- Your child sleeps with you during all or part of the night
- You want to stop sharing your bed with your child
- This is also called co-sleeping
- Sleeping with the parents easily becomes a bad habit.
- Children do not need to sleep with you to be happy and secure. But, they sure like it.
- And once it has begun, it is a privilege that they don’t want to give up.
Establish a New Rule About Staying in Child’s Bedroom at Night:
- Tell your child the new rule: "Starting tonight, I want you to stay in your bed during the night. The doctor says you are too old to sleep with me anymore. You have your bed and I have mine."
- Also, remind your child that it is not polite to wake up people who are sleeping, unless you are sick or it’s an emergency.
Reward Good Bedtime Behavior:
- Give your child an incentive for changing his bedtime behavior.
- For being a "good sleeper" who stays in his bedroom all night, give him a special treat with breakfast.
- An example is a serving of ice cream or a special cartoon show.
- The average child will change his behavior for something he really wants. You just need to be creative.
Close Door if Your Child Leaves His Bedroom:
- If your child leaves his bedroom, take him back immediately.
- If he does it again, close his door until he’s in his bed.
- Tell him that you’ll be happy to leave the door open if he stays in his bedroom.
- Do open it every 5 to 10 minutes and say something comforting and loving.
Take Him Back to Bed if Comes Into Your Bed:
- If your child tries to crawl into your bed during the night, don’t let him.
- Order him back to his own bed using a firm voice.
- If he doesn’t go on his own, take him back immediately. Tuck him in quickly and say good night in a loving way.
- If your child gets into your bed while you are asleep, take him back to his room as soon as you discover him.
Use Signaling Device if Parent is Deep Sleeper:
- If you are a deep sleeper, consider using a signaling device on your door that will awaken you.
- Examples are a chair placed against your door or a bell attached to your doorknob.
- Some parents simply lock their bedroom door.
What to Expect:
- Be firm and you can win back restful sleep and the privacy of your bed. It may take a week.
- Expect some crying and protest during this sleep training.
- Young children normally cry when they don’t get their way.
Call Your Doctor If
- Your child is not sleeping well after you try this program for 2 weeks
- You have other questions or concerns
Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it. The information contained in this handout should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. Listing of any resources does not imply an endorsement.