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Why do you think it is wrong to lock a toddler in her room at night?

I've seen questions about how to stop a toddler from roaming at night. The answers range from "sleep on the child's floor" to "lock her in". Some moms are horrified at the idea of locking a child in and I don't understand why. My own mom was in tears over the idea but couldn't explain why. I really want to understand.

One argument is would I like being locked in myself. Well, of course not. I've had free run of the house (and outside) for over 30 years. But if I posed a hazard to myself or others I would accept the restriction. Also, my child is used to being confined in her crib. Having the run of her room is an improvement.

Another is that the child can't get out in an emergency. But the truth is that young children don't try to leave in an emergency. They hide - under the covers, under the bed, in a closet. Besides, if I can’t get to her in an emergency, she can’t get to me.


Asked by kaycee14 at 11:48 AM on Jan. 7, 2009 in Toddlers (1-2)

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Answers (120)
  • i think i would be afraid if i shut the door and locked it that i wouldn't beable to hear them as well if they did wake up and i don't know i feel that it would make my child feel scared or too alone or something i just wouldn't like doing that but the biggest is not being able to hear them

    Answer by jodi205 at 12:03 PM on Jan. 7, 2009

  • One mom said that trying to unlock the door in an emergency would be too hard. Really? Turning the knob is too hard? Because that’s all that’s needed to unlock a push button door knob and you have to do that anyway to open the door. Or flipping up a hook and eye latch or any of the other type locks you can put on simple gates.
    Or how about a baby gate over the door. Of course, this assumes your child will sleep with an open door AND doesn’t know how to unlock a baby gate. Mine won’t sleep if her door is open and she does know how to climb over the baby gates. Some kids learn to unlock them before age 1!
    Another objection I’ve seen is that the child can’t get to you if they need you. Well, my daughter can’t now – she’s in a crib – and that’s why I have a baby monitor. She knows that when she calls for me, I hear her.

    Answer by kaycee14 at 11:48 AM on Jan. 7, 2009

  • The best idea I’ve seen is an alarm on the door. Of course, this ends up being a virtual lock. The child quickly learns that opening the door causes the alarm to start shrieking and an upset parent to come running. Is it really that different than a locked door or is the difference all in our heads?
    So, what are your objections to a locked door? Is it an emotional objection or is there a reason? I really want to understand.

    Answer by kaycee14 at 11:48 AM on Jan. 7, 2009

  • I don't quite get the objection myself. We're talking about a toddler and not an older child. We used a child proof door knob cover on the inside of the door for my oldest. Like you said, if there was an emergency, a young child reaction is to hide anyway. If there is an emergency, you at least know the child is in his/her room, and didn't run out and hide somewhere else. It is also safest to in a fire if you are sleeping with a door shut to slow the smoke from coming in the room, so baby gates aren't the safest there.

    Answer by erin2well at 11:55 AM on Jan. 7, 2009

  • My SIL locks her 2 and 3 year old in their room and I personally don't like the idea. I do understand why she does it, but I just don't like the idea. Her bedroom is right near the stairs and the kids rooms are down the hall. Maybe it is because I wake up with every little noise, but I would think that you could hear them get up in the middle of the night. Also the 3 (almost 4) year old is potty training and my feeling is what if he wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to use the bathroom. That is just my opinion.

    Answer by jenniferlee_12 at 11:55 AM on Jan. 7, 2009

  • i would never lock one of my children in there rooms. put up a gate.

    Answer by jodi205 at 11:55 AM on Jan. 7, 2009

  • I slept walked as a child... I believe my parents put a chair sideways across the door so when I tried to walk out of my room, I would knock over the chair.. that way they could hear me. I don't like the idea of locking anyone in a room.. what if there were a fire, or someone tried to break into her bedroom via the window. It's just not a safe idea. There has to be a better solution. I would try the chair.

    Answer by pupmom at 11:59 AM on Jan. 7, 2009

  • the only problem i would have with locking my child in his room would be that if he throws up in his sleep and starts choking on it or something i wouldnt be able to hear it if the door is closed. i don't lock my child in his room anyway though, just because he likes crawling out of bed in the morning and running to papa's room.

    Answer by exxOHjackie at 11:59 AM on Jan. 7, 2009

  • Jodi, that's why I asked this question. I KNOW that some moms would never do it. The question is WHY?
    WHY would you not do it? What if your child, like mine, wasn't stopped by a simple little baby gate? What then?

    Answer by kaycee14 at 12:00 PM on Jan. 7, 2009

  • I don't think it's a good idea. You can't get to her as quickly in an emergency, and what if somoene broke in? By the time you get her door unlocked, they could have her gone. Even with a push button lock or an eye and hook lock, it still takes a couple of extra seconds, seconds that could make a difference.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 12:02 PM on Jan. 7, 2009