Sleep Rules and Keeping them in bed


I got a message from a friend of mine about the sleep routine and rules in my household. Thought I’d share the question and response here. Anyone else have tips to share?


Do your kids sleep in their own rooms? Own beds? Sleep with you? Each other?
And what’s your bed time routine? How do you get them to stay in bed without having you lay with them until they fall asleep? My daughter has been wanting that for the past few months and it’s soooo time consuming! Any tips!

My Response:

Yes. They both sleep in their own rooms – V started at age 2 (but only because I needed to kick her out for baby K on the way – transitioned two months before the due date so she wouldn’t make the connection) hahaha. K started at Age 3. Note though that they have ALWAYS been in their own crib/bed. NEVER slept with me. And I was pretty firm about it because I didn’t want to build those habits that I know are hard to break.

There was a time when V tried to get out of bed and climb into ours… claiming she’s scared or for whatever other reason. My rule to her was: no coming into my bed unless the sun is up. So anything while its still dark out… I would tend to whatever she said got her out of bed… and back to bed she goes. If the sun happened to be out already and she came in… I’d let it go… Figure it would only be an hour or two so not as big of a deal. That rule has always seemed to work. Even til this day.

But although that’s always been the rule and worked for the most part, there was THAT PHASE… I was pulling my hair out trying to get her to figure her own demons/nightmares out and stop waking me up in the middle of the night. This happened on and off for months when she was 4 and again right before she turned 5. It was odd because for 4 solid years, she was able to sleep in a dark room with the door closed. Then all of the sudden there was this start of nightmares, etc. In my readings, I found that it was common at that age as their imaginations were so much more vivid and it was translating into their dreams. There were negotiations at that time with her… about how much the door could be cracked open.  We tried different night lights. Got her the Cloud B light (which did work very well and she still uses to this day). We tried some self-talk – having her say “Shoo Scared!” (like “shoo fly!”). During that phase, we also resorted to a reward/bribe (mini popsicle) for her to stay in bed without bothering me. That actually worked really well for a very long time. In the end, we did make it out alive. I lost a lot of sleep during that time that I will never get back. But we did survive. Now that she’s approaching 6 (omg. did I just say SIX!?!) there are some nightmare nights, but they don’t happen regularly so they are much tolerable. And the rules are still the same: Work it out. Back to bed. Don’t bother me before sunrise.


Bed time routine – brush teeth/wash hands/face, floss…. Read one book.. and into bed. Once in bed, they want a little lullaby, hug, and kiss. I close the door. and I’m out! I was able to full on close the door for the first 4 years with V. Until she had that nightmare phase, so now its cracked open a bit and the hall light stays on outside the room. The little guy still sleeps in the dark with door closed. Either way, putting them down for bed is pretty routine and easy.

I NEVER have had to lie there with them. Never wanted to start that habit. So when I did the sleep training at 3-4 months old, its always been about training them to fall asleep on their own. No holding… no rocking… nada. I might have rubbed them on their backs or cheeks to soothe them.. but that’s it. Figure it out. HAHAHAHAH I know. Tough love. But in the end, its truly something they can do on their own and has made everyone’s lives easier. Makes it easier for me, makes it easier for anyone that babysits as well. Perhaps because I started this from infant time, then they never really fought it about staying in bed.

I’m not sure how to break such habit if its already been going on in your household for a while. But at 3 yrs old, reward system seems to “click” with them quite well.