For a few weeks now my 2 year old daughter has woken up in the middle of the night crying for mom or dad. This started out when we took off her diaper and she would cry to go to the potty. She picked this up in a day and would wake up and call/ cry for us to potty once or twice a night instead of wetting herself.

We were shocked and happy at this, but it soon turned into calling us and not needing to potty, but to get her way into our bed.

Needless to say once in our bed she starts pushing us around at night, making it hard to sleep.

How can we cut this out so that we can get some sleep?

8 Answers 8


Our daughter used exactly the same tactic (altough it was only in early morning) Do not give in on letting her into your bed. I think this is a thing to be consequent about. You will have to be strict and clear: calling you out of bed to go to potty is ok, doing this to get into your bed is not. Under no circumstances she should be allowed to use this as a strategy to get into your bed.

Next time she calls you for her potty at night, go to her put her on her potty, but when it get's clear it's just her tactic to get into your bed again, explain to her that it's ok to call you for her potty but that getting in your bed is not possible and that she will have to go to her own bed. Bring her back to her bed then.

Using this technique will probably lead to a few nights with huge scenes, and crying tantrums, when your daughter will find out her former tactic is not useful anymore. This is hard, you will be tired and probably feel terrible about yourself. Do not give in. You can console her in her own bed. Keep this short, explain again that she can not come with you and will have to sleep in her own bed. Go away. If she keeps on crying, do not go back immediatly, but wait a reasonable time (at her age this can be 10 minutes, in my opinion), she needs to be able to realize you will not come back immediately, and fall asleep by herself. Eventually she will.

After a few nights this habit will disappear.

  • my biggest fear is she may start to wet her bed as a result of us not coming in and waiting her out.
    – kacalapy
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 18:52
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    I understand, I meant: you should definitely react on her calling you out and help her on her potty, but do not give in on her trying to take her to your bed. Bring her back to her own bed, no matter what she tries.
    – Tim H
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 19:37

Tell her that if she has to go potty in the night to go ahead and go on her own. Be sure there is a nightlight in there.

If you don't want her in your bed, put a pillow and blanket on the floor near your bed. :)

  • This is how my wife and I handled it with our daughter. It seemed cruel to make her sleep on the floor, but it kept the boundary (our bed) clear. The frequency of her waking us or coming into the room decreased over a year or so until it stopped completely around 4 or 5.
    – tomjedrz
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 16:32

This is probably just a phase which will soon pass. What worked for me in similar circumstances is allowing my son to come to our bed for 5 minutes (and I would tell him that he could home for 5 minutes only) and after five minutes firmly move him to his bad. It would usually last for several nights and stop.

  • Yes. It's oh-so-tempting to let them stay longer than 5 minutes and your sleepy mind will justify it, but stay firm.
    – Nathan
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 4:38
  • 5
    IMHO small children don't understand exceptions and also have no concept of time. I'd prefer absolute consistency, and that also means to exceptions and no "only 5 mins". Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 9:16
  • I agree, kids don't have a concept of time, they will just get a concept of small time they can spend in their parents bed. I do believe they get a concept of a limit on getting what they want as at this age they get to see only one cartoon, play only five minutes more, etc.
    – jny
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 13:54

During the evening when she is usually awake. Tell her she needs to play with her dolls in the other room while you and mom talk in a seperate room. Spend about 5 mins the first time and build up to 15 mins. She can not interrupt, as this is the time when mom and dad talk.

What this does is give her the secure feeling that she needs and she will sleep through the night.

It worked with my kids!

BTW not my idea.


Of course, the potty call is just a ruse. She's using that because she knows you can't ignore her (we see that and the more occasional 'my xxx hurts') - it's a guaranteed attention seeking ploy.

So put her on the potty by all means, but don't stay with her - it's hard because in the middle of the night you're tired and don't want to wake everyone up (our 2yo has a younger sister). By not staying with her, she's not getting a partial victory in your attention. But absolutely don't relent, not even for a few minutes. Once she 'wins' (and it is about winning) it'll be even harder the next night. Even giving in when she's ill makes it harder.

Our bed is for the morning, once everyone's awake, not for the middle of the night.

(Indeed, when she's ill we prefer to get a mattress and one of us will sleep on her floor.)

It will pass. One thing is that maybe her bladder really is too full over night? We make sure that a potty trip is the last thing before getting back into bed for lights out and even that the last drink is a while before there. That will get harder over the summer, but for a few nights to break the cycle, it could be worth a try too.


Could be a side issue. But if she isn't up for getting up by herself in the night then she isn't up for being nappy free. Why not put her back in the nappy, not only will you avoid the question of her getting into bed you also don't have to get up to deal with her need for a potty. 2 is awful early to be dry at night.


It's understandable that children would want to sleep in close physical proximity to a parent. If it's disruptive to your sleep, then put them on the floor next to your bed. The floor is more comforable for a child than an adult.

  • Why do you think the floor would feel less hard to a child than to an adult? Do you seriously suggest this as a solution to the asker? Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 13:31
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    It actually is not as uncomfortable for them. Their spines haven't developed a full curvature yet so firmer mats (and floors) are actually more supportive for their little bodies. Of course, I would suggest a sleeping bag or camping mat and blanket, but this can be a good stop gap for a period of time when kids are struggling with nightmares or something and just need more reassurance. Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 15:08

Having 5 children, I've seen every manner of excuse for getting out of bed, and every sort of request to join mommy and daddy in bed.

With the exception of those times that the child in question is sick, I've found it very effective to give one warning/explanation (one per child, not one per night) that the child is to remain in bed until morning. On subsequent events, I would calmly and carefully spank the child, then hug the child, pray for the child, and put the child back in bed.

Once the child understands that leaving the room will receive this response, he usually chooses to stay in bed.

The potty issue adds a complication, and will require careful judgment. Often a solution is to tell the child that they will be spanked if they leave the room to potty, and fail to produce anything. (Obviously, I would have mercy if I'm convinced that this was merely a miscalculation in a newly potty-trained child.) And in any, a mid-night potty trip would never be rewarded by time in mommy and daddy's bed.

As in so many things, if the boundaries are clear, and the punishment is consistent, your children will behave as you want, and be happier for it.

  • 1
    Both hitting and praying seem like very out-dated and ineffective parenting techniques. Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 16:40
  • I'll agree that spanking and praying have been on the decline for some time, and given that the low levels of obedience and maturity demonstrated in modern children and youths, that may be an argument for their effectiveness. Of course, that doesn't matter, because to progressive parents being out-dated is to be avoided above all else. Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 16:58
  • Research shows that children who are spanked have lower IQs than children who are not. Of course, that doesn't matter, because to parents who spank not being abusive and aggressive is to be avoided above all else.
    – Mia Clarke
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 17:22
  • Spanking is actually illegal in some (admittedly progressive) countries, such as Sweden. Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 17:22
  • @Banang If your premise is that spanking is equivalent to aggression and abuse, then there is no point of the conversation. You don't need a study an academic study about IQs. As for me, well, I've received enough degrees to know that just because it's published in academia doesn't mean its true. And I also know that publishing some things, like a paper suggesting effectiveness of appropriate spanking, would mean the death of your academic career. Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 18:03

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