Toddler Keeps Getting Out of Bed in Middle of Night?

By Lynn •  Updated: 03/05/22 •  11 min read
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Have you noticed that your toddler keeps getting out of bed in the middle of the night? It’s something that most parents face during their child’s toddler years. So, how do you handle it? We’re glad you asked. In this article, we will explore many ways to keep your little one sleeping soundly through the night. Let’s dive in.

Toddler Keeps Getting Out of Bed in Middle of Night – Reasons Why

Why Does My Toddler Get Out of Bed at Night?

We’ve all been there. You’ve got a toddler that either won’t go to sleep or gets up several times a night for varying reasons. So, why does your toddler keep getting out of bed in the middle of the night? 

For each toddler, the reason behind why they are doing this will vary. 

Still, the results are the same. Both you and your toddler are robbed of sleep and this, undoubtedly, will have a profound effect on how the two of you function throughout your day. 

The following are a few reasons your child may insist on getting out of bed in the middle of the night.

GIrl covering her face

Legitimate Needs

There are times when your toddler’s needs are legitimate and they’ll need to be addressed, even if it is in the middle of the night. And because your toddler is still young, you must take care of these sundry needs, even though it might be an inconvenience to you. Wetting the bed, feeling sick, feeling legitimately hungry or thirsty are all examples of reasons you’ll want to assist your child in the middle of the night. More on how to curb this later!

Fear

Sometimes your child will wake in the middle of the night because he or she has a legitimate fear. Addressing these during the day and right before sleep can remediate this. You may also consider eliminating any programs, games, or real-life situations that might be further perpetuating these fears.

Comfort

Sometimes your little one will wake up looking for comfort from you. This can be legitimate indeed, but the middle of the night may not always be the most appropriate time for your child to receive this. Consider how many times you hug, kiss, and cuddle your toddler during the day and in the evenings before bed. Sneaking in a few extra hugs and kisses during the day may help curb middle-of-the-night snuggles, especially if you do it right before laying your child down for bed.

Habit

Your toddler may have learned to get up in the middle of the night out of habit. If this is a behavior you’ve allowed for a long time, your toddler may begin to think it is routine. It’ll be up to you to enforce the boundary to put a stop to it. 

Curiosity

The lights, sounds, and general bustle outside of your toddler’s room are just enough to allure them and keep them awake. The middle of the night can be tempting too; as you sleep your toddler may wish to explore unchartered territory. 

Regression

Did you know that toddlers have sleep regressions too? Indeed, toddler regressions are common and can happen for a variety of reasons. 

Lax Boundaries

Last but certainly not least, if you are allowing negative behavior or aren’t properly managing how you react to it, you may be reinforcing unwanted behaviors unknowingly.

What to Do When Your Child Keeps Getting Out of Bed? 

How Should You Handle It?

Dealing with a toddler that keeps getting up in the middle of the night can be hard. We can help!

  • Check Your Attitude at the Door: First and foremost, you’ll want to check your attitude. Make sure that you remain upbeat about the training process while also remaining firm on boundaries. Keeping the environment positive by offering encouragement for correct behavior affirms and spotlights the desired behaviors which yields results much faster.
  • Address Legitimate Needs: Yes, it is annoying to hear your child asking for food or drink after you’ve put them to bed, but are these legitimate needs? Think about your child’s day. Did they eat well before bed? Or did they simply pick at their food? Think about these things and make adjustments so that your child isn’t truly hungry at night. In addition to hunger, your child may have other legitimate needs like needing to use the toilet, feeling sick, or falling out of bed. Though you are likely aware of the benefits of sleep training, you won’t want to sleep train during these times. Always take care of your child’s legitimate needs, immediately.
  • Set Firm Boundaries: Now that you’ve addressed your attitude and have catered to your child’s legitimate needs, it is time to set boundaries. Come up with a list of your expectations and rehearse them to yourself. You must know what you expect so that you can enforce them. Then, introduce these concepts in a way that your toddler can understand. Stick to the script and do not give in when your child does not meet your expectations. If you do, you will reinforce negative behaviors and will see little to no progress.
  • Have Consequences and Rewards: Consequences and rewards can be a controversial subject, but the nice thing is that you can formulate your consequences and rewards to fit your parenting style and preferences. A consequence could be something as simple as having to set a baby gate in your toddler’s doorway or having the door closed to their room (i.e., “natural consequence”). A consequence could be something unrelated, such as no television shows for the next 24 hours. Whatever you choose, make sure your consequences are appropriate. Sticker charts, small rewards, or even praise and hugs are great ways to reward and reaffirm positive behavior come morning.
empty bed

How Should You Act Towards Your Child?

Remember, it is important to strike the correct balance of love and discipline when it comes to managing nighttime behavior. You want to affirm what your child does right while correcting what he or she does wrong.

What Actions Should You Take?

The Infamous “Supernanny” Approach

Any fan of Jo Frost of “Supernanny” may recall her unforgettable method of walking a child straight back to bed anytime he or she escaped. This happened innumerable times throughout the night until the child got the picture and stayed in bed. You, too, can employ this method. Every time your child gets out of bed, simply walk them back to bed without eye contact, talking, or interaction. 

If your child gets back up, do this again. Do it as many times as you need to until your child gets the point. 

Warning: This can be a cumbersome task the first few nights. However, if you are consistent, you should see results within a week. 

Open and Shut the Door

You can also try the technique of keeping the door closed if your child refuses to heed your warning about staying in bed. 

Pitch it as having an “open door” as being a privilege. Of course, with younger children, you’ll want to ensure that their room is toddler-proof and that you invest in one of the many best baby monitors with multiple cameras in their room so that you can watch what they do while they are alone. 

Too Tired

How to Keep Toddler in Bed

First Night in Toddler Bed

To help keep your toddler in their bed their first night, do as much as you can to make the transition positive. 

As previously mentioned, you’ll want to make sure your attitude is upbeat. This is very important. You should also invest in a room thermometer, a new bed set that they’ll love sleeping in, possibly a new stuffed animal, and a nightlight. 

Set your expectations, be firm but also be sure to anticipate their needs ahead of time. 

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How to Keep Toddler in Room at Night

To keep your toddler in their room at night, you’ll need to lay down concrete and easily understandable expectations for your child. Without them, your child will do what feels natural to them, because you have not taught them any different. 

How to Get a Toddler to Stay in Bed

Getting a toddler to stay in bed will take time, love, and patience. It will also take some discernment on your end, as you’ll need to know when your child needs something and when they don’t. 

Take the time to understand your child and their needs, but also remain consistent and firm when setting boundaries and expectations. 

Training Toddler to Stay in Bed

How to Train Your Toddler into Staying in Their Bed

Training your toddler to stay in bed won’t be a quick and easy fix. It will require resilience, patience, and love on your end. See the above tips for more details on how to train your toddler to stay in bed. 

2-Year-Old Toddler – How Do I Get My 2 Year Old to Stay Asleep at Night?

2 Year Old Won’t Stay in Bed

How to Keep a 2 Year Old in Bed?

Stay patient and consistent. Two-year-old toddlers are still young and may not follow your expectations all the time. 

2 Year Old Keeps Getting Out of Bed

Make sure your two-year-old is ready for a big bed. Sometimes, it may be best to keep your toddler in a crib until he or she is three years of age for safety reasons. 

2 Year Old Won’t Stay in Bed

Remember, your two-year-old may not be ready to handle the responsibility of staying in bed and may not understand all of your expectations. If you have to, wait until your child is a little older before making the transition from crib to bed. 

baby sleep

3-Year-Old Toddler – How do I get my 3 year old to stay in bed all night?

How to Keep 3 Year Old in Bed?

3 Year Old Keeps Getting Out of Bed

Because your three-year-old is older, he or she should be able to follow directions. See below our tips for smooth toddler sleep and reference the methods above for even more ways to keep your toddler in bed at night. 

Tips For Smooth Baby Sleep

Looking for even more sleep tips? Read on to learn more about how to get your toddler to sleep. 

  • Seek to understand the reason(s) your child is getting up in the middle of the night before taking action.
  • Once you have a grip on why nighttime waking is occurring, create a list of expectations that you have for your child and rehearse them to yourself.
  • Once you know your own expectations, teach those expectations to your child in an age-appropriate way that he or she can understand. Use props, videos, and books to relay your point. Resources about independence and sleeping alone are always good picks. 
  • Once you understand your expectations and have relayed them to your child, buckle up. It will be time to enforce those expectations, which means you’ll have to stand firm on the consequences and boundaries you’ve set. 
  • Even if it was a not-so-great night, don’t harp on it in the morning. Reaffirm what was done correctly, explain your expectations again, dole out any consequences you’ve put in place, and remain consistent for the subsequent nights.
  • As your child progresses, remark on and praise the progress you see.
  • Stay flexible and don’t forget to address your child’s legitimate needs. Never shun a child who is sick, hungry, or legitimately needs your help, comfort, or support during nighttime hours. Because you know your child best, you likely be able to discern between the two. 
brown bear plush toy laying on brown cloth

Balance is Key When It Comes to Keeping Toddlers in Bed at Night

Remember, it is important to be both firm and loving during the sleep training process. Ensure that your toddler has everything he or she needs, but remain firm when it comes to your expectations and boundaries. 

It will take time to see results, but you won’t be doing this forever. Always praise your child’s successes and you’ll likely begin to see those same positive behaviors more and more. 

Here’s to a good night’s rest…for everyone! 

Lynn

Lynn is a freelance writer, a wife, and a mother of two beautiful kids. Lynn started Infant Empire with the aim of making parenting easier for fellow mums and dads. She believes the parenting tips provided here will be of great help to all parents.

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