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How do I get my child to sleep in his own room?

My seven-year-old son does not want to sleep in his bed alone. When he is at his mother's house, she lets him sleep with her. When he is at my house, I want him to sleep in his own room. Do you have any advice?

Stephanie Neuhaus | Pediatrician

Stephanie Neuhaus

It will certainly be more difficult to get your son to sleep in his own bed if this is not the routine at his mother’s house, but not impossible. 

The first thing to implement is a regular bedtime and a bedtime routine. This means that approximately 30 minutes before lights out, you and your son stop other activities and engage in a regular routine that helps him wind down. This could include him bathing, brushing his teeth, the two of you reading together, etc. 

Once you have decided that he is no longer going to sleep in your bed, that decision should be final. He should be expected to sleep in his bed (or at least in his room). You may end up walking him back there 100 times the first few nights. The key is, he must be convinced that your bed is no longer an option, at which point he will give up. (Your will power must out last him at this point).

This process can last up to approximately one week in sleep training. Nothing about this is going to be easy, but prizes are always a good tactic. If a child stays in his or her own bed overnight, give a reward in the morning such as a small prize. If they stay in their bed every night for a whole week, reward them with a large prize!

Another idea is to check out a book called "The Sleep Fairy" by Janie Peterson. This has cured many kids from bad sleep habits. Good Luck!

Read more answers by Dr. Neuhaus