Why Do Toddlers Fall Out Of Bed?

Have you every wondered why toddlers fall out of bed when adults, normally, don’t? Is it that their brains aren’t developed enough to sense the danger of space? Perhaps they just move around more.

I’m going share with you some interesting thoughts on why toddler sleep safety and why they might fall out of bed. It’s time for a little science!

Learning About Space

In order to NOT fall out bed our tiny humans need to develop a sense of space. This means they need to have ‘spatial awareness’. In simple terms this means knowing where they are in relation to the objects around them. In the case of ‘bed and no bed’ it’s all about where they are in the bed in relation to where the bed ends.

Your child will acquire spatial awareness through lots of trial and error. As he moves through different size spaces he will learn to negotiate objects and obstacles around him. In turn he will learn to map his own body – to know his own size and shape. 

With enough practice, that “body map” will become intuitive, even to the point of “knowing” where he is while he’s sleeping. 

Sensing Space Intuitively

This is the science bit …..

The human body has sensory touch receptors in every muscle, tendon and ligament known as ‘proprioceptive receptors‘. These receptors provide the brain with important information about the dynamics of the world around us. You are able to sense where the body or parts of the body are in space at any given time. 

We, as adults, have carefully mapped a familiar space such as own own bed with our proprioceptive sensors. This ensures we are able to sleep without having to worry that we will fall out of bed. Therefore we “know” how wide our bed is, how much space we have in our bed, and how much space your body takes up which allows us to toss, turn, and roll over while staying within the edges of the bed — even in a new bed!

But children’s proprioceptive senses are still immature. And that’s not only because of their age. Remember, they are always growing and changing shape too! So mapping their body and refining their understanding of space is a constant, daily developmental need and essential if we are going to ensure our toddlers never fall out of bed.

What Can You Do To Help Your Child?

To help children build their own conscious and intuitive body map, encourage little ones to try to fit in, around, between, through, over and under things they come across. Chances are, they’re doing this naturally all the time. Climbing under tables, through tunnels, into cupboards, cardboard boxes, and pretty much anything else that looks like a fun place to hide is a great way to help build their own body map!

When it comes to ensuring your toddler doesn’t fall out of bed here are some tips (adult supervision is needed) –

  • encourage your toddler to touch and explore their new ‘big bed’. This means both under and on top of the bed, as well as on top of and underneath the sheets.
  • wriggling, rolling and crawling is to be encouraged.
  • what about crawling around the perimeter? This will ensure your child gets a sense of the size and shape of their new bed and perhaps discourages them from trying this out unsupervised at bedtime.
  • maybe you could let your little one close their eyes and roll towards you. Will they fall out or can the sense the edge of the bed?
  • If you are still nervous then I would suggest a discreet foam bed guard, one that sits under the sheet and creates a gentle bump along the open edge of the bed. You can quickly remove it once everyone feels more confident but in the meantime this will stop your toddler from falling out of bed.

Rest assured your toddler will master the art of sleeping bump-free. By reading this blog and understanding how they learn and develop their sensory skills I hope, you will have confidence that your toddlers won’t fall out of bed.