Some children still
periodically climb into their parents’ bed. Kids who formed this
habit during their early years may take a while to grow out of it.
Originally they had a strong emotional need to be with their parents
at night. After the need is gone, the habit may linger.
Many parents are not concerned about the practice, primarily because
their child goes to sleep in his own bed as independently as other
kids his age do. Although he spends many nights on his own, he still
sometimes prefers, with gradually decreasing frequency, to be with
his parents if he wakes during the night.
Some children seek comfort with their parents because they’ve had a
nightmare or they aren’t feeling well. Others find their way into
their parents’ bed during times of stress or after their parents
return from a vacation. If parents’ busy schedules leave little time
for him, he may want to sleep in their bed as a way of having
contact with them. Most often, however, children climb into their
parents’ bed out of habit. The habit will eventually disappear
during these years.
If you’re bothered by your child’s continuing nighttime visits and
want to end them now, talk to him about the situation. He’s old
enough to understand and accept your expectations. Tell him, “Since
you’re getting older, we want you to sleep in your bed for the whole
night. If you need us during the night, come and let us know.” He
may follow your wishes immediately or slowly adjust to the new
If he resists sleeping in his own room, try to find out why. One set
of parents discovered that their daughter came into their bed at
night to stop them from arguing. Ask your child what he thinks will
help him stay in his own bed. Suggest that he sleep with a stuffed
animal or an extra light. You might even try rearranging his room to
make it more comfortable. More than anything, he will be helped by