One of the biggest hopes a parent has is getting a good night sleep. Usually in their own bed without any little feet shoving themselves into your side.
I’ve been there! My own children weren’t the best sleepers. I had to lay in bed with them each night just for them to fall asleep.
Then if I tried to escape to my own bed, it was only a short time until they where climbing under my covers with me.
As much as I loved the sweet snuggles, I also wanted my sleep back! To sleep in the position I wanted, and to share the night with my husband in the few moments of kid free time we had.
After all, good rest is necessary for you to handle all the responsibilities you have as a parent, at work and at home.
Even more importantly, I wanted my children to develop the ability to sleep on their own and the confidence that they could do it.
Now, getting your kids to sleep in their own bed isn’t an easy task. There will definitely be some fussing, whining and crying.
There will be times where it’ll be emotional and frustrating for both of you. But here are a few of our best tips to stop the bedtime battles and get your child to stay in their own bed.
Create a Good Sleep Environment
Start by making your child’s room an enjoyable place. You can make them see their own room as an oasis to retreat to.
Put their favorite toys in their room and decorate with their favorite characters or interests. Have them help you make their room a safe place.
You can have them pick out a cool night light and comfy cozy bedding. Getting them involved helps them get excited and feel like they have some ownership of the space.
It’ll make bedtime more pleasant and even enjoyable.
Create a Consistent Bedtime Routine
One thing kids thrive on, consistent routines! Kids feel safe when they know what to expect.
It also helps their body adjust to a regular sleep schedule.
Try not to change what you do each night, because it’ll make them anxious. Things like taking a warm bath or reading books together can be part of their routine.
You can even add in things that might help them slip off to sleep like listening to soft music or dimming the lights, creating a soothing bedtime ambiance.
Choose A Bedtime That’s Relatively Early Enough
It can be hard getting your kids to fall asleep before 9, 10 or even 11 PM.
But it’s crucial for them to go to sleep at an earlier time. Their little bodies need more sleep then we do.
Young kids need up to 12-13 hours of sleep a night. Early bed times are part of their natural body rhythms.
If you pay attention to your child’s behavior at night, you’ll often find that they get drowsy at a certain time, then suddenly catch their “second wind.”
That’s when their body is flooded with adrenaline. It’s the bodies way of realizing that they are suppose to be sleeping, but isn’t.
So they produce this surge to wake the body up. No great when your trying to get your kids to fall asleep.
Provide the Reassurance They Need
Children can have a lot of bedtime fears and anxieties they don’t express.
Monsters, bad guys, and other pretend dangers are often why children so desperately cling to you in bed.
While it may seem silly to you, validating their feelings is necessary.
Don’t blow off their fears. You can talk about how safe they are in the house. And how those things won’t happen.
Comfort them after nightmares and give them a stuffed animal to hug and snuggle up with.
Spend Quality Time Together Before Bed
Your child may need more time and attention from you. It’s hard for them to express this need, but its definitely there.
It doesn’t have to be right before bed, but it does need to happen on a daily basis. Cut out 10 minutes a day of one on one time where all of your attention is on your child.
This can be a game changer for how kids feel and decreasing their night time anxiety.
Talk About It
Try finding out exactly why your child doesn’t want to sleep on their own. They may not even know the answer.
You can also ask them what would help them sleep better on their own. If they are having trouble expressing themselves in words, you can try drawing it together or acting it out together.
You can even try role play where you reverse roles. You can be the child and let them be the parent to see how they think bedtime should go.
It gives you both a good perspective.
Start at an Early Age
Obviously this is only possible if your children are babies. But putting babies in their own beds early on can help prevent the habit of them getting into their parents bed later on.
I personally don’t like the cry it out methods. I never had the heart to let my baby cry for me without showing them I was there.
But you can try to get them in the habit of going to sleep in their own crib by putting them down while they are still awake.
Point here, it’s easier to prevent certain habits than to break them.
Try Timed Intervals
Once you have established that its time for you children to sleep in their bed, you can establish regular “check in’s” where you agree to check on them every 10 minutes if they stay in their own bed.
After a few nights you can slowly increase the timing of the intervals.
Use the Gradual Method
If your child is having trouble falling asleep on their own, you may need to try a gradual method of getting them to sleep on their own.
You can use progressive steps to getting them to sleep in their own bed, without you.
Instead of getting fully into bed with them you can start the gradual steps by sitting up in bed with them for a few nights as they fall asleep.
Then you can sit close to their bed holding their hand for a few nights. Then move the chair a bit away while you read a book quietly to yourself as they try to fall asleep in their own beds.
This helps them get used to falling asleep on their own in baby steps.
At bedtime, after your routine is done, it’s time to be very, very boring.
Make this a “no talking” time and limit the cuddling so hanging out with your isn’t so interesting at night.
It may feel a little mean, but really your just setting bedtime boundaries. It’ll help them get used to bedtime being a time for quite and sleep.
Try a Positive Reinforcement
Going to sleep on their own, is a big achievement. Make sure your kids know how proud you are of them, and make it a special occasion.
Give your kids praise and even small treats for the nights that they cooperate with the program.
Kids love things like sticker charts or getting to do a special activity with you the next day.
Examine Your Own Motives
It’s time to be honest about the role you may be playing in your child’s sleep situation.
Parents sometimes unknowingly encourage their kids to share their bedrooms with them. Especially if they sleep alone, they may not see it as a big deal for kids to jump into their bed every once in a while.
However, if you really want your kids to sleep in their own bed, it’s important to remain consistent at all times.
Make it a point to have more bonding and cuddling during the day, instead of substituting it at night.
Create a Bedroom Barrier
Have you ever woke up in the morning surprised to find you kid has slept all night in the bed with you?
This can undo a lot of the work of getting them used to their own beds.
Make sure to create an environment where you’ll know if you child comes into your room. You can try hanging a little bell on your door knob or keeping it locked so they’ll have to knock to come in.
Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
We’ve mentioned it several times already. But consistency is key and the persistence will pay off.
If you make no exceptions, you’ll be able to sleep in your own bed, by yourself, faster.
Model Good Sleep Habits
Once you have each member of the family sleeping in their own beds, you can help ensure a good nights sleep for everyone.
This means sticking to a consistent bedtime yourself, limiting any late night snack or screen times.
It’s easy to get into bad bedtime habits that compromise your sleep.
According to a National Sleep Foundation study, nearly 1/4 of all parents say their kids sleep in their parents beds some of the time.
But if you remain positive and consistent, you can have your children sleeping peacefully in their own room.