19 answers

Help!!! My 5 Year Old Still Wants Me to Sleep with Him

With my first child, I made the mistake of laying with him almost every night until he fell asleep. Well, I never really broke him of this habit. He continues to want me to lay with him. We spend a lot of time together prior to bedtime: you know the normal routine, bathing, reading, prayers,etc... I have tried to offer rewards if he falls asleep by himself for x amount of nights, however, nothing has worked so far. I will lay with him and then leave his room. I then find that he wakes up about 2-3am to crawl into bed with me. I have asked him what makes him wake up in the middle of the night and he says he is scared, he also said because I get up and go in my bed in the middle of the night. I have to say I love every moment of it, however, I do not want to promote this long into the future. I thought Kindergarden would help knowing the other kids sleep alone, but this has not worked either. I would love any help or suggestions from the moms out there!!! Thank you:)

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My son starts in his bed at night. He wakes up every night and comes to my bed. I asked him the same question and he says he doesn't want to sleep by himself. He is now six and is in first grade. I'm glad I started him in his own bed since he was a baby. He used to ask me at 3 and 4 to sleep with him. I would read another story and play music for him to fall asleep to. I never slept with him. Good Luck. I think it is just him finding a way to attach himself to me.

We had the same issue and the only thing that helped was putting his brothers in the same room with him. Now that there are three people in the room, he sleeps fine. He just didn't want to be alone and it didn't matter if it was me or someone else in there with him. Good luck!!!

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Have him come to the store with you to pick out a special sleeping bag. Keep it in your room. Tell him he must go to sleep on his own, but if he wakes up and gets scared he can come into your room and sleep in the sleeping bag right by your bed. Be consistent.

Hi C.,
Funny you asked this question because I'm going through the same thing with my four year old son and was just wondering if there are other parents out there that have gotten into this mess, lol. My situation is even worse because I pretty much sleep in his bed with him every night so I don't have to deal with middle of the night wakings (hubby just loves this), I gave up a while ago. He tells me he's scared as well, which may be manipulative on his part but it seems to get me every time. We keep telling him when he turns 5 (in January) that he is going to have to start sleeping by himself and he wants nothing to do with it. Neither of my kids have been good sleepers since birth, early risers. I guess I don't have any good advice for you but just wanted to let you know you're not the only one in this situation.

Are you opposed to co-sleeping for some reason? I say let him sleep in your bed until he feels secure. I would certainly never intentionally kick my child or disturb their sleep. Fostering a feeling of securing is important, and humans are not meant to be alone, especially our little ones.

Hello, C.. I hope I can help you overcome your problem, but I don't think it is going to happen without some FIRM foot holding, a lot of time, and a lot of patience. Just to let you know, I did not allow my now grown kids to sleep with me. However, my boss did, and now her daughter is almost 11 years old and she still crawls in bed with mom and dad every night. Even though the daughter has her own bathroom, her tub/shower has never been used because she bathes, brushes her teeth and gets dressed in her parents master bedroom bath! Not to scare you, but these are consequences you MAY be facing in the future.
I suggest this...let him know that, as of tonight, you will be putting him to bed in his OWN bed and will NOT be laying with him. Assure him that you will be checking on him frequently, and then do so while he is still awake so he can see you doing what you said you would do. After a few nights, expand the time in between 'checks' by just a couple of minutes for another few nights, and continue to do so until he becomes comfortable. When he crawls in your bed in the middle of the night, MAKE IT A POINT TO PICK HIM UP AND PLACE HIM BACK IN HIS BED. You are probably going to have to do this many times a night in the beginning and put up with a lot of crying, etc., but repeat, repeat, and repeat, keep a steady voice, but be firm. He already knows that he can get his way by telling you that he is scared, but you are not giving him the benefit of finding out there is nothing to be scared of in his room if you don't let him find out for himself. As far as offering a reward if he sleeps in his bed all night...well, I personally feel that giving a reward for something that is expected of him will only lead to you having to reward him in the future for other things that he should automatically be responsible for. A perfect example is, once again, my bosses daughter. They have to bribe her with money just to take a shower! (no joke!!) Now she thinks she has to be paid for everything, or it just doesn't get done. Also, does your son have a bright enough night light in his room so he can see? Is there a light in the hallway to the bathroom in case he has to get up and to? Dim lights to help light the way can make a world of difference sometimes. I hope you get some good advice to help dissolve your concerns, whether it be from me and/or other moms. Besides, you OWE it to YOURSELF to have that time in bed ALONE or with your husband. It's okay to take care of you, too! Good luck. L.

I read a book of Bill Cosby, He also had the same problem, what he has done is, after discussing with his wife, while his child was sleeping they both started to turn, kick to disturb her. Finally she herself decided to go to her new bed. Before do such a thing better to introduce her new place by spending some time there with the child.

Well, I have a 4 1/2yr old boy, soon to be 5. He has his own room, but on a Saturday night it is his treat to sleep with us....not a hard and fast rule, but works as a great incentive for good behaviour! Anyway, often he would wake at a similar time as your little guy and does the same - I think it is normal to some extent. Sure they start playing on it sometimes, but they are only 5! Of course - I'd like to be able to get a good nights sleep sometimes without being kneed in the ribs or kicked in the back! (However I do love it). If you are comfortable with him coming into bed - nightly or ocassionally, go with it and enjoy the bonding- it may not continue for much longer. If you really want to break the cycle, we pay my little guy 5 pennies if he sleeps in his bed until 5o'clock - again I'm not a very good Mummy because often I forget to pay - but HE remembers and dutifully counts his 5 pennies into his money box - it works for us, and he is proud of his accomplishment!
Go with what's right for your family - not what you think others will think!
Good luck.

It doesn't sound like you are unhappy with your sleeping arrangements, rather what you "think" they should be. If everyone is happy, then just go with it. We have a family bed and other than it being a little cramped, everyone is happier for it. If you have other kids, you might try putting them together so they have the feeling of security with each other. My kids love to sleep together, they don't necessarily need my husband or I. It's a good and healthy thing, not a habit to be broken. Humans thrive on physical contact, it's proven. Children weren't meant to sleep alone.

As long as you and your husband are okay with this, don't worry about it. He will not want to sleep with you forever. He will think it isn't "cool" eventually. Family sleeping arrangements are a reflection of our culture. In our culture, the kids usually sleep alone. Among my friends and family, I've noticed a change in this. It seems more and more families are sleeping together. And in many other countries, the family sleeps together. We are social beings after all. I don't think there is any thing inherently wrong with it. It is just a decision that you and your husband will have to make.

I found that both of my kids went through a scared phase around 5-6 years old. It manifested itself in different ways, like not wanting to be in any room by themselves (day or night), wanting to make sure I would be at school pick-up on time and in the same place each day, etc. So it may be related to their developing imaginations, now that they can think of all the things that could go wrong. Mine just had to outgrow it, and weren't ready to until after kindergarten. Sorry, this won't be much help! Good luck.

I had the same issue. I had decorated his room with Spiderman in hopes that he would like it so much that he wouldn't have a problem. He liked the room, but he liked the idea of me sleeping with him still. I then started an reward system (treasure chest). For every night he slept by himself in his own bed without getting out and in our bed, he would be able to pick one toy out of the treasure chest. The chest of toys didn't work as well as I had hoped so I then turned back to Spiderman and told him if he didn't sleep in his room the whole night, I will (his choice) take one spiderman item away.

It worked. But, but he begged me to just stay with him for 4 minutes (with the lights off). I do believe he knew if I had layed down with him with the lights off, for 4 minutes, I'd fall asleep. It happened alot, but now that he sleeps in his room by himself without getting out (from time to time, he would get out), but that soon stopped. So, now I no longer sleep in there for 4 minutes, he still gets his 2 books read and on my way out, I how shut the light off. I do give him a choice (which i think is important) in either closing the door or keeping it shut. He always asks that it's kept open. So, not only does he get his way (with the door), I get to sleep back in my own bed.

Good luck.

As long as he senses you love it too, he's not really going to be motivated to stay out of your bed. That said, why are you trying to kick him out? He will leave eventually, you know. Maybe in your mind you thought 5 would be the right age, and maybe he thinks 7 or 8. If you don't mind having him creep in for a snuggle in the middle of the night, then let him. Soon, he'll be embarassed by your mere presence, and you'll remember these nights fondly. If you're really ready to kick him out, then the rewards have to be more immediate. Thinking he'll get a prize in a couple of days or a week will not be as compelling as his desire to be with you. Go to the dollar store and buy him 20 small gifts. Wrap each one and stack them up outside his room or somewhere he can see them. Tell him that if he makes it through the whole night in his bed, he can pick a present. By the end of the presents, he should be mostly staying in his bed. You might also consider having him sleep with a sibling who is older than 18 months. Sometimes it's just a warm body to snuggle that they're looking for, and the sib drives the loneliness and scariness away. Good luck, mama.

We had the same issue and the only thing that helped was putting his brothers in the same room with him. Now that there are three people in the room, he sleeps fine. He just didn't want to be alone and it didn't matter if it was me or someone else in there with him. Good luck!!!

Hi C., I have a very clingy 5yo son, (almost 6), who would prefer that I sleep next to him every night, the whole night....and after trying many different things, one of the few things that DID WORK is saying "If you stay in your bed ALL NIGHT, then you can play on the computer (Disney, PBS KIDS, etc.) in the morning for 30 minutes (he goes to afternoon Kindergarten). That's our standing agreement and now he goes to bed much more peaceably. Sincerely, P.

I think this like all parenting issues it will depend on the child. Maybe he'll outgrow it or you can talk to him. Personally my mom slept with me on and off till I was six. However, until I was thirteen she came into my room and sang me a song, talked and generally was just "there". I know a eleven or twelve year old should be "independent" and I was! Ask anyone! I also was very empathetic and when a friend had an issue I stayed up half the night thinking and worrying about it! My mom helped me put things in perspective and guess what! Today if I'm confused or frazzled I calm myself down. Some kids need more guidance while others "deal" because they don't think about it. Maybe your son is upset about something he feels isn't worth talking about or you won't like him if he tells. Personally I would let him know I get scared too and that is normal-not downplay it. Teach him how to get over his fears while staying with him and he won't need you but know you're there later. Maybe have him pick out a new pillow and blanket and reward him for small steps. Listen to him and he'll tell you how to fix it. Best of luck. L.

I did the same thing with my 5 1/2 year old. We still sit with him until he falls asleep. I don't think it was a mistake. It is a great time to talk with him. He used to get up almost every night at about 2 or 3 like you said, and come into our room. Then, a few months ago this just stopped on its own. Now he rarely comes in in the middle of the night. I looked at it in a different way. I thought that if he needed me in the middle of the night, then I was there for him. It didn't bother me. One other note, with the weather getting colder we noticed that he will wake up in the middle of the night because he is cold (he always kicks off his covers). Once we go in and cover him up he goes right back to sleep. Needless to say, we switched to warmer pajamas - problem solved.

You are going to get alot of different opinions on this one! I don't really have any advice on how to get him to sleep by himself. Just wanted to say don't consider laying with him until he fell asleep a mistake, I think it's wonderful. Think of how secure he has felt all those years with you next to him at night. Some people think it promotes dependency on the parent, but I think it actually promotes independence.

My son starts in his bed at night. He wakes up every night and comes to my bed. I asked him the same question and he says he doesn't want to sleep by himself. He is now six and is in first grade. I'm glad I started him in his own bed since he was a baby. He used to ask me at 3 and 4 to sleep with him. I would read another story and play music for him to fall asleep to. I never slept with him. Good Luck. I think it is just him finding a way to attach himself to me.

I was in the same boat until recently. I stayed with my son until he fell asleep every night and went into his bed during the middle of the night. He would fall asleep on his own when I was out of town for work, so I knew he could do it, but always took the path of less resistance. Only (literally) last week, he started falling asleep on his own and staying asleep all night. This is because we have a one month old daughter. It seems that when I had "nothing better to do", I needed to be with him. Now that I tell him I have to feed his sister, he understands I can't stay with him. Now, I'm not suggesting to have another kid, but maybe a real concrete reason like, "I have to take a shower" or something he can understand will help. I tried just about everything else, but a concrete tangible reason has seemed to really help. Good luck and know you aren't alone!


I had a similar situation with my son at 5 years of age. He just turned 6 and while he is still anxious about sleeping in his bed, he is sleeps through the night 95% of the time. We initally had "sleepovers" on Saturday nights as a reward for good behavior as another poster suggested. He seemed over time to lose interest in the sleepover as a reward but still had the anxiety so we made a transition. I saw on Amazon.com the good reviews that Moonbeam: A Book of Meditations for Children by Maureen Garth had for children who had trouble sleeping and purchased it.

What a great help that book has been! Like you, we do the whole regular routine of bathing, brushing teeth, him reading, etc. and then I read two books to him, the first is any book and he can leave his eyes open. The 2nd book (Moonbeam) he has to close his eyes, covers on, etc. and I read to him in a soothing voice. I usually only have to read the introduction and a couple of the meditations (which are really just 4 page stories of your child imagining himself playing in the ocean with dolphins, running along a sandy beach, meeting a family of rabbits) and he falls asleep and stays asleep. Everyone now and then he objects and says he wants another book read to him, so I just pick a story that lends itself to bedtime and read it in the same soothing voice and off to dreamland he goes.

Best of luck to you.

L. S.

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