Bed Hopping Toddlers


Are your kids still crawling into bed with you? How do you encourage them to sleep on their own?
This is an emotional issue for parents. When tired, we either get in a midnight power struggle and/or eventually give in. Deciding what you want for your family should happen in the cold light of day, not in the middle of the night. If having the kids in your bed works for you, then don’t change it, but know that you are establishing a habit. You are clearly stating your expectations through your actions. If and when you decide that your kids need to sleep on their own, don’t let fear stand in your way.

Sleep is a gift that lasts a lifetime. You can’t make your kids sleep (which is the reason this is such an issue in the first place) BUT, children are capable of learning to keep their head on the pillow, lie quietly and wait for sleep to come. The big issue is when parents interfere with the child’s capability to put themselves back to sleep; our actions are teaching them that they can’t do it.

So how do you give the gift of sleep? The end result is the same but how you get there is up to you.

Set up a plan that is right for your family:

  • Will you rub a back and then wean that behaviour, or are you the cry-it-out type? Decide in advance and stick to it.
  • Determine whether or not you allow a night light or keep things dark.
  • Will you say goodnight and then check on them again when you head to bed OR will you set the timer and check on them in 10 minute increments? Sometimes if kids know you’re coming back, they feel safer and will fall right to sleep.
  • Will you have them fall asleep in silence or let them play music or a book on CD? Can they read a book until the timer goes and then snuggle themselves into bed? This might be an option for kids who are soothed by stories or music.
  • Preschoolers can start to imagine monsters and other things in the room which may lead to them running to your bed. Monster spray (lemon juice and water in a spray bottle) works well to spray away any creepy things so they can sleep.

Whatever the plan, you need to know it first and be consistent with the follow up, especially if you involve your kids as well. Let them know the script (what you’ll say when they’re in your room, what strategies they will use when they’re waiting for sleep).

And have a good night’s sleep.


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