The Night Visitor: Trips to the Parent's Bed

It is OK to make a change you know!

For those of you who are still with me -- those of you who have decided that it's time to move your little cuddler out of your bed and say goodbye to those nighttime pokes from little elbows and toes -- let me reassure you that it's perfectly fine to make this change. There is no one right age or time or situation to adhere to, it's just a matter of choice: and if you're ready, you're ready. Your child is obviously well loved and secure, and those feelings won't change when you use a sensitive, loving method to keep her sleeping in her own bed all night long.

What to do next

There are a number of ways to keep your little one in his own bed all night. Since every child is different, and every situation is different, each family will approach this is a unique way. What follows is a menu list of ideas for you to choose from. Pick one, two or more that sound right for you and give them an honest try. Be patient and keep to your plan. Over the next few weeks or months you will see success. How quickly this happens depends on your child's personality and how motivated you are to move things along.

The solutions

What follows is a list of ideas that have worked for other families like yours. You can choose from these, or combine bits and pieces to create a totally unique solution.

  • From bed to floor to out the door
    If you don't mind your child coming into your room during the night, but would like to keep him out of your bed, then set up a sleeping place for him in your bedroom. This place can be as simple as a futon and blanket on the floor to a den made out of a folding card table draped with a sheet which houses a sleeping bag and pillow.

    During the night, if he forgets the new plan and climbs in bed with you, just help him down to his little place and remind him that's where he needs to be. It's perfectly fine to lay with him until he falls asleep at first. It will help him get used to this new routine.

  • The morning snuggle
    This idea shifts your child's visit from the midnight hours to a more acceptable early-morning time. Many parents enjoy this plan as well, since they don't have to give up snuggling their little one entirely, but can do so after they've had a good night's sleep.

    Tell your child that she can come in "When it's light outside." This works if daylight appears at the right time for you. Another is to set a music or white noise alarm to go off quietly at an acceptable time. Explain, .If the music is playing you can come to our bed. If it's quiet, then please go back to sleep until the music plays..

  • The weekend promise
    Tell your child that when she stays in her bed all week then she can sleep with you on the weekend, or on Saturday. Post a calendar and let her adhere a star to each day that she sleeps all night without waking you. Put a special design on the weekend days.

    This idea works perfectly for some children who relish their weekend sleep-overs in the big bed. Others, though, find it too difficult to separate yes nights from no nights. If you think it may work with your little one, give it a try.

  • The Rubber Band Bounce
    This is a good idea for a family who wants to make a quick change to their middle-of-the-night routine, and for a parent who's willing to get out of bed repeatedly for a week or so.

    Just before your bedtime routine begins, explain briefly why you want her to stay in her bed, for example, "When you come in my room during the night you wake me up and then I'm grumpy." And tell her that you want her to stay in her bed all night long. Begin the night with a pleasant, peaceful go-to-bed routine. Finish it with your child in her bed. Anytime she gets up -- EVERYTIME she gets out of bed -- calmly, peacefully and lovingly put her back to bed. Kiss her, hug, her rub her back. Even sit or lie next to her until she falls back to sleep if necessary. Choose a key phrase to repeat to her a few times, such as, "It's night night time now. Mommy loves you. Please stay in your bed and have sweet dreams."

    You may have to repeat this ten times the first few nights, but with real consistency you should see this reduce night-time visits quickly.