Staying In Own Bed

Q: “Every night, our 3-year-old son comes to our bed and wants to sleep there. What can I do to get him to stay in his own bed?”

A: Your child is still developing the ability to control his impulses, and when he wakes alone at night, the impulse to go to his parents is very strong. While it will take time for him to learn to stay in his bed (and in the years to come he may still seek you out after a bad dream), you can encourage him toward that goal in several ways:

  • If he has already been moved out of a crib into a flat bed, putting guards on the sides of the bed will help him feel more contained and safer in his own bed.
  • Help him develop a ritual that he finds comforting to help put himself back to sleep at night when he wakes: singing to a favorite stuffed animal or pressing a button on a music box.
  • Talk to him about “practicing” sleeping in his own bed, and together choose a reward that he would like whenever he succeeds.
  • Also, it is best if you take him back to his bed when he comes into your room, so he learns that this is where he sleeps.

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