I think pretty much every parent, at some point, has had their child end up sleeping in bed with them. Or they’ve climbed into their child’s bed to help settle them at night.
For a lot of families co-sleeping is a choice that works perfectly and everyone is happy and gets the rest they need.
Other families though might find that it’s not the ideal situation for them.
If you’re ready to reclaim your bed, and a good night’s sleep, then here are some things you can try to help your child happily go to sleep in their own bed. And hopefully stay there all night long.
Encourage them to spend time in their bedroom during the day
Make your child’s bedroom a special place for them, full of their toys and books and special things.
Then let them play in there during the day, so the room becomes somewhere they enjoy being. This way, when it comes to bedtime, their bedroom should be somewhere they feel safe, secure and happy.
Make their bed special
If you want your child to sleep in their own bed then do what you can to make it as appealing as possible for them.
You can get some amazing children’s beds these days, from fun cabin beds with room to play underneath to gorgeous teepee-covered beds to hide away in. Children’s bed shop have a huge range of beds to get inspired by and to find something to suit your child.
Another way to make their bed more appealing is to let them pick out bedding in their favourite colours or with their favourite characters on.
Establish a good bedtime routine
If you’ve let the old bath, book, bed routine slip as your child has got a bit older, then now’s the time to bring it back.
About an hour before bedtime turn off the TV and other screens. It’s been found that the blue light from screens can interfere with our sleep, so it’s a good idea to stop using them as you get closer to bedtime.
Then let them have a bit of wind down time in the bath, before heading to their bedroom to get pjs on and have a story. A big part of this is to make sure that you get them ready in their room, not yours.
Talk to them before making changes
Let your child know during the daytime that things will be different that night. Tell them that they’ll be going to sleep in their own bed and won’t be able to climb into bed with you in the middle of the night.
This way it won’t be a shock to them at bedtime and gives them a chance to talk it through with you.
Stand firm and stay consistent
Once you start, it’s really important to stay the course.
It’s almost guaranteed that your child will get upset about not being allowed in your bed, and there’ll be lots of tears. Try not to just give in though.
Now, I’m not talking about leaving your child to cry and get in a state.
If they’re upset then stay with them in their room and give them the love and comfort that they need. Once they’re calm keep going back in and checking on them and reassuring them, but stay firm in the fact that they won’t be coming into your bed.
You might need to go in, or put them back in their bed, a crazy number of times the first few nights, but if you stay consistent with it and don’t give in you should find that things will get better before long.
Try gradual retreat
If your child gets really upset and won’t settle without you in the room you might want to try a gradual retreat.
This is what we did with Rhys when he was younger. It did take a while but it worked, and felt much gentler than leaving him to cry it out each night.
Basically, if you normally lie down with your child until they go to sleep, start sitting by the side of their bed with a hand on them. Then after a night or two stop putting your hand on them. Each night after that move a little bit further away, until you’re sitting just outside their room.
At this point you can start telling your child that you’re going to wash the dishes/tidy up/sort dinner downstairs for a few minutes, but you’ll be back to check on them soon. Make sure you do come back when you say you will to reassure them.
The whole point of this is to gradually help your child learn how to settle to sleep without you being next to them. So when they wake in the night they’ll be able to fall back to sleep by themselves, instead of coming to find you in your bed.
Address their fears
Talk to your child to see if they have any particular fears that are adding to the issue.
It might be that they don’t want to sleep alone because they’re scared of the dark. In this case you could get them a nightlight, or leave the landing light on and their door ajar.
If they don’t like the quiet at night, or hear noises that scare them, then think about playing some white noise for them to fall asleep too.
Make sure your child knows how proud you are of them when they do stay in their own bed all night.
If sticker charts are your thing then try one of those. Give them a sticker for each night they stay in their own bed, and then at the end of the week you can give them a treat to say well done. If you’re not a fan of charts then make sure to still praise them for every night, or even every hour to start with, that they sleep in their own bed.
If your child is used to being allowed to sleep in your bed, or having you sleep in with them, it’ll probably take a while to make changes.
But with some time and perseverance you should all be able to sleep in your own beds, all night long, and get the proper rest you need.
Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post