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10 phrases sleep coaches use to help keep kids in bed

1. “I’ll check on you in 10 minutes.”

10 phrases sleep coaches use to help keep kids in bed

Trying to get your child to go to sleep is a challenge that most parents face at some point. Whether you’re putting your little one down for a nap or starting the bedtime process, it can sometimes feel like a battle you aren’t going to win. And even if you do, there’s the staying in bed part that can be even more difficult.


It is very common, especially in toddlerhood, for kids to get out of their bed the moment you leave the room—making the bedtime process feel impossible.

After the 64th time of walking your child back to her bed, you might be wondering how you’ll possibly survive this stage, and what it’s going to take for her to stay put.

As a mom who recently went through this with our school-aged child, I completely understand how taxing and frustrating the whole process can be. Thankfully, being a sleep coach came in handy in our situation, and we were able to use several key phrases that made a huge difference.

Here are 10 of them that you can implement in your household if you’re currently fighting this battle:

1. “I’ll check on you in 10 minutes.”

Rather than waiting for your child to get up and come find you, assure her that you will return in five or 10 minutes to check in. This will help give her a sense of security that you will come back and teach her that it’s okay to want you, but that it is still expected she stays in her bed.

2. “It’s time to sleep now in your bed. I’m going to sleep in my bed too.”

This doesn’t mean you also need to go to bed right away, but assuring your child that you too will be sleeping in your own bed, helps make that connection that beds are for sleep.

3. “You can have one pass tonight if you need one. After that, I won’t be responding to requests unless it is an emergency.”

We all know this trick. Children are put to bed and then suddenly want a glass of milk, another bedtime story, and a pony. While it is important to make sure your child is safe, responding to every single request can draw out the bedtime process. If you allow your child one or two “asks," then it can help him to think a bit more about how often to call out to you.

4. “If you don’t get your sleep tonight, we might not be able to do X activity tomorrow since we will just be too tired.”

This isn’t meant as a threat or punishment, but as a reminder that lack of sleep directly correlates with lack of energy. There are negative effects associated with not sleeping enough, and often our children don’t realize this unless we explain it in a tangible way.

5. “If you stay in your bed tonight, we can do an extra activity tomorrow."

This is not to be used as a bribe or to entice your child to sleep better by rewarding them with treats or other objects. Rather, it emphasizes the direct connection with “more sleep = more energy”—when children have something to look forward to they might take it a bit more seriously.

6. “Can we make it your job to stay in bed tonight and can we count on you to do that?"

Often when we give our kids responsibility it gives them a sense of ownership. Even if it is something as simple as staying in bed, providing them with a “job” to do, can help it feel less scary or overwhelming. You can also ask your child to put his stuffed animals or loveys to bed and have him tell them the same thing.

7. “I know you can do this and I’m here for you."

Despite our frustrations that our children aren’t going to sleep, it is so important that we provide encouragement as much as possible. Our children count on us to be steady and calm and when we model that behavior along with words of affirmation, our children have a much better chance of feeling safe to fall and stay asleep.

8. “What do you need in order to feel safe?”

It is very common for children to have separation anxiety and fear around sleeping alone and it is important to create an opportunity to address those fears. Talking about them and asking the appropriate questions will help your child work through any feelings of fear or anxiety.

9. “If you’re feeling scared it is okay to come get one of us."

School-aged children often have real feelings of fear and night terrors, and when you give them the option of seeking comfort from a parent, it can help them feel relief. I have seen the use of this phrase actually minimize the amount of middle of the night wakings because the child feels less anxious knowing they have our support.

10. “Once the light turns green or the timer goes off, you can go ahead and get out of bed."

The Ok to Wake! clocks or kid-friendly alarms, are a great way to encourage your child to stay in bed until the clock says it’s time. These are typically best to use for the morning hours, but you can also set them for the 10-15 minutes check-ins after going down at bedtime.

There are a few other important factors to consider when using these phrases:

  • Try not to use punishment or lose your temper during the process.
  • Keep dialogue short when responding to call-outs and questions after bedtime.
  • Remember that behavior at bedtime is usually a continuation of how your child behaves throughout the day (e.g., if your child can’t be alone during the day, that isn’t going to change at night).

These phrases can be helpful when managing a child who has a hard time staying in bed, but ultimately taking a look at why the behavior is happening in the first place is important to address the problem at its root.

Your child looks to you for guidance and support in all other areas of life and bedtime isn’t any different. By responding positively, while still implementing firm boundaries, you are helping to establish security and connection—and eventually a better sleeper.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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$120

Sand play set

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$30

Water play set

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Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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