In my opinion keep your little one in a cot for as long as possible, as you could be in for a rough ride like I had. When your toddler turns into a miniature acrobat and starts climbing out of their cot, then you know it’s time to move to a big kid bed.
The Gentle Approach
I have a somewhat spirited child, to say the least, and I decided to go the Super Nanny route for getting my toddler to stay in bed. The idea is that you pick them up each time they make a run for it, don’t talk to them or don’t make eye contact with them and place them back in their beds. Well, my little one thought that this was the best thing ever. He would run out of his room in his sleeping bag looking like Maggie Simpson. Each time he escaped, I quietly picked him up and put him back into his big bed, without talking to him, and then I would leave the room. Not even a minute later he would be out again. It was loads of fun for him to watch me run after him, this was the best game ever!
This continued for 6 weeks until 10pm at night – I was exhausted and at the end of my tether. I had no idea what to do next as this approach was clearly not working for me. My escape artist was in high spirits charging around the house about 30 times an evening.
Then a dear friend came to my rescue and introduced me to the book, ‘Toddler Taming,’ by Dr. Christopher Green, and taming is what I certainly needed. I read the part of the book that dealt with toddlers running around at night like wild things and a plan was set in motion.
Time to Get Serious
This plan felt a little bit extreme for me, but I thought I would give it a try and see what happened. His approach is to lock your toddler in their room if they have been gallivanting around for some time. I felt really uncomfortable with this, but I was left with no other options and needed to get him back into a sleep routine as soon as possible.
So the first night came, and after three escapes, I put my toddler in his room and closed the door. I held onto it for dear life as I didn’t want to lock him in. It took about half an hour and then all was quiet. I decided to leave it at that and wasn’t going to risk going in and starting all over. In fact it was quiet for the rest of the night. I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
The next morning I opened his door to get him up for preschool but I couldn’t get in. I wondered what was blocking the door. And then I saw it. My toddler in his sleeping bag, with his bear that went everywhere with us, lying against the door. He had literally passed out there. I felt so guilty! I couldn’t decide on whether to stick with the ‘Toddler Taming’ approach or not.
Success at Last!
The next night came, and I decided to stick to the plan, seeing as though I had managed to get my toddler to sleep by 8pm as opposed to 10pm. A tired toddler is not a pleasant little person to deal with.
He came charging out at the first opportunity he had, I put him back to bed three times and then I held onto that door with all my might. In 10 minutes all was quiet. What a victory! Once again I decided not to go into the room, as who knows what kind of havoc that would cause.
The next morning I went into his bedroom, and there he was sleeping peacefully IN HIS BED! I was so happy that this was working.
Night three came and we had only one attempted escape. My toddler went into his room, I held the door for not even five minutes and all was peaceful and quiet. The next morning I found him in his bed again. I was elated.
Night four came and much to my extreme delight there were no escapes, I put him to bed with his normal routine and he slept right through until the next morning.
Finally, after 7 weeks I had tamed my toddler into staying in bed. Thanks Dr. Christopher Green!
We would love to hear from you and how you managed to keep your toddler in bed.