Your toddler is now in their big kid bed but they won’t stay there when it’s time for sleep.

How do you keep them in bed when it’s night time? I’ve got lots of tips to get your toddler to stay in their room when it’s lights out, after going through the bedtime battle with my own little girl. 

I was nervous about taking the railings off of her cotbed but I knew that at over two years old, it was time she had a proper bed, for her safety if nothing else.

 But once she had mastered the art of opening doors she was in and out of bed like a yo-yo in the evenings. Some times she would be up more than 10 times and it often ended with me having to sit in her room with her desperately trying to convince her to stay in bed.

The problem with this scenario is you lose your precious evenings, and we all know how important me time is, and your energetic toddler is losing valuable sleep, meaning they may be grumpy the next day.

Here are some top tips to get bedtime back on track for toddlers once they transition to a proper bed: 

1. Keep up your routine

By now you probably have a good bedtime routine. If it works for you then stick to it.

If you think there’s something you could do to change the routine that might help, like an extra book or a slightly longer bath, then do that.

The important thing is to keep a routine at bedtime, because kids do respond to it well. 

My toddler bedtime routine

2. Talk to them in the daytime

Tell your child what’s expected of them now they’re in a big kid bed. Explain that at night time we stay in bed and relax. 

Tell them if they stay in bed and go to sleep, then you can have more fun in the morning. Telling them this ahead of time can help to set the tone of bedtime. 

3. Hide the toys

If your child keeps getting up to play with toys in their room, then either put them up high where they can’t get to them or take them out of the room altogether.

Any stimulation at this time is going to keep them up for longer. 

4. Let them have a book

There’s no harm in letting them sit up in bed with a book. It’s what a lot of grown ups do before bedtime after all.

Just make sure you are leaving them to look at it on their own, don’t let it become an extra bedtime story from you. This sounds mean, but the more you interact with them past bedtime, the longer they will stay awake. 

5. Try a reward system

Whether it’s stickers or a trip to a new playground, figure out what will incentivise your child to stay in their bed at night and use it!

Try creating a chart that they can add a sticker to every morning when they have stayed in bed all night after bedtime. 

6. Get a GroClock

These work a treat for some people, but less so for others! Once the stars are displayed on the clock, your child should be staying in bed.

I’ve found my toddler has occasionally listened to this, but only when combined with other techniques from this list. 

7. Be consistent 

Every time your child gets up, persist in putting them back to bed. No matter how many times you have to do it, don’t let them come downstairs and play.

Of course give them cuddles, but don’t let it carry on too long. If your toddler says they need the loo, put them on the toilet and then get them straight back to bed. 

It may seem to take forever but stick at it and eventually they will get the message. 

8. Keep it dull

When they get up don’t engage in too much conversation. Keep it dull and reinforce the message that it’s time to go to sleep. 

9. Try winding down earlier

If you are like me and let the kids watch TV for an hour before it’s time to go up to bed, you may want to consider switching it off 15 to 30 minutes earlier.

Get your child helping you to tidy up, dial back the craziness and make this time chilled out. Let them play with their toys, but don’t start a game that’s too energetic. You want to get them mentally prepared to relax. 


The secret to keeping your toddler in bed


How to keep your toddler in bed at bedtime