You know this nighttime scenario all too well…
Your kid starts off happily asleep in their own cozy room, but all of a sudden it’s 2 a.m. and they’re climbing into your bed.
Why the heck are they waking up and coming to sleep with you? They were asleep!
Whether your kid is super sneaky about getting in your bed, or you’re just too tired to deal with taking them back to their own room, let’s figure out what’s going on.
Starting with the first thing you have to do to get it to stop. Tough love ahead.
If your 3, 4, or 5-year-old has been invading your bed for a while now, who knows anymore why it started?
Maybe it was a bad dream, maybe they had a night with a cold, fever, and coughing. Maybe there was a vacation where you had to sleep together because there was only one bed, or they spent a weekend at Grandmas and she decided to cuddle them all night. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is it’s happening now and has become your new normal.
And it sucks.
You’ve learned that sleeping with a toddler is like sleeping with an octopus, and you want the wake-ups and bed invasions to stop.
Luckily, there’s a way out.
>>Watch this blog on my Awesome Little Sleepers YouTube channel! 👇
Effective sleep training includes habit-breaking
Kids are creatures of habit, and what’s happening is just that - a habit. A routine. You put them to bed in their room, they wake up at some point and come to your room.
The longer this goes on, the more normal it becomes. The habit gets stronger and stronger, just like all habits do.
You may see it start to make bedtime more difficult, because they start to think of your bed as their bed. Kids think, “Why am I even going to bed in this room when we all know I really sleep in your room?”
Now, even if we don’t know why this habit started in the first place, we know why it continues to happen night after night, right?
We can agree that it keeps happening because it’s working. Right? It’s working. Your child ends up getting in your bed one way or another.
And whatever they’ve learned to do to make that happen is what you’re going to see each night.
So, how do you make a change to break this habit and how do you start some new, good habits to get them sleeping through the night in their own bed?
Time for the tough love, as promised
I’m gonna give you a little tough love here….
The first step, above all, is to be honest with yourself that you’re allowing it to happen.
You’re allowing them to crawl into your bed at 2 a.m. As much as you may feel like you’ve tried everything and there are no other options, in the moment, in the middle of the night, you’re ultimately allowing it to happen.
I’m not saying this to make you feel defensive or guilty. I’m saying this to make you feel empowered.
Once you admit that you’re part of the habit loop – not just an innocent bystander whose child is acting crazy for no reason – you’re the person who’s ultimately allowing the bed-sharing to continue…
When you admit this, you’re giving yourself the power to make a change!
Because once your child isn’t getting the desired response from you and being allowed to hop in your bed, they can learn a new way to sleep - in their own room, all night long.
So, you have to decide to do something different. And, yes, that means that you may lose some sleep in the middle of the night while you’re working to fix things.
But if you have a solid plan, this sleep training process should take less than 2 weeks.
If your child knows that they can still get into your bed in the middle of the night, it’ll just keep happening. I've been helping families for over 7 years and I can pretty much promise you that.
So let’s get into the HOW of it all.
Finally stop your kid from coming into your bed
Let’s look at how your child ends up in your bed in the middle of the night.
Do you open your eyes and find them creepily standing there, staring at you in the dark?
Do they sneak in without you noticing until the morning, when a tiny foot is wedged into your back?
Or do you end up bringing them to your bed at 2 a.m. as a way to end or prevent a nuclear meltdown?
Kids have a way of getting what they want, huh?
The sneak attacker
Many parents feel helpless about their really sneaky kid who crawls in their bed without notice until the morning.
But, again with the tough love: your kid isn’t Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
If you want this to stop, it’s not hard to prevent someone from sneaking into your bed at night!
You can lock your bedroom door.
You can hang a bell on the door so you’ll wake up when it opens.
You can hang a bell on your kid’s door.
You can put an audio monitor in the hall so you can hear those little footsteps coming for you.
For $5 on Amazon, you can buy a motion detector and place it outside your room.
There are tons of ways to stop mini-Tom Cruise in his tracks.
The emotional meltdowner
If you’ve got the kiddo who cries or melts down in the middle of the night until they get to sleep with you, remember, you’re seeing this every night because it’s working.
So the first step is to empower yourself and decide to stop letting it work. Once you make this commitment to yourself, there are many paths you can take.
The way you approach making a change should be based on a variety of factors:
your parenting style
your child’s personality
what you may have tried in the past
how quickly you want the problem solved
whether you have a co-parent who can help, etc.
You can set up the process to move quickly and have your child in their own bed from night 1 or you can move slowly, like making them a pallet on your floor as the first step to get them out of your bed. You could also short-term switch to sleeping in their bed to get them used to not coming into your room.
Breaking the bed-sharing habit for good
There are lots of ways to go about breaking the bed-sharing habit and setting up new sleep habits that work for you and your child. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
That’s why the REST Method that I’ve designed gives you options and leads you through making choices so you build a new, successful sleep plan that’s unique to your family.