Does your child struggle to stay in bed at night once you've put them to bed?

Our sleep expert has a great solution to help!

Do you hear the pitter patter of little feet during the night?
There are few sounds to beat the sound of your little ones tiny feet running around the house, but bedtime is usually not the time you want to hear that.
One of the most common sleeping issues in children is their inability to stay in bed when put to bed at night. This then often leads to a parent staying with the child until they are asleep to avoid a bedtime battle, which usually just ends with a parent staying with the child until they are asleep anyway!
When you do manage to finally get your child to sleep they then wake during the night and hop out of bed again. Some nights you decide, right this is it “you’re going to sleep in your own bed tonight” and you spend 30/40 minutes trying to put your child back to bed until you realise it’snot going to happen and as you have a busy day tomorrow you give in, either bringing your child into your bed or staying with your child in his or hers! Other nights you don’t even try to put them back into their own bed as you are just too tired! Does this sound familiar? 
Is your child 2.5 years +? Well if it does the following process may help you:
The reason why your child may not stay in bed is because he/she is looking for your attention and the reason why the child is up during the night is because he/she is wondering where you went when they went to sleep. Children need everything to remain the same from when they went to sleep to when they awake otherwise they will sense the change during the night, wake and then need whatever has changed to be amended. Therefore your main issue is that your child is not going off to sleep by themselves and this is what needs to be changed. When your child learns to settle him/herself to sleep in a little bit of time he/she will stop looking for you during the night.  
What do you do?
  • Have a sit down chat with your child during the day and explain what you expect from him/her during the night. Tell your child from a certain night (pick a night) you will not stay with him/her until he/she goes to sleep but you will be checking on him/her frequently.
  • Then do some role-play with your child and a teddy, ask your child to put the teddy to bed, read a story, give the teddy a kiss and say good night, then tell the teddy you will be back in a minute. Remind your child to check on the teddy a few times to make sure the teddy is comfy and happily asleep.  Then explain to your child that this is exactly what you will be doing in the evening and during the night.
  • When the night comes for your child to stay in their own bed, read your child a story, give him a kiss, tell him you will be back in a minute to check on him, and then leave the room. Return to check on him in about 10 seconds. When you return and if your child is lying happily in his/her bed praise them, give them another kiss telling them you will be back again in a minute, this time leave him for 20 seconds. When you return, tuck him/her in and whisper well done again say you will be back soon, return after 30 seconds. Very gradually extend the amount of time you are leaving your child. If at any stage your child gets upset return to him/her. Tell them everything is ok and you are close by, then leave when he/she begins to calm down, go back to him/her after 10 seconds again and gradually extend the amount of time you are away from them.
  • He/She will settle down eventually for you. This may turn into a little game initially where he will be anxiously awaiting your return and that is fine. In a bit of time he will happily go off to sleep knowing that you are there checking on him all the time. 
  • When he/she wakes during the night, bring him back to bed and repeat the process that you did earlier in the night. Return to him after 20 seconds, then 30 seconds, 40 seconds..... Continue this until he eventually returns to sleep.
In the morning when your child wakes go to their room with a positive and happy attitude. Open the curtains sit with him/her and tell him how proud you are that he/she slept in their own bed all night on their own. Do not focus on the 2/3 hours they may have been awake for. 
You will need to be prepared to be awake for quite some time during the night for the first few nights so only start this process when you know you have a chance to catch up on some sleep the next day. With patience and consistency your child will learn, in a very positive way, to happily stay in bed throughout the night.
Written by Edel Gargan, Baby Sleep Expert with www.familyfriendlyhq.ie
Read more great baby sleep advice from Edel here
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