From the time our children were babies, my philosophy is that all sleep is good sleep. I didn’t care if they slept in their beds or in my bed, on our floor or on the couch or with a sibling: As long as I was getting roughly 7 or 8 hours of sleep, the kids could bed- (and floor- and furniture-) hop however they wanted to throughout the night. Even now, our pre-teens occasionally come into our room and choose to camp out on our bedroom floor.
I know that other parents don’t have the same thoughts on the matter, and the AAP doesn’t recommend co-sleeping with babies (a practice that I, and countless other parents, depended on in order to make sure that everyone got the sleep that they needed), so depending on your personal feelings on the issue, you may be looking for some suggestions on keeping the kids in their own beds at night while not losing too much sleep yourself. Here are a few:
- Make your child’s bedroom inviting. She might be more likely to stay in her bed if she has bedding that she’s picked out and if the room is relatively picked up. I know that my daughter doesn’t want to sleep in her bed, and will choose to slumber on the futon in her brother’s bedroom, when her room is a mess. Making it look nice and clean might help your child to relax enough to want to stay put.
- Make a sticker chart. I know, it’s hokey, but little kids go for this type of thing. Make a chart with places for your child to attach a sticker for each night that he stays in his bed. A reward, such as a special movie night or a sleepover could be the “prize” for sleeping in his own bed for a specific time period.
- Sacrifice sleep now for more shut-eye later. If you have midnight wanderers, it’s very tempting to simply move over and allow them to snuggle in for the remainder of the night. If, instead, you get up and walk your sleepy visitor back to her own bed with no extra talking or attention, she’ll soon realize that the effort of getting up and walking across the house isn’t worth the bother.
- Come up with a contingency plan in case of illness or other extenuating circumstances. Sometimes, kids need their mamas in the middle of the night. You’re obviously not going to send a vomiting child marching back to his bedroom, but if you let him crash in your room, he might adopt it as a new habit even after he gets well. Find a way for you to go to him; can you set up an air mattress on his floor, or, if he has a large enough bed, just climb in with him? It will be easier for you to go back to your bed once the illness passes than for him to not keep returning to yours.
If nothing else, keep it all in perspective: When your child is in college, she won’t be driving home to crawl into bed with you. This stage eventually ends, and she will learn to sleep on her own.
What are some of your best tips for keeping your child in bed? Or do you allow them in and not worry about it?