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6 Tips to Get Your Kids Sleeping in Their Own Bed

Do your kids prefer to sleep in your bed, instead of their own? Here's six tips to help them adjust to their own bed.

By
Cheryl Butler
Episode #380

One of parenting's most rewarding and delightful milestones is getting a child to sleep through the night. For some, it’s easier than others, but for any sleep deprived parent who finally catches a full night of rest, it’s truly cause to celebrate. 

But what about the child who goes to sleep only to wander into your bedroom several hours later stating he just can’t sleep in his own bed and can he please get into bed with you? It might seem harmless to let him crawl under the covers; after all, it’s only one night and that means you can fall right back to sleep too. But then that one night turns into another and another and soon you’ve developed a new habit and gained a new bedmate.

Mighty Mommy has six tips to help get your child back into his own bed and sleeping independently.

Tip #1:  Assess the Reason

According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns should sleep 12 to 18 hours out of every 24 (as every new parent hopes). This amount is gradually reduced as kids get older. Toddlers under age 3 need to 12-14 hours of sleep, preschoolers need 11-13 hours, and schoolchildren need 10 to 11 hours per night. Teens need about 9 ¼ hours of sleep each night to function best, but most teens do not get nearly that much. 

This information acts as an important gauge for your child who is getting up throughout the night because not only is your sleep getting interrupted, so is his. And he may not be getting the healthy, required amount he needs.

Start by asking yourself why he might be getting up and coming to your bed? Did you used to have a family bed? Is there a new situation happening in your household such as a new baby, or a parent who has a new job and isn’t around as much?  Two of my kids suffered from chronic ear infections so anytime they finished recuperating, they would want to come to my bedroom, even when they were feeling better, because they got used to me being with them so much during the middle of the night when they were in pain.

Tip #2:  Pick a Start Date

Once you make the commitment with yourself that “enough is enough” and you want to take your bed back, decide on when would be a good time to start. If your household is experiencing a hectic time due to toilet training, remodeling your kitchen, or starting at a new daycare, it probably isn’t the best time to tackle getting your little guy or gal to sleep alone.

This means you’ll have an extra bedmate for a bit longer, but your goal of having him/her sleep in their own bed will go much more smoothly when you don’t have chaotic distractions.

Tip #3:  Talk it Up

Now that you’re ready to begin, start talking about your new sleep expectations earlier in the day—that way, she'll know what to expect at bedtime. Spend a few moments in her bedroom at some point in the afternoon. Sit on her bed and comment that she’s lucky to have such a pretty bed to sleep in. “Annie, you have so many pretty flowers on your comforter, and your bed is so comfy.  Best of all, it’s all yours, and only you sleep in it.” Be enthusiastic so she knows that this is a big deal. Now you can interject the new routine that is about to take place.  You have your big girl bed, and Daddy and I have our bed. Starting tonight, we’re going to help you stay in your own bed in your bedroom.”  Keep it simple but introduce that a change is coming and that its going to be a good thing for her.

Judith Owens, M.D., coauthor of Take Charge of Your Child's Sleep, recommends easing the transition from sleep to wake—and calm her fears—with comforting objects such as stuffed animals, blankets, or even a nearby goldfish tank. "Let there be another presence in the room that reassures your child," Dr. Judith Owens says.  See Also:  How to Teach Your Child Independence

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About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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