6 Tips to Help Your Child Sleep In Their Own Bed (Again!)

6 tips to help your child sleep in their own bed
Image via Mindi Stavish

Our 2-year-old has resorted to sleeping in our bed after being fully weaned from breastfeeding. He is quite the restless sleeper, and he frequently wakes both my husband and me up with his tossing and turning. The other night, he woke me from a dead sleep with a swift kick in the head. He tends to sleep horizontally, so he kicks my back most of the night, so most mornings, I wake up with a very sore back. We are two months into this new sleeping arrangement and are desperate for a better night's sleep. In an effort to get both our sanity and our bed back, here are some strategies we have implemented over the past few weeks.

toddler asleep
Image via Mindi Stavish

Establish a consistent bedtime routine

We really fell out of a consistent routine when the holidays hit, but we are working to getting back into a routine with my son. He just recently dropped his afternoon nap, so he really needs an early bedtime. Kids do better with transitions when they are told ahead of time what will be happening. After dinner, we start reminding him that it will soon be bath time. Once in the bath, we use a timer to prepare him for the end of his bath two minutes before we drain the water. Once we put on his pajamas, we read stories for about 15 minutes, and then it's lights out.

{ MORE: Setting Bedtime Routines for Toddlers }

stuffed animals
Image via Mindi Stavish

Comfort Item

My toddler isn't attached to any one particular stuffed animal or blanket for comfort, but he does have a few favorite animals, and they seem to rotate each night. (He likes to be piled up in the middle of at least 5-6 of them.) If your child does not have a comfort item, it may be helpful to have him or her go to the store with you and pick out a special bedtime blanket or stuffed animal.

{ MORE: EverydayFamily Interview with Dr. Christina Gantcher: Getting Your Baby to Sleep through the Night }

night light
Image via Mindi Stavish

Night Light

Many children at this age are afraid of the dark, but cannot express this fear. Ease your child's fear by putting a night light in their room. My toddler loves the Cloud B Twilight Turtle, which projects stars on his ceiling.

toddler yawning
Image via Mindi Stavish

Be Persistent

Even in the midst of pure exhaustion, you have to stick with the plan to teach your child how to sleep in their own bed for the entire night. This will not be a quick and easy. They WILL try to press your buttons, and they WILL have tantrums that last for what seems like eternity. Just know that this will pass, and the end result will be worth it.

{ MORE: Real Mom Tips for How To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Through The Night }

transition
Image via Mindi Stavish

Choose the Right Time

Is your toddler in the middle of potty training? Is there a big family event coming up, such as the birth of a new sibling or a family vacation? During such times of transition, adding one more new thing to your toddler's ever-changing world is not a great idea. Step back and wait it out until the event is over and then start the process.

bouncy balls
Image via Flickr/ Create-Learning Team Building & Leadership

Rewards

If your child stays in their bed all night, reward them with small prizes from the sleep fairy the next morning. My son is highly motivated by bouncy balls lately. For every night he stays in his room, he gets to pick a bouncy ball from a big jar we filled up.

{ MORE: Work Hard, Sleep Harder: How to Improve Your Sleep Health }

If your child has regressed to sleeping in your bed, what do you feel are the biggest challenges to getting him or her back in their own bed?

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6 Tips to Help Your Child Sleep In Their Own Bed (Again!)

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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7 comments

  1. Profile photo of jessica jessica says:

    My son is 2 and for maybe a month he was finally sleeping every night in his crib. Then he got a really bad cold and slept in bed with us due to his horrible cough that would wake him and us. He’ll nap in his crib but hates to sleep in it now.

  2. Profile photo of Gina Gina says:

    Thanks for the tips…my son will be 4 in December and is still in bed with us and I am currently expecting another baby…I love to snuggle him all night, but even in a king size bed him, pregnant me, husband and dog is too much. I think a reward system will work well for him, at least I hope!

  3. Profile photo of Kristin Kristin says:

    I have to say that I feel like I am the one mostly responsible for our 19 month old son sleeping in our bed. He also is a restless sleeper and as much as I know he needs to be in his own bed, I worry about him through the night. I worry that he might get up in the middle of the night and get injured or have some freak accident that nobody could see coming until you hear about it on the news. It makes me paranoid. And I still check to see if he is breathing every time I wake up (which is constant). I really like the six ideas here and I am willing to try them with him. Is there any ideas to help calm paranoid mamas out there? It would sure help! thanks so much

  4. Profile photo of Natalie Natalie says:

    I am a mom of 4 children. My kids were at one time all toddlers at the same time. I never had issues with my kids sleeping with my husband and I. I guess these tips are good once there is an issue, but as a parent, putting your foot down and preventing bad habits from starting is the best way altogether. Starting at a very young age, there were a few non negotiable rules that we had. 1) absolutely NO sleeping in anyone else’s bed. 2) you will eat what is on your plate (I am not a short order cook and would never make individual food) 3) no tantrums!!!!! My kids are now 16 and up. My daughter is having a baby soon and she is also against having her child sleep with her. It’s not a good habit for parents or for kids.

  5. Profile photo of Sarah Sarah says:

    My daughter has been sleeping in our bed for years. She goes back and forth between hers and ours, but when I’m home, she insists on sleeping with me. Daddy and I both work third shift so she sleeps in my bed two nights out of the week. When daddy is home, she will actually go to bed by herself but she changes up which bed. Daddy and I are both about to be home at night for a few weeks and I would like to get her into a good routine for sleeping in her bed, but the problem is we are also about to have a baby in a few weeks(maybe less). I don’t want her to think that we love her any less just because her brother arrives. I’ve been wanting her to sleep in her own bed for a while. When she was two, she slept in her own bed all by herself. but since then, at some points in our living arrangements we were all forced to sleep together. Since then, she will hardly go to bed by herself. She is seven now. She has had her own room and bed for three years. I think it is well past time.

  6. Profile photo of molly molly says:

    the fact that i am moving to a new home i am doing all this i am worried he will completely regress

  7. Profile photo of LIZ says:

    very good tips tnx so much

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