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Get Back in Bed!

May 26, 2010

There is somewhat of a war going on in our house. The latest battle started on Saturday. This war began in the beginning of April. Since April there have been several battles between “team parents” and Bruiser. I tell ya, Bruiser is a tough opponent! We need help. I’m begging for any kind of advice…please help us! Let me start from the beginning.

When we came back from visiting family over Christmas we decided it was time to put Bruiser’s crib away. He was almost 21 months old. (Monkey moved into the toddler bed at 18 months for comparison). He was very excited about his big boy bed and had very few problems with it. He had really been itching for some more “big boy responsibilities” and I knew it was the right time to introduce a bed to him.

We put a little rail on to keep him from falling out and more or less, he stayed in his bed when it was time to sleep. He would have his nights when he would get out a couple of times, but we just marched him back to bed with a stern warning.

Things were fine until the beginning of April. The boys both got really sick and started waking up at night. I was up with one or the other nearly every hour. It made for a cranky mom during the day. Bruiser would wake because he couldn’t breathe right and then get out of bed and wander into our room. He did this for two  nights. There was no real problem…he just needed to roll over and go back to bed. I never had to do anything more than give him a hug and tuck him in again. He didn’t really need me. But in the middle of the night he was on auto pilot and drowsily just got out of bed. I could see it was just becoming a bad habit. He has always been a good sleeper…learning to soothe himself and sleep through the night at an early age. On the third night of him getting up in the middle of the night, I couldn’t take it anymore. I marched downstairs and got a handful of zip-ties. Then I got the rail that made his toddler bed back into a crib. I zip-tied that rail onto his bed so he couldn’t get out again and went back to sleep myself. He screamed like I was torturing him for about 10 minutes before conking back out for the night. He was not happy about the bars at all.

Although Bruiser hated it, the rail worked wonderfully. The next few nights, I would hear him wake and roll over then soothe himself back to sleep. He didn’t have much other choice. He knew he didn’t need to call for me and he didn’t. I got better sleep and our days were much more pleasant. The bars stayed up until the sickness was gone.

When we took the rail back off it was like a whole new freedom for him. He would NOT stay in bed at night. I rarely had a problem at nap time, but at night he was out of bed several times. This went on for a little over a week before we threatened to put the bars back on. He didn’t obey and so back up they went.

This time they stayed on for nearly three weeks. We took them off again last Saturday. Guess what? He’s back to his old tricks. He gets out of bed between 5 and 15 times a night before he finally conks out.

Here is what we’ve done to try and get him to stay in bed:

1. When we tuck him in we pray that he will obey Mommy and Daddy and stay in bed. We tell him the consequences and have him repeat that back to us. He understands completely.

2. We put on a CD so he will have something to keep his attention until he falls asleep.

3. He gets to take one book into bed with him for the same reason as #2. The first time he gets out of bed is usually to get about 10 more books to bring back to the bed.

4. EVERY time he gets out he is reprimanded and sent back to bed. The need for a drink, fixing covers, too hot, too cold, music turned off, none of those are good excuses because he knows that if he needs something he can just call for us and we will come. We have been very consistent with this. Although, we may not hear him every time he is out of bed. The times he is so bold as to come out of his room make it easy.


Last night he went to bed around 8:45 which is much later than usual. (Bed time around here is 7:30, sometimes 8:00 now that we do more things outside at night). He wasn’t asleep until 10:45. He woke up at 7:20 (his usual rising time). Can you guess what a treasure he has been today? Even when he is in bed at 7:30 he rarely falls asleep until 9:00-9:30. This was not the case when the bars were up.

Here are some other things I’m considering trying:

1. Take all the toys and books out of his room. I figure if there isn’t the temptation to play with things he might stay in bed. I’m not sure about this though, because I’ve caught him several times with the window shade pulled over his head just staring out at the street watching people walk by with their dogs. He’s two and he’s curious. I think he will invent his own toy if I take his away.

2. No more Biddie. Biddie is Bruiser’s blankie. It is more than just a blankie; it really is his best buddy. Biddie now plays with him, has human characteristics, and “eats food.” He is REALLY attached to this thing. We have a rule that Biddie stays in bed and I admit we’ve been a bit lax on this one lately. It kind of fell by the way-side when the bars were up. Biddie just gets too filthy when it goes everywhere with him and so we felt it was time for Bruiser to grow up a little and start detaching from this blanket a bit.

Today, after about five reminders that “Biddie stays in bed,” Biddie got put away. I think I am going to start putting it in the closet and taking it out only for nap and bed time. If he can only have his very special blanket while he is in bed, maybe that will be more incentive for him to actually stay in the bed. He was VERY excited to have it back for nap time so when he wakes up, I’m going to take it away again, listen to him whine for it all afternoon, and then make a big deal about getting it back for bed time.

Bruiser snuggled up with his beloved Biddie.

3.Put the short bed rail (not the crib bars) back on to deter him from getting out. He has been sleeping just fine with that rail off, but maybe if I put it back on he’ll have to think more about crawling out the one little hole instead of being able to get out so easily.

4. The last idea I’ve got is to keep his door cracked open and sit right outside in the hallway and catch him the instant both feet hit the floor. I know there are times when he’s been playing quietly for a while and we haven’t caught him. I wonder if this is a game to him to see how much he can get away with. I am not in any way excited to waste my evening sitting outside the kid’s door, but if it gets the message that “getting out of bed is not ok” across, then I’ll do it.

So that’s the plan for tonight. I’ll be staying home from church to get him into bed on time (and hopefully avoid another late night like last night) and will sit outside his door reading a book until he sneaks out of his bed. I won’t be at prayer meeting tonight, but I assure you there will be plenty of praying going on in my house!

Have any of you had similar bed-time struggles? I would be happy to hear any advice you have to offer. I’m about out of ideas. I will say that leaving him in the crib is not going to be an option. We are leaving to visit family in about two weeks and there will not be a crib for him. I’d like this be resolved before then. Also, when we return from our family visit we will start potty training. It just doesn’t seem right to be potty training and have the kid still in a crib. He is two now, it is time to move on.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kelly permalink
    May 26, 2010 3:39 pm

    We dealt with/are dealing with that with James now and did with Lauren as well. It sounds like your ideas are worth a shot especially if they seem to be working ( like the blanket one).
    We had to sit outside James’ door for a while. It worked!
    We went through those struggles after trips and sickness,too. It is so hard! Just stay consistent. Eventually they’ll get it. Out of my three, two are/were horrible sleepers. It is so nice when they finally start sleeping like they should. And it sounds like he is testing his boundaries if all he has to do is call you if something is actually wrong. Keep up the good work!

  2. May 26, 2010 8:19 pm


    So tonight he was in bed by 7:30 with his beloved Biddie which was kept in hiding all day. He was shocked to get caught so quickly and didn’t attempt to get out of bed again until about 40 minutes later. I sat right outside his cracked-open door reading a book while listening to him kick his feet on the wall and talk to himself. It took a little over an hour tonight. A marked improvement from the previous 2+ hour nights. I think I will repeat again for a few days and see if the time improves.

  3. May 28, 2010 7:17 pm


    Night two was better than night one. It still took about an hour for him to fall asleep, but he only got out of bed once. That one time was within the first five minutes and he never attempted again. Just kicked the wall happily and talked to himself until he was tired enough to sleep. He did peek out the door at me a few times and I just told him to lay back down.

    Night three was great. He didn’t get out of bed once and was gone in 20 minutes. A short nap on a babysitter’s lap and lots of time running around outside helped, I’m sure. I think all the running around outside this summer is going to help the cause.

    I’m still keeping his blanket out of sight during the day and bringing it out only for nap and bed. He whines for it during the day, but not so much that I can’t handle it. He really does seem to love it more now that it is only for sleeping.

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