7 Year Old That Will Not Sleep in His Own Bed

Updated on January 09, 2009
M.S. asks from Las Vegas, NV
20 answers

My 7 year old has been sleeping in my bed on and off his entire life. I take the blame for his behavior because I got divorced from his biological father when he was one. We moved away and to fill the lonliness void I allowed my son to sleep with me. I now regret my decision because I am now expecting a child with my new husband and my son still finds his way into my bed. I have tried a dream catcher in his room, night lights, redecorating his room, punishment and nothing is working. I am now almost 4 months pregnant and unable to sleep comfortably as is. Any suggestions would be much appreciated to find a way to reverse the bad habit I have caused.

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your advice. My son has slept in his own bed for the last week and a half. Now I do have to sit in his room until he falls asleep - which only takes a few minutes. He has woken in the middle of the night a couple times but I take him right back into his room and he goes right back to sleep.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Have you tried a chart or a calendar with stickers on it for each day that he manages to sleep in his own bed? Once he fills up the calendar you can give him a special prize or a special trip for just you and him to celebrate his acheivement.

This has worked well for me. My friend's daughter sleeps in her bed off and on, too (although, she is 5 years old). She really played up that there is much more room in her own bed without all the people in it. She also played up that she doesn't have to hear daddy's snoring, either. She tried using the chart and by the end of the month, she was consistently sleeping in her own bed.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reno on

I had the same situation with my son (now 6). My son sleeping in my room wasn't a problem for me, but when he was in my bed I got hit, kicked and in general didn't get a good night's sleep. I transitioned him to a fold-out bed on the floor and eventually to his room. It's still difficult at times - he gets scared and prefers to sleep on my floor than in his room. Because that's not an option any more he reluctantly sleeps in his room. An extra hug, tuck-in, or leaving a light on sometimes help on hard nights. We occasionally have nights of crying when he doesn't want to sleep in his room, but this time (since September when school started) I've been firm and consistent and he hasn't been sleeping in my room. On really hard nights I’ll let him sit on the floor in my room until he calms down and gets sleepy. If I take him to his bed when he’s comfortable and tired bedtime goes better. If he’s wound up and scared he has a hard time putting himself to bed. If he has a month with good behavior at school he gets a reward (roller skating, Chucky Cheese, etc). Know what he picks?! A night sleeping in my bed! This is the only time I allow it.

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answers from Los Angeles on

ok, i'll take the opposite side of most people. i agree with one poster that it's not a bad habit at all. it's his way of making sure he has his mommy still. he's lost you to your new husband and now this new belly of yours that will come and take over his and your entire life. for me, i'd say kick hubby out of bed and sleep with your son. but in reality i know you can't. buy a bigger bed??? ok, how about this...take the others advice of sitting him down and talking, etc. and make sure he gets a solid hour or more before bed with just you and him, maybe cuddling, maybe reading, something. he just wants mommy i think : )

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answers from Los Angeles on

To this day, I hate to sleep alone. I think it's wonderful to cuddle up and have everyone drift off to sleep together, and when my children needed that closeness, I happily let them into my bed. However, as you are pregnant, the issue becomes having enough room to be comfortable! Your son is going through some big events in his life, with a new husband for you and a new baby on the horizon. Maybe he just needs a little reassurance that there will still be enough of you for him, and that you'll be there for his needs, too.

When my sons got so big that it became uncomfortable to have them in my bed, I simply set up a new, special, "big boy" sleeping bag on the floor next to my side of the bed. I let them know they were welcome to come into our bedroom anytime they felt the need and sleep on the floor beside us, but because we were all getting so big, it just wasn't comfortable anymore with us all in one bed! My only rule was they had to start the night in their own room, and I would read them to sleep, or let them watch TV until they drifted off. After bad dreams or nighttime upsets, they would come into our room and get into the sleeping bag, often without the need to even wake me! There were times I would need to reach down and hold hands with them (with them on the floor and me in my bed) until they drifted off. They felt secure that I was close by, and the freedom to come and go as they needed relaxed them when it was bedtime. As they got older, they WANTED to stay in their own room like all their friends did, and eventually weaned themselves off having to come into my room at night. They eventually also realized their own bed was much more comfortable than the floor! Also, with the baby coming and being in your room, it will help eliminate jealousy if your son has your OK to come into your room like the baby will. (However, after being kept awake by baby cries, he will probably decide on his own it's not such a good idea!).

Childhood lasts such a short while, I just can't see upsetting kids and rejecting their need for something as natural as wanting to be reassured and cuddled at night. We all need our sleep, and it's something you will have to work out to the benefit of your family. My kids are all past this stage, the two oldest are already "launched" and on their own, and I would love to go back to the days when I could fix their whole world by letting them sleep on the floor next to me at night! Good luck...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My feeling is that he was there for you when you felt lonely and insecure, now you need to be there for him. He has already had to learn to share you with a new step-father, and now there will be a new baby. He wants reassurance that you still love him and that he still has a place in your heart and life and bed. I'd get a bigger bed, or bring his little bed into your room. This is a time to hold him closer, not push him away.

Best of luck to you and your beautiful growing family. Congratulations on a second child!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

will he sleep in a little bed on the floor next to you? a new husband and a new baby can feel threatening, and he may be letting you know he needs reassurance that you still love him, too.

it's not a "bad habit" that you gave into; it's normal for humans to be close at night. you need to be close to someone you love as a grown-up, and he is a small boy. sometimes it helps to transition slowly, first to his own sleeping space nearby, then on to another room.

alternately, you could lie down with him until he falls asleep in his room.

a seven year old can understand your honest feelings of getting bigger and uncomfortable and needing more space. have you tried talking to him about it? kids are amazingly caring of us when given the chance.

best to you and your new little one,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on


First things first, it's not a 'bad habit'...you did what was necessary to ease your son through this transition and tough time. I praise you for making the choice to move on with your life, and be a strong and empowered Mommy for your little boy.

My son has never know his Dad and I together, and my son and I co-sleep...not because it was convenient but, because it works for us. It has given us a bond I wouldn't trade for the world.

But, transitioning behavior away from anything has to begin with consistent guidance, love and patience above all.

I would start by explaining that he is going to be a 'big brother'...this is a HUGE thing for kids. I was almost four when my sister was born, and my Mom made me her helper in every way she could. I would get her crackers and water if she was having morning sickness, and I would even rub her tummy to help my 'baby sister' know me. It's a big process that he NEEDS to be prepared for...but, this can also help you explain why Mommy needs her rest at night.

Have you introduced a 'lovey' ever? Or at this age, it could be a 'big brother' something that he can be in charge of taking care of at night...like Mommy has to take care of the baby? Just a thought...my son has a 'lovey' that he needs on and off (he's 2.5) but, if he has trouble staying asleep or has bad dreams the 'lovey' (we call it his 'dino buddy') comes out.

It's important to explain things to kids, they understand when it's very cut and dry...nothing fancy just the truth and the how and why.

My Mom and Dad set up a small cot for me in there room when my sister was born, so I could be there for her. I was actually jealous that the baby got to sleep in my parents room, and didn't understand why...after her nightwaking constantly I was over it in a week or two. You could try that with your son now...tell him that you need space and that if he needs to be close to you he can lay down in the special bed.

My good friend has older kiddos, and she takes them back in their rooms and sits in a chair next to their bed while they go back to sleep. But, explains Mommy is going back to her bed to rest so the baby can grow. They get it, and after a while she says it's more about knowing that Mommy is there, than actually sleeping in the same bed.

I think you have plenty of time to transition him away from depending on your presence to sleep, and that it's okay that he needs you. Just try to redirect it to anohter manner of finding comfort...it will be okay.

Congrats on the baby...Good Luck!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Once again, punishment would certainly result in the opposite effect you want, and is uncalled for in this situation. This is not something he's doing to be "bad", he simply is used to this security and love and now you want to change that, so patience and understanding is key. You've got to take the pressure off him - he's still pretty young, but I swear, he will not want to sleep with you much longer. Do let him know that it's time for him to start thinking about how cool it is to be a big boy and stay in his bed and whatever you do, reward him with tons of praise each time he can stay there. You might go so far as to make some kind of chart where, after he stays there for, say 5 times (or some attainable number), he gets to go for ice cream, or bowling, or gets a little prize, etc. It's all in the positive, never the negative. At least you've got a bit of time to work with him. Best of luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

My 11 year old son slept with us on and off until he was 3 or 4. We transitioned him by letting him pick out a sleeping bag he could come and lay down on our bedroom floor any time he wanted. He ended up staying in his own bed fairly quick. He still will ask me ~ 1-2x/week to lay down with him when he goes to bed. He is still my best cuddler (I have a 6 year old and 22 month old). This time is so important right now, it's when he really opens up about what's going on with him and his feelings. There were periods that I would get frustrated about laying down with him before bed , because I thought he needed to go to sleep. Now I am grateful that he still wants to cuddle and talk with me. Every kid and family is different. I would talk to him about solutions, tell him you really need your sleep. Maybe let him sleep on your floor. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I highly recommend this book! It's worked wonderfully for both of my boys and several friends who I recommended it to. You can order it on Amazon or go to your local bookstore. Trust me, you will refer to it several times, especially since you have another on the way! This book is designed to help parents teach their infant all the way through teens to sleep well through the night (and in their own bed). Believe me, you're not alone, having a 7 year old sleeping with you and he gives you a step by step plan as to how to teach him to sleep on his own.



P.S. Someone else suggested a "lovey". That's not a bad idea, but p-l-e-a-s-e don't call it that! Think about what he's interested in and get him a stuffed something. For instance---an LA Angels Rally Monkey, a dinosaur, etc.

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answers from Honolulu on

just as a head's up... be sure that your son does NOT tell anyone inadvertently that he sleeps with you... the reason I tell you this is, a friends daughter (who was 7), once told her Teacher that she sleeps with her Parents. The Teacher then called CPS, and reported them.

I know.
But, for all co-sleepers... this is something "real" that can happen.
Speaking for myself, from when my daughter was about 5 years old... I explained to her about how she must not tell anyone/or at school that she sleeps with us. My daughter understands and is mature that way. But, I was honest with her and just explained it.

We co-sleep too. I understand...
Deanna gave good advise.

Perhaps with your son, just be honest and truthful to him about it...no pretending, no making up stories, just straightforward thoughtful honesty and encouraging him. Tell him he will always be your main guy...but you are both growing..... give him wings to soar with.

If you feel he is REALLY emotionally under-developed, then get him a counselor. But, really, lots of families co-sleep even at that age. BUT you have a baby along the way and a new Husband... so well, things evolve as they must...
I'm sure being 7 years old, your son can understand...
I remember being that age and still liking to creep into my Parents room and squeezing myself in between the middle of them. My parents never said anything about it... and I just outgrew it on my own. Thankfully! LOL

All the best,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Hi M.. Well none of us is perfect. It's good that you recognize how the difficulties started. I suggest just trying to be patient- talking to him that he's a big boy and you ( and his step dad) love him very much. Part of growing up is having more freedom and responsability ( something like that). Tell him it is time for him to sleep in his own bed. Do the routine like "super nanny", which is a common sense approach. You take him to bed, do the bed time routine ( like read one book together, say prayers, kiss- goodnight). Leave a night light there if you want to. Sure he's going to come out- when he does- take him back to bed. No negotiating, no anger. If he crawls into bed at night- take him back to bed. It'll take several nights, but eventually it'll work.

During this time, I would try to be sure and have quality time during the day with him, as well as enough activity that he's tired ( but not too much activity, which will overstimulate him).

Short of giving medication- sleeping is like eating/defecating. We can't "make" anyone do these things, just set up the right conditions so that it happens.

During this time, try and be sure not to introduce a lot of extra demands on yourself. Those first couple of days, you're going to be tired too- and you want to stay being the adult...and help rather than hurt the situation.



answers from Los Angeles on

Sounds like you are absolutly not putting your foot down. I am going through this with my daughter who is 20 months old. We just changed her crib into a Toddler bed and she tends to get out of it a lot.(today is day 5) We are still training her. If my daughter gets out of her bed, I put her right back without speaking to her. Boy, does she cry and scream, but this is the only way to get her to stay in her bed. Sometimes it takes up to 20 different times of this, but she finally falls asleep. You must be consistant, and any time you feel him get into your bed, you must walk him back to his bed and put him in it. Even if he whines and talks to you, don't say anything!!! Never let him back into your bed again, consistancy is the key! My sister went through this with her son at the age of 3 years. He just wouldn't stay in his bed all of a sudden. One night, she was at her whits end with him and I had called her on the phone that very moment. She told me what was going on and she was really mad! I told her to keep putting him back into bed without words over and over and over until he stayed in it. I got her all pumped up. Later that night, she called me back and told me that it took about an hour of running after him and pulling him out of his closet. He finally stayed in the bed and fell asleep. After that day, she really didn't have to many problems putting him to bed. She kept reminding him of that horrible day.
Good luck to you!



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, M.,

I like the advice of letting your son sleep on a futon next to your bed, if possible. In many parts of the world, whole families sleeping in the same room is considered normal. Based on my experience as a teacher, I predict that your son will eventually wish to sleep in his own room as he may want privacy. Sooner than you know it, if he is like many teens, you won't see him as much as you would like.

Good luck,
Lynne E



answers from San Diego on

Hi M., I too have a seven year old. I tried a homeopathic sleep product on him called "silent nights". It works very well and I highly recommend it. If he is having trouble sleeping he will ask me for a sleep patch. You might want to try putting your son in his bed with a patch on his temple and read him a long boring story. He will most likely be asleep within 10 min. Go to Lifewave.com/kherihealth for more info. You can totally break this habit!! Good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

You got yourself into this mess and only you can get yourself out of it.
The one way that I know for sure works is this: EVERY SINGLE TIME YOUR SON COMES INTO YOUR BED, GET UP AND TAKE HIM BY THE HAND AND LEAD HIM BACK INTO HIS BED. Do not reward him in any way (that means no talking to him, no kisses, no nothing, just tuck him into his bed). Let him know you are going to be doing this.
If you ONE TIME give in because you are too tired, you will only let him know that if he keeps it up, you will give in.
It will take about a week of you not sleeping well because you will be taking him back to his own bed many times during the night. You aren't sleeping anyway.
THIS WILL WORK. He needs to be in his own bed.



answers from Los Angeles on

Put a blanket at the foot of the bed and tell him that it is okay to come in, but he has to sleep on the floor. I did this with my kids and it worked. They soon found that their beds were more comfortable.



answers from Los Angeles on

sitting down and explaining to him that its time he has his own space & you and new stepdaddy has yours, try a reward program that if he stays in his bed all night then the next day he gets this, but if he feels like he wants to get up he can not get up until 1 am ... next night 2 am.. and so on.. this will take about a week to fix but you cannot not give in, if you say no back to his bed he has to go back no matter how hard he tries, you can not give in, you will lose some sleep, but not for long



answers from Los Angeles on

Everything Nadja said! I'd score her a home run on every point she just made. I can say from experience, she's spot on about your son's motivations. You didn't do a darn thing 'wrong' and don't let anyone tell you differently. That boy will have a level of security and warmth going into a 'new' family situation that will give him strength. You've given him a gift. The 'bed on the floor' always worked well for us, even when we had several kids treating our room like Grand Central. I'd say that after the new baby has arrived and he sees that he's still your special little guy, he'll settle. Patience, endurance and a futon work wonders!

Best of luck to a great mommy! :-)



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M., try putting a mat or sleeping bag next to your bed. When he comes in tell him he has to sleep there. Give this a couple of weeks, then wake him up and begin walking him back to his bed. I think it took my son about a month of doing this. He finally got the idea that I was not going to let him sleep in our room and began to stay in his own bed.

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