What to Do When a Child Won’t Stay in Bed: Tips for Parents

It’s a common problem that many parents face: a child who won’t stay in bed. Whether they’re getting up to ask for water, a snack, or just to come see you, the result is the same – a tired and frustrated family the next day. So, what can you do when your child won’t stay in bed?

First, it’s important to establish a bedtime routine. Children thrive on routine and consistency, so having a set routine can help them feel more secure and ready for sleep. This could include a bath, story time, and a song or lullaby. Make sure to stick to the routine as closely as possible, even on weekends or vacations.

Another tip is to address any needs your child may have before bedtime. If they’re often getting up to ask for water or a snack, make sure to provide those things during the bedtime routine. This way, they won’t feel the need to get up and ask for them later. Additionally, make sure the sleeping environment is comfortable and conducive to sleep – a dark, cool room with a comfortable mattress and pillow can make a big difference.

Establishing Boundaries and Rules

When it comes to getting a child to stay in bed, establishing boundaries and rules is crucial. Children need structure and routine to feel safe and secure, and setting clear expectations can help them understand what is expected of them. Here are some tips for establishing boundaries and rules:


Consistency is key when it comes to setting boundaries and rules. Children thrive on routine, and knowing what to expect can help them feel more secure. Make sure that your child’s bedtime routine is consistent and that you stick to it every night. This can include things like a bath, brushing teeth, reading a story, and saying goodnight. By establishing a consistent routine, your child will know what to expect and will be more likely to stay in bed.


It’s important to set clear expectations for your child when it comes to staying in bed. Let them know that bedtime is non-negotiable and that they are expected to stay in bed until morning. Explain to them why it’s important to get a good night’s sleep and how staying in bed will help them feel better in the morning. By setting clear expectations, your child will know what is expected of them and will be more likely to comply.


If your child refuses to stay in bed, it’s important to have consequences in place. This could include things like taking away privileges or adding extra chores. Make sure that your child knows what the consequences will be if they don’t stay in bed, and follow through with them if necessary. By having consequences in place, your child will understand that there are consequences for their actions.

In summary, establishing boundaries and rules is crucial when it comes to getting a child to stay in bed. By being consistent, setting clear expectations, and having consequences in place, you can help your child understand what is expected of them and encourage them to stay in bed. Remember, bedtime battles can be challenging, but with patience and persistence, you can help your child develop healthy sleep habits.

Creating a Calming Bedtime Routine

A calming bedtime routine can help your child transition from playtime to sleep time. Here are some tips to create a bedtime routine that works for your child.


A warm bath can help your child relax and unwind before bed. Use a few drops of lavender oil in the bathwater to create a calming effect. Make sure to dry your child thoroughly before putting them in their pajamas.


Reading a book can be a great way to help your child wind down before bed. Let your child pick out their favorite bedtime story and read it together in a quiet, cozy spot in their bedroom. This can also be a great opportunity for some cuddle time.

Cuddle Time

Cuddle time can be a great way to help your child feel safe and secure before bed. Spend a few minutes cuddling with your child and talking about their day. This can also be a great time to give your child their favorite stuffed animal or blanket.

Other things you can do to create a calming bedtime routine include:

  • Turning on a night light
  • Playing soft music
  • Keeping the bedroom quiet and dark
  • Making sure your child’s toddler bed is comfortable and cozy

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to creating a calming bedtime routine. Stick to the same routine every night to help your child know what to expect and feel more relaxed before bed.

Addressing Fears and Anxiety

When a child won’t stay in bed, it can be due to fears and anxiety. It is important to address these concerns and help your child feel safe and secure in their sleeping environment. Here are some techniques to help alleviate your child’s fears and anxiety:


If your child is scared, it is important to identify what is causing their fear. It could be a scary story they heard, a nightmare, or a fear of the dark. Once you know what is causing their fear, you can take steps to alleviate it. For example, you can read a happy story before bed, use a night light, or give your child a stuffed animal to hold.


If your child is worrying, it can be helpful to talk to them about their concerns. Listen to what they have to say and reassure them that everything will be okay. You can also use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualization, to help your child calm down.


If your child is experiencing anxiety, it is important to address the underlying cause of their anxiety. This could be due to a stressful situation at school or home, or it could be a symptom of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. If you suspect your child has a sleep disorder, it is important to talk to their doctor.


If your child is afraid of something specific, such as monsters or burglars, it can be helpful to use bedtime fading. This involves gradually increasing the amount of time your child spends in bed until they are able to fall asleep on their own. You can also give your child a warm bath before bed to help them relax.


It is important to be consistent with your child’s bedtime routine and to set clear boundaries. If your child gets out of bed, calmly and firmly guide them back to bed without engaging in conversation. Avoid using punishment or negative reinforcement, as this can increase your child’s anxiety and make the situation worse.

By addressing your child’s fears and anxiety, you can help them feel safe and secure in their sleeping environment. Use these techniques to help your child stay in bed and get the restful sleep they need.

Troubleshooting Sleep Disturbances

If your child is having trouble staying in bed, there could be a number of factors contributing to the issue. Understanding the root cause of the problem can help you develop an effective solution. Here are a few potential causes of sleep disturbances in children:

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia can cause disruptions in a child’s sleep patterns. If you suspect your child may have a sleep disorder, it’s important to speak with their pediatrician. They may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the issue and develop a treatment plan.

Sleep Deprivation

If your child isn’t getting enough sleep, they may have trouble staying in bed. Children need different amounts of sleep depending on their age. For example, preschoolers need 10-13 hours of sleep per day, while school-aged children need 9-11 hours. If you suspect your child isn’t getting enough sleep, try adjusting their bedtime or nap schedule.

Sleep Disturbances

External factors such as noise, light, or temperature can cause sleep disturbances. Try creating a calming bedtime routine and making sure your child’s sleep environment is conducive to restful sleep. This may include using white noise machines or blackout curtains to block out distractions.

It’s important to note that sleep disturbances can also be a symptom of other underlying issues such as anxiety or ADHD. If you suspect your child’s sleep issues may be related to a larger problem, it’s important to speak with their pediatrician.

By understanding the potential causes of sleep disturbances, you can develop a targeted solution to help your child stay in bed and get the restful sleep they need.

Tips for Parents

If you’re struggling with a child who won’t stay in bed, you’re not alone. Many parents face this issue at some point. Here are some tips that may help:

Parenting Tips

  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine: A predictable routine can help your child feel secure and ready for sleep. This might include a bath, brushing teeth, reading a story, and a goodnight kiss.
  • Set clear boundaries: Make it clear to your child that once it’s bedtime, it’s time to stay in bed. Be consistent with your expectations and consequences if they get out of bed.
  • Use positive reinforcement: Consider using a sticker chart or other rewards system to encourage your child to stay in bed. Praise them when they do well.
  • Address any underlying issues: If your child is anxious, scared, or has other concerns, talk to them about it and try to address their worries.


Many parents feel guilty or worried about their child’s sleep habits. It’s important to remember that it’s normal for kids to resist bedtime sometimes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You’re not alone: Many parents struggle with bedtime battles.
  • It’s not your fault: Your child’s sleep habits are not a reflection of your parenting skills.
  • Be patient: It may take time and consistency to establish good sleep habits.

Remember, it’s important to take care of yourself too. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, consider asking for help from a partner, family member, or friend.

Other factors that may be impacting your child’s sleep could include watching TV or playing video games before bed, or making excuses to stay up. Be mindful of these habits and try to establish healthy boundaries around them.

If your child is a preschooler, keep in mind that they may still need a daytime nap. However, make sure the nap is not too close to bedtime, as this can interfere with their ability to fall asleep at night.

Overall, remember that good sleep habits are important for both you and your child. With patience, consistency, and a little creativity, you can help your child stay in bed and get the rest they need.

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