The Door Monkey
I was first introduced to this product by our sleep coach and it worked so well for us. It's essentially a device the keeps the door locked in a slightly opened position. We used it when we transitioned our oldest into a toddler bed. He could not handle his newfound freedom and would frequently leave his room at bedtime and in the middle of the night. We tried a safety handle on the door, but he quickly figured that out. The Door Monkey allowed us to keep him in his room without rattling the door in the frame or pinching his fingers. It also made me feel a little better than I could see him while he was in his room, rather than the door being shut all the way. The Door Monkey fits on most doors and is pretty fool-proof. No worries about accidentally locking yourself in a room or your toddler locking you out of their room.
Here's where some parents struggle and some parents may feel shame and guilt - can you really lock your child in their room? The answer is yes, you can. This is what I tell parents:
1. Your child was essentially locked in their room when they were in a crib. Until they learned to climb out, there was no way they were getting out of that crib. This is no different. You're just keeping your child in a "larger crib" now.
2. This is a matter of safety. If your child can open a door or master a safety handle, they may be able to open doors around your house. Do you really want your 3 year old opening the front door at 2 am and going for a stroll in the neighborhood? Until your child understands the importance of staying in their room, you may have to use a lock or Door Monkey to keep them safe.
3. I've heard some people mention that a locked door can be a fire safety hazard. What if there's a fire and they can't get out? I've spoken to firefighters and the general consensus is that your child is safer locked in their room than wandering the house. If your child is locked in their room during a fire, you know exactly where they are and can help them. If they've left their room, you may not be able to find them through the fire and smoke.
Some parents can't bring themselves to lock their child's door and that's okay. The Door Monkey can be a good compromise. With any door locking or Door Monkey use, it's usually just for a short time. After a few weeks of using the Door Monkey with our oldest, he figured out that he had to stay in his room if he wanted the door unlocked. We haven't used it since.