How to end co-sleeping?

Claire - posted on 04/23/2011 ( 33 moms have responded )

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Our 2 1/2 year old son has been in our bed since just a few months old. He had GERD and just slept better propped up with all the pillows and we could keep a better eye on him.

Long story short, it's 2 1/2 years later and he's still there for most of the night. He falls asleep and spends anywhere from an hour to about half the night in his own bed (in another room) until he joins us again.

Our problem with previous suggestions is that we are either picking him up into our bed in our sleep and don't remember it, or he climbs in now without waking us up.

I need ideas to keep him in his own bed or at least encourage him to camp out in his sleeping bag on the floor. We have only had 3 full nights of sleep from him in his whole life! HELP!

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Hillary - posted on 04/26/2011

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hes not a dog, but yet its okay to leave him in a locked room scared and confused because he wants and needs the comfort of his mother?

would you say its okay to neglect your dog of instinctual things?

[deleted account]

Honestly, sleep is a battle in my home that I no longer wish to fight. My 6 year old still runs into our bed every night. I think he truly has "slept the whole night" maybe 5 times in his life. He simply doesn't, and we play ring around teh beds. Here's my philosophy: we all need a good night's sleep. Pick a bed, and sleep in it. For now it is comforting for my son. I don't want to force and fight him to go t sleep by himself and stay in your bed all night long. But, we end up as a snuggly family, or we bed hop. We all need a good night's sleep, especially on work/school ngiht. I set my alarm for 4:35 am! If I had to escrot my son back to his own bed every night I would be a zombie. Same with my husband, who has the luxary of sleeping until 6;15. I also realize that there will be a point where my son will not want to sleep with us, so for us it's not a big deal. So pick your battles. If sleep is truly the BIG thing for you, then I wish you luck. For us, I don;t care where anyone in this house sleeps-just find a bed and sleep!

User - posted on 04/26/2011

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I have heard that it is completely natural to wake up multiple times a night until you're at least 4 years old. People who atest to "training" their kids to sleep through the night have "trained" them to put themselves back to sleep at night. If that works for you fine, but personally I believe that parenting doesn't stop at night and if my child needs me I will be there night or day. It just takes them awhile to get used to sleeping alone. Do you like sleeping alone? My now 6 and a half year old sleeps through the night in his own bed, occasionally (twice a month maybe) coming to snuggle us at some point in the night. He slowly started transitioning around age 4, before that he was just plain not ready. He is extremely secure and has no night time issues whatsoever. It's pretty obvious when they're ready. Honestly my advice for most mothering quandries is to block out all cultural norms, and ideas, advice, everything and focus on how you feel about it. Imagine all scenarios, what is your stomach telling you? Your heart? We all have the basic knowledge we need to make our decisions. Just follow your instincts, you got em, use em! Then you can never feel guilty because you'll know you did the best thing you could. Whenever I've had a hard time with my kids sleeping in the bed with me I just imagine myself as an old women in bed all alone. I imagine I'll wish with all my might I could have my little ones snuggled up with me again. It is such a short and special time in their life, savor every moment you can. Good Luck to you! I hope you find the solution that is right for you!!

[deleted account]

Note also that it is normal, natural, and a safety mechanism for carry mammals (which humans belong to) to want to sleep near their mother while they are still little. Some research suggests it is healthiest to set up a little bed or your toddler near yours and have him sleep within an arm's reach, or somewhere he feels safe - to know you are near. This reduces his cortisol levels and allows him to sleep more soundly - also improving his secure attachment during the rest of the daytime hours as well. http://www.drmomma.org/2009/07/co-sleepi...

He may even benefit from you side-caring a crib, or just moving his bed next to yours so that you all have your own sleep space, but he still feels secure. http://www.drmomma.org/2010/01/turn-your...

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[deleted account]

I agree with you on that one Lynn.

And so much for me not posting on this topic anymore lol I need to unsubscribe lol

Lynn - posted on 04/28/2011

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Children having to be locked in their rooms and crying their hearts out is what I was refering to. I really do not believe that this process is helping anyone and in the end may actually harm the child more.

Charlie - posted on 04/28/2011

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Lynn than you must have a skewed idea of peaceful , there have been plenty of gentle , peaceful ideas given here .....There are a huge many benefits to co sleeping While I agree a crib or bed in the room is a great option I disagree completley with your statement .

"You all have been trying to be peaceful parents but now are failing in the process of reaping what you have sowed."

That is a major sweeping generalization , one that is absolutely uninformed , I guarentee you the benefits of being a parent who meets their childs developmental needs as a human being reaps all the benefits of a loving , empathetic and independent child and adult ...something the world needs more of .

http://www.drmomma.org/2011/02/seven-ben...

[deleted account]

Lynn, there are some very safe methods for bedsharing today....all sorts of special positioners that make sharing a bed with a newborn no more dangerous than putting them in their own beds. This is, of course, as long as neither parent is going to bed under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Just remember, what works for one family may not work for another.

I'm finished posting here because I don't want it to turn into a bedsharing conversation and take away from the OP's question. Sorry Claire!

Lynn - posted on 04/28/2011

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I am a Nana and will probably take a beating for this answer. Not one of these posts seem very peaceful at all. My suggestion would be; why start it at all? I think the best solution is a small bed or crib in the parents room from birth. This allows for closeness for the wee one but still offers some alone time for parents. You all have been trying to be peaceful parents but now are failing in the process of reaping what you have sowed. I also sense danger in some of the above strategies and to me this is alarming. I admit it is lovely to have a child sleep with you but it is probably best to get them sleeping alone before they can walk.

Charlie - posted on 04/28/2011

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We let him do it gradually , he picked his own bed and doona cover nd he was super excited about it , I read stories to him in his bed and lay there and pat his head until he drifted off , we left a light on in the hall in case he needed to come to our room which is ALWAYS open to him .

He still comes into our room maybe twice a week which is absolutely fine with us , he is 2 and a half as well and he still SO little ....It Isnt pampering to comfort your child when they feel alone in the dark , it is being empathetic and human .

My best advice is to make his room a safe and comfortable place , let him help pick out things for his room , soothe him before he goes off with soft music and gentle patting on the back .

Danielle had a great idea about using a side bed ....most conts can be converted into one ...It maybe that he just isnt ready to be that far away from you and that is TOTALLY normal , if he hasnt already got a comfort toy or rug perhaps get him to pick one to be his going to bed toy .

[deleted account]

I hadn't noticed or felt like it was turning into a fight. Honestly, I was just telling my husband earlier about this discussion and how it had the potential to go "there" but that I was happily surprised it hadn't. I agree that it's "not your problem", just like the methods you use to raise your children (which I don't know) are not my problem either. What that says to me is that every child and every parent is different. Your child sleeping in your bed past the age of two is a problem for you and I respect that because that's what works for you and your family. Just like continuing to bedshare with my 3 year old works for my family. I was simply trying to address the issue of locking a child in their room not being the nicest method a parent could use for sleep training. I didn't mean for it to come off any other way than that.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 04/28/2011

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Wow, I'm not saying ignore your kids. Geez. And there is no 'line' to be drawn, which is why some people let their kids sleep with them up until 2, 5, or 11. My line is 2 unless it's a nightmare or a scary night for them. But after that, they go back in their bed the next night.

I'm just saying that when you let them keep sleeping in your bed, past the 'scary night' needs, you are pampering them when you don't need to. How many families get their 1-2 year old children to sleep by themselves at night? It isn't going to hurt them. But when are you going to get fed up? Obveiously you are struggling now, having lost so much sleep over the issue.

I'm not saying lock them in their room... but if you and whoever else feel it is necessary to 'pick your battles' and let your 3 year old keep sleeping with you. Or your 5 year old. Or your 2 year old....... that's not my problem I really don't care. I don't want to argue over this, as we're not discussing it, we're starting to fight. I don't do fights. Logical debates where we present good evidence against each side we're discussing, fine. But we're heading down a nitpicking road I'm not going into on here. So do what you want, I really don't care

I wish the best for all of you

[deleted account]

Nichole, Who defines what is overkill? Is there anything about having pants on backwards and not wearing underwear that will hurt him? I can't think of any reason. I think kids who are raised being who they are rather than "don't do that because that's not how everyone around you does it" are more likely to resist peer pressure.

[deleted account]

Claire, What if you put a twin size bed right next to your bed? You shouldn't have a hard time sleeping through the night with him in his own bed, and he probably will be happy being right next to you and probably won't have a reason to wake you (at least he probably won't wake you because he's lonely and needing his parents).

Rita - posted on 04/28/2011

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omg Lock your child in their room! The reason that works is that you teach your child that no one cares about or will respond to his/her needs. We have as much to learn from our children as we have to teach. But we must listen to hear the leson

[deleted account]

Sharon Cohen-Fonzo said it best, IMO. Pick your battles. As long as everyone's sleeping. Our 3 and a half year old son still sleeps in our bed almost every night. Some nights he is perfectly happy to go to bed in his bed (in his room) and stay there all night. But when he wants to sleep with me, I have never once denied him. I definitely don't think locking his door or your door will solve anything. I get that many parents in previous generations did things differently and their kids "turned out ok" but in my opinion, some of those methods were a little harsh. My mother used to make me pick a switch from a bush and then spank me with it when I'd misbehaved. Did it scar me for life? No. But would I ever consider doing such a thing to my son? Hell no!

Pick your battles. If this is one you choose to fight, for whatever reason, then you just have to keep trying different methods until you find something that works for you. The thing is though, that you've allowed him to have access to your bed for the whole 2 and a half years of his life and now you may have a huge battle on your hands because you're changing something that he thinks is normal and acceptable, if that makes sense. It would be like if you fed him peas all his life and he learned to love them and then one day you told him peas were yucky and took them away. It would be confusing for him. Best of luck to you, whatever you choose to do. (but please don't lock the doors).

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 04/28/2011

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Yeah and my friends son wears his pants backwards, with no underwear, is home schooled and she lets them at age 5. Why? I guess I just don't get being that eccentic. I'm all for branching out, being yourself and what not but there are some things that are just overkill

[deleted account]

It doesn't matter to me how many in our culture accept children sleeping with adults. I make decisions based on what makes sense to me and my child, not based on who will accept my decision. I believe in following my child's cue. When the child is ready (to stop co-sleeping, to stop breastfeeding, to potty train, etc)., that's when to stop.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 04/27/2011

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Yeah but how many in our culture accept children sleeping with adults? If it's generally accepted, to what age? When does it become weird? To me, after age 2 it is odd and should only happen during nightmares and scary instances

User - posted on 04/27/2011

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If he is climbing in without waking you up, he's feeling safe and sleeping. You are sleeping. When children and adults feel safe, they sleep. When they don't they stay up. There are many cultures around the world where this is accepted and families sleep together.

It might be more helpful to identify what the real problem is. Is it your bed is too small? Is your expectation not based on how he really is? Is there a monster in his room?

Then you can solve the problem and feel comfortable in your decision.

Miranda - posted on 04/27/2011

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Im in the same boat too. My son is 22 months and has slept in his bed a few times but not all night. He stayed in a pack and play till he was 16 months most nights. I love sleeping with him. He is such a little cuddle bug. If im not close to him he will wake up and say hug, so I will cuddle him. My husband says he hates it but I finally got him to sleep in his bed and he told me he wanted to cuddle with him to go get him. I cant sleep without him. I guess when they are ready they will start sleeping in their own beds. I dont believe in locking the door or anything like that. His door stays open. If he needs me I want him to be able to come to me. That is rediculious. Locs are for outside of doors to keep people out not in.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 04/26/2011

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The cry it out method is not harmful if you do it right. Don't let them get hystarical and if you feel bad about this method like you are not sure its safe or good for kids........ don't do it.

But my grandma used to lock her kids between 4 doors, in a basket, and ignored them ALL night. The kitchen, hallway, her bedroom door and something else she listed off.... she told me she did this to all four of her kids because she needed the sleep and guess what - all the kids survived.

Not saying this is the best way to deal with kids I would neverrrrrrrr do this.... but just think about how generations of children were raised.. sleeping in the top drawers of dressers instead of cribs we line with so much padding and laws that they are now finally 'safe'.. sure. Great. But if our world fell apart tomorrow, a dresser drawer would work. So would rum on the babies gums instead of the new drugs that are 'safer'. And a million other things we're replacing instead of doing what we did for generations that we actually lived through and are fine.

I think sometimes we're just too finicky about it. Panicky. And then we end up in a bad area too like no offense but the lady who cannot get her 11 year old kids to not sleep in the same bed. I think it is creepy at that point to let them sleep together. Come on.....

Jenni - posted on 04/26/2011

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Well, I am in your same boat. Our daughter is the same age....we made our own co-sleeper with her crib mattress on two big boxes squeezed inbetween the wall and our bed. She has been sleeping there for about a year now. I don't think a thing of it. If she sleeps happily there, we will leave her there. I sleep all night and so does she. I think parents make too much of sleep. Do what works to get sleep. We keep trying to get her into her new Dora bed in her room every once in awhile....but it never works out.

[deleted account]

"hes not a dog, but yet its okay to leave him in a locked room scared and confused because he wants and needs the comfort of his mother?

would you say its okay to neglect your dog of instinctual things?"

I honestly agree 100% with this statement. I cannot comprehend a parent locking a child in their room when the child is clearly scared and simply wants comfort. A parent's job is to comfort their child. Why make it such an issue? I think it borders on abuse to lock a small child in a room. JMO though. I suppose I am grateful because co-sleeping and/or bed hopping does not impact our life at all. Oh, and bribery....oh I WISH it would work on my 6 year old. He wants a 3D-DSI so bad, and he can have one...so we're working on sleeping in his own bed and creating an incentive chart.

[deleted account]

I just put his bed right beside mine. That way he's in his own bed and doesn't have to be alone. When he's ready to sleep in his own room, he's ready. Until then, I get to roll over every morning and look at his beautiful sleeping face. :)

Rita - posted on 04/26/2011

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I was blessed by all the conversations, books read, jokes told, and wonderful conversations getting to know all seven of my children in my bed. It was NEVER a problem for me. Yes, it was for my husband. Very few fathers really want to know their children like Moms want to know their children. I am so happy I refused to be emotionally divided.

User - posted on 04/26/2011

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I don't see what the problem is?? Our 2yr old needs one of us to snuggle with most nights and its lovely. This time will pass all too soon and they won't want cuddles forever. We are due with #2 soon, and don't anticpate doing anything differently.

User - posted on 04/26/2011

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Hmm... We went through this right before my oldest started kindergarten but he was old enough to bribe. We set up a sticker chart and every night that he stayed in his own bed he received a sticker. After 10 he got a trip to pick out something special at the toy store. We also added a sound machine (heartbeat worked for him) and a twilight turtle to project stars up on his ceiling. Honestly, even now I usually stay with him for a few minutes to make sure he is asleep but after a few months of sticker chart he never left his room again during the night.

2 1/2 is a little young for delayed gratification though. Maybe some sugar free candy or a small toy (Matchbox cars come to mind) waiting for him any morning after he has stayed in his sleeping bag or his own bed? Whenever he starts to climb into your bed you could remind him that he only gets the prize if he lays back down. A comfort lovey, like a special blankey or twilight turtle might help as well...

Amber - posted on 04/26/2011

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I'm pregnant with my 4th, we've co-slept with all the kids. At around 18-24 months they move into a twin, full or queen bed. Which allows us to lay down with the kids at night and in the middle of the night if need be. We've also had them sleep on the floor and move them there if needed once they crawl back into our bed. The more kids we have the easier it's gotten as they now share beds and help eachother at night. Sounds like he's your first? One of my first thoughts is just to encourage you. It's not abnormal for his age to still be waking at night, and finding his way into your room is probably pretty natural for him. In terms of previous suggestions the MOST I would do is shut the door so you can hear him when he enters and you might be able to usher him back into his bed before he's fully awake. My 2 year old does the same; some nights he stays in his bed all night and others makes it half the night. It's a natural transition, within a few months his sleep wake cycle should regulate. I've had friends that have tried Melatonin with some success, it helps regulate the sleep wake cycle. So if he's having trouble that might help? More than anything it sounds pretty normal, I know it can be hard sometimes but these few years will go so fast and soon you'll look back and long for those morning cuddles together. I know I'm not much help, but your doing a great job mama, just keep using your instincts.

Becky - posted on 04/26/2011

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I am facing the same problem! Now, i have older kids both of which slept with us and they sleep in their own rooms with out any trouble. So, they do eventually leave the nest, so to speak. We have a 1yr old AND the 2 almost 3 year old in our bed. At this point our 2 yr old will fall asleep in his toddler bed, which is next to our bed, and half way thru the night ends up back in our bed. The only thing i can say is keep encouraging your toddler to sleep in his own bed, but give him time.

Julianne - posted on 04/23/2011

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we flipped the lock on our daughters door and would lock it at night. she used to leave the house in the middle of the night as well as mess in the kitchen. It was just safer to keep her door locked once we went to bed. she is 7 now and we no longer lock it cause she stays put where she is supposed to be

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 04/23/2011

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Hmm.. put a lock on your bedroom door. When he throws a fit, it will wake you up (can use a baby monitor nearby, in his room or outside in the hallway to make sure?) and then you can deal with it. Problem is, you have to wake up for it, so even if its just one of those chain locks where he cant get to it inside the door so when he opens it he can see in and whine........ your gonna have to get up and put him back in bed. It will only take a week tops if you are strict about making him sleep in his own bed to cure this. Seriously. If he starts throwing a fit when you put him back in his bed in the middle of the night, hold his door closed and go through the cry it out / self soothing methods. They truly work! And as long as your child is safe in their room its totally harmless, they just need to learn to sleep alone. Do not let them sleep on your floor- that won't be much of an improvement. He's not a dog :( lol Good luck!



I'm not kidding about these methods working though. My boyfriends mother started it with her kid at 2 years old and it took her a week. No joke, you can have peaceful night time alone - that's riddiculous not to! You guys need privacy, space and alone time :)

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