It’s waaay past bedtime and you are exhausted. There is, however, someone who is not even close to going to sleep. You got it, the toddler. He keeps popping up like a jack in the box, and there is no relief in sight. Let’s explore some things we can do to help this situation.
- Moving your small child from a crib to a “big boy bed” gives him an entirely new level of independence. He wants to explore and will test the limits of his new environment. Your job is to guide him through this terrain. Set up expectations immediately, then follow through. Explain to your child that when he lies down, he needs to stay in the bed. Make the bed inviting and be sure he understands he should stay there.
- Children often aren’t tired when they go to bed. Make sure they have plenty of physical activity throughout the day. This might be the time to move the nap earlier in the day or shorten the nap time.
- Have a structured bedtime routine. Dads, I know you love to wrestle with the kids after bath time, but you are doing no favors. Save that for earlier in the day. The bedtime routine should start about one hour before going to sleep. Start with a soothing bath, then maybe a reading time or relaxing music time while cuddling. Make sure your child goes to bed feeling loved.
- If there is still a struggle, check out the room environment. Is it too hot or cold? Too much light? Should you add some white noise? Look at your child’s bedroom with a critical eye and see if there are any changes that should be made.
- If your child pops into the living room after the bedtime routine, show no emotion. Simply pick the child up and place him back in the bed with no words, no kisses, nothing. Then do it again. And again. And again. How often? You do it until he doesn’t get out of bed again. The first couple of nights can be rough, but keep your eye on the prize. If you get this right, the battle will become shorter and shorter each night. If you don’t follow through, you have created a monster. He will learn that you do eventually give in, he just has to keep getting out of bed. Be strong during this time. Consistency will pay off. I believe in you.
Do you have any other suggestions to help keep a toddler in bed? Please leave them in the comments below.