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Preschooler Safety: Getting out of bed in middle of the night

By August 4, 2009 - 8:59pm
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My 3 year old just realized he can get out of his "big boy bed" without waiting for us to come get him. Now, I'm nervous about the possibility of him "realizing" he can get out of his room and wander the house in the middle of the night.

Is it more dangerous to put a childproof doorknob handle inside his room, since his room is safe? What do pediatricians recommend is the safest for toddlers/preschoolers? Keep them in their room, or childproof the entire house so they can come get us in the middle of the night? We do still have a monitor, so can hear what's going on.

Thanks for your input!

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Veronica!

Thanks for your question, it's a great one!

I'm going to tell you not to worry about what pediatricians think! Not because their opinions don't count -they have some very valuable advice on many subjects but on this one, the decision should be solely the parents as they know their child, the layout of the house, and any dangers each of those could cause!

Firstly, many parents panic that their child will somehow wander the neighborhood or end up playing with steak knives at 3am in the kitchen once they are in their big-kid beds ,and the truth is that won't happen. Most kids will go directly to their parents room if they wake up at night. Unless your child has a sleep-walking problem, he'll be fine. We all wake up at night - most of us don't even remember it. If and when he does, over baby proofing may serve to delay his learning to put himself back to sleep on his own.

You can put one of those childproof knobs on their doors. We tried but our kids like their doors left ajar at night so we took them off (and one figured out how to take it off, childproof my foot, lol!). Or you could leave a babygate on the top of the stairs (assuming you are living in a 2-story). If not, just having the back and front doors secured should be ok and keep bathroom doors closed too. And keep night lights on in the hallways.

When you say "childproof the whole house" in case he wakes up at night, what do you mean? Is it not pretty well child proofed already, with stoppers in outlets etc? If it is, then I think you're all set. Worry not - he won't be waking you up by cooking you a light midnight snack or rocking out in the basement to his Dads latest CDs! When three year olds wake up, they want Mom and Dad!

At the age of 3, you might want to turn that monitor off too (unless he has health problems). It'll only serve to worry you. If it doesn't worry you and instead, you think it's comforting, then by all means keep it. But a three year old doesn't really need a monitor. Give yourself the night off, Mom! Night time is your time and time with your husband. You'll hear him if he needs you!

By the way, when our oldest was two and a half, we moved him to a big boy bed and it took him a month to figure out that he didn't need to call us to be taken out! I thought it was the cutest thing! There he was, standing up in a bed, holding out his arms to be taken out, when all he needed to do was put his little feet on the floor! I thought it was the sweetest thing! Then one day he put a foot on the floor - then the other - and it was a big AHA! moment! Like he figured out the meaning of life!

August 7, 2009 - 1:57pm
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