Are you hearing “Mommy, I can’t sleep” in the middle of the night. Your child is sneaking into bed with you night after night and you aren’t getting any rest. Aren’t we supposed to be getting lots of sleep after the newborn stage? Turns out that, for some of us, we still aren’t getting a full nights sleep even when our kids are 5 years old.
Some kids who have always been great sleepers can go through a stage of waking in the middle of the night. We just went through this in my house when the boys had a stressful week of soccer tryouts and 2 hours of standardized testing every day. It was rough and it messed up their sleep habits.
I put out a call to my local mom Facebook group. I received advice from others that had been through it and lived to share their secrets about what worked.
How to Stop Your Kid from Sneaking Into Bed With You
1.Sleep with a Sibling – Can your child move from their own room to sharing a room with a sibling? Remember that nothing has to be permanent. It is only for a few months to get them through the stage of not wanting to be alone. Who knows, it could become something great for their sibling relationship as well.
2. Special Breakfast – Does your child do well with instant rewards? Let them pick out a special breakfast cereal or donuts. They can only have the special breakfast if they sleep the entire night in their own bed. This worked for my kids. They were calling out before they fell asleep for water, a kiss, or whatever they could think of to get us to come back into the room. If there is a treat the next morning they are magically able to lay in their bed reading until they fall asleep.
3. Reward System – If your child likes a larger treat to motivate themselves use a reward chart. If they successfully sleep in their own bed for multiple nights in a row they can pick out a toy at the store. Start with small increments of time, don’t make it too long as kids sometimes can’t motivate for something that is too far away. Do one toy for 3 nights of not sneaking into bed with you and another toy for 5 nights of success. Gradually increase the time increments.
4. Reward/Punishment – If the above doesn’t work it may be necessary to step up the game. Use the above reward system but also add that if they leave their bed they do not get desert the next night. My boys least favorite thing is an earlier bedtime. I make it that each time they get out of bed they have to go to bed 10 minutes earlier the next night. If they get out of bed once it is 10 minutes earlier. If they get out of bed 3 times it is 30 minutes earlier.
5. Sleep on the Floor – Sometimes it is a real fear and there isn’t any reasoning with your child. If this is the case then let them keep some blankets in your room and sleep on your floor. The other alternative is to sleep on their floor and not let them in your room at all. My husband prefers this method. He will go sleep on their floor because he wants them to sleep in their own beds/room.
My friends also highly recommended the book Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. I am always reading parenting books so will add this to my list.
Whenever I come upon difficult stages like these I always chant to myself “This is just a stage, this is just a stage.” over and over. It’s either that or get a bigger bed. 😉
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Karen Morse says
I think it’s definitely up to you as a parent to decide what’s best for your child in terms of sleeping arrangements. It’s a great idea to sleep on their floor instead of letting them sneak in your room at night.
I am thankful that my husband is willing to do it.
Amanda Love says
I never let my kids sleep in my room. I think it’s one of the ways to teach them about privacy. These are great tips and I’m sure a lot of parents will find these helpful!
Angela Tolsma says
The sleep with sibling one is not something I ever would have thought of. Definitely will have to recommend that to my sister-in-law. Both her kids end up in her bed almost nightly. She’s tried everything else
I hope it helps. I think the kids can do well with it after the initial couple of days where they want to play instead of falling asleep. 🙂 After a couple days they get used to it.
Amber Nelson says
My kids definitely like to sneak into my bed in the middle of the night. If we aren’t too tired, we do lead them right to their rooms.
We went through this for quite a while with my daughter. Although it’s a difficult situation to remedy (that is completely dependent upon the child) the good news is that with enough persistence, it will eventually.
Oh my god I used to do this so much when I was a kid – and kept doing it until I was way too old, I don’t even know how my parents were coping with this! I was the only child though so I think I was more prone to doing it x
Sona Sethi says
I dont have kids yet but I have seen parents with young kids. Its a task to put kids to bed and discipline is very important right from the start to have mental peace.
These are great tips! My 3 year old did this a lot but he now shared room with his 5 year old brother but if there is a bad storm he will come sleep with us.
I love when siblings share a room. It makes me feel like they will have a close relationship or at minimum so funny memories.
Cindy Ingalls says
Very helpful solutions. It’s important that your child sleep in their own room. By reinforcing that rule, you can hopefully move past this phase.
Aww this a great post for so many parents I know who have problems with children sleeping. I have been lucky with m 4 kids, they go to bed and stay in bed until morning!!
I’m so lucky that neither of my two have ever done this. My youngest, however, doesn’t really sleep. He thinks that two hours a night is enough, when it really isn’t. It’s no wonder I’m always exhausted!!
Wow, that is hard. It is funny how different each kid can be.
My 3-year-old does this often. Usually in the wee hours of the morning. He goes to the bottom of my bed. I don’t really mind it as all mine seemed to have done it and grew out of it pretty quickly!
Journa Ramirez says
It’s not hard to let my kids sleep at night but it’s so hard to let them take their afternoon naps. (I want them to take a rest after getting tired at school) I always use the Reward/Punishment orientation and it’s effective!
These are great tips. I feel like I use a reward system for everything. Bribery is my best friend haha.
I was just telling someone today that I feel like all I do is bribe and negotiate all day.
Michelle Paige says
I used to sleep in my parents bed and then they moved me to the floor where I stayed until I was about 13. I eventually grew out of it though
Michelle | She’s Not So Basic
Krystle Cook says
My daughter used to do this and it was the death of me. We finally had to get her a special light for her room and that seemed to work.
A good nightlight is a great idea.
Renee @ The Good Hearted Woman says
This is such a personal choice for parents, and kids. I had five kiddos, and they crawled into bed with me for years. At some point, usually between three and six, they quit, with no pressure from me. It just wasn’t an issue for us.
Yes, it is usually a stage that they will outgrow. I am just a person that needs my sleep or I have no patience and am not a very good mom during the day so I had to be strict about sleep. I find that every mom has their certain thing they are strict with and certain thing they are lenient about and it is different for each parent. My thing I am strict about is sleep whereas someone else it would be low sugar diet or something else. 🙂
This has to be one of the toughest parts of raising kids, I’d imagine. I don’t have children yet, but many of my friends who do have shared their sleep struggle stories with me!
These are great tips. My little one has always slept in his own room pretty much and as a toddler he likes having his space. Will keep this in mind if he ever sneaks over.