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Hey, hey!

I'm Michele DiSpirito

I've been where you are.

Tired. No. Exhausted! Frustrated and confused as to what to do with an adorable little one that just. won't. sleep.

I'm a mom to three boys ages 6 and under, wife to Kyle for 17 years, and all about getting some good sleep for us all! While struggling to make sleep consistent and a reality with my oldest, I scoured the internet for answers and was left more frustrated and confused than when I started. I wanted a clear path; someone I trusted to just tell me what to do, how to do it, and when. What I wanted was what I'm here to be for you today - a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.

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How to Keep Your Big Kid in Their Bed Without Sleep Training

[tap here for the SHOW NOTES]

If your little one is in a “big kid bed” (toddler bed, twin bed, or larger) and they’re consistently getting up when they should be staying put, this episode is for you!

You don’t want to miss:

  • Why I don’t recommend a toddler bed.

  • The ideal age to transition to a “big kid bed”

  • 5 tips to helping your big kid stay in bed that doesn’t involve sleep training

Links and resources:

Make sure you hit SUBSCRIBE so you don’t miss out on any sleep tips, sleep science, and encouragement.

And, if you enjoyed this episode, would you please leave me a rating and a review? Thank you!!


Hey there. This is Michele DiSpirito with Good Night Families, and you are listening to the Sleep and Sanity podcast where I help you with your little one's sleep and hopefully help you find your sanity along the way. Today I'm going to be talking about how to keep your big kid in their bed. So for the kids that are no longer sleeping in the crib and are now in a big kid bed, they are consistently getting up or having a hard time getting them to stay in their bed. So I have some tips for you to hopefully help them stay put, and sleep happily in their own bed. So stay tuned.

Today's episode is brought to you by the toddler routine cards and planner pages. The routine cards are just a great visual for your child to be able to see each step in their routine. These cards are black and white so that your child can color them in giving them more ownership of each card and gives you an opportunity to explain each step as they color. The planer pages are blank pages for the day, the week and the month where you can either do symbols or even words, depending on the age of your child, showing each thing that they have on their individual agenda so that they have a little bit more of ownership of what their days are like and have a good overview of what to expect. If you are interested in downloading the planner pages and the routine cards, you can go to to get yours today.

So before we get into all this, I just wanna apologize, once again, for the stuffy nose and congested sound. We have been sick more than well this summer. Which is really weird because I feel like that's more of a winter issue, but that's okay. But just heads up. That's why I sound weird. So getting into the tips, I have five tips to help you help your little one stay in their bed. I have a whole other episode about transitioning to the big kid bed. I recommend doing this transition no earlier than three/as close to age three as possible for lots of reasons listed in that episode. And I will link that episode in the show notes. Once your kid is old enough to be in the big kid bed and you have made that transition, but now they are just consistently getting out of their bed or they were doing well and for whatever reason now they've just like, found that freedom, these five tips I think are gonna be really helpful in encouraging your little one to stay put.

1. Skip the toddler bed

So tip number one is to skip the toddler bed completely and go straight to a twin bed or larger.

Having that toddler bed is just too inviting, especially if it's a crib that transitions to a toddler bed. Essentially you're just telling your child, “Oh, look, now you have freedom. I took that rail off and you can easily get away.” That's not what we really want them to have in their mind. So even if you don't say those words (because I do not recommend you say that), we want them to have this clear understanding that this is a new bed, a new space and it's going to be a little bit bigger.

2. Get the mattress off of the floor.

The next tip is to get the mattress off of the floor. So obviously we don't want it so high up on a frame that they have a hard time getting in, but we do want it elevated off the floor because we don't want it to be too easy for them to get up. It's again, almost too inviting for them to be able to just roll over and literally roll off onto the floor and play with their things. So we want to have it up off the floor enough so that there's a distinction between the bed and floor space.

3. Use a guardrail or an under-the-sheets bedrail or bumper

Tip number three is to use a guardrail or an under-the-sheet bedrail or bumper. This is another thing to just give a visual cue of “this is where I need to be”/ “this is the bed space, that is the other space.”

Obviously, they can still easily get in and out, but again, there’s a boundary there that they're able to understand. It'll at least slow them down enough to think, “Hey, wait, this is where I'm supposed to be. This is where I'm supposed to stay.” So using those is helpful. It's also very helpful to have those when you initially transition because little ones are so used to being easily stopped as they roll in their crib and are stopped from falling off. So instead of having the mattress on the floor to guard that use a guardrail or an under-the-sheet bedrail or bumper. A pool noodle works great or even just balling blankets to create that bumper. They sell under the sheet bumper rails on Amazon, but it's cheaper to just go get a pool noodle. So I would recommend that.

4. Use a toddler clock with rewards and consequences.

So tip number four is to use a toddler clock with rewards and consequences. I have a whole episode about using toddler clocks in this situation that will be very helpful. Again, I will link that in the show notes. But a quick rundown of how that would work is you're going to use the colors from the clock to coordinate with what the colors mean. So you could use green for getting ready for bed. Yellow for the last few minutes of bedtime where any kind of excuse that they would have to be getting out of bed is used up. So the last drink of water, the last few snuggles, that sort of thing. I wouldn't read a whole other book or anything like that, but those, you know, I need socks. I don't want my socks on that sort of stuff. That's what the yellow time is for. And then red is for bed and then it's going to be red, or completely off, depending on your child's age and your comfort level with that, throughout the entire night. So when they wake in the morning, it'll still be red, or if you need to wake them, you're going to use whatever color they choose to get them up. And that will signal to them that it is okay to get out of bed.

So having that toddler clock is just another way for them to understand whether or not it’s time to be in bed.

5. Find the root cause.

Then lastly, tip number five is to dig in a little bit more about why they are getting out of bed. Yes, obviously a big thing is kids would rather play than sleep, I'm sure. But if there's a common denominator of things that are causing them to get up like they're always getting up to get a glass of water, they're always getting up to go to the bathroom, that sort of thing, try to use up those excuses before it's time for them to stay in their bed. Granted, if your child is needing to get up to go to the bathroom, we don't want to prohibit that, but at the same time, you can only pee so many times in an hour time frame without there being a concern for your health. So, if your child is consistently getting up, and needing to do that, this is where those rewards and consequences need to come in and set that boundary. Talk to them throughout the day about your expectations around this, why it's important for them to be sleeping in their bed and that sort of thing.

If there are any fears or anxieties that are causing them to get up more, definitely dig into those a little bit. Bedtime isn't necessarily the time to really dig into a ton, but it's something to take a mental note of and then throughout their day, when you guys are playing together, have those quality time conversations. Those are really helpful to dig into it a bit to see what's going on and help to reassure them and help them in those things.

So those are the quick five tips that I have for helping your big kids stay in their bed. If you have a lot of trouble with helping your little ones stay in bed, and then they're right around the age, three mark or younger - if they're younger, bring back the crib, drop the mattress all the way to the floor. I do have a podcast episode about keeping your kid in the crib. So if your little one isn't three and they're really struggling with staying in bed, it might be because that they're not quite old enough yet to understand those boundaries without having a physical reminder letting them know that this is where they need to be. So take a listen to that episode, to help with that.

But if you're struggling in any way with your little one's sleep, I'd be more than happy to help you out. We can have a conversation about what that looks like and what it's like to work with me, no strings attached. You can book a call at to schedule that and I'd be happy to talk to you.

Well, that's all I have for you today, friend. Until next time, here is to your sleep and your sanity.

If you found this episode helpful, I would absolutely love it. If you would hit subscribe, follow, if you would rate the podcast, review it, share it with a friend, however, to get the word out, to be able to help more families get the sleep that they need and more moms to feel sane and heard and just to get the practical advice and guidance that they need to get the sleep that they need and deserve. No matter the steps you take next, I am so grateful that you're here and I appreciate you listening in. Until next time. Sweet dreams.


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