Today I wanted to discuss a particular issue, when your child keeps climbing in bed with you in the middle of the night. Maybe you are okay with this, and that is perfectly fine. I am not here to say that you should not allow your child to climb into bed with you if you are all sleeping well. But if you are not sleeping well, keep reading.
The first thing you should do is make sure your child is not going to bed too late at night. If they are overtired at bedtime, they will be more likely to wake during the night and also earlier in the morning. The other important thing is that your child fall asleep on their own at bedtime. If they need you to lay with them, or if you let them fall asleep in your bed and then move them to their own bed, they will most likely need help falling back asleep in the middle of the night when they have a partial awakening. (We all have partial awakenings during the night, we just usually do not remember them the next day. Read Drowsy But Awake for more information on this.)
If your child knows how to fall asleep on their own and is not overtired at bedtime, and they still come into your bed at night, there are a few different ways to handle this. No matter how you handle it, I recommend having a family meeting during the day, when you discuss any changes you would like to make to their nighttime patterns. Try to sit down with them when there is nothing else going on and if they are not an only child, try to have this meeting when your other children are not around. Let them know that their sleep as well as your sleep is very important for everyone’s health and happiness. Then let them know what changes will be made.
My top three choices on handling this issue follow:
1. Allow your child to come into your room and sleep on a special bed you have made for them on the floor. Let them know they have to come in very quietly and they cannot wake you up. They can sleep on their special bed if they feel like the need to be closer to you.
2. Keep allowing your child to climb into bed with you, but make a rule that they not wake you up.
3. Do not allow your child to come into your room anymore at night. Let them know that everyone will sleep better if they stay in their room, and if they come into your room, bring them calmly back to their room.
You can use sticker charts to track their behavior if your child responds to that. Do reassure them if they do really need you in the night (for example, they are sick), that they can come get you.
Does your child come into your bed in the night? I’d love to hear how you handle it!