How do you get a 3.5 year old to sleep in his own bed at night?

When a baby is raised sleeping in a family bed with his parents at night, it can be hard to transition him into his own bed. What has worked for you to help your child sleep in his own bed without a fuss?

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24  Answers

4 13

We are having that issue with our 4 year old, as well - although we did not do family bed. We have her earning something. She picked out a pillow pet & had to go to sleep without an adult in the room & stay in there all night for 4 nights. Then she got her pillow pet. Now, she has to continue to do this in order to keep it! She'll get one warning night & then the next one, the pillow pet will go away & she will have to earn it again. So far, it's going well. Had to pause for 2 days because of illness, but she's gone to bed each night without an adult in the room for 8 days straight! Good luck!

4
6 35

Might have to try that one too!

27 8

My son is 4.5 now. he slept in my bed with me until just a few months ago. there are a few things i found that work. One is a bedtime routine but it HAS to be consistant! The second is i found this song called "A Mother's Prayer" by Racheal Aldous its absolutely beautiful~ i play it 3 times for him and he falls asleep. also i let him pick one night on the weekend where he can have a "sleep over" in my room if he goes to bed quietly and without whining every night during the week :D hope this helps and Good luck!

3
3 10

"The stay in bed technique." Place your child in bed, tuck them in and give kisses. Then sit on the floor several feet away and do not communicate with the child. Even if they cry and beg for you (to read a book, to get a glass of water, to have a snack) stay sitting and QUIET, do not engage. If the child gets out of bed, without saying a word, place them back in bed and sit back down. You may have to sit for a long time the first few nights but you will see it improving each night the technique is done properly.
I believe the harder part to be when the child tries to climb into bed in the middle of the night. You must get up and walk them back to their room, if you don't they will think it is ok to climb in after your asleep every night. Good luck!

3
201 12

This method is featured on Supernanny and it worked for my son.

3 10

Yes it is and I ♥ Supernanny!

7 2

but if you don't want them coming out of their room at night you will need to "lock" them in. No one uses the work lock but that is what you are doing. I tried everything but just ended up with a toddler sleeping on the hallway floor. Good luck.

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48 12

my husband and i had this issue with our daughter who is also 3.5 years old. she was always afraid of the dark. we could either get her to fall asleep with one of us and than move her or if we were lucky enough that she went to sleep in her own bed she would end up at our feet some point in the night. we would try everything from night lights, letting her sleep with the light on, giveing her stuffed animals and telling her that they are angels and would protect her also letting her watch disney movies in bed....we tried the ferber method and the stay in bed method and nothing seemed to work! finally about 2 weeks ago my mother in law bought her a fish tank for her bedroom(nothing fancy just a classig 10 gal) and made a big deal of it, let her pick out the rocks plants and a cute little castle. she picked out her fish. my husband and i also rearranged her bedroom to make space for a crib. in doing this we ended up putting all of her toys on the oppisite end of the room and her bed is paralel with her bedroom door so that she faces out into the hallway. we have made a ritual of turning on the light to the fish tank and feeding them every night just before putting on jamies and climbing into bed. i leave the hall and bathroom light on just in case she needs to get up and go potty in the night.. this all worked like a charm! she watches the fish swim around and est at night and falls asleep very peacefully within about 10 mins never any crying or tantrums. every once in a while i hear her get up and go potty than she goes back to bed. also because she is so well potty trained already and has only every had 1 bedtime accadent (when we first started) i keep a bottle of water by her bed because the air where we live is very dry and a humidifyer would set off my asthma... we also took the tv and her dresser mirror out of her room. i hope this helps

2
1 0

I can tell you what we did but all kids are different. The first thing we did is made it a huge deal when we bought a bed and the bedding for our son. He got to pick out which bed and bedding for his new "big boy" bed. We also bought a Full size bed so it would be comfy for me to lay on with him at first. It was pretty painless but time comsuming so we had to make sure he was in bed a few minutes early. He would pick out books for us to read, this time really helped his vocab and reading, then we had rituals like find a comfy spot, saying goodnight I love you see you in the morning, and a hug and a kiss. At first I would lay with him until he was asleep, then sneek out. After a couple months, this may be different for your child, I would give a time limit on laying with him. He is almost four now and has been in his bed for two years. Before this he was in bed with me from birth and nursing. I still lay with him sometimes and we still read for nap and at night. He is in his own bed and before I know it he will be reading to himself and be too grown up to get tucked in. Make the bed really comfy and enjoy the time with your child, they grow up quick.

2
6 35

Great advice. I want to try this with my daughter. I just don't think the tough love approach would work for her, but it does depend on the family!

2 30

I really like this approch. My son is almost 2 and he has been sleeping in our bed since he was a couple months old. We went out and bought him a toddler bed and he has a tv in his room and everything and he refuses to go to sleep in his own bed still. ( He doesn't talk much right now either) So my husband said that he was going to have a talk with him once he was talking and able to understand that he is supost to be a big boy and sleep in his own bed, but I don't want to wait that long. What I want to know is how do I get him to go to sleep early and not wait till 11 pm. But I think I am going to to and get a twin size bed so I can lay in it wit him just like you said. thanks

41 29

my daughter pretty much slept with me, a single mum from birth, she's 3yrs 3 mths. I think the major problem we have is she can't feel me and cuddle me now she's in her bed, it has taken me quite a few months to get her settled, I got her a single bed, we picked out sheets ect. We get into bed together have a cuddle and goodnight kiss, then we snuggle up for a story. Sometimes if she's really tired she falls asleep while I read I wait a little while, then I sneak out. Sometimes she wouldn't be asleep, so I play some quiet music for her. I leave the doors open so she can hear I am still around and doing things, I think it comforts her, at the beginning she would cry and not want to stay there, I just kept taking her back in and giving her a cuddle and a kiss and saying I love you, but I have things to do... She finally got used to it. She used to still wake in the night and come into my room, I never took her back coz I was too tired. So I recently bought her a sleep training clock, she now puts it on and see's the cow sleeping in her bed, I have it set for 7am for the light to change and it lights up the awake cow, which means she can get up and come and see me. Now if she wakes in the night I just say do you need the toilet, if she says yes we go, if not i say ok is your cow awake, she says no. i say we'll you stay in bed and wait on watch her till she wakes up, and she obviously watches and falls back to sleep. Coz I don't hear her again. My daughter was always a nightmare getting her to sleep for a nap as well as at night. So at 2yrs I started cutting out her nap, she has her dinner at 4.30, then her bath, then in bed by 6pm. Now she's older I have made it later, sometimes if she's had a huge day she might fall asleep especially if I have to go in the car later in the afternoon, but I wake her a soon as we get home. She's a bit grumpy but sleeps better.

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1 22

I bribed the heck out of my son. The first week he could get away with waking me up twice and getting a sticker on the sleep chart we made. The second week he could get away with waking me once a night. After ten days of complying with those rules he got to pick out a five dollar toy from Target or somewhere. Now when he did ten days without getting up at all he got a ten dollar toy. After he got that down I stopped with the bribery and was only out 20 bucks. No big deal. It's hard work for them and I think it's hard not to compensate them for it. It's hard work though for you too. I don't envy you.

2
11 10

My daughter sleeps in bed with me. It's a process, just take it slow and be caring. Or it just won't work

1
15 26

When you find the answer to this PLEASE let me know! My DH and I have three girls and we have gone through this problem with all but one of our girls. The baby who is now 3 years old will not stay out of our room. I can truly take the blame for this because I'm the one who created the problem. My husband was deployed when I gave birth to our third child, so I saw no problem with her sleeping with me. Well three years and four months later we can't keep her out of our bed. We have tried everything from night lights, music, even to letting her big sister's camp out in her room. It has gotten better as she gets older but I really would like a night of not turning over and finding a toddler clinging to my head while she sleeps.

1
1 4

Funny lm in the same boat at the moment i wake p with toes in my ribs

9 28

I made it exciting for my son...mind you he was no where near 3.5 years old he was about 2 years old. He got a special bed, special bedding, cool posters, lots of toys and special music to go to sleep too. We always just made him go to his own bed, you need to be firm with children, if you are going to put them in their own bed you need to be consistant or else they will be confused. Praise them for every night they sleep in their own bed

1
14 17

Lol! Well, when I figure out the answer to that ?, I'll get back to you xD The only thing that works w/ our 4 1/2 year old is sleeping in his bed w/ him. He'll sleep soundly until 1 of us gets up in the middle of the night and goes back to our room- then he gets up and runs to our bed! Talk about a light sleeper!

1
41 29

and they recon kids dont budge to anything...

108 17

We have a cot in our bedroom for our son, who is almost 4.5. Once our daughter was born, it was too cramped in our bed for everyone. Our son started sleeping in the cot with no issues. It's right beside my side of the bed. If he has a bad dream or something scary happens, he will sleep length wise across the bottom of our bed. He does sleep in his own bed on his own most nights. When our daughter was born, we got him his own organic pillow as incentive to sleep in his bed. This worked great for him. I think it helps him to be more secure knowing he can come to us whenever he needs us. His room is also connected to ours, so we aren't far. As children get older, they will naturally want their own space and we allow our children to make that decision and when they are ready to move our of their bed, they do!

1
93 5

I so agree. My instinct is to allow him to decide.

709 37

A routine. We give our 2.5 year old a choice on night time video. We give him a bath and then he gets a choice of video to lay down with. He's usually out by 5 mins. At this age they are all about autonomy so choices, limited to two, helps.

0
5 0

When my kids were four, I had to sometimes sleep on the couch in their room or lock their door because of tantrums. The first few times it was cute but after awhile, they need to sleep in their own bed.

0
2 7

My son has always had his own room until we moved in with my brother and he had to sleep with me. Then he got used to it. So when I finally got my own house with his room again I had to start over. What I found that worked is homedics spa lullaby machine with projector, $20 at frys or walmart you can google for your nearest location. , Most kids are hyper and are afraid of the dark. So the projector gives them something to look at while winding down and lights the room and it has several songs, my son will only listen to twinkle twinkle for 4 years straight. I also got him a dream light so between the two it helps him sleep. Now when he wakes up in the middle of the night and comes to my room it's because he has to potty. So I make him potty and put him back in his bed. So it's also good for potty training at night. The spa machine also has a timer so u can set it for a certain amount of time and won't have to listen to music all night. Good luck!

0
0 0

My daughter is 8 years old. I am going to try this stay in bed tech. I pray it works!! we are in a new "family" and she now has a "dad"... he is very old school so he gets upset easy with her... Her and i have been through domestic violence and my x use to sneek up to her windows. So we are dealing with this...3 years later.... we get ready for bed and then she reads a book and i read one... then she freaks out when i kiss her and start to my room... so i end up sitting in there with her...and she wants me to lay beside her...i am positive it is a security and comfort for her. But i want her to feel comfortable and safe...and i would love to be sleeping in my bed with my husband. He/we added security sensors to her windows to try and easy her.... big sigh... so now we have a lady bug twilight night light...she did very well for three nights. Then she got hurt at school and sprange her elbow and shoulder....motrin and pain meds for the first week..now motrin...i know it hurts you can see the muscles twitching at night when i check on her.... Any other ideas I am super open minded and welcome to any ideas! Tired mom that wants to rest my soul in my bed with my husand!! An see my little girl sleeping like an angle....

0
4 4

Don't start the pattern!!!!!

0
38 0

I haven't found it hard at all. All four of mine started in my bed and transitioned at their own pace. My 13 and 10 year olds sleep in their own rooms all of the time, my 4 year old sleeps in her room most of the time and my 6 year old still comes into our room in the middle of the night about half the time. He'll stop when he's ready.

0
1 0

Put a gate on the door.

0
18 2

I got my daughter to stop sleeping with me by taking her to her grandmas for awhile. My mother lives 1000 miles away from us so we both visited for 4 weeks. My daughter slept on the couch alone the whole time with me in the same room. When we to home, she wanted nothing to do with my room and wanted to sleep in the living room, so I locked the doors and let her fall asleep out there. Soon, she started watching tv in her room at night and would fall asleep in there. I didn't force her or anything, she just did it on her own.

0
12 0

do it in increments by starting with the short naps. turn on the radio stationed on classical music and use a night lite.

0
10 7

I've never had the problem of my children sleeping in my bed simply because we have never encouraged it. From birth the babies slept in our room but in their crib, for the first 3 months, then were moved into their bedroom and into their cot. At about 18 months they were both transferred into a big bed and although with the eldest we had issues with her getting out of bed to start with, this soon died down and they have both slept in their big beds without any problems.

0
0 0

My daughter has never slept in my bed. Once in a while I will I will have her cuddle with me in the morning. It works for us. We have do baths then cuddle and a short sorty on the couch in the living room and then she walks to her bedroom. She gets her diaper changed and then is put in bed. We read a couple of poems and then it is lights out. She does have a night light. Like I said the bedtime routine works for us.

5 45

My twins have only slept in our bed twice there whole life and they are 2, Once was for ear infections and the second was because sickness, and they both got up and crawled into their own beds in the morning. They do like to cuddle with us also in the morning or even to have a "family" picnic on a cold rainy day in our bed, but they know they have their own beds

0 25

I have never let my boys sleep with us in our bed. It is unsafe and anyone who says otherwise is a fool! Both my boys have always gone to bed on their own and awake, I never sit with them or get into bed with them and they fall asleep on their own, They sleep 12 hours each night in the same room together. Why do parents even start this in the first place? You are making a rod for your own back. Must be mad!!

3 25

Harsh much, Victoria? Every family is different and what works for one may not work for another. No need to criticize.

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12 9

If ur young kids need to get used to sleeping in their own beds then be prepared for a fight but it is necassary. First u start a bed routine sing a song or read a book. Then lay them down hugs and kisses etc. then sit on the floor facing the door. As long as they r in bed even if they r throwing a fit leave them be but once they step out of bed u tell them its time for bed once more and lay them back down anytime after that they get outta bed just lay them back down. As the days go on and the kids r doing better with it you start sitting closer and closer to the door until u no longer have to sit in the room then afterwards where they can even see u. Its not easy and its not "fuss" free but it does work. It can take up to 2hrs the first night so be prepared it just depends on how subborn ur child is compared to how stubborn u r. Once u start dont back track because it'll be harder if u start over. It will be heart wrenching but if u can stand it the child will go to sleep and start learn to sleep on their own. I have 2 kids 7 and 3, both slept in my room at some point but but sleep happily in their own room at 2 and a half to 3. Only coming in with nightmares and going back to their rooms within 20mins. This technique does work. Hope this helps someone!

0
16 43

Totally agree with this technique....and yes be consistent and don't backtrack! It is difficult to have them throw tantrums...but just keep putting them back in bed....don't give in!

3 14

With my daughter I put a toddler bed in my room got her use to being in a bed by herself and rewarded her when she spent the whole night in her bed and said "big girls" sleep in their own beds she really liked the idea then after time I put her bed in her own room. Make a routine let him use the potty, brush his teeth, put pj's on all at the same time each night so he knows when and what he has to do to get ready for bed. Also like the comment before let him choose his own blankets, sheets and night light, make it fun for him.

0
10 19

Well firstly I would personally always recommend against having children sleeping with their parents. This is thought to be dangerous especially with babies and it does cause problems when it comes to encouraging independance at bedtime. A good bedtime routine is important to ensure children know when it is bedtime, this should be relaxed and comforting but not overly exciting or 'fun'. A nice bath, story then bed for example is perfect. We made the mistake of having our daughter in with us and I would never do it again as it did cause issues with getting her into her own bed. However by implementing a routine and firmly adhering to it and by allowing her to chose her own bed/covers/teddies etc we made her bedroom her special place. She is very proud of her bed and now goes to bed without a fuss. We did have a few problems the other night with her escaping her room and announcing that she was 'awake' at 9pm but that was a one off. Lol...I hope.

0
108 17

Bed-sharing is NOT unsafe - unless you bottle feed or are under the use of drugs or alcohol. Being there for your children doesn't create dependence, it creates independence. When they are ready to sleep on their own, they will.

6 5

By my third child I stopped worrying so much! I have a 16, 14 and 3.5 year old. With my first and second I spent so much time worrying about them sleeping in their own beds, but my daughter would always find away to sneak between us in the middle of the night. By the time they were 6 or 7 they had stopped doing it - they preferred being their own beds. Now with my little one being the last I am cherishing the cuddles in the early morning when he comes to our bed. He goes to sleep in his own bed no problem, but normally between 3 and 5am comes and climbs in between us and goes back to sleep until about 7.30! I don't think there are any absolutes, it's about bringing up confident, happy, well adjusted children and what works for you as a family!

2 12

I had the same issue, it was so much easier to just let him sleep in our bed. When he was 3 and a half, I had to do it bootcamp style! It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be .. I sat beside him day 1, day 2 had my computer and he would constantly look for me but the idea was to bore him to sleep. day 3 I moved closer to the door and by day 5 I sat on a chair outside the door and told him I would wait outside so I could read (you can use logic at this age) and pretty soon after that he voluntarily went to his bed and fell asleep. Of course still called me for water, a hug, whatever, but he understood that was his bed and where he would sleep. Besides the point that he would appear in our bed by morning .. :-)

3 0

I faced the same issue but now it's in transitioning phase. I first tried putting his bed in our room only (next to my bed) for couple of days and then shifted his bed away from us in the same room. Now since he got used to sleeping alone, we have transferred his bed to another room but I still put him to sleep and once he is asleep I sneak out. This is working and now it's been few nights that he is sleeping in his room :)

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