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Today I want to talk about how to keep your child in their own bed.   Let me first take a minute to explain that your child will be healthier, do better in school, be more pleasant throughout the day, and just feel better overall, if they are getting enough sleep  (no matter where that may be: your bed, their bed or somewhere else).

A white sheet of paper with text on it.

Now, we do not co-sleep (well- if the kids aren’t feeling well, if they are running a fever, or if there is a thunderstorm, they do sleep in our rooms), but for the most part, we don’t co-sleep because I am a huge worrier!  

I am up all night worrying about if they are breathing or if a pillow is on their face or if they are sleeping all night or waking up.  If I have to sneeze or cough- forget about it… I will just hold it because I don’t want to risk waking them.

All in all, I just don’t relax when they are in our bed.  My husband won’t sleep, either, because he worries about rolling on top of them.    I know that those things probably will never happen, but I just worry so much, so we all sleep better when they are in their bed and we are in our bed.

With that being said, I try to remember “Different Strokes for Different Folks”, so whatever works for your family is what works.  Period!


So- let’s get back to keeping your child in their own bed.   I’m not saying that my kids always sleep through the night, just that it is better for their development when they do.  Trust me; my kids have all woken up for weeks or months at a time at some point during their young lives.  I just do my best to get them back onto their natural sleep patterns to help them be the healthiest and happiest that they can be!

Here are the reasons that I want my child to STAY IN HIS/HER BED AT NIGHT

  1. I am uncomfortable knowing that our sons or daughter would be walking around when I am asleep.   I just can’t have this.   What if they fell down the stairs?  What if they got themselves a drink and aspirated without me knowing?   What if they got into something dangerous (we keep the house child-proofed, but you just never know)?   For these reasons, we have a rule that they must stay in their beds until 7:00 am .
  2. Kids need 10-12 hours of sleep a night.  Younger toddlers and babies need even more.  This is why we put our kids to bed at 7:00.
  3. Well-rested kids = happier kids.  Well-rested kids = kids that can focus better.   It just works for us.
  4. I don’t want to be ‘tucking them in’ five times a night.  I have already had time lying down with each one of them, and they need to go to bed.


A quick background on our family.  Our older two boys always stay in bed (they are six and eight).I don’t know what we did differently, but they never attempted to come out of bed.  The two younger ones are still in the learning process (2 and 4).

A group of people sitting in the grass posing for a picture.
I love the cuddle time with each one of our kids.  This is why when they say “Mommy, will you lay with me?”  I always say YES!  However, laying with them and having them coming into my room and bed at all hours of the night are two totally different things.

“Why Is My Child Coming Out Of Bed and How Do I Stop It?” 

I get this question a lot, so let me offer the advice that worked for us.

keep a child in their bed
The very first time that they come out of their bed, correct them.

My story:  When our daughter moved to a toddler bed, I watched her on her video monitor.
The second that I saw her climbing out of her bed, I ran in and said “No, Ma’am.  Back into bed, please. ” I told her “If you need Mommy, you say ‘MOMMY!’ and I will come in.  You DO NOT get out of your bed.  I will be scared if I know that you aren’t safe in your bed.  Do you understand? ”

She answered with an “Uh-hum.”  She then started to cry, knowing that she didn’t make the right choice and she put her hands over her eyes (this is what she does when she is upset).  She didn’t come out of her bed again, until several months later.

Fast forward- Several months later, she made her second attempt.  She is still only two, and I am not comfortable with her walking around without me knowing because it isn’t safe, so when I saw her, I put her back into her bed and said the same thing.   She immediately climbed back out.   This is where the ‘real teaching’ comes into play.

Let me tell you how it worked with our son (because it explains why we did this again with our daughter) I saw this method on Super Nanny,  and I have had to do this with our third son when he was two years old.  It works.  I promise you.  It is ALL ABOUT CONSISTENCY.

After you have verbally corrected them once, from then on, take them by the hand and firmly, but GENTLY place them back into their beds.  Do not lose your temper.   I did this with our son (when he was two years old) over 100 times!  

Now, I know that number sounds outrageous, but on the show, SuperNanny, some parents did it hundreds of times (like 300+).
It works.  It really does.  (Remember- bad habits can take up to three days to break, so give it three days!)

It just works.  

Extreme or not.  

I was not mean.  

I didn’t use force.

I did not yell.

I was not angry. 

 I show consistency. 

How To Get A Child To Stay In Their Bed?  (The exact steps)

Let me give you an example of one of our sons.   I sat outside his door and waited for him to come out again, and again, and again.

It took one night of putting him back to bed over and over and over and over until he stopped coming out.

By night #2, it happened about 10 times.

By night #3- zero times.

It has been several years, and he has not come out of his bed unless he has been sick or scared or had to use the bathroom.  If he needs us, he calls for us, but that is not often.  After we read with him, give him a sip of water, lie down with him, and sing his goodnight songs, he goes to sleep.

RELATED–>>  We also do this trick to help him sleep all night long (if your child wakes up in the middle of the night, this tip is a game-changer!  It can help your child sleep all night long!)

You can read about it by clicking on this picture:

2-4 year old waking up at night

So, back to our two-year-old daughter:  I did this with our daughter a few weeks ago (the two-year-old) but it only took four times of putting her back into her bed before she figured out that this was not going to work.  The promise to leave her door open like her brothers helped, too.  Haha!

Other tricks to try:

  • Leave the door open
  • Leave on a night light
  • Skip nap time, but put them to bed sooner (a tired child sleeps well.  An over-tired child is restless).
  • Use a sticker chart
  • Get this noise machine projector (our niece loves this- she is three)
  • Or you could get this clock that changes color when they can wake up!
  • Remember that this will be hard and tiring, but if you want your child to stay in their own bed, this will hopefully help you to accomplish that.  In the end, you need to do what works for you and your family. No matter what you read or hear, make it work for your family.

    Our older kids (born in ’06 and ’08) were coming out of their beds for a drink, a tissue, to say goodnight to the dog again, etc… (it was lasting over an hour some nights!) and we finally said that if they come out when they don’t need anything, we would have to give them an extra “not fun” chore. They could come out & help themselves (use the bathroom, etc…) but to come to get us to tuck them back in for the 9th time in an hour was just too much.  It was getting OUT OF CONTROL.  This stopped it after day 2 of the chores.  

    PS- here are the affiliate links to the products that I mentioned:

noise machine projector

alarm clock changes colors for kids

I hope that helped!    Remember, don’t let the rules for bedtime interfere with your child’s need for a good snuggle now & then. ♥     Read this one when you have a second:

kids coming into my room

Need More Advice?
Try These:

1. Join my FREE sleep course (sent via email)
Keep your child in their bed

2. Why our kids are in bed by 7:00in bed by 7:00
3. Mommy, will you lay with me? 

lay with me

4. Potty Train in a WEEKEND. 


2, 3, 4 year old waking up at night



Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. I love love love that you use super nanny, I plan to as well!!! Why because I have seen the struggles of my parents try to get young kids to sleep and then end up letting me go to bed whenever they felt like it because it was just easier because it was a quick fix. I do not believe co sleeping is beneficial to anyone! there comes a point where you have to give it up so for me there is no point in starting it. People think I am a bitch for believing in this but my sisters slept with my mom and dad all the time NO ONE EVER got good sleep. People think the super nanny’s are too hard for using this method but I find it completely brilliant!! As you said they are not harsh or angry it’s all about consistency.

    1. Oh I’m with you- it can be done in the most kind way… as long as you are consistent. Constancy is the key to not yelling or needing to get angry in so many situations. 🙂

  2. Both of my kids are extremely smart, confident, and compassionate, and I’ve coslept with them their entire lives. They sleep until they aren’t tired, and I never have to worry about them getting up during the night. I highly recommend that every mother learn about cosleeping. Two is awfully young to have a baby sleep alone.

    1. I totally agree with you… We both (me &my husband) loved the cosleeping period with my daughter. She used to sleep with us from 10 months until she was 4. Then one day she decided that she wanted to sleep at her bed. She is a confident and indepented little lady! (she is 8 now) 🙂

    2. I love co sleeping but when my second come along four in the bed was too much for all of us so that’s why we introduce a toddler bed in our bedroom for my 2 year old while the baby slept with us or in his bassinet next to my bed also. this has worked well for us as it makes my 2 year old know that we are close and he is safe and i sleep a little bit better knowing that i have both my children in my room where i can see them and know that they are breathing throughout the night.

      1. We had to do that when our little guy got the flu. We just moved his toddler bed into our room for about a week. 🙂

    3. My son slept on his own since he took his first breath. Not ONE problem with him. If you co sleep, why did you read this article? Just to criticize? I prefer my husband. Keeping him happy. How do you even have sex?

      1. It doesn’t have to happen in a bed, in the bed room, at night. Co-sleepers get creative!

    4. I agree. There are studies about how co sleeping makes more independent adults. My husband went in to sleep with his parents every night until he was 12!! Today he is a very successful business owner and we never push our kids out of our room. His sisters who didn’t sleep with their parents are , let’s say, way more dependent individuals and don’t have the independence and success my husband has.

      1. 1. To think that something as small as sleeping with your parent, alone, contributes to and “independent” or “dependent” probably means you have missed the whole point. Children are supported differently at different times in their lives. Not to mention each child’s needs are different at different ages. To attribute your husbands co-sleeping to the fact that he is successful is probably inaccurate.

        2. Its’ kind of sad your comparing your husbands family members.

        3. This articles says it in the first three sentences that they don’t sleep with their children, not that you shouldn’t.

      2. To all you first time moms out there:

        Do what works best for YOUR family and ignore all the haters out there. If you co-sleep, great. If you don’t co-sleep, great. Motherhood is rewarding and challenging and so is being a wife…do what works for you.

  3. Great info for new moms! Our girls are now ages 14 & 16, and we implemented great habits from the time they first came home from the hospital. We put them in their cribs from day one (yes, I nursed), put them in the toddler bed around age 2.5 years, & they have been incredible sleepers ever since. Thankfully, they didn’t “explore” the house & stayed put. They were always tired & ready to sleep. It’s funny – I recall them always yawning as soon as they hit their rooms & I think it’s because they were conditioned to good schedules & were ready. I tended to them as needed, but they’ve never come into our room.

  4. I bet you money you are a SAHM!! Yet, you can write about a “modern family”. A modern family has a working mom that can’t “put her kids to bed at 7” because she is just getting home from work. Talk to me then. The modern family has a working mom who is too tired from working 45+ hours a week to get up 100+ times to “be consistent”. I have one kid who sleep walks and hasn’t slept “through the night” for 9 years (we send him back every night). I also have a kid who has never left her bed in 7 years. Very frustrating for me to read this article!

    1. I do work… I am a play therapist, so I work with children birth through age three with developmental delays. I was also an elementary teacher before I started my job as a therapist (more flexible hours). I have been studying children through my education & profession for over 15 years, so I just write what I have found to work for the children that I work with and with my own children. 🙂

      1. I must commend you on your diplomatic and kind response to the “obviously you are a sahm comment.” I have been both a working mother (Medical Social Worker with a 40+ hour work week plus on call hours) as well as a “sahm.” I have found that having routine and getting my kids to bed at a reasonable hour was beneficial in both roles. I liked knowing that my kids were going to get enough sleep so that we could get up early enough to have some quality time without rushing frantically out the door. I also liked knowing that the couple short hours I had with my children in the evenings were not going to be wasted with me frustrated or irritated by them because they were tired. I feel this article can speak for the families it would be useful for whether the mother us working or at home with the kids.

        1. Thank you. That was so kind of you to say that. 🙂 I completely agree- tired kids (& adults) make for short fuses and that ruins it for everyone. 🙂

          1. Thanks for this article. If you have any advice, I would really appreciate it. My son is 7 next month. He is driving me crazy. He used to come into my bed every night and I honestly would be too tired and wouldn’t move him back. I wouldn’t have had a problem with this (especially since I’m divorced and single) and it would have been fine to co-sleep. Problem is he kicks and hits me in his sleep. I would wake up with bruises. His feet would dig into my back so deep I would wake up repeatedly through the night in pain. It made me angry and also it made too tired to work (I was completing my PhD thesis). Eventually I started moving him into his bed when he’d come to my room. Also I stopped reading to him until he slept. Taught him to read to sleep with a little night light. That hasn’t lasted long, and now in order to get me to stay with him he demands and yells and screams. Then when he finally does sleep, he wakes up 3-4 times a night screaming at the top of his lungs to wake me.. why? Because he wants a hug, or to be tucked in again. Please, any advice would help, I’m starting to not really not enjoy being around him as I feel suffocated by him. I love my child more than anything, but I’m starting to feel unhappy all the time 😞

      2. I was wondering if you have any advice for sleep training a 6 year old with autism? I currently sleep in his room with him and would like to phase out of his room even if it’s just until he falls asleep so he can learn to fall asleep on his own .

        1. I don’t. I’m sorry. I am a play therapist, but I only work with children up to age 3. I work for Learning Connections Unlimited in Huntersville. I’m wondering if Pam could offer you help over the phone as a service? She is truly amazing!

      1. Oh gosh- I don’t know. Our 8 year old doesn’t come into our room anymore. He did for about a week, but we just told him, nicely, that it had to stop. I said “I am not getting enough sleep and it has to stop. I am grumpy when I don’t sleep and I don’t want to be grumpy with you, so you have to stop coming into my room unless you are sick.”

        1. I like that. I find that when you speak to them rationally (even my 3 year year old) and are consistent with it they listen to you. You’re stating facts. And when you behave in a way that shows facts speak for themselves kids will follow suit.
          You stated you’re too tired to be a mom if he’s going to wake you up and he understood.

    2. I’m a working mom. In fact I truly believe I am the text book definition of tired. 3 kids at difficult ages…(12, 3.5 and 14 months) so I have preteen, preschool and baby/toddler. My 2 youngest are bad sleepers. To make it worse I work 40+ hours/week, I am on call after work Monday – Friday AND every other weekend. My husband is up for work between 4-5am most days so is no help at night and is on call Monday – Thursday. I sometimes shop at our 24 hour grocery store at insane hours (2 or 3 am) because that’s my only window to do it without dragging all 3 of them out in the evening. I’m not trying to be rude but your “you must be a SAHM” comment was ridiculous. It doesn’t matter if you work or not, your children come first and if they need help to become good sleepers so they can be well rested then you suck it up and do what needs to be done. There’s no such thing as I’m too tired when you have kids. You have time and energy to read and comment on blogs obviously. Use that time to help your kids.

    3. Yeah, the “in bed at 7” advice just doesn’t work at all for everyone. Unless you live in a region where the sun sets early and in a slightly closed in area away, surrounded by trees and away from sound pollution, I can’t fathom a kid being able to sleep in 30 minutes after 7pm. That advice doesn’t work for parents who live in an apartment where the quiet hours start from 10 pm. I’m pretty it’s rare for other places to have “silence hours” any time before 8 or 9 pm. The only way a parent could get a kid to sleep at 7 pm, especially during a Friday or Saturday night, is if they tend to be a heavy sleeper even if the next door neighbor is having a party or the hoarder downstairs who occasionally moves heavy furniture around.

    4. I’m not really sure how being a SAHM doesn’t make you a ‘modern’ woman. There are equal pros and cons, whether you work outside the home, or in. Maybe things change once your child(ren) get into school all day…I can’t speak to that since my son is still young, and I don’t get that break. I have alot of respect for women who work outside the home all day, then come home to work at home all night. However, I am also working all day and night, just at different things, with much less adult interaction, LOL! I really wish that ALL moms could just support the choices we each make for our families, and recognize that there is no right/wrong way to do ANYTHING involving parenting, since we are all different, and raising different children.

      We don’t co-sleep. Not because we feel strongly for/against it, but because we’re all ‘dont touch me while I’m sleeping’ people…even my son. The few weeks here and there that the little has ended up in our bed, NONE of us get decent sleep. ? If other parents co-sleep, good for them! I can’t imagine it, because we cannot enjoy it, but I’m happy for them if they can!

      What it comes down to is that we each have to do what we feel is best for our own families. I think this author does very well expressing that. I quite appreciate that, and thanks to these sleep posts, have a few new tools to try to help us all get enough sleep!

  5. My two go through diff phases of sleeping through and waking up and while ive stopped them getting into my own bed as there is no room i go and get in theirs i do not know if it is a good thing or a bad thing but they grow up so fast id like to spend the time they want me with them rather than shoo them away to sleep on their own or be scared like i used to be .
    I dont do it every night and i love to sleep in my own bed but im sure when theyre ready and they start nit to wake up in the night theyl be fine .
    I may be waffling on a bit now but i want them to know that im there when they need me even in the night xxx

  6. parents are tired these days and take the easier way out. Which I don’t blame them. But I think if they would take a long weekend and to make changes it will change their lives. As a home daycare provider I see it all. Kids come have eaten candy or cookies for breakfast, blame parents for not having gloves, backpack, boots, whatever. I am sorry if you can put it on your self you should be responsible for it, there should be very little negotiations. You clean your room and then you get to your baseball game. It would only take 1 time off missing a practice or a game that they would figure ot you mean business.
    Having 10 kids here most of the day, most of my kids can do things themselves, even the little 1 1/2 year old. If you put in a little time you get big pay off.

    1. I seriously and right there with you – read my post called “STOP doing that for your kids”. 🙂

  7. My 3 year old gets up every night to use the bathroom. She wants our help and then wants us to bring her back to bed. I can’t get mad that she has to go to the bathroom. Any advice to get her to go on her own and just go back to bed?

    1. LOL- I would either put a night-light out there to help her or move the training potty into her room with many towels under it. We did this with our son when he was two and it was all that we had to do. We practiced everything many times before bed, but from night #1 – he did awesome & didn’t need our help anymore. 🙂 I could still hear him, but I didn’t have to go in there anymore & soon he just slept through the night & held it all night.

  8. What do you if she wakes up in the middle of the night? Restart the process? My daughter slept through the night at two weeks, but at 2 she learned how to climb out of her crib and for the last six months leaves her room multiple times at night.

    1. You should read my post on “my 2 year old still wakes up at night” – it was a huge life-saver for us! 🙂

  9. I am a SAHGM and my daughter runs her own ceramic art business from home and I have the pleasure of looking after my one year old grandson twice a week when my daughter has errands to run or delivering orders and I completely understand how busy these little people can get and how tired the mothers can get because my grandson keeps the whole family on their toes. However, I think Becky’s tips are excellent and should work for any family whether you are working parents or not. If you are complaining about being a working mom and you are too tired to sacrifice 3 days teaching your child 300 times to go back to bed, then I’m sorry to say that the problem is with you because then you will end up having to suffer for 9 years plus because you were too tired to make the initial sacrifice…just saying.!!!

  10. Our 2.5 year old daughter wakes up every night and comes in our bed. She has been doing it for over two months now. She uses the ‘I need a wee’ strategy but then refuses to go back to her own bed. We tried to put her back but she starts to cry hysterically, what wakes her little sister up (1 year old) who she shares the room with. If that happens, the little one would cry for up to 2h and would not be calmed. What would you suggest we do? Really desperate now and putting them in separate rooms is not an option.

    1. Oh that is really hard. I am going to post it on my Facebook page tonight for the readers to see – they are so helpful!

    2. I would go and settle her back in her room, either sitting with her for 5 minutes, or patting her until she goes back to sleep. My daughter had a period when she was around this age where she woke up, terrified, in the middle of the night, several times a week. I would literally run to her room, tell her “Everything is ok, mummy’s here” and sit with her and it would only take a minute or two. She soon stopped waking up.

  11. I have to disagree! Our 3yr old twins slept in their cribs from day one until introduced to toddler beds, since then they have slept with us. Yes, all four if us in a king size bed. They are smart, well behaved, independent little girls. I dont think about losing sleep & being grumpy with my kids. Yes im tired but I sleep/rest much more comfortably knowing they are in bed ‘with me’. And no, my marriage is not suffering bc of the lack of time my husband and I get! Your children are only little once.

    1. I think if it works for you, it works. 🙂 As I always say “Do what works for your family – different strokes for different folks.” 🙂

  12. Epic fail over here. For the last month or so my newly 3 son had been getting out of his room repeatedly and not wanting to go to sleep. I read your article and excitedly put it into action Tuesday night. I ended the night on tears because he came out probably 100 times (wayyyyyy more than usual) and when I would take his hand to guide him back he would go lax in the legs. Didn’t get to bed until 1030 that night (bedtime is 730 and fees usually asleep between 830-9). I was discouraged but still saw the light at the end of the tunnel on day 3. Now we’re on night 5 and he’s still coming out. My husband just resorted to yelling at him and now he’s staying in bed. What did I do wrong…

    1. I just emailed you that I am trying to find a different plan for you. I called our neurologist and pediatrician so I will keep you posted.

  13. I have tried doing what you said and my daughter (2.5 years old) thinks it’s a game. She gets up, I take her back, she runs back to her bed and throws herself into it, which sometimes results in her hitting her head on the wall. Then she cries and I have to comfort her, etc, so we get derailed. Also, I have to do this myself since she flat out refuses to have anything with my head a and after bedtime routine. If he tries putting her back she gets hysterical. I get frustrated and angry, but I try to remain calm on the outside so my daughter won’t get upset, but she ends up crying anyway if I keep putting her back in her bed. Please help!

    1. I wish I knew what to tell you. This worked for our kids, but all kids are different. My biggest tip is just to be consistent with whatever you decide. Let me know how it turns out!

  14. Do you have any tips for middle of the night tantrums?? We just had a baby October 2nd, and my son who was always a great sleeper had a nightmare around Thanksgiving.. Since then, my husband had to lay with him until he fell asleep.. Then he would wake up screaming at all hours of the night when he discovered my husband left. Our ped told us to let him cry it out.. We tried but then he started getting out of bed and screaming and throwing a tantrum for over an hour each time. We ended up moving his mattress in our room so we could reestablish a healthy sleep pattern for him. He sleeps through the night, but we have to get him back into his room. He claims that he misses us. I know part of this is the new baby. She is now in her crib in her room. I thought if he saw her move in there this would end but it hasn’t. Any tips would be appreciated.

    1. I don’t. We just make it a point not to lay with them if it is more than one night, because they expect it (I’ve learned that the hard way!) How old is your son?

      1. He’s 3.5. I think it’s a combination of adjustment to his sister, and being genuinely scared of having another nightmare. Don’t know what to do. How did you get out of the habit of laying with them?

        1. Oh- yeah. That’s a hard age.
          I had to do it the hard way (stop laying with him). We took a weekend and started it. Friday night he came strolling in and we put him back to bed. We took turns (we knew it was going to be a very long night). We told him “We are not sleeping with you tonight.” We bought him a bright night-light, a new stuffed animal to sleep with and we kept his door open. I sat by his bed until he feel asleep, so he could see me. On night #2, I sat by his door (a little further away). ON night #3, I sat outside of his door, but let my feet be inside, so he knew that I was there. On night #4 he didn’t need me. I know it sounds super crazy & over-the-top, but it worked. 🙂

        2. My son is now 4, but at 3.5 he was suddenly having nightmares and wanted me to paint his walls black, so he “wont see the shadows dat move.” We used ‘Monster Spray’ aka a spray bottle of wayer with a couple drops of lavender oil, labeled with the pic of the scariest monster he could find and the Ghostbuster circle with a bar over it, on the label. Every night, right before bed, we went around to any area that could harbor a monster/shadow/anaconda/velociraptor and sprayed the ‘keep away’ spray. Eventually, he would do it himself. It really helped give him the peace of mind to relax and get to sleep, as well as reducing his frequency of nightmares!

      2. 2 of my sons had night terrors when they were younger. Their little bodies were growing so fast that it could cause their limbs to ache painfully at night, often leading to nightmares. Epsom salt soaks are great to help with this as is a gentle massage. It took me so much time to figure this out though, so maybe this will help someone else who is having trouble with their little ones.