How to get kids to sleep in their own beds (yes, really)

bedtime routine sleeping tips for kids

You’ve invested in a big kid bed. You’ve bought the sweetest matching doona and bed sheet set. You’ve even decorated the room with all the latest gadgets and accessories that promise a comforting sleep. And yet … the cheeky cherubs still refuse to stay in their own bed.

Before you admit defeat, buy a lock for your bedroom door or place a booby trap of LEGO blocks in the corridor in an attempt to thwart those night-time wanderings, test out the Stay in Bed Technique to get kids to sleep in their own bed. All night. Every night.

How to get kids to sleep in their own beds

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Brush up on your routine

Before you start, it’s a good idea to have a look at your current habits and bedtime routines.

  • What time’s nap time? Nap too late and they won’t be tired when the sun goes down.
  • What times dinner? Eat too early and little tums might start to rumble before the bedtime train arrives.
  • Do you have a pre-bed ritual? So they know what’s coming next.

And so there’s no misunderstanding of what you expect from your tiny bed-hopper talk to them about staying in their own bed until the sun comes up and what to do if they do wake up scared, wet, hungry, thirsty, etcetera.

Stay in Bed Technique

When it’s time for bed, make sure you’ve eliminated all the possible reasons they could want to get up. They’ve gone to the toilet, had a drink, been read a million stories, had plenty of kisses and cuddles, and now it’s time for bed.

Step one: Say goodnight and leave. No answering late night pleas or requests for more tickles. Just walk away.

Step two: If (okay … when) your child gets up, walk them back to their bed. Remind them it’s bedtime, give a little cuddle and leave.

Step three: The second time they get up, do the same, in a firmer voice, and tuck them in with little or no eye contact.

Step four: The third time (and the 15 times after that) walk them back to their bed, tuck them in and leave the room. No talking. No cuddling. No eye contact. And no giving in.

Yes, this is hard (especially the no cuddles part). But it will get easier. Each child is different so we can’t say for sure how long it will take … but it does work (Supernanny says so!).

Every night we’re shuffling

For the first few nights, you may be up, doing the sleepy shuffle, several times. And walking back and forth all night, you may want to simply admit defeat and let your little nightwalker into your bed.

But remember – there is a reason you want to get the kiddos to sleep in their own room in the first place. It probably has something to do with liking the feeling of not waking up with a child’s foot in your face ….

So, mums and dads, stay strong, stand united and walk the walk. Just think, for every late night shuffle, you are one step closer to finally mastering this whole getting-your-child-to-sleep thing – something you’ve probably been battling since the day they were born.

Looking for more tips on how to make bedtimes easier for everyone? Have a look at these ideas on setting a calming bedtime routine.