Q&A: His own bed!

John writes:

"Okay – nothing new or original, but it's driving us crazy:

We can't get our 4-year old to sleep all night in his own bed. We've
been working on this for more than two years now. We've finally got him
to the point where he will go to sleep in his own bed (eventually), but
by midnight or so, he's back in bed with us.

He's got a rigid bedtime routine – dinner, toilet, bath, feed the fish,
3 books, hugs and kisses, go to sleep with audiobooks on the iPod (on
speaker – no headphones). We've used bribes with mixed success and if I
have to, I lie down with him in his bed until he falls asleep
sometimes, but both of those seem like iffy ideas at best.

We try to take him back as soon as he gets into bed with us, but we are
both so exhausted at the end of the day that a lot of the time, we
don't realize that he's in our bed until a couple of hours later, when
our backs give out from clinging to the edge of the bed. He's the
Stubbornest Boy in the Universe (potty training has been a little slice
of Heaven) and if he wakes up enough on the trip back to his bed, he
gets so into the power struggle that he wakes himself up completely and
then the fun REALLY starts.

We're both big.

The Boy is big.

The bed is not.

One of us is going to fall asleep at the wheel and drive into a cement
truck one day on our way to or from work.  (Which may be part of his
plan, because then he'd inherit half of our bed.)

Yours in total, mind-numbing exhaustion,


Think about what a successful life your son is going to have with his refusal to back down. He is going to have the drive to succeed, and the will to keep going in the face of adversity. His stubbornness will serve him well in The Game of Life.

Your sleep situation right now, however, sucks.

It sounds like you've tried a whole lot of things, from bribes to lying down with him. And the problem isn't getting him to sleep in his bed initially, but getting him to stay in his bed.

It seems to me like you have three options. One is to keep going the way you are, but it sounds like you really don't want to do that, so let's not even talk about it. The second option would be to use brute force to keep him in his bed. The third option would be to try to get him involved in the plan.

The brute force option would be to barricade him in his room somehow. I think it's a bad idea for a lot of reasons, but I also know people who've felt like it was the only thing they could do. When you're that sleep-deprived for that long, you try whatever you can think of. The real kicker here, though, is that I think some kids wouldn't really mind being shut into their rooms, but the ones who are coming into your bed every night are the exact kids who would hate it. And then you're setting up a power struggle and control-based situation that's just going to end up making everyone feel horrible and eroding trust between the two of you.

Since these spirited kids need help managing their emotions and impulses, setting up an oppositional situation is just going to backfire by making things worse. Instead, you might want to see if option three works, by enlisting his help in the project of keeping him in his own bed.

It seems like there are a couple of dimensions here. The first is that you want to talk to him and make sure he understand that he needs to stay in his own bed, and why it's very important for the whole family that he does. But the other, key part to this is to get him to tell you why he doesn't stay in his own bed but instead comes into yours. Once you know that, you can try to replicate the conditions he's going for without having him come in with you. Is he cold? Maybe more blankets or a space heater are the answer. Is he scared of being alone, or just wants to be with other people? Maybe you could put a small mattress for him in your room that he could come sleep in in the middle of the night.

There could be any number of conditions that are making him wake up in the middle of the night. (Some kids at this age sleep all the way through, while others seem to wake up, so I don't think it's abnormal for him to wake up, but there also could be some specific reason he's waking up.) Until you figure that out, you really don't know what to do to make it easier for him to sleep through.

Has anyone else been through this? What did you do to help your child finally sleep through in his or her own bed?

84 thoughts on “Q&A: His own bed!”

  1. I’d just like to correct John on one little point. His son cannot be the Subbornest Boy in the Universe, because that title belongs to my 3.5 year old, Chuckles.Personally, as one who is sleep deprived, I vote for an inflatable mattress on the floor next to your bed and then move it closer and closer to the door and finally into the hall, down the hall, and into his room. It might take a few years, but I’ve been clinging to the edge of the bed for a while now and it sounds like a good idea (that I am too tired to implement).

  2. I don’t have any suggestions, but I just wanted to comment that this is exactly where we are right now. My 3.5 year old DS comes to our bed every night. He goes to sleep in his bed without a problem, but sometime in the night (either 12:00 or 2:00, depends on the night…or maybe he always comes in at 12:00 and I don’t notice it until 2:00 on those really bad nights) he comes in and sleeps with us. We just got a king size bed because I couldn’t take it anymore, and we were looking to get a new bed anyway–just not that big.Hang in there, John! I like Moxie’s idea of putting a mattress down, and trying to get to the bottom of what’s waking him up. Our DS doesn’t seem scared, it’s just a habit for him, I think. Oh, one other thing. My DH sleeps with the TV on, and he leaves it on cartoons. Sometimes I think my DS wakes himself up just to come in and watch the TV since we don’t watch much/any during the day. Maybe your DS is being somehow “rewarded” by these midnight capers in a totally unintentional way. We’re trying to wean my DH off the TV at night to see if it cuts down on the number of nocturnal visits we receive.

  3. Get a bigger bed.My sense is that if grownups aren’t willing habitually to sleep alone (i.e. without their partner), then they can’t expect little kids to sleep by themselves either.
    If one of the grownups needs alone-time in bed, how about rotating among the available beds? Kid moves to parents’ bedroom, one parent moves to kid’s bed.

  4. Could you put a little mattress (old cot mattress?) on the floor by your bed for him to come in and lie on? And the deal is, either he lies down quietly there when he comes in, or he has to go back to his room. Seems like he is old enough to reason with. I don’t think there’s much point fighting his urge to be with you but it is reasonable for you to have enough space to sleep!

  5. I am of the “own bed” school at this age. We have always shut our kid’s door at night–this is a Fire Safety procedure I was taught young, no idea if it has any basis in reality–but aside from getting into your bed you can’t have him wandering about the house at night, running the water or talking on the phone or whatever the hell else kids do these days. To me there is nothing wrong with a night-time boundary. Or, you could shut your own door maybe lock it. Then he’d have to knock and he’d get bounced back to his own room. Two weeks of that give or take, and my guess is you’d get some kind of change.I’m sure if they wanted to just get a bigger bed and cosleep, they would. Frankly, I have no interest in sleeping with Captain Kidney Kicker and his 47 stuffed animals, among lots of other reasons for not sharing my (small) bed.

  6. Building on Moxie’s #3: I would sit down with him (NOT at bedtime!) and say something like, “Here is the problem: there are three of us who want to sleep in the big bed, but it is only big enough for two. Can you help me brainstorm ideas to solve the problem?” Then write down ALL the ideas you BOTH come up with, even the ones you know you will veto. Once all the ideas are down, ask HIM to say which ones might not work. Then talk about each idea that is left and see if there is one that will work for everyone.Of course this is easy for me to say, as I am just (re)starting the process with my 2.5 year old. But IN THEORY that is what I would do.

  7. My own kiddie is still too little for this to be an issue, but I’ve watched two nephews transition to their own beds/own room recently. Their parents bought a small futon to put in their own room, and the boys got stickers each time they slept on the futon rather than climbing into the parents’ bed. Stickers were redeemable for toys. Once the boys were comfortable with that arrangement, they earned stickers for staying in their own beds rather than coming into the parents’ room (with the understanding, of course, that the parents would come to them if something was wrong). The system might smack of bribery to some, but it involved the boys in solving the problem, and avoided the oppositional dynamic that Moxie so clearly sketches out above.(Honestly, I don’t think “getting a bigger bed,” as Beate suggests, is the answer. I think we need to accept the terms of their situation in order to offer constructive advice: clearly John & partner need to get better sleep, and it’s completely understandable that they want to sleep in their own bed, and to sleep on their own. Cosleeping just does not work for everyone.)

  8. We went through this with Eldest. From age 2 to about 4 she ended up in our bed during the night. We finally resigned ourselves to it, and then it phased out. Now Younger does the same thing. I really don’t have advice–apart from getting a bigger bed or having another sleeping space that one of you can roll into on alternating nights, etc. This issue was one I surrendered on, truthfully. Sounds like what you and your partner most want is sleep, not obedience (I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that) so perhaps a parenting philosophy of By Any Means Necessary would be best. Good luck!

  9. Same thing here!My own parents said I did this until I was (sorry in advance…) SEVEN years old. They either walked me back to my bed every time, after about 15 minutes, or one of them would sleep in my bed instead. I never got mad about being taken back to my bed, but my son sometimes does.
    I like the idea of getting the kid involved in solving the problem, but we’ve tried asking “why” and we don’t get consistent answers. Sometimes it’s “lonely,” sometimes it’s “sad” (when he hears the baby crying, for example), mostly it’s “I dunno.”
    Usually he’ll agree to sleep on the floor with a blanket/pillow, and that’s what’s getting us the most sleep. We’ve also tried bribing him; it worked for 4 days. After he got the toy, it stopped working. (Shocker.)
    My parents never discussed it with me at the time. I feel like that was a good choice. I sense that when we ask our son about it, we’re making him feel bad, when it’s obviously normal behavior and something that he can’t really control.

  10. We also have a very stubborn almost 3 1/2 year old son! (Potty training not going anywhere.) He has been waking up every night and coming in our room since he got a bed (20 months old–which was supposed to help him stop waking up–clearly a rookie parent move). This finally stopped about 2 months ago. Before he got the bed he would wake up and cry, we would bring him in our room, no one was sleeping, or mom or dad would sleep in his room on the floor.We did the whole sticker on the calendar reward for a long time(he got a prize for 5 stickers, then it was 10, etc.). It didn’t seem to be working at first, but after about 8 months he finally started staying in his room every night. Was it the stickers or the fact that he was older? Who knows.
    We also had a pretty strict rule that he couldn’t come in our bed before 6 am. One of us would walk him back to his bed every time he woke up, and if desperate sleep in his bed with him. This really was hard once we had our second and we were waking up and doing feedings too, and virtually every night mom or dad would wake up in his bed, sometimes with no memory of having gone in his room.

  11. I agree with a non to an extent — if this family wanted to cosleep they’d probably already be doing it happily. I think children can sleep on their own at this age and if the boss people want them too, they probably should. I’m not, however, a fan of locked doors and firm boundaries (and my son appreciates the option of having his door open). I like moxie’s idea of involving him in the process of transitioning to this new normal– what would motivate him? An incentive chart? new sheets or even a new bed? or what about limiting the slumber party to once a month? (when it’s not the designated cosleep day, he gets returned to his own bed with no rewarding interaction — I think he’d eventually tire of that routine, don’t you?)I should note that my own two boys are happily still sleeping in their cribs at ages 1 and 2.5, with nary a wake up. But I do not see cosleeping in even a limited form ever working for our family, so solo sleeping will be a goal even when they are old enough to leave their big boy beds in the middle of the night. We’ll see, of course, but I do think that respect goes both ways in a family, and one child calling the shots about how/where the whole family sleeps just doesn’t sit right with me.

  12. I also wanted to add that when I was a kid, once my sister was old enough for a big bed, she and I slept together nearly every night and I think the going-to-Mom-&-Dad’s dropped off quite a bit.So maybe there will be that option. πŸ™‚

  13. We haven’t had this particular issue but my 3.5-y-o daughter flat-out refused to potty train. We had to do positive reinforcement on steroids, taking it a step beyond bribes, to get it to work — candy upon performance, for starters. We took her to an amusement park and told her to come back, she’d have to keep trying (honest accidents acceptable; deliberate deviations not). If she didn’t try, no punishment, but no amusement park either. This part is key: we also didn’t do anything especially fun, like go to the playground or get ice cream, or anything, unless she was trying. She was clear on all of this, and it didn’t take but 10 days or so before potty training was largely over.Obviously, your situation is different in that potty-training, ultimately, is self-rewarding in a way that sleeping in one’s own bed isn’t, necessarily… and you can’t reward performance on the spot, so to speak. But I throw it out there anyway in hopes some portion might be useful.

  14. I agree with moxie on trying to figure out why he’s doing it. Mine is too little to escape his crib, but I ran into this problem when I used to babysit. The parents would find the little girl asleep either under her bed or under theirs and were totally confused about why she did it. They didn’t figure it out until I was there one night late (and awake) to catch her moving from her bed. I asked her why, and in her sleepy state she told me – the scary lights outside were monsters coming to get her. Turns out the cars driving by on the road outside scared her. They got room-darkening shades for her room and the problem was solved.

  15. speaking as a cat lover, i suggest a cat. my little brother slept very well with a cat at his feet from the age of about two. obviously you need the right kind of cat but i think it could work! a little buddy! who doesn’t like sleeping with a cat? well i don’t really but they seem to share the same characteristics as a baby when it comes to sleep, sleep, wake up, prod around,stretch the legs, squash the bedfellows etc so a cat and a four year old are probably a perfect match! Other than that i have no answers but would agree with the posters who suggested a little bed on the floor, and with Moxie in that the room might suddenly get very cold at night or something. we only realised how cold our son’s room gets at around 2 in the am last week, after a year of living in this house. sigh. i hope you get some sleep soon as this is the absolutely positively worst part of parenting. sleep deprivation sucks. wishing you well…

  16. as an aside, obviously i know a cat isn’t for everyone, personal preferences, allergies etc, but i thought i’d throw the idea in the mix, bit of lateral thinking, you never know what wacky idea will work!

  17. My whole family is a big family bed kind of family. But I wouldn’t say it is the only or best solution. I LOVE moxie’s idea of getting the kid involved in they WHY.I also think the suggestion of moving him more slowly to it. Like, you can come to our room and sleep on the futon/mattress at the foot of the bed, in the room, whatever. My cousins (now 8 and 12) sometimes still come into their parents room to sleep. They have a window seat with lots of blankets on it.
    Sometimes kids need a little more of their parents. Life is busy, we are all going lots of directions we want a little more time together. Work with him on a solution that you both can deal with. I think it is very important that parents do have boundries and respect their needs at the same time as children.
    I also think it is pretty normal for someone to NOT want to sleep alone. I have never wanted to sleep alone (as a kid and an adult) until I had a baby and we co-sleep. Some nights all I want is to be completely ALONE. πŸ˜‰

  18. Someone here once said something to the effect of “It’s not really a problem if the solution sucks even more.” ;)I wonder if the right solution for your family will come to you sooner if you re-framed the “problem” from the mis-labeling angle of “Our stubborn boy doesn’t want to sleep through the night alone” to something that more accurately describes your situation, such as “Mom & Dad are mind-numbingly exhausted, rigid in their insistence that their son sleep alone, and want to feel more rested.”
    I’m not going to try to convince you of the many long-term benefits of co-sleeping, because it sounds like you believe it would be impossible for you to pull off because you are large people, and I respect that view. For everyone else out there, most Americans are quite resistant to co-sleeping, especially for boys, because we mistakenly believe it will prevent children from becoming independent – and we value our vaunted independence so much that sometimes we do things that force “independence” upon children before they’re really ready for it. If this rings true for you, I recommend Margot Sunderland’s wonderful book “The Science of Parenting: How Today’s Brain Research Can Help You Raise Happy, Emotionally Balanced Children.”
    John, how about a sleeping mat or sleeping bag on the floor of your room for DS to crawl into when he wants a little company at night? It’s up to you to figure out if that is ok with your boundaries. Good luck!

  19. I’m so glad you posted this today! I have a very strong feeling that this will be my child in another 2 years. Luckily, I don’t mind the cosleeping, and we got a king-sized bed. (Of course, there is my 6’4″ husband, me, the dog, the cat and then the toddler… and then the coming baby will be in a cosleeper next to the bed. So our bed definitely feels smaller than it’s size. So ask me again in another 6 months.)Most importantly, I don’t think that getting into a battle of wills (in general) with a toddler who doesn’t understand why she can’t and is willing to scream and throw tantrum isn’t in the best interest of anyone in my family. She just naturally stoops to tactics that I can’t. πŸ˜‰
    I find that the best way to get my toddler with this personality to do something is to get her on board with it. Also, give her time to get used to the idea by talking about it again and again before you actually do anything. Once my child is comfortable with the idea and seems to understand why she needs to (well, for her age it’s more she sees what’s in it for her), then the transitions are much better. I’m not exactly sure how to apply this to John’s situation, but hopefully it gives him ideas.

  20. I’m soaking up these comments, because I have no doubt this is coming down the pike with my 2 year old. We were a co-sleeping family for a year – we even shelled out the cash for a King bed – but even as an infant my son had a tremendous ability to both kick me all night long and somehow take up 80% of the bed. It was the worst year of my life, I slept about 15 minutes per night. I totally, completely hear you when you say sleeping with the kid is causing more problems than it solves.My brother and sister-in-law had this problem with their daughter. They found out what the problem was – this kid didn’t necessarily need to cuddle all night, but she didn’t like being alone in her room. (By the way, not all people hate sleeping alone; I certainly didn’t as a child, and in fact I still vastly prefer it. So while that’s often the problem, it’s never safe to assume.)
    Anyway, my brother’s family employed the mattress-on-the-floor solution, which their daughter eagerly embraced. It worked and kept her out of their bed – BUT they ended up with that damn mattress in their room for a good dozen years. It was only when the child started high school that she moved out.
    That said, the family learned to deal with it and it was a solution they could all live with. And that is ALL that matters at the end – can everyone live with this solution? If the answer is yes, then it doesn’t matter if you’re all hanging from the ceiling to get to sleep, it’s a good solution.

  21. No good solutions but we have the same problem with our 2.5 year old. He falls asleep fine but at some point in the wee hours in the morning, he climbs in bed with us. My plan is to just keeping taking him back to his own room until mom/dad comes to get him as he still has snuggle time with daddy in the am while I’m taking a shower.Of course this plan assumes that I am not too dead to the world to sleep through a stealth toddler bed invasion. πŸ™‚

  22. Zimbabweanjen, I had to laugh at your comment because my cat, a beloved, spoiled, delightful, demanding creature, woke me up no less than 5 times last night! I love sleeping with her some nights, but others she’s not all that restful. But that’s a different set of problems, and I like the way you think :)I too find sleeping beside my husband to be very companionable, and very appealing. I get why some kids would find sleeping beside their parents similarly appealing, and hard to give up. I think co-sleeping is a wonderful thing when it works for the family as a whole.
    But I have a hard time sleeping under the most ideal circumstances, and the times I’ve slept with my daughter, the two of us in a double bed, were far from restful. I find it to be like sleeping with a sharp triangle that is constantly trying to poke me. Hush, I’m sure there is a cultural bias against co-sleeping, a “belief that it will prevent children from becoming independent” as you explain it, but for me (and I’ll wager, the vast majority of Moxie readers who don’t co-sleep), that’s really, really not the problem. If there’s any rigidity involved in our desire to keep a child out of our beds, in our case it is that we’re not good at adapting to a sleep environment that includes another person in the bed.

  23. I was the kid who always ended up in mom and dad’s bed at night, and in my case it was because I would wake up and be scared to be alone. My parents’ solution was a sleeping pad and blanket beside their bed, telling me it was ok to come into their room and lay down on the mat, but to please not wake them up. Worked great. I think I was still moving into their room in the middle of the night for years, but at least I stopped waking them up. This of course isn’t a good solution if you are opposed to having kiddo in your room at all, but could be a nice compromise otherwise?

  24. Not sure I have a relevant advice, as my 4-yo has never ever ever agreed to sleep in our bed (it’s not that she never wakes up, but service has to come to her). However, since we have a 4, we know a lot of kids that age and I’d guess that 1/3 or more of them do this–not that it helps, just the sometimes useful fact that it’s not abnormal, even if it’s a huge PITA.However, I will second the effectiveness of finding out what’s going on from his perspective and working on a solution from there. One time when Mouse would. not. go. to. sleep. even though she seemed tired, we found out that someone had suggested that a scary thing she’d seen that day might give her nightmares (oy, thanks grandma!) and she was afraid of that. The solution was dream armor, i.e. an old t-shirt of mine in her favorite color, worn over her pajamas.
    Could you guys figure out a way to wake up as soon as he arrives and ask him what the deal is? Maybe unearth the baby monitor and turn it up high so you’ll hear him get out of bed? (Or maybe you’ll hear the street noise that wakes him up in the first place, which would also be useful info.)
    One thing Elizabeth Pantley suggests in her toddler and preschooler sleep book (which I happen to like, but YMMV) is to take a couple weeks and get as much sleep as you can, by any means necessary, so you have some spare energy to work on the problem. That might be a good idea too.
    Good luck!

  25. First, John, I wish you the best of luck. My little guy is only 15 months but he has already made apparent the strength of his will. I often wonder what the future holds for potty training, transitioning to a bed etc. For example, he recently uttered his first sentence in response to the palette of dinner options that he was presented with a few nights ago — “No Daddy!!”Risking a thread hijacking here…
    A couple of posters mentioned particular books and I’m eager for some good, scientifically-informed reading and parenting advice on the toddler years. What books have you used and what worked for you for dealing with sleep, eating, potty training, discipline, etc.?

  26. I *love* the cat idea! I think my creative brain clicked off during pregnancy, and I felt it spark when I read that! Clever, clever, will file for later use…

  27. We have a 5 year old and a 2 year old in our bed. The kids won’t even consider sleeping on their own bed, a bed on the floor, in another bed together, in a newly decorated room, etc. When asked why not? The five year old just says he likes sleeping next to mama and that is it, nothing else will do. No solutions here. My husband and I are just relying on the fact that eventually we will get them out, just don’t know when yet. Luckily we have a king size bed. I will spend more time cruising the comments to see if I can develop a new plan.

  28. @Chaosgirl: I’ve just finished reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, and quite liked it. It’s a quick and easy read, though not so much on specific scientific info. To note: it’s more about discipline, tantrums etc. and not necessarily specific things about eating, potty training, sleep etc.Granted, our DS is only 7 months old, but I liked the approach in his book. We also read his Happiest Baby on the Block and employed many of his techniques – which really worked for us & DS. I’m hoping the same will happen for the toddler years ;).

  29. And regarding the bed issue, I’m thinking we’re going to need to do the mattress in the bedroom thing if this ever becomes an issue for us. I’m already trying to carve out space for myself in my own bed by pushing the cat off my pillow and getting the dog to give me enough space for my legs.I’m definitely in the group of people that is OK with the idea of co-sleeping, but the reality is, even if I love to snuggle with DH (or DS), I can’t fall & stay asleep unless I have a small amount of space around me / no one kicking me in the ribs / no one biting my nose (yes, that’s the cat).

  30. @Chaosgirl – I also read Happiest Toddler on the Block and found a lot of useful information in it to use with my almost 2 year old (I hear the DVD is very useful, too, and I definitely found the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD). As general books for raising kids, I really like How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk and also Playful Parenting. These two have given very practical advice and real methods for raising your children in ways that I’m comfortable with. Those are all I can think of right now, but I do want to look into Pantley’s book for toddlers that Charisse mentioned.

  31. @chaosgirl — a second for Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp. I’ve also really liked Parenting with Love and Logic (discipline), What’s Going on in There? (brain development), The Scientist in the Crib (brain development), The Last Child in the Woods (nature deficit informing behavior & relationships), everything by Hiam Ginott (communication / discipline / relationship building), everything by Elaine Mazlish & Adele Faber (same), everything by Ellyn Satter (eating), most of the Ames & Ilg books (practical advice) and most things on Hedra’s parenting bookshelf over at Hands Full of Rocks.Topic – I do not have this problem yet, but I remember DOING it myself, as a child. I will have to ask my parents about their approach because I don’t remember any shame or coercion around it but I do remember thinking I joined them in bed after most other children had probably stopped. I wonder if that’s true? I wonder what they did about it? Hmmm…

  32. First, an aside: a family member of mine recently had a head on collision due to falling asleep at the wheel. Sleep deprivation is no joke– it not only affects health in terms of stress, immunity, etc., but can put you at risk of accidents in the short term. We all go through it at some point with the kids, but I do not think it is unreasonable to put mom and dad’s biological need for adequate sleep at the top of the priority list, especially when we’re considering a four year old (as opposed to a four month old).OK, sorry if this comes across judgemental, but this thread hit home with me, and not in a good way. I know a “stubbornest little boy in the world” (son of a cousin) who is an absolute dictator to his family– I’ve seen his two parents literally cower before him and scramble to appease him with bribes (ice cream if you stop hitting, a toy if you eat dinner, candy if you give me a hug) because they’ll do anything to avoid a his rage and tears. He doesn’t seem like a very happy little boy, all in all, and neither do his parents. The bribes only work for about five minutes and as far as I can tell, an unwillingness to set boundaries out of fear that you’ll traumatize the kid (or be unpopular) usually leads to more damage in the long run.
    Personally, I think that whatever sleeping arrangements work for your family are great–yeah for co-sleeping, yeah for sleeping in your own bed, yeah for the mattress next to the bed, whatever. But the key is that it has to work for the whole family. I’m not on board with parents sacrificing their well-being and health on the altar of a totally trauma free childhood (which is impossible anyway). The kid is old enough to start understanding concepts of teamwork, courtesy and thoughtfulness. I think of a family as a team and the parents are the co-captains–children like being part of a team, and they respond to thoughtful, respectful leadership. But proffering appeasement and bribes to your child puts him in a terrible position and hands him a level of power over you he is completely incapable of coping with. Please think about that in figuring out a workable solution.

  33. Just wanted to chime in here a little about the co-sleeping issue, and how it is framed, and specifically about our situation. Our 18-month-old sleeps in her room, in her crib right now. She slept in her crib in our room for the first 6 months. However, co-sleeping with all 3 people in the bed will never be an option b/c my husband has a sleep disorder that causes him to act out dreams sometimes (it’s some sort of fault in whatever it is that usually causes sleep paralysis so that we don’t ALL do it). Sometimes his dreams are frightening, and he swings his arms, or says nonsensical things, and is somehow awake enough to interact and able to get angry with me for not understanding what he’s saying.In any case, I just wanted to point out that sometimes ‘resistance’ to co-sleeping isn’t just parents being rigid. Even if it is ‘only’ that they can only get good sleep with 2 people in the bed, it’s still a requirement for them. Heck, I know more than one married couple who sleep in separate rooms b/c they sleep better alone!

  34. No time to read replies.1) Greatest rate of cosleeping WORLDWIDE is between 2 and 5 years of age. That’s the age when they’re stubborn, emotionally volatile, have limited logic to overcome the emotional risks they see, and are completely willing to make you suffer until you give in. Or something like that (it’s how it feels, no?). So, really, at 4, you’re almost to the end of it.
    2) There is a research-supported ‘ticket’ system for this age (3-5 years old, no younger than 3) that works for about 75% of the kids studied. Give them a ticket for a get-out-of-bed-free trip. And I mean FREE – they get whatever they ask for (except sleeping actually in your bed), without any grousing or grumping on your part – and then they get taken back to bed again, and (GULP!) must surrender the ticket. After that, no out of bed (or out of room, depending on your rules – gating the door is one of the options), and no help after that point. Kids this age will tend to hoard the ticket against a bigger need later. Then as they go nights without using the ticket, you reduce the number of tickets to, say, 3 per week. RISKS: 1) your kid might not cope with this (we never used it, my kids who had the out-of-bed issues would have had massive failures to cope), 2) you have to be willing/able to BOTH be calm and warm and okay with the ticket trip happening, and totally able to ignore/treat-calmly-but-not-foll any further demands or attempts; 3) your kid can’t be smarter than you, because if they can jimmy the gate, you’re sunk again; 4) your kids can’t be more stubborn than you. Which may leave this one out entirely, in your case.
    3) My SIL/BIL used different methods with each kid, based on what each one responded to: 1 had the bed next to their bed, and moved it gradually farther out from the parental bed over time (a few weeks, I think), including having the bed IN THE HALL outside their door as one of the stages. Move it too far, and he’d freak. But move it a little? not bad. Another needed a ‘cool’ bed to go to, and made the leap entire. Another needed just plain more time. One left quite young, on his own. Just announced it and left. They all (five) now and again climb back in bed with their parents (including the ones who are in college), when something is wrong in their lives. The parents treat it as a fine thing – they gender separate more, now, but that’s about it. So, that’s by way of saying ‘they’re all different’ and ‘there may yet be a way that works’.
    4) we basically didn’t stress too much due to knowing the 2-5 year old stats. At 6, it is relatively easy. There’s still some yo-yo-ing, but at 6 they like having their own space.
    5) There are cycles and cycles of the transitions, too. With the eldest, who slept in his own room from very little (worked for him), even though it was always ‘his room/our room’ he needed help and company on a cycling basis. He would need a couple nights of help, then kiss-and-come-back-to-check for a few more, then kiss-and-don’t-check, then bye-mom! for a span of time, then it would cycle again. Once I spotted the cycle, that there WAS one, and that the spans of ‘how much time it takes to get him to sleep on his own’ were reducing, AND the spans of ‘how many days he’ll sleep on his own between phases’ were lengthening, I was much cooler with it. Interestingly, he wet the bed on the same cycles for a long time, exact same pattern.
    6) Our kids who were in our bed to start (and stayed because it was working) have their own process of moving on, too. The 4-year olds aren’t both ready to go – one is (and has been) for ages, the other, NO NO NO NO not ready. :shrug: theyz different. We just roll with it, and try to get OUR sleep, keeping that separate from their sleep. Bigger bed, rearrangements of rooms, changes in bedtime and wake time, swapping off who is ‘it’ doing bedtime and cosleeping, whatever. As long as I can sleep well regularly, I’m fine with whatever works. If I’m not getting my own sleep, then I’m not fine, no matter what else seems to make sense. So, solve my problem first (put on my own oxygen mask, so to speak), and often the other problem just isn’t that important anymore.

  35. We are here right now with our twin 4-year-olds. We have the same problem – times two! They share a room and go to sleep easily, but wander over to us in the middle of the night, sometimes at the same time, sometimes a few hours apart.We solved it the same way my friend did when her son had the same issue – by making sleeping bags a Christmas present. The sleeping bags are always in our room and if they want to QUIETLY come in with their pillow(s) and sleep in a sleeping bag on our hardwood floors . . . well, then I guess they REALLY want to sleep with us.
    The rule is they can’t wake us up, though, and we have explained that if WE can’t sleep, the sleeping bags will leave and the rule will be You Must Stay In Your Bed The Whole Night. Of course, we have no way to enforce that so I hope they don’t call our bluff.
    It’s not the musical beds that bothers me as much as me getting woken up, so as long as they do their thing quietly, it’s fine by me. This morning, I discovered them both in the same (single) bed in their room – AWESOME!

  36. I don’t think anyone has mentioned this yet, but here is what worked for our 3yo son: a digital clock. He felt so grown up and thought it was so cool that he could read the numbers on the clock and 1) know what time it was and 2) know when he could come into our room. We reminded him each night that he couldn’t come out of his room until “six – zero – zero” — he is a very early waker and was getting up for the day between 4:00 and 5:00 at this point. It took a week or two of gentle reminders each night about the 6:00 rule, but the first morning he did it, we lavished LOTS of praise on him and reminded him throughout that day what a great job he had done of staying in his room until 6-0-0.Now, several months later, he almost always remembers/follows the 6:00 rule, and our sleep is SO much better!
    It sounds like our son isn’t as stubborn as the poster’s, so this might not be any help at all. But what it came down to for our son was empowerment. It was up to *him* to see when the clock said the right time. It also helped that he loves letters and numbers, so this was right up his alley.

  37. Our son is 4 and still comes into our room at night. However, we have a king-sized bed and space in between us for his own pillow. Our big rule is he has to stay on his own pillow and not lay on top of us. When I wake up with all 40+ pounds of him on top of me and with a stiff back, then we talk again about how if he can’t stay on his own pillow I won’t let him sleep with us.The other rule is he has to stay in his bed for the majority of the evening. I don’t know how he gets this but he does. I tell him when he’s been coming in too early and that he needs to wait longer, and he does.
    We’ve talked about why he wakes up and he says it’s nightmares, and since I have very vivid memories of the horrifying nightmares I had as a child (giant, pulsating spider blocking the doorway is just one example) that’s good enough for me right now.
    So, our solution won’t work for you but it’s an example of how talking through the situation might work at this age. And sometimes my husband will go sleep in my son’s room, but my husband is a horrible snorer so that works really well for me!

  38. @anon for this one – you make some good points (I scanned up comments). It has to be a MUTUAL problem-solving, not a unilateral one.Books that help with the actual FAMILY problem-solving: Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids; Parent Effectiveness Training. You’ll get results better if you’re working with a clear picture of both sets of needs, clear statements of what those needs are, and a collaborative approach to solving the problem in a way that solves BOTH sets of problems. Learning how to define the problem and set it up for a solution is something we are often NOT taught, so a book can be a big help, here.
    (you can also look up collaborative problem-solving online, I’m sure)

  39. @Shelley- I appreciate your comment.I’m afraid my comment pushed some buttons for folks about their own choices, so I just want to clarify because I certainly don’t wish to judge nor offend! πŸ˜‰ Co-sleeping most definitely isn’t for everyone. And that’s ok! If you’re large people, don’t sleep very well with little ones or pets in your bed, or just prefer a bed without children in it – that’s great! I’m just saying do whatever works for your family, and be open-minded enough to explore ALL sleep options available – and yes that does include CIO, too.
    That being said, I think people who have categorically ruled out co-sleeping (particularly without ever having tried it) are further discouraged to consider it by all of the societal messages out there in the US against co-sleeping. Many Americans who turn on a show like say, Dr. Phil, hear his fear-mongering message that co-sleeping is going to cause the death of their infant, ruin their marriage, and/or create a mini tyrant with too much power, who ends up a grown man living in his mama’s basement. πŸ˜‰ It gets a lot of very bad press.
    The point I was trying to make is that co-sleeping just might be the ticket to a well-rested family for some folks, and as such, it is certainly worth mentioning in a discussion of the various sleep solutions out there. Please note that I am against One True Way-ism in general, and also supported John’s conclusion that co-sleeping won’t work for him because the members of family are large people. All good in the hood now?

  40. This might be dangerous in the middle of the night, depending on the tenacity of your child (which sounds high), but what about making the bed impossible to climb on to? We put our bed on risers (from Big Box Bed Store) meant to give you under-bed storage space. Now our 2 year old can’t get on the bed herself, thus eliminating the jumping on the parental bed that was seriously messing with my cool (and likely to send her to the emergency room).

  41. I’ve got no advice- we bring the 21 month old into bed with us in the middle of the night most nights, and I suspect that will continue/get worse as she gets older. I read somewhere that cosleeping peaks in the 3-5 age (OK, I’m fuzzy on those ages- but it is after 2). Hubby and I have yet to figure out what, if anything, we’ll do about this.One thing for all the “get a bigger bed” answers, keep in mind that not everyone has room for a king sized bed. We don’t really, so we’ll be making do with our queen. If one of us is feeling particularly sleep deprived, that parent moves to the guest room or the sofa for the night when Pumpkin joins us.
    For toddler books- I like The Mother of All Toddler Books, by Ann Douglas. Not a lot of science, but lots of good ideas. I haven’t really found a science-based book yet.

  42. I guess it’s all how you look at it…I would co-sleep happily with my preschooler if there were any SLEEPING going on when he’s in our bed. It’s good and bad…..he prefers to sleep in his bed, but when he’s up, he’s UP! To PLAY! And we’ve had many nights were it’s been 1 AM – 4 AM of trying to get him to sleep….anywhere. I wish you luck and sleep soon, John.

  43. John – does your son have siblings? My sister and BIL had this same problem with their son and now he sleeps with his sisters (he’s 2, they are 8 and 5).They were going crazy with the sleep deprivation but this is a solution that has worked wonderfully for all of them. The girls sleep like logs so it doesn’t bother them in the least to share a bed with him…in fact I think they argue over who gets to sleep with him (they all have the same bedtime! But the girls read for as long as they want…they are readers). Everyone is happy.
    If your son doesn’t have siblings, then I second the cat idea! Or the separate mattress idea. Or whatever ‘by any means necessary’ idea you feel like trying. Good luck with this.

  44. “That being said, I think people who have categorically ruled out co-sleeping (particularly without ever having tried it) are further discouraged to consider it by all of the societal messages out there in the US against co-sleeping.”Thoroughly agreed, and everything always was good in the hood πŸ™‚
    I absolutely got everything you said, and found both your comments 100% respectful and non-judgemental. As I said, I think co-sleeping is wonderful when it works for all parties. But when it doesn’t, I think it’s also possible for parents to put pressure on themselves and feel really crummy about that fact — like so many other topics related to parenting, like SAH-WOH, breastfeeding, etc. *You* didn’t do this in the slightest, I hasten to add.
    But I did want to throw my 2 cents out there in case there’s a desperate, non-co-sleeping parent out playing that miserable I’m-not-a-good-enough-parent mindgame with themselves on this issue. (Heaven knows we’ve all been there at some point, and I guess the bummer is, it’s possible to do that no matter what one’s choices are).

  45. Inspired by my friend, who has five kids and 14 beds, we gave our kids comfortable twin sized beds from the start. Who goes to bed where and with whom is not that big of a deal if you can just move on to another bed if things get too crowded.

  46. My mother tells the following story: My sisters both liked to crawl into my parents’ bed: B., the older one, wanted to be with my father, and would snuggle up to him and, in my mother’s words, run up and down her back all night. A., who was six years younger, practically couldn’t breathe unless she was in near proximity to my mother — and still, in her mid-twenties, is a little like that.The eventually started locking their bedroom door, but B. was old enough to figure out how to pick the lock (it wasn’t a hard one to pick — one of those ones you could open with a nickel), so one night my parents pushed the nightstand in front of the bedroom door and laughed as quietly as they could as they listened to two of their little girls trying to break in.
    The practical bit here is that maybe the parents’ locking their own door might work.

  47. Small data point:I’m really soft on this issue with my son (been sleeping with me since birth–not by choice but b/c he INSISTED– now 22months old) b/c I remember being scared of sleeping alone until I was in 2nd grade. My parents didn’t allow me in their room and I rememeber night time being terrifying and I hated it. I remember cowering in my bed most nights and trying to stay awake as long as possible. I would then steal downstairs to my baby sister’s bed (who wet the bed most nights) and sleep with her. She was 5 years younger. By 2nd grade my parents wised up and put us in a room together. Problem solved.
    I remember how much I wanted to be with someone else (anyone else) at night so I just won’t put my son through it. Not trying to make you feel guilty but I’m just letting you know that here is a successful, well-adjusted, happy adult who just really wanted to be with someone at night. He’s so very normal.
    FYI: I’m going to try the mattress on the floor of our room eventually. Probably around the time I get prego with the next and realize that 4 people in one bed WILL NOT work:)

  48. John, is there another place in your home where either you or your partner could get a decent night’s sleep? If so, perhaps you & your partner could try not sleeping in the same bed. If one of you sleeps in the guest room, for example, and your son wants to sleep in the big bed, there will be extra room for him and the guest-room-sleeper will be well-rested come morning.Then trade spaces the next night.
    (If you try this it would be interesting to see if your son wants to sleep with one particular person or if it’s the bed he’s interested in.)

  49. I really don’t have any advice, but I am also the parent of a strong willed child. When he had his tonsils removed at a huge Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, the nurse said she had never seen anyone quite like him. One time he refused to drink for THREE DAYS because I took his soft tip sippy away. Anyway, my little guy, 3 on Sunday, didn’t sleep through the night until he was 2.5 and now has starting waking up at 3:30 AM insisting he watch Elmo. I guess what I am saying is I completely understand. There have been many days I understand what makes people go crazy-no sleep. Good luck, PamP.S. I will say letting him cry HAS worked in the past. I hated doing it, but it did work until now. For my son, as long as he thinks you might give in, he will manipulate you any way he can. It sucks, doesn’t it?

  50. I was just contemplating sending an email to Ask Moxie this morning for this very same problem we are having with our almost 5 year old. It has been an on and off problem for us for close to 3 years! We too follow a similiar bedtime routine as well as let her listen to a story in the iPod. I’ve wondered at times if this is part of the problem in that when she wakes, she can’t put herself back to sleep.What we find most frustrating is at times she will sleep in her bed all night for weeks at a time and then BAM, she is back to the nightly trips.
    I appreciate all the good tips, We have started letting her sleep on the floor of our bedroom so we may continue that or we might try the ticket approach. Her twin siblings just transitioned out of their cribs to toddler beds and her little sister will be moving into her room soon. I HOPE that helps her stay in her room better but worry that it might have the opposite effect and then we’ll have 2 or more nightly visitors. While we are not as tired as when they were newborns…we are certainly not getting enough sleep!

  51. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, we were so strick about the boys being in their crib and never being in our room, let alone our bed. The good news is that they don’t even know that is an option; bad news is that on the rare time(s) we need to do that (on vacation for example), they CAN’T sleep with us – way too exciting and something they aren’t used to.Our problem is we separated the boys (they are twins, almost 4) for nap and sometimes bedtime when we transitioned them out of their cribs. Now one twin loves being in his own room (he likes to start out in his brother’s room but quickly moves to his own room when he’s ready to actually go to sleep, so now we just have him start in his own room to save that whole hassle) but the other hates being all by himself – I think he is lonely and possibly scared and it might be compounded by the fact that he is a twin so has never before now slept on his own.
    So… he always wants my husband to sleep in his room. I’m a bit nervous to get this habit fully set as I know then he won’t like the one-off night that my husband doesn’t. Also, once he knows my husband is going to sleep in his room, he stays awake (quietly) until my husband goes to sleep which means he doesn’t go to sleep as early as he should be.
    I was the ALWAYS scared at night kid – still am – so I feel for my one son. I did explain to him that mommys and daddys are supposed to sleep in the same room and that seemed to help (that it was less that Daddy was denying him as much as Daddy was follwoing the rules).
    Our biggest problem is not the staying in bed in the middle of the night (not even the waking up in the middle of the night) but the ordeal of getting them to sleep in the first place. If we get them into bed at 8, they continually call, cry for, etc. my husband or I and that can last sometimes until close to 9:30 – not a relaxing way to spend the evening. Ugh.
    Sorry for the long, tangential post. Guess I didn’t help what-so-ever.

  52. We went through this with my 3 1/2 year old, when she was closer to 3. At first we took turns sleeping on a blow-up mattress in her room, but we weren’t sleeping well. Then we did the problem-solving bit, where we wrote down every possible solution, and crossed out the ones we weren’t happy with and let her cross out the ones she wasn’t happy with, and were left with the idea of a nest of blankets and pillows on the floor of our room. She could come use it whenever she wanted, as long as she was quiet. She came every night for a while, then it tapered off. Nowadays she comes maybe 1x/month. Good luck!

  53. Our son is only two and just moved to a “big boy bed” but we have had severe sleep problems since birth (waking up 9 times a night a one year old, lying in his room with him/holding him for 1 – 2 hours before he falls asleep). Recently we hit on two things which seem to be helping:1) Our bedtime routine got longer and longer and more and more rigid thinking he needed more structure. We recently changed it so that it is now very loose. Bath early in the evening – and sometimes we just skip it, dinner at some point, then playtime. When it is about 30 min from bedtime we announce that in 5 min we will have stories then we do a quick nurse then one more story and then bed. I think he hates bedtime so much (seems to think he is missing all the fun) that the long, predictable routine just made him get even more stressed and resistant. Go figure.
    2) He puts one of us to bed each night. He loves this. Right before we tuck him in, he takes one of us (usually me – I’m 27 weeks pregnant) into our room and tucks me in, gives me a kiss, and turns out the light. I get back up if I want to but it seems to reassure him that we are *all* going to sleep in our own bed.
    I hope you all can get some rest soon. I had to switch jobs when the boy was 8 months old because I was convinced I was going to get in an accident on my hour long commute home from work.

  54. I have not read all the comments, so forgive me if this is a repeat. 3 year old K started joining us in bed after we found out we were pregnant in October. Husband was going to sleep in K’s room whenever he woke up (not a big deal since K has bunk beds and DH would sleep on the empty one, but still annoying).K now has the option of sleeping in our room on his toddler bed when he wakes up in the middle of the night or simply going back to sleep in his own bed. We have told him that we will shut his door if he comes to get daddy to fall asleep with him. This potential consequence has been more than enough to quell his desire to come wake daddy up to sleep with him every night.
    If this had not worked, we would have implemented an idea my MIL used with my husband and his sister when they were little (she was a single mom working hard, so sleep was precious to her too)! As long as the children slept in their beds all week, they could sleep anywhere they wanted on Friday nights (mom’s bed, family room, kitchen, bathroom, wherever they wanted).

  55. No advice here, just my own experience. My son would wake up 3-7 times a night until I brought him into our bed at 14 months. After that he hardly ever woke at all! As he got bigger and more uncomfortable to sleep with, we bought him his own twin sized mattress that he sleeps on in our room. Now he’s two and sometimes in the middle of the night, I’ll hear him rustling and looking over at us, but I think he’s comforted by the sight of us. Once in a while, he’ll ask that I come into bed with him…and I have to admit, I love snuggling with him! I also come from an Asian culture where co-sleeping is very widely accepted, so it was not a huge leap for me to start doing it. I do sometimes wonder when he’ll sleep in his own room, but I myself slept in my parent’s room until I was *egads!!* almost 8 years old!! And I’m a relatively well adjusted adult, so I try not to worry about it. πŸ˜›

  56. We have two very different-personality kiddos, 7 1/2 years apart. Big Red has always slept like the dead and wasn’t nighttime potty trained until 8 years old. Little Brown, almost 3, is a very strong-willed demanding little darling who defiantly refuses to even get near a potty. He’s a lighter sleeper and is still in his crib for both nap and nighttime(I’m totally reluctant to let him “loose”.) BUT both of our kids have blackout shades on their windows and sleep with a white noise fan in their rooms, as do we in our room. I am convinced that this quiet, calm, consistent environment helps them fall back asleep on their own when they naturally rouse in the night.If Little Brown does start wandering into our room in the night when he’s graduated from the crib, I’m planning on the “don’t wake Mama or Daddy but sleep in this sleeping bag on the floor near Mama” method. Good luck John, and all you other parents who are facing sleep struggles.

  57. No good advice, as we have not had to deal with this yet, but I think Tracerhawk might be on to something. When we sleep-trained our son (yes, CIO, and one of the best things we have done for him or ourselves) we were told by the sleep consultants that it is very important to have a consistent atmosphere all night long. This is because you are constantly cycling through sleep cycles while you are asleep, and part of those cycles is coming very close to consciousness, almost awake. If you sense during this time that something has changed, it’s disorienting and you wake up, and may find it difficult to go back to sleep. The sleep consultant–who I have seen posting here, so you know she’s cool πŸ™‚ –likened it to falling asleep in your bed and waking up on your lawn. So, if the iPod stops playing at some point, that could be contributing to your son’s wakeups and maybe his need to be comforted. Perhaps you could put it on a speaker system and let the stories play quietly all night?I also wondered about trying a half-door (Dutch door) or gate. Something to keep him in there without locking him in.
    (I am not at all anti co-sleeping. We did nothing but through till 7 or 8 months and it was very precious time for me. But afterwards it caused sleep deprivation for both of us. I am all for doing it if it works for you; but I am as leery of people who insist that it’s the natural, right, etc. way as of people who scare-monger about it.)

  58. My son, now 3, is exactly as you describe: sensitive, persistant, very poor sleeper. I would have co-slept with him as an infant (or even now) if it had worked. We all slept poorly. What worked for us was making his bed and room more appealing than ours. He has as many things as possible to make it a comfy nest: flannel sheets, white noise, heater, double shades, down comforter, down pillow, Tempur-pedic mattress. To be honest, his bed is more comfortable than our own.Now he loves his bed and prefers it to ours. This doesn’t mean he never wakes up, or never wants company…he just wants us to come into *his* room! Another problem altogether.
    I have friends whose daughter slept in their doorway for months. They moved her ever so slightly every night (seriously, like an inch) until she was back in her own room.
    I sleep better alone, but as a child always shared a room with my sister and we often shared a twin bed. So I get why kids wouldn’t want to sleep alone.

  59. First, books. I like Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach.Second, musical beds. MM is allowed to sleep with me on weekends if he adheres to certain rules (including acting respectfully towards me) but on weekdays, he has to stay in his own bed. We’ve found that a humidifier, black-out curtains, and a closed door help him to STAY asleep once he’s out for the night.
    And my husband and I sleep in separate rooms due to the fact that I like flannel sheets and 4 heavy quilts and he likes not being sweaty. We don’t all have the same sleep styles or needs and co-sleeping doesn’t work for everyone.

  60. Room sharing and larger families are a great way to get kids to sleep (or at least stay in their rooms at night.) We have 4 children: ages 10, 8, 6, and 4. Despite the fact that we have enough bedrooms in our home for each child to have his/her own bedroom, we decided from day one that our kids would share rooms. We figure room sharing teaches them good life lessons, and hopefully something about getting along with others. We’ve also found that it helps them to sleep, probably since no one ever has to sleep alone. We have no twin beds, only full beds, and the same-sex kids each share a room, and sleep together in a full bed. Our kids have been sleeping this way since we moved them each out of our bed when they were around age 2 and I was expecting the next child. Luckily, our oldest was an awesome sleeper who never woke at night, and none of them since her have ever tried to come into our room at night. I guess if they ever wake up at night, they feel secure enough with a sibling in bed with them.

  61. Commiserations. I have found the bad sleep over a long period of time the hardest part of parenting. Actually, not just ‘hard,’ more like terrifying. It has affected my moods, my ability to function safely and to make good decisions.So I found Pantley’s advice to prioritise sleep in the short term, absolutely any way you can, amazingly useful. Only then, once you are not in desperate, desperate need of more sleep, need you figure out a more workable, longer term solution.

  62. I have not had a chance to read all these, so forgive me, but my four year old Stubbornest Girl in the Universe (God help us all if they ever meet and marry as adults) finally stopped her midnight visits when she started getting a bedtime snack. We tend to eat dinner so late I thought there was no way she was hungry–but she was. She never complained of hunger, but once she ended up having a bedtime snack for some reason, kept asking for it, and we all realized together that helped.Also, on the sleeping front–my husband would usually just hie off to her bed, leaving just my girl and I there.She’s a huge bed hog and this helped.

  63. I didn’t read all the support answers yet, but wanted to chime in and say we have the same exact issue with our 2.5 year old. She’s never been a good sleeper. Lately every night she wakes up right after we fall asleep. We would put her back in her bed only to have her come back every hour or two. We now have our entire bedroom floor covered with 2 queen mattresses. It’s not pretty, but we do get more sleep. She’s a very squirmy sleeper so there’s no way I can sleep in bed with her. We tell her that she is welcome to come in our room, but that she must sleep in the other bed. We tried forever to help her stay in her room and just gave up out of exhaustion.

  64. Only have time to read the first few comments, so sorry if some of this will be repetitive. My older son did this too, and for the most part it was fine. The time of night he’d wake and call out varied, but we always went and got him and brought him to our bed. When he hit 3, he often would sleep through, but far from always. When #2 entered the scene and was cosleeping full time, the bed (even though it was a king) was just not big enough for four. Safety was a concern too, with a wee babe in the bed.Our solution was that when he woke up, my husband would retrieve him and take him to the spare room and cuddle in with him there (obviously not an option for everyone). It gave everyone the space and attention they wanted, and eventually my son started sleeping all night again.
    I like the idea of the mattress on the floor in your bedroom. The locks on the doors (his or yours) seems like a last resort. He is getting to an age where you can be a bit more “tough love” without feeling mean. He’s old enough to reason with a bit. My son was/is also the extremely stubborn type and potty training was also a nightmare with him.
    Good luck! I wish we could have a followup post sometimes to find out how/if people’s problems have been solved.

  65. Have not read comment so I apologize in advance for repeating…I slept with my parents until I was about, oh, 12!! So, yeah… you know I have a soft spot for co-sleeping. That said, I actually like to sleep when it is time to sleep as opposed to being kicked, pushed, head-butted, squashed by my kids. Elder two children both did what John’s child is doing–went to bed in own beds, came in during the night to abuse me. A new marriage and a step-father cured them of that (thought, quite frankly, they were old enough by this point to have been bounced out by me). Now #3 co-sleeps and #1 asked just this morning why I let him (#3) sleep with us. I answered that I let him (#1) sleep with me for *several* (read SIX) years so it was only fair to let #3 get some time in the parental bed as well. But that got me thinking… “oh no, I’m going to have to find a way (other than a divorce and remarriage) to get #3 out of our bed before he goes to college”.
    So, no advice, just empathy. If it’s any consolation, despite my own co-sleeping past, I never intended to be a co-sleeper. With all three kids it was a total accident and a function of my need to sleep over the need to force them to sleep in their own beds.

  66. Sorry, I’m doing that thing of commenting without reading the other comments first, so my apologies if this has been repeated. What I wanted to do was to say that ‘How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk’ has great advice on brainstorming this sort of problem together with your kid (in fact, this problem is one of the ones used in the many examples). Basically, the way it goes is:Sympathise with him about his viewpoint. It *is* a pain not to be able to come in with Mommy and Daddy when you want to.
    Be clear about your viewpoint, and why he can’t come in with Mommy and Daddy (don’t get sidetracked into a big argument about this – what you’re trying to do at this stage is get the facts clear for the discussion that follows, which is…)
    Brainstorm with your child on ideas on how to solve this dilemma. Note that the focus is not on why your child doesn’t want to stay in his own bed, but on what ideas the two of you can come up with of how to solve the problem of him not wanting to do so while you want him to do so. (Obviously, if he can tell you why he doesn’t want to stay in bed and if it’s something you can solve, then great. But he may not be able to articulate the problem at that age, and, besides, it may just be something as simple as him preferring being in bed with you, and what are you going to do about that then?)
    When you do this, get a piece of paper and write the ideas down. That shows him his views are being taken seriously, and helps you keep track of what’s being said. And, although you may obviously have to veto some of the solutions proposed, *don’t do that at this stage*. That kills off the brainstorming. Just focus on writing down whatever either of you come up with, including those ideas of his that you know from the start aren’t going to be OK. When you’ve got a list, *then* you can both go through and cross off any that either of you think won’t work. Whatever you’re left with is the plan. (In the example given in the book, the girl came up with the idea of having a lamp and crayons and things to play with in bed, so that she was happier staying there. But what was really cool for her was being able to come up with these ideas herself, so that she felt some ownership of the plan.)
    I can really recommend the whole book, BTW, plus everything else by the authors.

  67. I haven’t had a chance to read all the posts so sorry if this is repeating anyone previously.I understand that statistically children are most likely to go into their parents bed during the night between the ages of 3 and 7. So perhaps this is a problem of expectations? Beyond that it is obvious that the situation as it stands is not working — but trying to eliminate night visits might be unrealistic?
    My only suggestion would be perhaps a bed/mattress next to yours so when you are aware your son has come into your bed you can alleviate the situation by one of you moving into the extra bed. But this suggestion is based on my parenting, not yours. I hope you find something that suits your family.

  68. I often crawled into bed with my parents when I was growing up. I was a *very* anxious child and everything felt overwelming in the middle of the night. I definitely didn’t have the words to explain it to my parents but everything felt better once I was snuggled into their bed. I remember clearly feeling panic when I woke up alone in my room. I hate to say it but I would still crawl into bed with my mom sometimes in high school when I woke up in a panic. Does your son have any other signs of anxiety like nail biting or grinding his teeth? Maybe it doesn’t apply in this case but it’s just another data point. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I hadn’t been allowed to get that comfort from them when I needed it (although that probably wasn’t every night). I’ve largely conquered the anxiety as an adult but I remember it being very overwelming at night….

  69. I had this problem, and at his 4-year visit, my pediatrician told me to try paying him to stay in his bed. So, we do. Every morning, he gets a quarter if he stays in his room all night long. And then, every once in awhile, he buys something.This mostly works. It doesn’t work when he’s just bought something or hasn’t decided what he wants to buy.
    We don’t make a big deal of it when he decides not to get his quarter.
    People usually seem sort of shocked that we do this, but we were desperate after not having slept for 4 years. πŸ˜‰

  70. Sorry, no time to read all the comments first. Apologies in advance if this repeats others.I do remember cycling through periods at 4, 6 and 8 years old of intense nightmares and creepy recurring dreams. I was talking with my folks about those periods when I would frequently appear in their room, tugging at the blankets saying, “Had a bad dream.” And musing how it was I always ended up shuffling back to my own bed before too long instead of passing out for the whole night. Turns out the oldies were incredibly sneaky!
    Each time I entered this phase, they would mention at some point during the day, nonchalantly, how big I was getting and how it could no longer be comfortable for all three of us in the bed, unlike days of old (talk up pluses of being big, casually dropping in co-sleeping discomfort as a minus).
    Then, a short while into my nightmare-induced visit to their bed, they would graaaadually start rolling towards me in the center–so that within several minutes, I would be squished and wriggling in discomfort and–calmed from my nightmare, would ask annoyedly to be let out to go to my own bed where there was room to sleep.
    I wasn’t the stubbornest kid in the world, but I did need to think everything was my own idea.
    Here we are currently in the throes of sleep deprivation with a two-year-old who can only make it until anywhere between 12:30 and 2:30 before screaming her head off in her crib. And since she’s been willing since infancy to scream until vomitation, we bring her on in and get pseudo-sleep for half the night. So we are looking with trepidation at the toddler bed still in its box in the garage. John has my utmost sympathy.

  71. You all are so smart. An air mattress? Brilliant, I say. In our house, the usual solution was for one of the adults (usually me, because WS is a much deeper sleeper) would move into JR’s bed. The consolation is that this stage does eventually pass (except for the occasional week from h*ll – see Moxie’s post today on post-holiday tantrums). At 6, almost 7, the nights JR finds his way to our bed are few and far between.

  72. I thought we would never win when we transitioned my 18 month old from cot to bed due to him dangerously climbing out of the cot in the middle of the night. After months of sleepless tantrum filled nights where we just kept putting him back to bed or letting him sleep in ours while we moved onto the couch due to sheer exhaustion someone suggested putting a childproof safety gate on his room, so that his door remained open for contact, but it wasn’t the parent physically restraining or placing him in his bed.I don’t know why it worked, but after months of argument it took 2 nights for him to climb himself in his own bed & sleep all night through. I NEVER would have believed it if I hadn’t been the one it happened to. I don’t know if that’s possible for a 4 year old, and I don’t know if it would work with another kid, but I do know that it beat nights of 10 hour tantrums. I think a lot of kids think they have the copyright on stubborn, and my son is one of them :o)

  73. Another vote for the mattress on the floor.Our at-the-time almost 2yr old daughter did this in the months before the new baby came. At first it was, 4 am or so, no big deal, then earlier and earlier, until we were lucky if WE were in bed yet! We introduced the mattress once she started coming in so early and I was so uncomfortable trying to sleep all cramped and 9 months pregnant. She took to it pretty easily, after 1-2 nights of a little resistance and a few “mumma, cover me up!” pleas. Eventually, she stopped even coming into our room and we quietly took the mattress away.
    I do need to say that while she is very independent, she is generally an agreeable gal and doesn’t sound anywhere as stubborn as the boy in the post. So, mileage may vary. πŸ™‚

  74. Our son sleeps in his own bed, we lock his door though (we unlock it when he’s asleep). He asks us to lock it, I think he needs the physical boundry to actually get to sleep. He has a night light and a star, which is a toy, you turn it on and it plays music & projects stars, bears & moons onto the ceiling. I often hear it going in the middle of the night, it plays for 10 mins, and I generally only hear one cycle. Maybe you could get something like that for your son, and teach him that if he wakes up he has to listen/watch one cycle before he comes into your bed, more often than not my son is back asleep before the cycle finishes.

  75. I guess one of the perks of celebrity is being able to find a publisher for nonsense that would, quite correctly, be rejected out of hand were it submitted by an average hack. Like Dan, I’ve no idea what point Bono is trying to make beyond a) he knew Frank Sinatra and b) people like Sinatra’s songs.

  76. Oh no, I am right there with you, even after 6 years! Since Faith started meloatnin, last year, she has been better but she still wakes a few times a night. ARGGGGGG…Sending a nap via blogger, LOL!

  77. I haven’t tried natural sleep aids breofe. I’ve only tried unisom. My work schedule is quite hectic and changes constantly so it is hard to get my body on a normal sleeping schedule.

  78. I do that, too. It’s still tough for them to make the top bunk, though. Andy hefulpl hints for that?[] Reply:August 27th, 2010 at 5:57 amI don’t really have any hefulpl hints for making that top bunk. Since we have VERY heavy sleepers and I’m afraid of them falling out of bed, we don’t put kids in the top bunks until they are a bit older (9-11 or so), so maybe we haven’t run into that as much.[]

  79. OMG .I could just gobble her up!!!! Kinda makes me want to have atohner precious baby!!! Love her expression when daddy is giving her a kiss! Already has him wrapped around her finger!!! Great job Erin!

  80. First of all i think you should keep your son out the eoitauqn to start with you dont want him gettin attached and it doesn’t work out. I have a son and have to deal with the same challenges. I kno its hard cuz your a single mum. But show this guy your a decent caring mother whos not on games. Guys respect that, it might make him want to earn the right to be around you and your son.With tryin to get to kno each other, Ask him what he is into that relates to goin out. E.G. ask him if he goes cinema what films he likes horrors comedys and then tell him a film that you would like to watch matchin his preferences and suggest you go together. Or ask if he eats out what types of food he likes and dependin on the asnwer suggest a really nice restuarant that you should take him to thats something he hasnt tried before or something he really likes. DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!!.Dnt give all to soon let him want to find out. You’ll just look desparte needy and lonely. Trust me I have gone through it all.Although this all hard to stick to after so long, but most of all respect yourself and he will respect you Good luck hun and good on you for gettin back out there xXxYes thats exactly wat i was on about drop it to him casually good luck

  81. these people have lived here a yr. Had 2wks to clean BEFORE I moved in,said they were cleinang it.NOTHING was cleaned,ever! PREVIOUS MALE TENANT left in drawers used/dirty earplugs,dandruff shampoo,shavers,toothpaste,soap,toilet brush,dirty towels ect. He supposedly took the ONLY keys to the LOCKING bathroom door. Gregg MAGICALLY got them back when I called the sherrif the 3rd time.Karen said the man left,never even comes to church, they have no idea where he was or took off too?or why?really?

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