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How to Get Your Children to Sleep in Their Bed

 Many new parents look forward to the moment when their child starts sleeping in their own bed, which usually happens around the ages of 3-5. However, the reality is somewhat different, since most children still climb into their parents' bed because they fear sleeping alone, and the tired parents simply give in and allow them to do so.
 
The real problem begins when they constantly move in their sleep, kick us in the back and prevent us from sleeping as consistently and comfortably as we hope to. The good news is that you can stop this harmful habit, but the bad news is that you need to invest a lot of effort and time, and the process itself is not easy for children. It won’t be solved overnight, but if you want your kids to stop climbing into your bed for the next few years, following these steps should have your kids sleeping in their own beds in no time at all.
 
children sleeping
Before bedtime
The first thing you need to ask yourself before you start the process is, "Is today a good day to start getting your children to sleep alone?" If you are in the process of potty training, are going on holiday soon or expecting a new baby, you may want to wait until you have completed these things. Even though your kids will still be sharing your bed, to get them to sleep in their bed you have to stick to a routine that doesn’t change for several nights.
Once you’ve decided to start the process, talk to your children in the afternoon after picking them up from kindergarten, about your expectations of night sleep, so they know exactly what you expect of them when the time comes. Try to explain this to them briefly: "Mom and Dad sleep in their own bed, and children sleep in their own bed," recommends Jill Spivack, a family counselor who also used this method with her daughter.
Jill also suggests making a "sleep book," where you and your children will draw characters who sleep in their bed, along with a short story you can read. Where will you get ideas from? From life! If for example, you recently moved out and your child got a new room with a new bed, use this story in your book. The story should focus on the end in which the character ends up sleeping in his or her own bed and is happy about it. It is highly recommended to invest in your drawings because they will help your children understand the idea in a way that is easier for them to absorb and focus on. Read this story every night, before lights out.
children sleeping
After lights out

If you often give in to your children's crying in other scenarios, you may easily succumb to this process and think that eventually, they will sleep alone in their own bed.  But if you prefer it to happen now and not in the future, you should prepare yourself for a difficult but worthwhile journey.

In general, all experts recommend that if you start the process of getting your children to sleep in their bed, you should not let them sleep in your bed at all, not even for 5 minutes.

This means that when they come to your bed at midnight, you take them back to their own bed, cover them, give them a kiss and go back to your bed. There will be crying, whining and objections from the children and they may even refuse to stay in bed, but eventually, the child will understand and process your rules.

children sleeping

The easiest solution is to let your kids sleep in your bed, but things become complicated when it becomes a habit. In such a situation you must take a different approach that you probably won’t like. Find a comfortable place in your child's room where you can sleep for the night, but not in their bed. "If you are in your child's room while they are asleep, but you are not there when they wake up, they’ll quickly find their way to your bedroom," says Jennifer Berger, parent and child sleep consultant. "Sleeping in the child’s room overnight causes their brain to 'reset' when it comes to the anxieties they have about sleeping on their own. If they wake up and see their parents with them in their room, they will have an easier time going back to sleep in their bed and getting used to it."

 

For two or three nights, start with just sitting in the room while they fall asleep, but do not talk to them and just tell them they have to sleep - you want your children to get bored and fall asleep. If they misbehave, leave the room for a bit - they will relax when they realize that their "reward" is mom or dad coming back into the room.

Every night after that, sit further from the child’s bed, so that you’ll eventually reach the door, the hallway, and eventually your bed or the living room. "If your children follow you, you have to remain calm and indifferent - escort them back to their room every time they get up," says Berger.

children sleeping

The morning after

How did your kid do with this new routine? If it didn’t go so well, encourage them and remind them that this is the new rule. If they got through the night well or showed improvement in their behavior, praise them for it. You can even give them a small reward and make them a "sleeping bag of surprises," from which you’ll pull out a small gift every time they sleep in their bed and improve their behavior at night. You can also leave a sticker or a small toy under their pillow when they sleep through the whole night in their bed – sort of like the tooth fairy. With all these methods, this routine can be set in place within one week.
 
Of course, it may take longer to get your children used to sleeping in their own bed, but no matter what, you have to be consistent and not give up or surrender. If you do everything that the experts recommended here in this article, you can be sure that your children will sleep in their bed without causing you trouble at night, and you will enjoy that peaceful sleep that you’ve waited so long for.

 

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