Resources for parents to get through the challenges.

  1. Home
  2. Parenting

Is It Illegal to Lock Your Child in Their Room?

If you’re a parent of tiny humans with super intelligence, you might have wondered if it’s illegal to lock your child in their room?

Most parents that wonder this have had numerous counts of their kids escaping their rooms at night or in the earlier times of the morning.

Naturally, a parent will be concerned that they will get into dangerous mischief. So are there any laws on simply locking your child in their room from the outside?

It makes sense to wonder this, but I do find that I have only wondered this when A) my kids were in serious trouble and pushed too many of my buttons, or B) they wouldn’t stay in their room at night when it was time to go to sleep.

Luckily, I haven’t had to worry about hearing them scuffling around at 5:00 am in the medicine cabinets. However, the stories I have read online are terrifying, and some parents really go through it when it comes to their young Houdinis.

A Reddit Story On The Matter

An article was written on Reddit by a mother in New York who had truly tried just about every approach to keeping her two very young kids in their upstairs bedrooms.

Regardless, she would wake at the wee hours of the morning and find her children in the kitchen asking for the “Vitamin C” bottle to be opened, which was really a bottle of Tylenol.

If the mother hadn’t forfeited her sleep, her kids could have been in some serious trouble.

child protection

After her kids’ new teacher found out about their family’s routine of locking the little one’s bedrooms after the Tylenol incident, CPS was called in for a home check.

After a series of useless and frustrating accommodations to keep their kids in their room without a totally locked door, CPS closed the case and made it known to keep trying to the safety guard their home as best possible.

No one ended up going to jail or got their kids taken away.

Foster Children State Laws

While that was the case for a family in New York, if you read the laws laid down in Oregon for foster children, it states that “any interior door that is utilized by a child must be operable from both sides.”

In my understanding, if they can throw that law down for foster children – if the case proved to be beneficial to do so – DHS could in fact lay this law for a family who has chosen to lock kids in their room.

Check With Your Specific State Laws

While the law is quite unclear about this being a solid law for non-foster kid families, it is best to safety proof your home in other ways before utilizing this method of safety.

Or, at the very least check with your local laws regarding the matter. It’s quite possible for certain states to have implemented specific laws regarding whether it is legal or illegal to lock your kid in their bedroom. 

Don’t Use it As Your Go-To

Locking any human in any confined space is not the best practice to implement regularly. But, it seems that parents of kids who have wreaked havoc on their homes and personal items during odd hours of sleep time don’t know what else to do.

Ideally, these parents have tried other approaches to reducing this behavior such as; discipline, a golden stars chart, positive rewards for staying in their room, and consequences for leaving their bedrooms.

The truth is, it simply takes a few minutes for that one time a child ends up in life-threatening danger.

Have you ever been putting your groceries into the car, then your kid to get in next but the next thing you know your child has bolted out into traffic in the parking lot?

If you have, then you understand that holding your kid’s hand at all times while he is not buckled into the cart or actively getting into the car is key to preventing them from getting run over while you blink.

It really does happen that fast. As parents, we cannot simply remove all safety concerns like medication, knives, or even work papers out of our home completely.

That doesn’t work. It’s your home, and your space too. As parents, we already give up enough of our own space to accommodate our children’s needs. 

It kind of does make sense, that at a very young age, when your child does not take to other forms of punishment or positive reinforcement, it would probably be okay to lock their bedroom door at night when you cannot attend to them at all times.

parent reprimanding child

Hopefully, they will outgrow this behavior of curiosity coupled with naivety so as to really keep them safe, without resorting to formal punishments.

Be Prepared If You Choose To Do So

So, you have checked with your local state laws and decided that the chaos happening throughout the night by your kid is too much to bear. You’ve finally decided to use locking your child’s room at night as a safety precaution.

Being prepared for a few things might be in your best interest, there are safety concerns you should have, even within a kids bedroom walls. 

They’ll be more curious about things in their own room

For the sake of keeping your child in their room, and not risking them being able to escape behind a locked bedroom door, you have a bit to think about because they will naturally have more curiosity towards the things in their room now.

Think about baby proofing light sockets, how high off the ground their windows are placed, how much risk of strangulation the blinds are in their room (or potentially removing blinds for this phase).

As parents, we should be thinking about how the closet is set up as if hangers and wooden poles can be a cause of concern, including what we store in the closet itself.

If one decides locking their kids in their room, for them to spend the time in that area rather than exploring the house, the child’s bedroom should be fairly empty, creating a safe space for them to rest, unwind, and relax most of all.

Take the Playroom Elsewhere

Consider making a playroom in another area of the house, and removing all potentially threatening toys, objects, and climbable furniture from the bedroom. Soft floor beds at Ikea are suitable for this case.

One last thing that might help tremendously is a baby monitor. Simply turn it on in the room each time your child is in there. That way you can monitor how they behave, especially during the first few weeks of changing their boundaries.

Do Kids Outgrow Trying to Escape their Rooms

Kristen Bell spoke with Insider Magazine about the way she and her husband chose to lock their kid in her room. After many failed attempts to train their child to stay in their room at night, she felt it was a great parenting hack.

After all, we lock the front door and we confine our babies to their cribs off the bat so keeping your child safe makes sense this way.

She made it a positive thing in her household, telling her daughter from the outside of the door each night, “We love you, we will see you in the morning. But now it’s time to sleep.”

And this allowed her child to implement her own behavior of winding herself down at night. Her daughter got really good at putting herself to bed, winding down in about 10 minutes after they switched the knob reversely locking it from the outside.

Keep Implementing Your Child’s Responsibility

As a parent questioning whether or not it’s legal to lock your kid in their room, you should also find yourself asking which way you can uplift your toddler to be more independent and responsible for themselves when it comes to bedtime. 

It is a privilege to have their own room in the first place, and as humans in society certain forms of behavior are acceptable. Rummaging through the house groggy-eyed, scouting out knives, and vitamins just isn’t a good form of behavior.

parent encouraging child

Keep speaking words of encouragement to them during daytime hours. Talk about their feelings at night-time, their energy levels, and how they can process their high-energy and settle down through forms of meditation or yoga.

This worked for my own kids when they would constantly hit and throw things in the house as they were angry. Instead of secluding them away from everyone, we would start stretching, yoga, and breathwork together.

Even ages as young as 2-years-old can grasp that using deeper breaths to calm down and sit in one place can work.

It’s the moments they tap into their own abilities that they can really start to create their own bedtime routines, and choosing to stay away from potentially dangerous spaces in the household.


Eventually, your kids will outgrow their Houdini phases and stop causing a ruckus in the odd hours. This is the part we all are waiting for as parent’s who experience this kind of distress.

We aren’t sure what age or stage your kid specifically will grow out of it. Yet the more you can positively reinforce good behavior, and just keep them safe for the time being will be better for everyone.

While it might not be technically illegal to lock your child in their bedroom, depending on your exact state laws, the goal is to move past this chaotic phase as safely and with the least amount of negative long-term effects on your child’s psychic.

It should never be about how angry you are at them if you decide to lock your child’s bedroom door. Make it a positive and helpful approach to keeping your child out of the common areas in the house.


Is it wrong to lock a toddler in his/her room? – Reddit

Is it legal for parents to lock a toddler in his room at night? – Quora

Should you ever lock your child in their room?

Kristen Bell says she relies on a ‘controversial’ parenting hack to get her 3-year-old daughter to sleep