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Child Coming in to Bed with Parents

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Sleep > Child Coming in to Bed with Parents


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How to get older kids to stay in their own bed

Oct 2006

Now that I've seen all the recent good advice about sleep issues with babies, does anyone have any advice on how to get older kids (6 and 9 years old) who love to sleep with us 1) to sleep through the night, and 2) to stay in their own bed/room? They both start off every school night in their shared double bed (but each one usually wakes up during the night and comes into our bed). One of them either doesn't know how to roll over and go back to sleep or just is so used to coming into our room that she resists any change in that. We have let them sleep all night with us on weekends and generally feel OK about that. At least 1 of them associates being asked/ told to sleep in their room as rejection.

I know we could just lay down the law and force the issue but that's not our style. I'm looking for ideas for gentle and empathic ways to respond to their deep longing to sleep with us while making the change to keeping them in their own beds at least 5 nights/ week. Other ideas: white noise machine? changing schedule somehow? Book recommendations? It's time for a change. Many thanks Seeking long-lost snuggly spouse space/ time


just this week we worked thrugh this. our child is almsot 4, and we did just ''lay down the law'' but it WAS gentle, and understanding, and we talked it out and role played our expectations of his new nighttime behavior. when he gets up, we quietly walk him back to bed and say nothing more than ''shh, night night'' or ''shhh, back to bed'' the nights are getting better, last night he stayed in bed 12 hours, no getting up at all! christine

Temporarily bringing toddler back to bed with us

Nov 2005

i believe i have seen several postings about what seems to be a common sleep problem...

at around 2.5, my daughter who had LONG since mastered soothing herself to sleep, and used to go to bed with no problem, suddenly requires 2 hours of staying by her side and comforting her to sleep, followed by several wake-ups throughout the night, needing the same. the moment i finally slip out of her room, she magically wakes up again crying. i have read a fair amount about recommended strategies (the non-emotional brief reassurance, the moving a chair gradually further and further until you are out of the room), but i think the bottom line is that i see that she needs something more right now, and haven't been able to be committed enough or firm enough to maintain those limits when she appears scared or needing of extra nurturing. i have recently decided to just allow her to sleep with us in bed (while encouraging her to sleep in her bed when she is ready) - possibly out of desperation for sleep, or being to ''weak'' - but i am hoping out of trusting my instinct that says she is in a phase, and needs this for now, and that is ok. i am banking on the idea that when she is ready, she will choose to be in her own bed again, but also afraid that this won't be until she is 6 or something.

has anyone had any experience with deciding to ''accommodate'' this phase? and has anyone experienced their children growing out of it and being ready to go to sleep on their own again? or am i just setting myself up for a much harder struggle down the line?

sleepy and appreciative of any advice! justine


We have a 4 yr old son who has gone back and forth between his bed and ours depending on what he seems to need at the time. I think the individual developing mind of a child is much more complex than child psychologists or a parent can really know or understand, so I trust that when my child needs to sleep in our bed, I let him, and when I sense he's ready to be on his own I encourage him to do so.

Up to 18 months old he was primarily in our bed, but after that he easily transitioned to his own bed. Sometime after he turned 3, he woke up SCREAMING 3-4 nights in a row, and I let him come to bed with us. When he continued to wake up screaming a few nights in a row, I had him spend the whole night with us (even though he didn't ask to start the night in our bed). This worked to calm him during this ''night terror'' period. While I wasn't sleeping well because he was just too big to fit comfortably, I put up with it for about 2 months until I was sure he was past his night terror stage. Then, I encouraged him to go back to his bed and he did with no problem.

Since that period, we have established a ''wait until 6am'' rule, which we break if he's upset. If he occassionally ends up in our bed, he knows that he can be carried back to his bed later. (I usually tell him he's being moved and I think he's half conscious of it.) Occasionally he wants to start the night, by himself, in our bed, we agree that he'll be carried back when Mom and Dad go to bed. So far, none of his requests to sleep in our bed have become habitual.

Sleep issues are very unique to every child. I think my husband and I have tried to create a healthy sleep environment for our son and that is why he has transitioned back to his bed without a struggle, actually we have NEVER made sleep an issue to struggle over.

You are doing well to follow your instincts. With all the sleep disorders that adults experience, responding to your daughter with trust and flexibility can be a great gift to her. If a child doesn't get his/her sleep needs met, she/he will keep asking for them to be met or bury them only to have them resurface later.

The only advice I have is to continue to trust your instincts in meeting her needs. However, don't even talk to her about going back to her bed yet because it might scare her and make her want to stay in your bed even longer. Fully focus on her needs now and trust your instincts that later you will know when she's ready to go back. Make Healthy Sleep a Priority


Short visits to Mama & Daddy's bed

Sept 2003

Our 2-year-old has been sleeping in her crib in her own room since she was 10 months old. Before that she slept in an Arm's Reach cosleeper attached to our bed. In general, she sleeps through the night and likes her crib. She has always been a light sleeper, as well as an acrobatic sleeper, so it was and continues to be the best arrangement so that we all get the sleep we need. However, over the summer, there were two nights when I (her mother) slept next to her in a grownup's bed while my husband was elsewhere. Each time it took at least an hour of dramatic tossing and turning and repositioning and standing up and laughing, etc. until she calmed down and went to sleep, at which point there was still the general moving around in her sleep that I had to deal with, as well as not feeling like I could change positions myself for fear of waking her and going through the whole excitement stage again. So in short, it was difficult and neither of us slept that well. But it was also sweet, and I find myself now just yearning SO much to find a way to have that closeness again and cuddling while she's still small. She's been asking a lot to be in our bed too, so I know she really likes it, but both my husband and I are afraid that if we do bring her in in regularly in the mornings, say, she'll never (ever) let us sleep past 5am again, or some other such habit/routine. We'd like to keep it arbitrary as to when we say ''yes, you can come in our bed if you're quiet and still'' and ''no, mamma and daddy need to sleep in private now''. But of course a 2-year-old does not understand these things. I think a part of my yearning has to do with the fact that we're expecting our 2nd child soon, and the new baby will be co-sleeping for a lengthy period of time too, and I just don't want to shut our oldest out of the picture. Does anyone have any advice as to how we can get the best of both worlds without implying promises we can't keep for the 2-year-old? mamma of a sweet sweet girl


If you are a SAHM, how about having her take her naps in bed with you. You can both cuddle until she goes to sleep and you can enjoy that closeness with her. If you don't - how about letting her go to your bed on weekend mornings? anon
Why not make a rule like ''We can sleep together on Friday or Saturday nights'' or on ''special occasions''? Your daughter seems to be fine sleeping on her own and seems as if she would be able to adjust to this kind of situation. anon
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