Something Borrowed: Prudent Baby’s Tape Trick

(aka How to Get Your Children To Stay in Their Bedrooms at Night)

Prudent Baby‘s Tape Trick for keeping kids in their rooms worked really well for us tonight!
In a nutshell, the idea is that you put down three pieces of tape in the area where the bedroom door swings: one at all the way open, one at halfway, and one at almost closed. The kids’ doors are left open when you put them to bed but each time they leave their room, you close their door to the next tape mark, all the way to eventually closing it.

3-year-old Luke doesn’t usually leave his room at night, but he asks for lots of things — water, potty, hugs, blanket, different books, etc when we’ve already handled all those things when we put him to bed initially. So we adapted the rules to include not only leaving the bedroom, but also calling Mom or Dad. It wouldn’t be so bad except sometimes the requests go on for hours when he should be sleeping, and his loud talking and yelling keeps 22-month-old Lilah, whose room is right beside his, awake and upset. Then Lilah ends up making requests of her own to mimic big brother. Lilah also has been known to leave her room a time or two at night.

So tonight, I put the tape down in the three locations like suggested in the Prudent Baby blog post at both L&L’s bedroom doors and told the kids we were trying something new (excitedly, so it would seem like something fun). I used blue painter’s tape because that was the most exciting-looking tape I could find in our house! I explained that each time one of them left their room or called Mom or Dad, we would put them back in their room or help them with their request, but then their door would close to the next tape mark.

Luke was the first to get his door closed a bit–he said he had to potty again. On the way back to his room, all on his own he told his dad that his door would have to close to the next piece of tape. Luke went on to explain what would happen after that and after that, so it was clear that he definitely “got” it. He wasn’t upset at all about the door; it was like these rules had been in place forever and it was all very diplomatic.

Lilah got it, too, because as we were putting her to bed, she kept saying, “Door open!”

Luke proceeded to use his 2nd tape mark by having me remove a toy from his bed that he no longer wanted and then his 3rd when he called me back in to wrap him up. I snuck in lots of extra hugs and kisses, and he didn’t make a peep as I closed his door for the night. (Note, I did make sure to tell the kids that we wouldn’t come back in to their rooms any more once the door shut UNLESS there was an emergency. I didn’t want them to think we wouldn’t come back if something was really wrong!!!)

Lilah, on the other hand, does not like having her door closed, so she only used one tape mark by asking for water. Then she laid down on her bed and let me wrap her up.

I think Luke liked knowing that he could ask for things 3 times, almost like we had given him passes to use. He seemed to plan out what he wanted and he was okay with the consequence of having the door shut. I think it was sort of a closing of the door/closing of the day for him. 🙂

Lilah on the other hand, viewed the shutting of the door as a very negative thing, so she stayed in her room and only called for us once because she strongly prefers her door be left open.

It’s funny that both kids used the Tape Trick in different ways, yet both ways led to the solution that we wanted — 2 kids laying quietly in their beds!

This was one of the quickest and quietest nights yet! Thanks, Prudent Baby!

(On a side note: We always close the kids’ doors after they are asleep and before we go to bed, for fire safety reasons. Closed doors help to break up the spread of fire and smoke should the unthinkable occur. The kids never seem to notice or mind that their doors are shut once they are asleep.)

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • How awesome!! Thanks for sharing! I love how Luke planned everything out and came to terms, on his own, about the door. You gave him (and yourselves) such a great gift!!

  • A pretty great idea! I’ll have to try that with my kids

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