Behind bars for disturbing the peace: Installing a stair gate on a toddlers bedroom door

I think it’s highly likely we released the mouse from her cot captivity a little too soon. That’s easy to say now, but in the name of progress, there’s no going back. 

If we ever had predicted which one of our children was going to push the boundaries it was always going to be her. I remember the fairly smooth transition from cot to single bed for her sister at 20 months. There was maybe a night or two of ‘what would Super Nanny do?’ but the repetition of ‘its bedtime’ and popping her back in bed was enough to get her sorted in just a night or two.

I remember people suggesting a stair gate across her bedroom door, but in all honesty my uber protective maternal side saw it as a little barbaric. Who could do such a thing? Who could leave their first born crying at a gate separated from her Mummy *Imagines of Mrs Jumbo cradling Dumbo from her jail*.

Yet, this week we did exactly that.

Having made Dangermouses cot bed into the cutest ever teeny tiny bed a few weeks back, just before her second birthday, we thought we’d gotten away with it. Don’t get me wrong, she’s never exactly been a sleeper, and has continued to wake throughout the night, but has settled back to sleep in the same way she did in the cot. I don’t think she realised her new found freedom.

Until this weekend.

Oh yes, the penny has certainly dropped.

Having always followed a fairly regular night time routine, the girls have both always been happily in bed by 7.15. Leaving a peaceful evening of unwinding / blogging / eating / running / insert child free activity here. Yet this week, a totally wired Dangermouse has demanded to be back downstairs, been running into her sister’s room, and generally causing chaos until after nine pm. Naptimes seem to be following a similar pattern…does this girl need ANY sleep?

As we collapsed into bed, just after her, we mused how this surely HAD to mean an unbroken night? We couldn’t be more wrong…as she woke three times (including one epic 2.5 hour awake stint). What would Super Nanny do? What would Super Nanny do?

No amount of putting her back in bed seemed to be working – she would be up, out of bed and through the door before we had even left the room.

Taking shifts in dealing with the carnage, and tag teaming when the patience had run out, we ended up taking a kind of disappearing chair approach. Calming her down and sitting with her until we could creep out of the room. (With a high failure rate). Problem is, very quickly our 6 times a night waker was looking for us to sit with her every time she woke up. This is definitely not the quit-the-dummy sleep training I thought we’d be doing just after her second birthday.

And so, in desperation, the stair gate from the bottom of the stairs was removed and repositioned across her doorway. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

But do you know what, it flippin worked. And quickly too.

Being able to walk away calmly, knowing she was safe and being set a clear boundary was surprisingly easy. We listened from downstairs and decided we would go back to put her back in bed after ten minutes.

But before the ten minute deadline, the crying had stopped. Maybe she was building a bridge out of her books? Maybe she’s trashing the room in protest? Maybe she has fallen asleep face first in the bars? Crap – Maybe she’s stopped breathing?

But no, she was in bed, snoozing away. Covers pulled up over her and in dreamland.

That night she woke once, with the same mood on as previously. With one pop back in bed and shut the gate, she followed the same pattern as bedtime. Scream, bang, bored, back in bed, asleep. All within ten minutes.

And then, our early bird (normally a 5.30 start) positively laid in until half past six. In fact, we went in to lift her from bed after her sister quizzed where on earth she had got to this morning? (She has never been up first).

I don’t know about you, but I’d call that success. (She says praying this continues).

So, if you’re having hell with a tot that won’t stay in bed, I’d seriously recommend giving this a go. Maybe stairgategate isn’t so barbaric after all.


Share Button
(Visited 4,716 times, 8 visits today)

6 thoughts on “Behind bars for disturbing the peace: Installing a stair gate on a toddlers bedroom door

  1. Roxanne Reply

    I could have written this! We did exactly the same with my son and now my 2 year old daughter. It works perfectly, I don’t think she has ever felt ‘locked in’ and even closes it herself sometimes lol. It also makes an anxious parent feel much more relaxed that their child isn’t getting out of their room/downstairs/out the front door! X

  2. Kate Reply

    Thank you for this post! I have been driving myself crazy and crying through my own lack of sleep due to my daughter totally refusing to stay in bed. We have put a gate on her door now and had the first night without getting up in weeks!

    1. MMT Reply

      Oh kate I feel your pain! I wrote this post sooo long ago and we STILL have to resort to the gate on the door on some occasions…in fact I can hear footsteps running around up there right now….

      1. Lauren Reply

        This is us to a “t” at the moment. I am currently deep diving on the internet for ideas and solutions after a month of this exact experience with DD number 2 who is 2 years 4 months old. We didn’t transition DD 1 until she was closer to 3 years old, but our youngest became a proper escape artist from her crib, so we had no choice. I’ve been up and back and forth for 2.5 hours right now and I’m hitting a wall. I have a gate downstairs that I am pretty certain I will be putting up for tomorrow night because I don’t know how much more of this I have in me (hubby works overnight shift so I am solo at night most of the time). A question though, did you leave the door open when you were using the gate? Also, when did you stop using the gate? How did you transition away from that and when did you do it? Thank you for this entertaining and helpful post I’m reading at 1am.

  3. Sophie Kennedy Reply

    Oh I just LOVE this! I was just toying with the idea of a stairgate for my daughter’s bedroom and was wondering if it was a bit controversial…I have been very reassured reading how many other parents have been in a similar situation and chosen this solution. Reading the above I would honestly think I was reading about my daughter – previously predictable bedtime routine, parents able to actually have an evening….but alas, this seemed to completely disappear, almost overnight about a month ago! Now desperate for some boundaries to be re-set and these new habits to not become too established, I am just about to hit Amazon and buy a stairgate for her room – wish me luck! x And thank you 🙂

  4. K Reply

    Thanks for this. What stairgate did you use that works at a door? (Can you still close the door??) K

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.