Should I Leave My Child’s Door Open at Night? Exploring the Pros and Cons. To leave the door open or shut the door? 2024

by | Mar 13, 2024 | Improving sleep, Toddler, Top tips

As parents, we’re constantly faced with decisions about what’s best for our children, even when it comes to something as seemingly simple as whether to leave my child’s door open at night! Let’s take a look at whether to shut the door and the merits of choosing to leave a door open.

It’s a question that actually most of my clients ask at some point (and again, this morning – hence the idea about this blog post!).

Let’s weigh up the benefits and disadvantages .In this blog post, I’ll take a look at various aspects to consider when making this decision, from addressing nighttime fears and anxieties to promoting a sense of belonging and ensuring fire safety.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I receive a commission if you visit a link and buy something on my recommendation. Purchasing via an affiliate link doesn’t cost you any extra, and I only recommend products and services I trust and it doesn’t influence what I promote. All opinions are my own.

Nighttime Fears and Anxieties

For many children, nighttime can be a time of heightened anxiety. I’ve got a whole blog post dedicated to this topic here.

The darkness, the quiet, and the feeling of being alone can all contribute to fears and worries that may seem irrational to adults but are very real little ones who can have active imaginations. Leaving the door open can help alleviate some of these fears by providing a sense of connection to the rest of the household. The hallway light or the distant sound of voices/television can serve as a comforting reminder.

However, I do find this is a little 50/50 in the 2-5 year old age group. As on the other hand, some children may actually find comfort in the cocoon-like feeling of having their bedroom door closed. Some children also get awful FOMO and if parents leave door open then they just want to be part of what’s going on outside. In this case, shut the door and think about using white noise.

For some children, if you shut the door it can create a sense of safety and security, shutting out the unknown and creating a safe space in their own, familiar, bedroom. For these children, leaving the door open may actually increase their anxiety rather than alleviate it.

Feeling Connected to the Household

Leaving the door open at night can also help foster a sense of belonging and connectedness within the family. It allows children to feel like they are still part of the household even when they’re tucked away in their bedrooms. They can hear the sounds of family members moving about, the murmur of conversation, and this can serve as a comfort. This can be especially important for children who struggle with separation anxiety or who feel disconnected from their family for other reasons.

If your little one struggles with separation anxiety you may want to read them this lovely book, The Invisible String.

However, there are also valid arguments for closing the door at night, particularly if parents value their own privacy or if there are other siblings who may be disturbed by an open door. Balancing the need for connection with the need for boundaries and personal space is key to finding the right approach for your family.

Equally if your child is in a big bed before the age of 3, or are still struggling with impulse control and get out of bed multiple times at night then you may want to consider using a stairgate on the door. This is a half-way compromise, enabling the door to be open to maintain the connection, whilst still ensuring their safety and no trips around the house in the dead of the night!

If your little one is repeatedly getting out of bed, you may want to consider my bedtime pass kit.

leave my child's door open at night, leave door open, shut the door

Fire Safety Considerations: shut the door

Most of this blog has been about enabling your little one to settle happily at bedtime. However, one of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether to leave your child’s door open at night is fire safety. In the event of a fire, every second counts, and having the bedroom door closed can provide valuable time for your child to escape safely. Closed doors can slow the spread of smoke and flames and are recommended (in addition to smoke alarms) by the fire brigade.

leave my child's door open at night
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Leave door open when potty training

If your child is currently potty training and you’re helping them learn independence at night then you may want to consider keeping them safe and making it really easy to do a nighttime trip to the loo! This may involve keeping the doors open so they can make out a hallway light, or you may want to consider using sensors that turn on a light when they get out of bed.

The pro’s and con’s of toddler nightlights are discussed here.

Are they getting out of bed?

If this is an issue and they’re close to the age of three then there are additional supportive mechanisms we can put in place to encourage them to settle beautifully at night. Check out my Bedtime Pass guide here.

Should I leave my child’s door open at night, a summary

Ultimately, the decision of whether to leave your child’s bedroom door open at night is a personal one that depends on your child’s individual needs and preferences, as well as your family’s lifestyle and priorities.

It’s important to consider the benefits and disadvantages carefully and to communicate openly with your child about their feelings and concerns, particuarly if there are nighttime fears and anxieties.

Don’t worry about getting it right first time! Consider trying different approaches to see what works best for them. Whether you ultimately decide to leave the door open, shut the door, or somewhere in between, the most important thing is to create a bedtime routine that helps your child feel safe, secure, and loved.

What age should I start leaving my child’s door open at night?

If your child is happy at night in their room then you may want to consider the default of having a door closed. This helps prevent both noise and light from entering their room which can both disrupt sleep. It also helps to follow the fire safety guidelines.

From about 2.5 years of age our little ones can perceive things differently, they become more imaginative and fears and anxieties can start to creep in. So, if they’re not settling, you may want to consider leaving the door open. Even if it’s just a temporary solution to get through a bit of a rough patch.

Using visual cues to help lead up to you leaving the room

Using visual cues as part of the bedtime routine helps parents set some boundaries and helps to explain what we expect in a simply set way. Visual cues are great for kids. It helps maintain a consistent flow. Displaying my flashcards in their room is also perfect for helping to reduce bedtime battles during the bedtime routine. Also be mindful of just whether your little one is ready for that big bed or not!

bedtime flashcards

Need help at bedtime too?

You can also check out my Bedtime Battles Course! Priced at just £47 ($59), the 2 hour course guides you through everything needed to restore bedtimes.

Still need some help?

I can help establish good sleep bedtime habits and provide tips on how to cope with inevitable nighttime disruptions. I offer tried-and-tested sleep training solutions that are well worth the investment for your whole family.

Have a look at my sleep consultant packages or directly get in touch.

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Hi, I’m Gemma, your sleep consultant

I am a certified baby and child sleep specialist who works with families all over the world.

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