Help! 3 Year Old Keeps Getting Out of Bed!

  • Okay, I really need your help on this one! My three-year-old constantly gets out of his bed at night. None of my other children were like this! He gets out of bed and lies in the hallway so he can see us, and this goes on until 11:00 at night! How can I get him to realize that he has to stay in his bed at night? I am pulling my hair out!

  • MommyRN4-

    I'm curious what you have already tried.  

    I am a big advocate of positive reinforcement, and since you little guy is now 3 years old he should be able to understand some kind of reward chart.  What you might try is making a sticker chart, with a spot for one sticker each night.  Then talk to him about how if he stays in bed, then when he gets up in the morning,  he gets to pick a sticker to put on the chart.  Once he has so many stickers he gets some kind of reward that you know he really wants.  This could be a trip to the park, an inexpensive toy, special time with dad...whatever you think is meaningful to him.  

    A second idea that i have is a system of "Hall Passes".  So you could make a "hall pass" for him, and he gets to use it once per night.  It's kind of a "get out of bed free" pass. lol.  So he can use that pass and go potty, get a drink, get a hug.  Whatever, but that is his one pass, and then he is in bed after that.  

    I also think that it's fine to make bed a place where he can do quiet time if he is not ready to go to sleep, but light go off at a certain point.  So, for instance, it's ok to have several picture books in his bed, or a dvd player with a 30 minute video that he can watch before sleep, or a cd player so he can listen to relaxing music.  All activities need to be calming, but perhaps he'd stay there long enough to fall asleep if he is able to do some bed time activities.  

    As normal everynight standard it is important to have a bed time routine that starts at the same time everynight with the same set of activities.  So, change into jammies, brush teeth, wash face, say goodnight to everyone, then a story, and then lights or...or quiet alone time, and then sleep.  

    You also will need to be stern with him though.  If he gets up and it's not ok, then you need to quietly take his hand, put him back in bed, and leave.  Do not make eye contact with him, be calm, loving, but stern.  Don't have a conversation, just say "ok, back to bed", and leave it at that.  Don't engage in a conversation or have it be a fun thing for him to get led back to bed.


    Keep us posted on how things go, what you try, what works, and what could have gone better.


  • Does a baby gate pose any kind of challenge? Maybe he can climb right over it but I'd try to gate him into the room some how. I like some of Jess_BabyRN's ideas though! Hope something works soon...I'm feeling like my little boy will be like this. I have no idea how he will stay in bed - he has a mind of his own!

  • MommyRN4-

    I was thinking about you last weekend as I went to a pediatric conference and one of the sessions was on sleep!  The physician presenter talked about a tapering plan for getting kids sleeping in their own rooms/beds.  What she suggested is starting by having the parent in the room at the bedside until the child is asleep.  Then she said, once mastered start moving the parent slowly out of the room.  So, the next step would be having the parent in a chair a few feed from the bed.  Then after a few nights have the parent out the door.  Then checking every few minutes.  Then a tuck in and a check before the parent goes to bed.  This is a little different as your little guy is in his own bed/not a crib, however you may be able to take this idea and make it work for your situation.  

    Keep us posted,


  • Reading this discussion sounds a lot what i go through with my now 4 year old. we had been having him sleep in his own bed (at the time it was a play pen then a crib), but when he woudl wake up crying at night as a baby, his grandmother would take him to bed with her. we have no problem getting him to sleep, unless we try to get him to lay down on his own. Then he fights us every step of the way. Occasionally he will ware him self out to the point he does what I call a crash and burn. However one of our problems lies with him staying in his own bed. We can take him from my bed ( which is where i tend to put him down for bed or nap) and put him in his bed, but by about midnight, he has gotten up and moved to grandmas bed. Now I have another lil one on the way, and i wanted to know how i can get my son to sleep in his bed with out scaring the poor kid.