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How to get my child to stay in bed

Quick tips for sleep training...

Does your child get up multiple times to tell you 'one last thing' before they go to sleep?

Does bedtime drag on and on?

Does you child keep wanting to tell you things, ask questions or want another hug?

The below description of the Bedtime Pass could be the answer for you!

Father and daughter during bedtime routine

Often our days are so busy with school, after school activities and then the evening routine, that we don't have much quiet time with our children. Sometimes our children are so busy that their bodies and brains don't stop churning around until they are laying horizontal in their bed. Then, this is the time when all of the questions and things they want to tell you about their day comes out.

So, how do you as a parent acknowledge and listen to your child while also teaching them that bedtime is for sleeping - not for getting up and talking your ear off!

Little boy stays in bed with his Teddy bear instead of getting up to have one more hug from his parents

Have good sleep hygiene - this includes a regular night time routine that helps you child calm and settle to prepare for sleeping. Email us at for our FREE program and data sheet for good sleep hygiene!

  1. Make time to be with your child so that they can ask questions, talk about their day and share their thoughts.

  2. Help your child to put their thoughts or worries to bed before they put themself to bed. Here are some ideas...

    1. You write them on a piece of paper and post them into a shoebox.

    2. Get your child to imagine putting the thought or problem on the carriage of a train and take them away. You can replace the train with anything else they like - rocket, clouds, unicorn who flies away, aliens that take the thought or worry (you get what I mean)

  3. Apply the "Bedtime Pass" strategy.

The Bedtime Pass

Bedtime Pass...maybe the key to undisturbed nights of sleep
  1. Print out the Bedtime Passes. Email us at for a FREE bedtime pass PDF.

  2. Determine how many passes your child will have.

    1. How to figure this out: for 3 nights track how many times your child gets out of bed and then find the average per night (e.g. 1st night - 5 times, 2nd night - 3 times, 3rd night 7 times; 5+3+7 = 15. 15/3 nights = 5)

    2. Your child will start off with 5 bedtime passes.

  3. Explain to your child that they can use their bedtime pass to have mom or dad visit them when they call out, they can use it to leave their room and get something they want (e.g. another hug, drink, go to the washroom). One they run out of bedtime passes they have to wait until the morning to talk to you.

  4. Start the process - when your child calls out, go see them and exchange a bedtime pass. If your child comes out to see you, get them to bring a bedtime pass with them.

  5. When your child only has one pass left remind them that they only have one more chance to come to get hugs, talk to you etc.

    1. If you are using the "Extra add-on" that I've mentioned below, remind your child that if they still have a pass in the morning they get to choose a reward.

  6. If your child comes out and they don't have any passes left, gently and kindly take them back to bed without talking to them and giving them as little eye contact and facial expressions as possible. You can use gestures such as pointing or tapping on the bed to indicate to your child that it's bedtime. Tuck them in bed and leave the room.

    1. You may have to repeat this step a number of times until your child learns the rules of the bedtime pass.

  7. Once your child is staying in bed after using all of their bedtime passes or not using all of their passes, for 2 nights in a row, you can reduce the number of passes they have available to use.

    1. I recommend reducing the number of bedtime passes by 1 each time so that your child can still be successful.

Extra add-on: to make this process more effective, you can add a rewarding activity or item that the child gets in the morning if they still have a bedtime pass with them. Ask your child what they would like to earn in the morning if they still have a pass (e.g. tickles game with dad, pancake for breakfast, 5 min with sensory toy box)

NOTE: Make sure you are reasonable when implementing this strategy and don't put your child in danger. If your child is unwell you may decide to not implement this strategy. If you think your child has hurt themselves, make sure you check that they are safe. Have a camera in the room if you are concerned about your child's safety. In any situation, safety comes first.

If you implement this strategy and your child is not able to calm themself, if they are screaming and crying for long periods of time, if they become aggressive or destructive; you will likely need to get more specific recommendations for your child's sleep. There are many positive strategies out there to teach your child to sleep on their own, so don't think you need to let them cry and scream to fix the problem.

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