The Secret to Keeping Your Toddler in Bed All Night (It’s So Simple!)
If you're the parent of a toddler or preschooler, chances are you are familiar with the bedtime struggles. You think your child is old enough to stay in his room the entire night, but he wants to get out of bed for a hug. Or a trip to the potty. Or a drink of water. Or had a bad dream. Or for no reason at all. Parents have tried many things over the years to get their kids to stay in bed, but so far only one method that we know of has been studied by doctors and found to be effective. And it's surprisingly simple.
The secret to a more peaceful nighttime for everyone involves just one piece of paper: The Bedtime Pass. To use this method, all you need is a piece of paper that serves as a get-out-of-jail-free card for one trip out of the bedroom for the night. Once used, the child needs to return their room quickly and cannot use the pass again until the next night. The pass gives children the peace of mind that they can escape their room if they need to while giving parents the peace-of-mind they need to know they won't be constantly woken up throughout the night (or wind up with a child in their bed).
To get buy-in from your child, you may want to have him help design his very own pass after explaining how the system will work. When you tuck your child in be sure to place the Bedtime Pass somewhere your child can reach it easily and remind him that it's there. Once the pass has been used, take the pass (or direct your child to slide it under your door) and don't give it back until the next day.
The first couple of nights your child may test the system and get out of bed more than once. If this happens, parents should firmly remind their child how the system works. Once you are sure your child understands the system, after the pass is used for the night parents should not respond to their child's calling out after the pass has been used. The Bedtime Pass Study found that trips out of bed and meltdowns quickly went down to close to zero and that after a few months most kids stayed in bed all night without using the pass at all.
The study of The Bedtime Pass was conducted on children from ages 3 – 10, but some parents have reported that it works just as well on children younger and older. Some parents have also modified The Bedtime Pass to allow for two passes, usually one for something they “need,” like a trip to the bathroom or a drink and one for something they “want” like a hug or quick snuggle. Another modification some parents use is that the pass can be used to ask a grown-up to come into the child's room for a brief visit. Some parents also give their child a small reward in the morning (such as choosing what they have for breakfast) if they get through the night without any resistance.
For more information on The Bedtime Pass system check out this step-by-step guide.
How do you get your child to stay in bed all night?