How to Get My Toddler to Stay in Bed

Have you ever played musical beds? You start in your toddler’s room, maybe on the floor, then in the bed, then you sneak out, then you’re in your bed, then they’re in your bed, then back to their bed. On and on and on. It’s not good, right?! So, how do you keep everyone in the bed where they belong? Here are my five tips for getting your toddler to stay in bed.

Set Bedtime and Stick to it

I hear from many parents about how they keep their children up later so they sleep in more and do not fight back as much going to sleep. The problem with that theory is that it’s 100% inaccurate. 

(And they usually wake up more.)

When a child is overtired, their body is flooded with stimulant hormones that stay with them from bedtime throughout the night, causing disruptions in their consolidated and restorative sleep that helps them wake refreshed. 😴 


  • Set up the age-appropriate bedtime for your child and communicate it with all caregivers.
  • Be firm in your new rules about bedtime. It can feel messy at first, but give it a few weeks, things will get easier.
  • Use a timer to set the transition and signal it’s bedtime.

Limit Exposure to Devices

In 2022, children ages 2-5 spent an average of 2.5 hours on a screen every day. This is up nearly 2x the amount since 2020. (Ummmm….yikes )

When it has been the only option, what, as parents, are we supposed to do? How do we support our kids learning and fulfill our work responsibilities while balancing our family’s overall health and well-being? 


  • Keep the bedroom device-free (kids delay bed or wake early to watch, text, and engage with friends).
  • Buy blue-light blocking glasses for your children. 

Set a limit on ‘off-school’ hours for device use. Mirror the behavior you want them to emulate. Dedicate 10 minutes a day of child-guided 1-1 time.

Teach Them to Use Their Breath

How do you disconnect but stay connected with your children and empower them to be the best version of themselves every day in school and at home?

How do you show up and remain balanced and in control during chaos and uncertainty?

With anxiety, depression, and sleep deprivation on the rise, teaching your children the power of mindfulness, not just to manage anxiety but to relax, improve sleep, practice gratitude, and have empathy for others, is the best gift you can give them and it will last a lifetime. 


Set aside time during the bedtime routine to practice mindfulness. Keep it short, 30-90 seconds. (use a product like a Zenimal – our personal favorite)

Use the time to practice the meditations with them (it will be good for your balance and regulation, too, mom.)

Set aside breaks in the day where you sit together and take five deep breaths, stand up, and give the body a shake.

Create a Solid Bedtime Routine 

A consistent bedtime routine helps children understand the expectations around sleep. The patterns we set up help signal sleep is coming, and what they learn is what they come to expect for bedtime and even in the middle of the night. 

The routine should be limited to 30 minutes and include calming activities like a warm bath, storytelling, reading, or singing. A cuddle or snuggle is OK; make sure it’s not to sleep, or you will lie there for hours.


  • Give a 2-minute warning before transitioning from calming time to sleep time. Empower them to make choices. (“You can select this book or that book.”)
  • Kids like being in control, but you must set the boundaries. Consequence the wrong behavior.
  • Teach them to settle without you.

Get Some Fresh Air

The weather fluctuates, but the time your kids get outside shouldn’t. Experts agree that a MINIMUM of 60 minutes of outdoor play is good for their mind and their body. 

Sunlight also helps regulate a child’s circadian rhythm and their body’s natural clock. This helps to ensure they are ready for rest. Exercise releases soothing endorphins into the bloodstream and can help with the production of melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. 


  • Build outdoor play time into the schedule (a family walk after dinner is our new thing) 
  • Create fun but simple games for them, like a scavenger hunt (on rainy days, we have timed races around the first floor – mom is the reigning champ)
  • Set up playdates in the neighborhood outside when you can. Socialization during this time is essential for children of all ages.
  • Fresh air is good for you and them. Make the time and get outside.

Taming Toddler Tornados

Nurturing your toddler’s ability to stay in bed is a journey worth investing in for both their well-being and your family’s sleep. Implementing these natural strategies, from creating a soothing bedtime ritual to being intentional with playtime, will gradually transform bedtime struggles into some of your favorite parts of the day. As a parent educator and sleep consultant at Rise & Rest Parent/Sleep Coaching, I understand the nuances of family dynamics and offer personalized guidance. Embrace the process, be patient, and witness the joy of your toddler embracing their bed as a haven of restful dreams. For expert insights and tailored support, connect with me at Rise & Rest for your free sleep assessment, and let’s tame your toddler tornado with no tears.

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