Toddler Bedtime Battles

We asked a question on our Facebook Page the other day, and had a huge response!!  We asked this question due to the struggle we’ve been having with our two year old and sleeping (or lack of).

Question:  Any mums having a tough time with toddlers staying in their bed all night?

Here are the replies from heaps of mums.  So if you find this page and are reading for information, you’ll know that you are not alone!!

We did with our 3 year old after our new bub arrived. So we implemented a reward system. A sticker chart that is on her bedroom door that says “I can stay in my own bed until breakfast time!”. She loves presents so I wrapped some cheap gifts & had them on display, out of reach, in our room. When she got 5 stickers on the chart for sleeping in her bed all night she got to choose a gift to unwrap. It took about 3 weeks to work. She’s forgotten about the stickers & the presents & now stays in her bed all night, every night!

My 14 mth old has been in my bed for at least 6 to 8 weeks now, no idea why but refuses to sleep in his cot!

I am having the same issue with my 3.5 year old son. He used to go to sleep in his bed and then come into ours in the early morning but has started not sleeping in his bed full stop. If we try to move him he just screams until we let him back into our bed. Its getting frustrating.

Babies and children are biologically programmed to sleep with their parents. It’s survival instinct.

We’ve just had major issues transitioning to a big bed as I have the most stubborn 23 month old in the world! He doesn’t know the meaning of sleep or staying in a bed and had hours of battles. I found the solution – a door knob safety handle on his side of the door so he can’t open it and come out. Since I’ve used that we’ve had 5 nights in a row of sleeping through. I did try gentle techniques first but Mr Stubborn didn’t get it.

Been through that myself when I moved miss 3 into a bed at 22mths, I found consistency with moving her back to her own bed every time worked, yes there were screams but it only lasted a month and now miss 3 knows bed time is sleep time and we have no issues. Wasn’t easy and I lost my temper a few times, but we got over it. Really helps when you and hubby/partner agree on how to handle it and he takes his turn.

We used baby oil on the doorknob instead 😉 and does work as he got message after few nights.

We did the baby oil on the doorknob too 🙂 And the only other thing I recommend is consistency. Be consistent for a week or so and they’ll get the message.

My girl at just over 2yrs refused to go to sleep in her bed, she would come out and lay on the hall floor and eventually go to sleep, then we would put her to bed once fully asleep, this was easier for us with a newborn than fighting for 2+… hours each night to keep her in her room. For a few weeks she would sneak back out (in the middle of the night) and either sleep on the floor in the hall or on the floor in our room – but it didn’t last too long! After about 3 or 4 months of her going to sleep at night in the hall I decided that it was time that it stopped and turns out it was no problem at all for her!! We did have to keep the light on in her room and her door wide open, then after a few months we turned the light off in her room and leave the hall light on – all night, now at almost 3 1/2 the door is half closed and we only leave the toilet light on. I feel sorry for all you parents who are battling this…good luck! Do whatever works!

STICKER chart was our way of dealing with sleeping in her room. At 3 years old we were sick of letting her fall asleep on the couch then transferring her to her own bed. I made her a pretty fairy sticker chart table with 8 weeks on it. Every night she went to bed in her room and fell asleep she would wake up in morning and put a sicker on that nights chart, after a week of 7 sleeps in her bed she would get a ‘little surprise’ for the 4 weeks. After a month she would get a ‘big surprise’. This has worked fabulously!!!! if there is one night that she refuses to sleep in her bed she doesn’t get a sticker for that night, so then she doesn’t get a little surprise for that week. Now 3 months on she loves going to her bed!! and loves waking up telling me she needs a sticker.

So glad other people are having the same problems. My 3.5yr old is in my room most nights after about 2am. I swear its harder to be strict when you are a single mum.

We’re battling with that at the moment with our daughter who just turned 2. Moved her into a bed at the start of June and she was great for the first 2 weeks then started to battle afternoon nap, now battles bedtime at night. Can take up to 2 hours to get her to settle because she gets herself all hyped up. Now if she wakes in the night she gets out of bed and turns on the lights. I’m 33 weeks pregnant and it’s driving me mad. We’ve tried all sorts of techniques and now I’ve taken the light bulbs out of her room! I’ve decided being pregnant when you have a 2 year old is a bad idea because there are so many days you need to drink (yes alcohol) but you can’t because you are pregnant!

Our toddler was GREAT slept in his bed and didn’t get out just sat up and called for us. Then one night got scared of the dark so we addressed that then got worse and worse. We worked out he was playing us so did the whole supernanny thing…. Picked him up and said ” Back to bed it’s sleepy time.” 2nd time you reduce the words, “it’s sleepy time”. 3rd and following times say nothing pick up put in bed and leave repeat untill stays in bed. The first night we did this 43 times… Yes we counted… I had a turn then dad etc… If he called for mum, dad went and vice versa… The next night we did this again about 30 times then the next night 20 next 10 then 5 then 2 for a few nights him just checking we will still do this… Now back to normal… It’s hard work and you feel like such a horrible mum but they have to learn to put themselves to sleep. No talking is the answer.

Toddlers can drive you SOOO crazy!!! But usually they key to getting your toddler to sleep all night, in their own bed, is parental consistency. Provided your child is warm, well and has some relaxing sleep associations (cuddly, music etc), then it often comes down to what mum and.or dad do in the night. If you let the toddler sleep in your bed, then they will sleep in your bed. if you give them a bottle to get back to sleep in the night, then they will keep demanding a bottle in the night etc.

The simple solution was to shut the door and stop  toddler being able to get out…

We had to return Ethan 64 times when we first tried..our solution was to give up and wait till he was ready even though we had to buy another cot.. and two days ago he went in it by himself and has been fine apart form falling out once.. mind you we never let him sleep in our bed..

I’m a big fan of the door knob things too!! My 3 year old doesn’t even try and get out of her room now, but will call if she needs me. Also great for not going in a waking up her little brother!!

I’m having trouble with my almost 19 month old waking at night. She’s never been a great sleeper, but she wakes lately SCREAMING like someone is hurting her. I go in and lie her back down, cover her up, and she goes back to sleep again. Can do this up to 4 times a night!!!!

Yes I have one! Though its not a problem of being in his bed but more not sleeping properly.He wakes several times a night crying, he shares a room with his little sister so you could imagine my horror. How do you settle them and get them back to sleep without a HUGE tantrum that wakes the entire house?

Lucky kids are cute as otherwise I’m sure they wouldn’t last long!!

My 2.5 year old has just started sleeping through the night, every night, after previously waking constantly, and usually spending at least half the night in our bed.  We made a star chart and it totally did the trick. Every night before bed we look at the star chart, and tell him to get a star he has to stay in his own bed all night with no crying, and we ask if he can do that and he says yes. Then in the morning we make a big deal of putting a star on the chart. He loves it. And so do I!!

2 children and I’m sure they tag team cause the minute one is back in their own bed the other comes out, have tried having them in the same room which made no difference, putting them back to bed every time but nothing seems to work. I really don’t mind them being there aside from the interrupted sleep.

I thought I was the only one!!! We have a 3 year old who hasn’t slept in his own bed for the last 8 weeks and we have the added complication of he is supposed to share his room with a 6 month old baby who can’t sleep when he is kicking up a storm of complaints about being in his own bed!

I can get my 3 year old to sleep in his bed but he will always call out to me in the night and come crawling into our bed…he has this habit of needing to twirl my hair to get to sleep, don’t know what to do help??

Loved having my kids in my bed…youngest used to jump in during the night until he was 7………miss that now they are all grown up!

My three girls (6,4,2) all go to sleep in there own beds but by morning my husband and I usually have at least two of them in our bed!! Can’t seem to get them to stay in their own beds the whole night…am assuming they will grow out of it

The answer is……..enjoy them while they are young, you can never give children too much love, cuddles etc…….:)

Mr 2 moved from his cot to a big bed, was so chuffed with himself the first few nights he stayed there, then he got to exploring and getting up at all hours, now i just shut the door properly when he goes to bed and open it a crack when we go to bed, but turn the hall light out so its dark, he seems to have lost the incentive to get out when he cant see anything and cant reach the light switch so he stays in bed and calls out “mummy need milo” about 7.30am. So cute, he still look so small in a “big” bed.

Glad i am not the only one! Yes cuddles are nice when they sleep in bed with me, but not from 12am, from 5 or 6am is ok. I’m the one that gets squashed in the middle of the bed!!

There is some good information with an article by Elizabath Pantley here:

My youngest was notorious for coming in EVERY night, or more accurately the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t mind to be honest, and would just move over for him to snuggle in…but eventually my partner got a bit peeved with waking up half-way off the bed. I even got so used to bub doing it I would wake in the morning with him there, not having noticed when he crept in! Once we agreed to put a stop to it, I just explained to him that he needed to try and stay in his bed, and when he didn’t I’d have a quick cuddle and kiss, tell him Mummy loved him lots and would tuck him back in his own bed. Eventually it became less frequent, and then he would come for a cuddle then take himself back to his bed when I told him it was time to. I think he just needed the reassurance that I was still there as we had moved house a couple of times in a short period. He’s now 7 and would love to sleep with me if he had the option, but then I’m 35 and enjoy cuddles with my Mum in her warm bed too whenever I’m home to visit…maybe its just genetic 🙂

Having this struggle wth my 14month old. For the last couple of nights I have put her pillow length ways in her cot, sort of like she’s cuddling it. Seems to be doing something. She’s still waking but 1 or 2 times less than she had been.
I’m too lazy to install good habits!

Our 23month-old is still in with us. When I first heard the term ‘co-sleeping’, while I was doing antenatal I thought it seemed a bit strange and hippyish. But turns out it works for us – sometimes the most simple and obvious ideas work the best. We do have a huge bed though.