Your Cart

Free worldwide shipping on orders over 45 USD. Shop now

How to Keep Toddler in Bed: 7 Soothing Secrets for Uninterrupted Sleep

As a parent of a toddler, you probably remember those blissful days when your baby started sleeping through the night uninterrupted. You could finally get some much-needed rest yourself. But then, your sweet bundle of joy turned into a bounding toddler who thinks the middle of the night is playtime!

When your toddler starts climbing out of bed countless times after you tuck them in, it can be frustrating and exhausting for everyone involved. I’ve been there myself – just as I finally drift off, I hear those pitter-pattering feet running into my room. My daughter’s frequency of night wakings got so bad that I felt like a zombie during the day. I worried about the effects of inconsistent sleep on her development too.

If you want to regain peace and quiet at night and help your toddler sleep soundly, read on. In this post, I’ll share seven soothing secrets that have worked wonders to get my daughter sleeping through the night again. With a consistent bedtime routine and positive reinforcement, you can conquer those post-tuck-in journeys out of bed. Bid farewell to bleary-eyed mornings and cranky toddlers!

How to Keep Toddler in Bed 3
How to Keep Toddler in Bed: 7 Soothing Secrets for Uninterrupted Sleep. Image Credit: Canva

How Much Sleep Does Your Toddler Need?

To know if your toddler is getting adequate sack time, it helps to be aware of general sleep recommendations for little ones ages 1-3 years old:

  • 12-15 hours – Toddlers ages 1-2 need 12-15 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, including naps.
  • 11-14 hours – Toddlers ages 3-5 need 11-14 hours.

Without enough sleep, toddlers suffer similar effects as sleep-deprived adults. In short, a tired toddler is more prone to tantrums, moodiness, and behavior issues. Long-term sleep deprivation impairs cognitive development, focus, memory, and overall health.

Now that you know how much rest your toddler needs, let’s look at the reasons why they pop out of bed after lights out. Understanding the root causes will help you find the right solutions.

AgeNight SleepDaytime SleepTotal Sleep
1 year11-12 hours3-4 hours (2 naps)14-16 hours
2 years11-12 hours1-3 hours (1-2 naps)12-15 hours
3 years10-11 hours0-2 hours (0-1 nap)11-14 hours
Typical Sleep Needs by Toddler Age

Toddler Sleep Regression Phases

As toddlers grow, it’s common to hit periods of sleep regression. Major developmental milestones and changes can disrupt their sleep patterns. Being aware of common regression phases will help you understand the temporary sleep setbacks.

Around 18 months, separation anxiety emerges. Your independent explorer still needs you at night when fears set in. Sleep needs also decrease slightly to 11-12 hours per day from 14 hours for a younger infant. These changes result in night wakings.

At 2 years old, sleep regressions happen as toddlers transition from two naps down to one. The adjusted nap schedule disrupts their circadian rhythm. Potty training is also occurring, resulting in more nighttime bathroom visits.

3-year-olds experience imaginative minds and nightmares. An active brain keeps them stirred up with fears of monsters under the bed or dark shadows. Verbal skills allow calling out for your reassuring presence.

While sleep regressions can be frustrating, they are just temporary phases, not permanent sleep problems. Consistency with sleep training techniques helps toddlers overcome these periods and learn to self-soothe. Understanding the developmental stages causing regression allows an empathetic response.

Common Reasons Toddlers Get Out of Bed

Your precious angel isn’t trying to deliberately defy you and deprive you of sleep. There are valid reasons why your toddler turns into a little jack-in-the-box at night time:

Physical needs – Bathroom breaks, thirst, hunger pangs, growing pains, illness, or nightmares can all compel your toddler to seek you out.

Fears – Toddlers have active imaginations and can get unnerved by shadows, noises, monsters under the bed, etc. They find comfort and security in your presence.

Separation anxiety – Between ages 2-3 especially, separation anxiety peaks. Your toddler relies on you as their safe base and has a strong emotional need to be near you.

Stalling tactics – Clever toddlers learn tactics like asking for one more kiss, a drink of water or a trip to the potty to delay bedtime and stay up longer.

Change in routine – Toddlers thrive on consistency. Changes to their schedule, environment or sleep associations disrupt their sense of normalcy.

Need to exert independence – Testing limits by getting out of bed is one-way toddlers assert their autonomy.

Boredom – Once alone in bed with imagination in overdrive, they seek entertainment and interaction.

Now that you know why your toddler is bounding out of bed, let’s cover some soothing, proven secrets to encourage them to stay tucked in.

Setting Up a Soothing Bedtime Routine

A consistent, relaxing pre-bed routine signals to your toddler that it’s time to unwind and get sleep-ready. Aim for the same sequence of activities nightly about 30 minutes before bedtime.

Some elements to include in your bedtime routine:

  • Calming activities like reading bedtime stories or taking a warm bath.
  • Brushing teeth and washing up.
  • Getting into pajamas. I let my daughter pick her favorite jammies each night which she loves.
  • One last trip to the potty to minimize middle-of-the-night bathroom runs.
  • A cup of water by the bedside in case of thirst.
  • Tucking in with favorite stuffed animals and blankets.
  • A goodnight kiss and hug. Maybe a bedtime back rub or lullaby too.

At first, your toddler may resist or attempt to stall with “one more book please!” By sticking to the routine consistently, it becomes familiar. The activities signal to your toddler’s body that sleep is coming soon.

Next step: Start establishing a calming bedtime routine 20-30 minutes before your toddler’s current bedtime. Aim to follow the same sequence nightly.

How to Keep Toddler in Bed 4
How to Keep Toddler in Bed: 7 Soothing Secrets for Uninterrupted Sleep. Image Credit: Canva

Examples of Positive Bedtime Stories

Reading a calming story signals winding down before bed. Choose stories with:

  • Soothing repetitive language
  • Limited excitable activity
  • Positive themes about sleep

Great bedtime story examples include:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – follows the caterpillar’s daily routine through repetitive days of the week

Goodnight Moon – says goodnight to various objects in a bedroom scene

Guess How Much I Love You – characters try to outdo each others’ expressions of love

The Going to Bed Book – humorous story of delaying going to bed

Time for Bed – animal characters get tucked in bed one by one

Keep a rotation of 3-4 favorites on the bookshelf. Familiar stories provide comfort. Brief 5-10 minute readings prevent over-stimulation. Sweet dreams!

Making the Bedroom Toddler-Friendly

Create a sleep-inducing environment your toddler looks forward to retreating to at night. Make the room fun yet conducive to a long night’s snooze.

  • Use cute bedding with their favorite cartoon characters. Let them pick it out.
  • Add glow-in-the-dark star stickers or those projects that shine constellations on the ceiling.
  • A white noise machine or lullaby music muffles outside noises.
  • Let them pick a few stuffed animals and blankets to cuddle up with. Limit to 2-3 to avoid overcrowding.
  • A nightlight eases fears of the dark unfamiliar shadows at night.
  • Set the thermostat appropriately – not too hot or cold.
  • Child-proof and remove stimulating toys. Too much visual stimulation inhibits quality sleep.

My daughter loves her starry sky night light projector. The spinning stars soothe her to sleep without leaving the room pitch dark. Start making your child’s room an oasis of comfort!

Next step: Make one small change tonight like adding a nightlight or playing soft music to create a more sleep-ready environment.

Toddler Bed Transition Tips

Moving from a crib to toddler bed is an adjustment. Try these tips for a smooth transition:

  • Let them pick fun new bedding to get excited
  • Practice napping/reading in the bed during the day
  • Place the mattress on the floor at first to discourage climbing out
  • Use bed rails so they feel more secure
  • Remove toys that could prove too tempting for playtime after bed

Gradually acclimate your toddler to the new sleep space. Provide praise and reassurance to reduce anxiety. Celebrate successes staying in the “big kid bed”!

Encouraging Staying in Bed with Positive Reinforcement

Toddlers crave attention and respond well to positive reinforcement. When your toddler stays tucked in bed rather than wandering out after bedtime, applaud their behavior.

Some positive reinforcement techniques:

  • Offer verbal praise like “Great job staying in your bed tonight!” each morning.
  • Use a sticker chart to let them earn stickers for nights they don’t leave their room. Accumulate 10 stickers for a bigger reward.
  • Display a calendar and let them proudly mark “Stayed in bed!” sticker on successful nights.
  • After one week of consistent sleep, have an ice cream or movie night to celebrate.

The reward of your praise and a sense of accomplishment motivates repeating the desired behavior. Stay consistent in reinforcing it.

My daughter loved earning stickers on her princess sticker chart. It gave her a sense of achievement when she saw the stickers piling up!

Next step: Make or purchase a sticker chart tonight. Explain that your child can earn a sticker each morning they stay tucked in bed. Start praising successful nights!

Creative Toddler Reward Ideas

Beyond stickers or treats, consider creative rewards for consistency in staying in bed:

  • Extra snuggle time in the morning
  • Choosing a family movie night/weekend activity
  • Special one-on-one parent outings like getting ice cream
  • A new book or small toy
  • Fun hair coloring spray or face paint

Link rewards to achieving a certain number of successful nights in their own bed. Children crave attention and experiences. Vary rewards frequently to sustain motivation.

Consistent Nights Slept in Own BedReward Ideas
5 nightsPick family movie night
7 nightsIce cream outing with parent
10 nightsNew book
14 nightsTemporary hair coloring spray
21 nightsTrip to toy store to pick out new toy
Toddler Sleep Training Reward System

Dealing with Night Wakings Patiently

An occasional nighttime wandering into your room is inevitable. When it occurs, calmly walk your toddler back to bed without overstimulating them. Avoid eye contact, turning on bright lights, or lengthy conversations.

If they request it, provide a hug, quick back rub or drink of water. Briefly reassure them there’s nothing to fear. Then tuck them back in bed and remind them to stay put until morning time. Limit interaction to 5 minutes max – you don’t want to reinforce the behavior and have them wanting nightly wakes for your attention.

With a toddler prone to frequent wakings, consider a baby monitor. Having the monitor eliminates their need to exit their room for minor needs. Instead of traipsing all the way to your room for a quick check-in, they can call out and hear your voice reassuring them through the monitor. It prevents stimulating light exposure and disruption to your rest too.

Stay patient on those middle-of-the-night journeys to steer your toddler back to bed. Consistency and brevity are key.

Next step: If a night waking occurs, remember to keep any interaction brief and low-stimulation. Use a gentle but firm reminder about the importance of staying in bed overnight.

How to Keep Toddler in Bed 5
How to Keep Toddler in Bed: 7 Soothing Secrets for Uninterrupted Sleep. Image Credit: Canva

When to Call The Pediatrician

While the occasional night wandering is normal, take note if your toddler’s nighttime activity seems excessive. Consult your pediatrician if your toddler:

  • Wakes frequently (more than 2 times a night) at least 5 nights a week.
  • Rarely sleeps through the night for long stretches.
  • Is awake for long periods overnight (longer than 20-30 minutes).
  • Displays signs of sleep anxiety like bedtime tantrums, refusal to sleep alone, etc.
  • Snores very loudly, gasps for air or stops breathing during sleep.

Your doctor can evaluate for underlying conditions like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, night terrors or sleep anxiety. Medical issues can then be properly treated.

Don’t hesitate to raise concerns to your pediatrician if your gut says your child’s sleeplessness seems abnormal. The key is determining whether it’s within the range of normal toddler sleep regressions or linked to other health issues needing intervention. Your doctor can guide you on the next steps.

Next step: If excessive night wakings persist beyond 2 weeks, consult your pediatrician to discuss whether any medical evaluation is recommended.

How can I help my child fall asleep?

Toddler Sleep Training Mistakes to Avoid

Steer clear of these common mistakes parents make:

Inconsistency – Not sticking to routines, rewards, consequences

Caving – Letting them stay awake too long if crying

Impatience – Overstimulating them during night wakings

Bedsharing – Allowing toddler in parent’s room too frequently

Overtiring – Not enforcing proper daytime nap routine

Lack of emotional regulation and consistency sabotage sleep training. Stay mindful, patient and consistent for sleep success!


A restful, uninterrupted night’s sleep for both toddlers and parents is an attainable dream with consistency and patience! By understanding the reasons behind night wakings, setting up a soothing bedtime routine and environment, positively reinforcing staying in bed, and seeking medical guidance when appropriate, you can conquer those post-bedtime wanderings.

Remember, even the best sleep-trained toddlers will still have occasional nights where they need extra comfort or check-ins. Meet these with empathy and stick to briefly walking them back to bed without too much fanfare. Consistency is critical.

The key is recognizing typical toddler behavior versus a deeper issue needing evaluation. Arm yourself with an arsenal of soothing techniques like nightlights, white noise machines, bedtime routines, cozy bedrooms and positive reinforcement. With time and consistency, your strategies will ensure your toddler – and you – are greeting each morning bright-eyed and well-rested!

FAQ – How to Keep Toddler in Bed

What’s the best way to transition my toddler from a crib to a bed?

My toddler keeps calling for me and getting out of bed at night. What should I do?

How do I handle early morning wake ups with my toddler?

My toddler seems to be afraid of the dark, what can I do?

How do I get my toddler to stop coming into my bed in the middle of the night?

How to Keep Toddler in Bed 2
How to Keep Toddler in Bed: 7 Soothing Secrets for Uninterrupted Sleep. Image Credit: Canva
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free Worldwide shipping

On all orders

Easy 30 days returns

30 days money back guarantee

International Warranty

Offered in the country of usage

100% Secure Checkout

PayPal / MasterCard / Visa