough. DD is also 2.4 and has been in bed a week. She's taking 2 hours to fall asleep whether she's had a huge yomp in the woods and no nap or not.

somehow were lucky enough that DD listens to the stay in bed when gro clock is stars, she acts like the floor is lava and isn't showing any signs of tiredness.

I have made her room really boring and will remove anything she gets out of bed to play with.

amarmai Sat 02-Jul-16 20:54:19

Paying attention ,whether negatively or positively,reinforces the behaviour. I wd ignore while keeping an eye on the monitor and like the idea of removing the play items that get his/her attention. I also prefer to lie down with unruly toddlers until they get sleepy , at least I get a rest , but don't tie it in with bad behaviour, just do it and see how it works.

Artandco Sat 02-Jul-16 20:58:36

Remove most toys from room, let him play and go in every 20 mins or so and suggest bedtime again, back into bed, cuddle kiss, goodnight. Make bedtime later to start with also

TheEagle Sat 02-Jul-16 21:01:20

Yes, we lie down with DS1 and read stories as he's lying down in bed.

He's usually too sleepy to get out of bed after storytime. It did take a few months of him getting used to a bed for this to happen though.

"Goodnight Moon" is a favourite for having a soporific effect.

JustAOneOffToday Sat 02-Jul-16 21:06:08

I disagree that he's not tired. When some toddlers become overtired they go into overdrive and pump adrenaline like there's no tomorrow, which of course makes it impossible to sleep. I have a second child like that.

If he's not crying is be tempted to leave it and see if the novelty wears off. Obviously I'd dim lights and remove toys other than books because I believe bedrooms should be clearly defined as place of rest at this age. If he's still going at it in a couple of weeks and you're noticing it affects him in the day, you'd need to rethink but if he's happily playing then at least you're not racing up and down stairs for hours of an evening like I have done in the past, trying to protect older child's sleep for school!

We also used a large animal baby gate which works wonders. I've taken recently to giving a full massage and love watching his eyes get heavy almost straight away. Soon he yawns and rubs eyes vigorously, and before I know it, I can walk away win a very tired boy soon to fall asleep. It's like they need to have enforced relaxation for their little bodies to succumb to sleep!

teenmumandsowhat Sat 02-Jul-16 21:12:50

I have a 2yr old, and a 3yr old, they both have been in beds since 14months old. They also share a room. And have a baby gate on their door.
For my own sanity, I tuck them into bed once, say goodnight. And leave them, I only return if they are ill, or seriously hurt each other.
They do get out of bed and play- particularly this time of year, but they have also learned how to get back into bed and tuck each other in.

Writerwannabe83 Sat 02-Jul-16 21:41:35

Thanks everyone for your comments.

When he was in a cot he had an afternoon nap every day after his lunch (about 1.5 hours long) but since the change into his bed he has never had a proper nap. The only time he sleeps in the day now is if we are in the car or he sparks out on the sofa.

There is nothing exciting in his room really, he just stands at the stair gate chatting and singing mostly. He also likes to open and shut his wardrobe door and also turn his bedroom light on and off. We've removed his lamp, his toys and books to prevent him from finding distractions but it hasn't had a huge positive effect.

When he first went into the bed he was quite anxious and we had to use a gradual retreat method over 2 weeks starting from lying in bed with him until he slept until now being able to say goodnight and go back downstairs.

Since moving into the bed his sleep has been reduced dramatically as he's having later nights (from messing about), no daytime naps and also waking earlier, getting upset that he's in a room on his own and then refusing to go back to sleep. He was up from 4am the other day as absolutely nothing DH or I did would make him go back to bed.

I fear the only option is to either lie with him in situations like this until he goes back to sleep or I bring him into bed with me to see if he will settle - the problem is that I don't want to create bad habits that we then struggle to break at a later date.

When he had his cot he slept 8pm-6am and then had his daytime nap too so definitely having adequate sleep whereas now his bedtime is more like 9pm-5am and then no proper nap in the day either.

I was kind of hoping that after 4 weeks things may have normalised a little and he'd happily get into bed and sleep there but there isn't any real improvement from when we first introduced it.

I have sometimes considered removing the bed and putting a travel cot in his room but DH thinks it is a step backwards and then 6 months down the line we will be back at square one when we re-introduce the bed again.

It all seems pretty hopeless.

KP86 Sat 02-Jul-16 21:45:59

Check out supernanny's method. Worked on our DS (basically same age as yours) in a couple of days, after two weeks of absolute hell. Now we have one or two slightly bad nights a week but mostly he stays in bed.

We also had to get a gate for across the door.

TheEagle Sat 02-Jul-16 22:35:06

We went through a tough transition with DS1 when he went into a bed as well. He was also contending with 2 new babies (DTs arrived when he was 18.5 months) so there was a lot of upheaval in his little world.

When he woke at 4/5 DH would take him into the spare bed and he'd fall straight back to sleep until 6.30/7. I appreciate this approach isn't for everyone but it works well for us.

We're almost a year since he went into a bed and, bar one major regression when he had bad croup at age 2, he'll sleep all night in his bed 5 out of 7 nights a week.

I don't think you can create bad habits by soothing him back to sleep but that's just my personal view and I know others will have other suggestions.

flowers for you and I hope you find a good compromise.

babyblabber Sat 02-Jul-16 22:37:38

My 2 cents would be you have two options:

A) put him back in a cot til he's 3 or

B) put him back in bed every time he gets up. Say "time for bed" the first time but nothing each time after that. Even if it takes an hour or more, he'll get the message.

We did B with DS and DD but the big difference was DS was ready for a bed, DD wasn't (we needed the cot for DD2!) in retrospect we should have left her in the cot (bought a cheap 2nd one maybe). She was a brilliant sleeper and although she still is, I think it was unfair to her when I look back.

TheEagle Sat 02-Jul-16 22:39:53

Was there a reason you moved him to a bed?

We would have kept DS1 in a cot longer except that he climbed out and it wasn't safe anymore!

JustAOneOffToday Sat 02-Jul-16 23:20:36

Maybe he just wasn't ready for the transition, op. I'd ignore DH and see if he settles back in the cot. They don't remember log term at this age so it will still be new in another 6 months, and by that time he may be ready.

LegoCaltrops Sat 02-Jul-16 23:29:21

We have this with DD. She's 4. We had co-slept, with a bedside cot, then she went into her own room. In a proper bed since 2, but she's been coming into our bed a lot over the last year. I absolutely couldn't do CIO, personal choice, but she came into our bed a lot, exhausting over the long term. In the end, we resorted to bribery - it worked with potty training. She gets a story at bedtime every night, but if she sleeps in her own bed all night & has a dry nappy in the morning, she gets 2 stories the next night (plus lots of praise etc) & if she manages a whole week, she gets to choose a chocolate animal shape (like a freddo bit nicer) from the local fancy chocolate shop at the weekend. It's working so far - 9 nights & counting. As with potty training, once she's doing really well & it's more of a habit, we'll move the goalposts & she will get 2 stories at the weekend if she manages the whole week. Or something like that.

Bribery is definitely the way to go.

Convenientflush Sun 03-Jul-16 00:20:34

How is it a step backwards if it isn't currently isn't working anyway?

3 year olds tend to be more sensible than 2 year olds, and are slightly better at following instructions and impulse control. Reward charts and bribes work better with this age group also.

amarmai Sun 03-Jul-16 11:04:53

Satisfying a little one's need for comfort or company will not lead to the bad habits IMO. Never heard of a teenager needing a parent in their room/bed.

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