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Toddler Won't Stay In Bed? Dealing with Toddler Sleep Regression

Toddler Won't Stay In Bed? Dealing with Toddler Sleep Regression

Parents and kids sleeping in bedroom

Most parents assume that surviving the first 18 months of lack of sleep is great and so they are out of the woods. Unfortunately, this is likely the start of more nightly disruptions as your kids get older. 

The more stimulation your children have, the more their minds start to imagine and wonder what could possibly be going on out there in the universe. Oftentimes it’s also what is happening in their room too.

Once this happens, the next stage is not being able to sleep and needing the security of a parent close by to make them feel reassured and safe.

Here’s a few tips that may just help:

Assess The Schedule

Sometimes, when you put your kids to bed at night, they’re not that tired. On the surface this doesn’t seem like such a big problem, but, unfortunately, this lack of tiredness causes huge problems later in the night. 

So, what might be a good idea is to assess whether their bedtime is too early.

For example, if your kids are taking an afternoon nap, then bedtime and before 7pm is likely going to be a struggle and it makes sense that they’re not that tired. If anything, is it possible for them to take a nap earlier perhaps?

In essence, your kid needs around 5 hours of wake time between the end of the afternoon nap and bedtime. Also, it’s worth considering that your kids may be overtired. 

If the nap that they’ve taken is too long, or their sleep is broken up constantly by either other siblings, noises outside, distractions going on inside the house, this might have a significant bearing on this. 

So consider what happens with their sleep schedule before they go to bed, so that they have a better night’s sleep at bedtime.

Ensure Their is a Bedtime Routine

There’s nothing better for a toddler than a regular bedtime routine. Being consistent here works wonders so that their bodyclock is able to be adjusted and programmed for the right time. 

This is not only good for their bodyclock, but it’s also good for the well being of your child. Knowing and understanding this routine is vital. It will also help with how they are the next day.

If you read them a story before they go to sleep, then try and ensure this isn’t too long. 15-30 minutes is perfect. It needs to work for both you and your children.

Try a Sticker Chart

Have you ever heard of a sticker chart before? Sticker charts are an amazing tool to encourage your children to do things. 

Is this a form of manipulation? Err, yeah it is, but for a good cause ;)

A sticker chart is a form of reward for every good task completed by your children. You can either put a sticker on the chart for the night before or put a sticker on the chart in the morning

Even more powerful is getting them to place the sticker on the chart so they get to participate in the success of completing certain tasks. Adhering to a bedtime routine could be one of those tasks that rewards them with a sticker.

Depending on where you look, you can get hold of some really cool, cute stickers to place on your chart. The more colourful and playful they are, the better. They’re also not too expensive either.

Consider Using The Door An Immediate Consequence

Sometimes your child’s behaviour might be down to some real anxiety or even a nightmare. If this is the case, you will probably want them to feel safe and secure. Dealing with this in the right way is vital when coupled with everything else we have discussed so far.

Sometimes, parents like to use the bedroom door as a consequence. You may give them the option of leaving the bedroom door ajar at 90 degrees on the condition that they stay in bed. 

If your child does get up, then the bedroom door closes 45 degrees. If they get up again, then the bedroom door is closed all of the way for a couple of minutes. At which point the process starts all over again.

To be clear, this isn’t for everyone and it also won’t be effective for everyone either. This is down to each parent’s judgement in determining whether or not this would work and whether you’re willing to be this tough.

Employ The Silent Return To Bed

No matter how hard we try and how many tweeks we make you will always get some jack-in-the-box moments from time to time. It’s inevitable I’m afraid.

As you’re already painfully aware, your children will always try to test the boundaries to see where the defenses are weak. After all, that’s their job and the only way they learn. Pushing boundaries is natural and something we learn at a young age and carry through into adulthood.

The “silent return to bed” routine is basically what it says on the tin. If your toddler wanders out of their room in the middle of the night, simply walk them back, tuck them in and leave. 

You really don’t want to cause any drama here and you want the whole thing to happen without any screaming, shouting or showing your annoyance. These interactions want to be as boring as possible. That’s the whole point.

By making a drama out of the situation is like drawing attention to it. What you want to do is discourage repeated attempts for this to happen on a regular basis. 

Done correctly, this can be a very useful tool and can significantly reduce the number of times your children get up at night, simply by not making it a major issue. In essence, making it a non-issue.

Tech To The Rescue

The OK to Wake! Children’s Alarm Clock and nightlight has proven very effective with parents like you all around the country, because it's a fun way for kids to know and realise when the right time is to wake up. 

The light on top of the clock changes from yellow to green to signify to your little one when they need to wake up.

The reason why this clock works so well is because it’s not Mum or Dad telling you to go to sleep, but this simple alarm clock which has proven highly effective.


Now, when it comes to trying some of these things out, use your judgement. This won’t work for all parents and their children, but some might? It all depends on how you think your children will react to them.

There could also be a more serious problem as to why your children aren’t able to either fall asleep at night or fail to stay asleep. If that’s the case, then we recommend seeking the help from your local Doctor.

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