My 22-month-old (who sleeps in a toddler bed) has taken to running out of his room and into ours at all hours of the night. How can I get him to stay put and go to sleep short of locking him in his room (which I obviously don’t want to do)?
It’s normal for toddlers to periodically run out of their room and into yours at night. Most parents regard this as a normal developmental stage, though these night visits can be exhausting.
To give your child extra nighttime security without disrupting your sleep, put a futon, mattress, or sleeping bag at the foot of your bed, then establish these rules. “You can come into Mommy and Daddy’s room at night only if you sleep in your special bed, but you must tiptoe as quiet as a mouse so you don’t wake Mommy and Daddy. Mommy and Daddy need our sleep, otherwise we will be cranky in the morning.”
To entice your child to stay in his own room and bed, try the following:
- Leave a glass of water at his bedside in case he wakes up thirsty.
- Put on a continuous-play tape recording of you singing a medley of lullabies.
- Make his bed so attractive that he wants to stay in it by letting him pick out a special comforter, sheets, or sleeping bag, and allowing him to bring his favorite toys under the covers with him.
Here are creative ways parents we know solved the problem of the midnight visitor: “After we moved, our four-year-old, Josh, wanted to sleep with us all the time. Even after he fell asleep in his own bed, he’d creep in with us at about three o’clock in the morning. Even though we enjoy cuddling with him, especially as we all fall asleep, he’s an after-midnight kicker, and we’d spend most of the nights he was with us crossing our arms over our sensitive body parts. So we made a deal. We told Josh that we loved sleeping with him, but now that he was bigger, we didn’t sleep well when he was in our bed all the time, and this made us tired and grumpy parents. We further explained that we could probably handle feeling that way once a week. So we made up a chart and told Josh that if he stayed in his own bed all night Monday through Saturday, he could sleep with us all night on Sunday. Now Josh is eager to sleep “well” on his own so that we can all enjoy our Sunday night snuggles.”