7 tactics to help your child stay in bed

Reclaim your bed and quality shut-eye ― learn how to stop your tyke from making surprise visits to your room!

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When your child is an infant, sharing a “family bed”, also known as “co-sleeping”, — where bubba shares your bed or bedroom — is very convenient.

After all, not only can you keep an eye on your mini-me as they drift off to la-la-land, you’ll be able to respond quickly to their cries at night. Eventually, of course, you’ll need to move your child to their own bed or bedroom.

Children’s sleep expert Zoe Chu of SG Supernanny says you can begin to move your toddler to their own beds when they are able to climb in and out of bed on their own. Of course, they might just worm their way back into your bed again and again. And again.

Chu explains, “Toddlers are creatures of habit, if they are used to co-sleeping with their parents, they would want the old routine because they are used to the arrangement.”

“To tire them a little before bedtime, so that it’s easier to tuck them into bed, try and include some physical activity in the evening like a stroll in the park”

No worries, we suggest strategies to keep your tot out of your bed and bedroom once and for all…

Tactic #1: Don’t move them to their own beds/bedrooms too soon

Ideally, Chu recommends that you let your child sleep in their cot until they are about 3 to 4 years old. At this age, they are better able to understand consequences. Transition too soon and you’ll find yourself walking them back to their beds time and time again, even though you’ve scolded them for not staying in bed.

Tactic #2: Make sure they are tired before bedtime

If your munchkin is smiling at you and their eyes are wide open, chances are, you’ll probably not have much success getting them to sleep. You should review their sleep schedules to see if the gap between their last nap and bedtime is too short and to adjust it accordingly. To tire them a little before bedtime, so that it’s easier to tuck them into bed, try and include some physical activity in the evening like a stroll in the park.


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Tactic #3: Do the boring walk back to bed

If your toddler slips out of bed in the middle of the night, refrain from talking when you bring them back to their bed, just tuck them in immediately and leave. Keep your interactions to a minimum and don’t bargain with or threaten them. Zhu notes, “Even negative attention — reprimanding or scolding them — is still seen as [a rewarding form of] attention and [your child] may continue to visit you every night because they relish the attention.” The idea is to make the process as boring as possible, so that your tot will give up eventually.

Tactic #4: Use their bedroom door to send a message

This tactic works if your child visits your bed several times during the night or if they’re afraid of sleeping alone with the lights out. First, leave their bedroom door ajar at a 90 degrees as long they stay in bed. The first time your peewee gets up, bring them back to their own bed and leave their bedroom door ajar at a 45 degree angle. If your little one gets up again, close the door completely for one to two minutes to reset the entire process. It sounds tedious but Chu states that with perseverance, consistency and patience, you will succeed.

“Even negative attention — reprimanding or scolding them — is still seen as [a rewarding form of] attention and [your child] may continue to visit you every night because they relish the attention.”

Tactic #5: Stick to a bedtime routine

Like all routines, introducing and keeping to a bedtime routine can mean the difference between walking your child to bed countless times and settling them for the night once and for all. Chu says since your toddler won’t be able to tell time, a routine actually tells them what to expect. “When they know what to expect, your mini-me will be more willing to go down without a fight or protest.” Remember, bedtimes are non-negotiable ― even if your little one starts to whine or protest, never delay their bedtime. Stick to a fixed sequence of events such as:

* A bath and toothbrushing;

* Changing into their pyjamas,

* Telling them a bedtime story or singing them a lullaby; and

* Finally, laying them down on the bed to sleep.

Tactic #6: D rewards

Start a rewards chart for junior instead of threatening them with consequences, which will only trigger tantrums. For instance, you give them a gold star whenever they sleep through the night without coming to your room. And after they have accumulated a number of gold stars, they can enjoy a special treat.

Tactic #7: Install stairgates at their bedroom door

This tactic can be useful if your munchkin has the tendency to roam the house in the middle of the night. A safety gate restricts your mini-me’s movements to their room, ensures that they stay safe, nor will they make any unwelcome nocturnal visits to your bedroom.

Remember, if you have a mini-explorer on your hands every night, it is vital to take steps to ensure that your little wanderer remains safe. It is critical to take precautionary measures such as installing a bed guard, childproofing the house and removing any possible tripping hazards.

Photos: iStock

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