How to get your toddler to stay in bed


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Transitioning from the crib to the big kid bed is an exciting time. Your little baby has slowly grown from a baby to a toddler and it’s time to celebrate that gigantic milestone by moving out the crib and bringing in the big bed!

Maybe the first couple of nights went really and your tiny tot stayed in bed all night long. But after the newness wore off, your sweet little love has been constantly getting out of bed and just will not stay put.

This happened with my second child (my first is type A and tends to follow all the rules. How did I get so lucky?!). The switch to the toddler bed was a smooth one and he stayed in his bed...until a few months later when we moved to a new house. Then the constant getting up and coming downstairs began. It was endless. I was growing frustrated and weary.

I did some research and discovered an alarm clock that was supposed to help teach your kids when to get out of bed in the morning. I figured, what the hey, might as well give it a shot.

The stoplight alarm clock.

I ordered two online and talked to the kids about it for days before it arrived. We discussed the meaning of red lights and green lights; green means go. Red means stop. We talked it up as we drove in the van and came to stop lights.

When the alarm clocks finally arrived, I was stoked to finally try it out.

I explained to the kids “Red means stay in bed. Green means go ahead and get up. When the light is red...STAY IN BED!”

I must say that it did take a bit of training with my son. My daughter, well, like I said she is type A and really takes following directions seriously. When my son would get out of bed, I would walk him back to his room, point to the alarm clock and say “red means stay in bed”.

I set the alarm clock to turn green basically when I knew he would wake up. Which, by the way, was obnoxiously early. It still is. I would wait by the door and would go in enthusiastically when the light turned green and I’d cheer and tell him how excited I was that he stayed in bed. Then we would look at the alarm clock and I would exclaim that it’s green and that means to go ahead and get out of bed (you gotta make things exciting for little ones. Even weird things). 

With time, as he got the concept, I would move the time back when the light turns green. Nowadays, my kids stay in bed until 7am. They know that when they wake up and their light is red, they must stay in bed. They are not allowed to get up unless they have to go potty. And then it is right back into bed.

If you think your tot is too young to get this concept, know that my one year old has picked up the meaning of the green light. She’s still in a crib, but knows that mommy isn’t getting her out until the light turns green. She plays quietly in her crib in the morning, then when the light turns green I can hear her yelling “it’s green! It’s green!”.

Over time, and with consistency, your kids will understand the concept and can stay in their beds until the time you allow them to get up.

If you’re interested, here is a link to the alarm clocks that we use. However, there are numerous other alarm clock options for you to choose from. This was the one I picked and it worked great for our family. We have the car one for the girls and the train one for the boys (because my oldest son LOVES trains!)

Posted on February 10, 2017 and filed under How To's.