Your child finally grows from his crib into his big boy bed. Whoo-hoo! Or, so you thought. Maybe he could climb out of his crib, but getting out of his bed is simple and fun. Here are a few tips to keep him in his bed all night:
1. Remind him that he has this way cool bed because he's a big boy now. Responsibility comes with that....that means a few rules. One rule is that he must call for you if he wants to get out of bed. At first, he may call for you a lot, but the first step is that he's not allowed to get out of bed without you.
2. If he starts calling for you excessively, explain that the next rule is that there are only certain times when he can call for you. If he's having a bad dream or feels afraid he can certainly call for you. Or, if he has to go to the bathroom, although be sure he uses the bathroom before bed to help avoid that problem. Give him a small drink before bed so he doesn't wake up thirsty.
No doubt, he will cry for you in the middle of the night and tell you he's scared, because he wants to come into your bed. At all costs, try to avoid that. It's easier at times to let him, but once he enjoys the comfort of snuggling with Mommy and Daddy in bed, it will be very hard to wean him of the privilege. Of course, there are special circumstances, such as a loud, scary storm, where you welcome a family bed, but you have to put your foot down on most other occassions.
3. When he calls you, go into his room and ask him what's wrong. If he says he had a scary dream, let him tell you about it and reassure him that it was just a dream and he's very safe. A nightlight by his bed is often important so he can see his surroundings. Tell him you'll stay with him for five minutes until he falls back asleep, but you are very tired and you need to go back to sleep too. If he doesn't fall asleep in five minutes and starts to cry when you try to leave, tell him that you will wait out in the hall for five more minutes, but then you are going to your own bed by yourself. It is helpful to have a clock by his bed so you can show him exactly what five minutes means. You have to follow through on what you say. If he still calls for you, tell him that you are going to bed, he is safe and you both need your sleep. Then, you have to let him cry.
I know that it is so much easier to give in, but if you nip it in the bud right away, he will understand that he has no choice. Then, on the special occasions when you allow him in your bed, he will recognize that it is truly a special occasion.
I have also had parents tell me that they allowed their child in their room, but the child had to lay on a blanket on the floor. This worked for them, although I don't really see the distinction between the floor and the bed. The point is to set the boundary that his room is where he sleeps and your room is where you sleep.
If you have any other suggestions, please hit comment below and pass them on!