Want to know how to get your toddler to stay in bed? So do we. I’m not claiming to be an expert here (we’re certainly failing right now) but I think we’re headed in the right direction, so I thought I’d share our three step process.
How to get your toddler to stay in bed: Step #1.
All the stuff in the bed. That’s the first step. Get rid of it. Sometimes it takes over an hour for her to go sleep. Mostly that’s because she has to get out of bed every forty-seven seconds to squeeze out two more drops of pee, but when her bladder is completely empty, it’s about the stuff. Here’s what Coraline was sleeping with:
- Giraffe and Back-up Giraffe (Back-up Giraffe has no dress and has been painted a little.)
- Two pink receiving blankets
- A Doll
- Three actual blankets
- A big lion
- A pink elephant with bells
- Her pillow
Her bedtime is at seven, so between seven and seven thirty, or eight, she goes back and forth between wanting all of the things, wanting only some of the things and definitely not wanting some of the other things, and then wanting that one thing back but not the other thing, etc. Here’s the constant:
- One Giraffe
- One Receiving Blanket
- Blankets (I’m not sure she really knows or cares how many there are. UPDATE: She definitely knows there are three.)
So that’s what she’s going to bed with now. Only the things that really hold value for her. As for all those things that she sometimes wants and sometimes doesn’t want, those things that keep her awake at night: we got rid of them. A two year old doesn’t need to be kept awake worrying about things.
How to get your toddler to stay in bed: Step #2.
Star chart. But we did it wrong. Yep, we already failed at the star chart. Coraline can count to three, so our plan was to give her a star sticker every time she went to sleep without crying and without getting up every five minutes. Once she earned three stickers, she got to choose one of three prizes: a box of crayons, a shirt or a tape measure. Many of you may have already spotted the flaw. It’s complicated. Since Coraline naps once a day, at best it takes a day and a half to earn three stickers. And that’s if she’s earning a sticker every time. She’s two, so working toward something that’s a day and a half away isn’t comprehensible. Not to mention we don’t really want to get her a bunch of things that she may not really need right now. She already has crayons. She has enough shirts that she’ll soon grow out of anyway. We just got all that stuff out of her bed, like good minimalists, and now we’re using more junk she doesn’t need as an incentive to go to sleep. Wow. We’re terrible.
How to get your toddler to stay in bed: Step #3.
So step three is to revise the star chart. We got some help from Heather Flett at RookieMoms.com You may want to just skip step two. Turns out, the stickers alone should be the prize. Every time she gets ready for bed without putting up a fight, she gets a sticker. That’s actually really great, because she likes the bedtime routine: pajamas, brush teeth, read book, say goodnight to the dogs, drink water, pee, get tucked in. She’s generally pretty good at all this. Although she does always want to read one more book. But still, it’s a fairly easy way for her to earn a sticker. Then it’s fresh in her mind that stickers are there to be earned. So now, if she goes to bed without crying and getting up over and over, she gets another sticker in the morning. And that’s it. She gets to keep adding stickers to her chart. For the love of stickers. It’s not really even a chart; it’s just a blank sheet of paper. And she already has four stickers!
Wish us luck.