Stay in Bed

by Jackie

My two-year-old boy will not stay in bed after getting him down for the night. This same thing happened about a month ago, but now it's started again.

He got up 19 times last night before going to sleep! I just could not keep him in bed. Finally ended up rubbing his back until he fell asleep. Being pregnant and due in a few weeks makes this whole ordeal very exhausting!

He's pretty good, and will normally stay in bed. We went through a phase about 1 month ago and it lasted about a week. Now, it has started up again. We read about 3-4 books in his bed, turn out lights and lay in bed and talk about the day for 5 minutes more. Then we say I Love You and close the door. But he gets up now. Any ideas?

Kristina's Reply to Stay in Bed:

I think you are doing everything right, as far as having a very clear, consistent routine for bedtime. You could also create the same kind of routine for pre-bedtime as well, if you don't have one already. Perhaps starting an hour before bed, you can set up a routine: Maybe there's a particular snack or drink he can have, taking a bath, PJs, whatever it is that you do before bed to start winding down and getting the mind and body into the habit of getting ready for sleep.

You can also set limits for him getting out of bed. You can give him a reason if you want, like mommy needs to sleep in order to be healthy, and it's not safe for him to be walking around the house in the dark by himself when no one else knows he's awake, or whatever you want to say - but perhaps give him a limit of one or two times per night when he can get up for something. So, he can wake up if he'd like, but he needs to stay in bed. He'll start learning how to prioritize, and how to self-comfort. You may have to give him specific examples of what to do when he wakes up in the middle of the night, but needs to stay in bed: Quietly look at books in his bed, or play with his stuffed animals, or sing a song, or whatever you'd like to suggest, but he is not allowed to get out of bed. He has to save his "getting out of bed" for times when he actually needs to, for "emergencies." That way he knows he's safe, he CAN always come get you. But he learns that he doesn't NEED to come get you, not for every little thing.

Other than that, since it isn't a long term or frequent problem, I would tend to think it's a very normal phase of growing up for him at his age, and will resolve itself on its own. I know it must be horrible to be dealing with this while pregnant - perhaps dad could take the night shift until the baby comes. But I really think this will resolve itself. To keep it from returning once the baby comes, it would be good to give lots of attention (and schedule some one on one time) with big brother, so that he doesn't feel any need to resort to any attention-seeking behaviors.

But, for now, keep your routine consistent like you are, set a limit for him, and help him learn how to self-comfort in the middle of the night! Hang in there!

Comments for Stay in Bed

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A Helpful Book
by: Susan K.

There is a book called "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child" written by a Chicago pediatrician. It has greatly helped at least two families that I am very closely connected with and I wish I had known about it when mine were little. Even if it doesn't help this child, I strongly suggest using their methods for the next one.

Naptime too long?
by: Amanda

Just a couple of suggestions...

If he's still taking a long afternoon nap, maybe you need to shorten that up a bit. Or move his bedtime back. With a new baby coming, hard telling what time you'll be getting to bed! :)

I noticed that you close the door to his room. Maybe he does not like being in there all alone? It may help to leave the door ajar so he can peek out and see that all is well.

Not sure if these will help at all...anyone else have any ideas?

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