Before we get started, let’s clarify the title…henceforth follows some simple advice to get your tot to stay in bed…for at least as long as a Netflix special. Toddlers will get up in the night for all manner of reasons—but not all of them are to drive you crazy. These tried-and-tested tips will certainly help send your little one off to lalaland with less anguish, but don’t lose hope if they still wake up a couple hours after—thanks to developmental quirks, night fears, and just checking in for a cuddle, it’s entirely normal (and totally temporary).
Have a Pleasantly Boring Bedtime Routine—And Stick to It
Young ones need routine—no matter what they may assert to the contrary. A bedtime routine that’s thoroughly ingrained will act as a cue for their excitable systems to switch to low power mode. The exact details of your bedtime routine aren’t too important (well, except that screentime isn’t that great an idea); consistency is the real key.
It’s All About Timing
If bedtime is a habitual struggle, it could be that your child is not tired enough—or overtired. Play around with the timing of your nightly routine to see whether pushing lights out forward or backwards is the answer. And don’t forget to keep naps around 5 hours before night sleep.
Bribery Is A Parenting Tool!
For some reason, small humans love stickers. Use this to your advantage by setting up a reward chart for cooperating with the bedtime routine. Once they’ve racked up enough—a week, or a month—let them pick a bedtime story from your local bookshop, or a special outing with the fam.
The Silent Walk-Back
It’s tedious, but power through and you’ll be richly rewarded. Explains Mommyish “Every time your toddler gets up, you silently guide them back to their room, silently put them back in bed, and tuck them in, and leave. If they get up again, you do it again. No talking, no disciplining, no bargaining or begging. If you don’t engage with your toddler when they get up, they’ll quickly lose interest.” But bear in mind this isn’t a quick-fix trick; you will need to do the wee hours trudge more than a couple times for it to take effect—but take heart that it does work. Alternatively (*scandal*) just pull your littlie into your own bed and enjoy the snuggle; if you’re cool with it becoming a thing, own it and treasure the very fleeting nighttime closeness.