are many gentle ways to encourage your child to stay in his
bed all night, but before I introduce those ideas, its best
if you evaluate your situation. I’d like to ask you
to think about your answers to these questions:
Are you, your partner and your child all getting a good night’s
If no one else in the world knew or cared about what you’re
doing would you happy with the routine that you have now?
Are your child’s visits to your bed interfering with
the level of intimacy between the two of you?
Are you thinking of making a change because you want a change
and because it’s right for your family – or to
appease a friend, relative or someone else?
If – tonight - your child suddenly began to sleep all
night in his own bed, how would you feel: overjoyed, happy,
a bit sad, very sad, depressed?
What – specifically - about your child’s night
visits bothers you?
Why does your child visit you in the night? Is it simply a
habit? Or are fears, nightmares, separation anxiety, teething,
or other problems causing her to wake up and search you out?
first step is to ponder these questions and to examine your
real feelings about the situation. Often ambivalence and frustration
is borne out of not taking the time to identify what you really
feel, and not having a clear goal and purpose to your actions.
Once you have a better understanding of your thoughts, and
your partners thoughts, choose one of these goals:
going to continue as we are, without guilt or concern for
____ months. At that time we will reevaluate the situation
and make a new decision.
in no rush, but would like to begin making a change. We’re
going to make gradual changes and anticipate that within ___
months our child will be sleeping all night in his own bed.
want to make a change right now, as soon as possible, so we
will commit to a specific plan and follow it every night.
send mixed messages
If you’ve shared your bed with your cuddly and sweet-smelling
toddler or preschooler, whether from birth, or just recently,
I can almost guarantee that that even though you’ve
decided to move her out, there is a little part of you that
doesn’t want to let her go. This is natural, given the
preciousness of the experience of sharing your bed with your
child. However, if you really do want your child to sleep
in her own bed, you’ll need to keep these emotions in
check. Don’t make the mistakes that these test families
did during the moving process. (The names have been changed
to protect the guilty from embarrassment.)
reported that by using the ideas in their sleep plan they
were having great success getting their toddler, Kayla to
sleep in her own bed. “She did so for a whole week and
I was getting very excited! Tonight, as she was getting ready
to get into her bed, my husband. . . as a reward for her doing
this. . . invited her back into our room! So, needless to
say we are back at square one with more resistance.”
can’t believe what I did!” Marisa’s new
message came just a week after she emailed to tell me that
Gracie was making far fewer visits to her mommy’s bed
during the night. “I woke up last night and realized
that Gracie was spending yet another night in her own bed.
I missed her next to me so much that I went into her room
and climbed in bed with her! Now tonight we’re heading
up to get ready for bed and sure enough, she’s asking
me to sleep in her bed with her again! I think I’ve
just created a whole new problem! Please help!”
is OK to make a change you know!
For those of you who are still with me – those of you
who have decided that it’s time to move your little
cuddler out of your bed and say goodbye to those nighttime
pokes from little elbows and toes – let me reassure
you that it’s perfectly fine to make this change. There
is no one right age or time or situation to adhere to, it’s
just a matter of choice: and if you’re ready, you’re
ready. Your child is obviously well loved and secure, and
those feelings won’t change when you use a sensitive,
loving method to keep her sleeping in her own bed all night
to do next
There are a number of ways to keep your little one in his
own bed all night. Since every child is different, and every
situation is different, each family will approach this is
a unique way. What follows is a menu list of ideas for you
to choose from. Pick one, two or more that sound right for
you and give them an honest try. Be patient and keep to your
plan. Over the next few weeks or months you will see success.
How quickly this happens depends on your child’s personality
and how motivated you are to move things along.
What follows is a list of ideas that have worked for other
families like yours. You can choose from these, or combine
bits and pieces to create a totally unique solution.
From bed to floor to out the door
If you don’t mind your child coming into your room during
the night, but would like to keep him out of your bed, then
set up a sleeping place for him in your bedroom. This place
can be as simple as a futon and blanket on the floor to a
den made out of a folding card table draped with a sheet which
houses a sleeping bag and pillow.
the night, if he forgets the new plan and climbs in bed with
you, just help him down to his little place and remind him
that’s where he needs to be. It’s perfectly fine
to lay with him until he falls asleep at first. It will help
him get used to this new routine.
The morning snuggle
This idea shifts your child’s visit from the midnight
hours to a more acceptable early-morning time. Many parents
enjoy this plan as well, since they don’t have to give
up snuggling their little one entirely, but can do so after
they’ve had a good night’s sleep.
your child that she can come in “When it’s light
outside.” This works if daylight appears at the right
time for you. Another is to set a music or white noise alarm
to go off quietly at an acceptable time. Explain, “If
the music is playing you can come to our bed. If it’s
quiet, then please go back to sleep until the music plays.”
The weekend promise
Tell your child that when she stays in her bed all week then
she can sleep with you on the weekend, or on Saturday. Post
a calendar and let her adhere a star to each day that she
sleeps all night without waking you. Put a special design
on the weekend days.
idea works perfectly for some children who relish their weekend
sleep-overs in the big bed. Others, though, find it too difficult
to separate yes nights from no nights. If you think it may
work with your little one, give it a try.
The Rubber Band Bounce
This is a good idea for a family who wants to make a quick
change to their middle-of-the-night routine, and for a parent
who’s willing to get out of bed repeatedly for a week
before your bedtime routine begins, explain briefly why you
want her to stay in her bed, for example, “When you
come in my room during the night you wake me up and then I’m
grumpy.” And tell her that you want her to stay in her
bed all night long. Begin the night with a pleasant, peaceful
go-to-bed routine. Finish it with your child in her bed. Anytime
she gets up – EVERYTIME she gets out of bed –
calmly, peacefully and lovingly put her back to bed. Kiss
her, hug, her rub her back. Even sit or lie next to her until
she falls back to sleep if necessary. Choose a key phrase
to repeat to her a few times, such as, “It’s night
night time now. Mommy loves you. Please stay in your bed and
have sweet dreams.”
may have to repeat this ten times the first few nights, but
with real consistency you should see this reduce night-time
My sleep surveys uncovered that fact that most preschoolers
can be highly motivated to make changes when offered a prize
(which, I’m sure, if you have a preschooler, is no great
surprise to you!)
sticker approach has been a popular choice. Purchase a calendar
and put it in a visible place on the wall. Allow your child
to put a sticker on the calendar each morning after he stays
in his own bed.
child’s goal is to attain a certain number of stickers
– which can be whatever number you want it to be, but
shouldn’t be so many that your child loses interest
during the wait. You may want to start off with a small number
– say 3 stickers, and work your way up to ten or so.
When the magic number of stickers is on the chart your child
gets a prize. This can be a trip out for an ice-cream cone,
a coveted toy, or a special privilege.
long the process of change will take depends on how strong
your child’s need is to be with you during the night
– she may feel that you are a much better prize than
any toy you could offer – and isn’t it glorious
to be loved so much?
with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry
Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers (McGraw-Hill