Worried About 6 Year Old in Downstairs bedroom...really Need Help

Updated on August 19, 2010
M.A. asks from Rockville, MD
10 answers

My daughter slept in my bed until she was 5 (lack of additional space; got comfortable; big mistake). I'm recently married and we moved into my husband's home where there are two bedrooms, master upstairs and another on the main level. It's my own fault, but my daughter is so attached to me and, thus scared to sleep in a bedroom by herself. I also worry about her sleeping a full floor away.

We have a loft area just off of our bedroom that isn't really optimal for a child's room but I've considered moving her there just for peace of mind, hers and mine, not my husband's (he doesn't think it's the greatest idea - also has no kids though). We started out trying to transition her by putting a small kids bed into our room and she slept there (we had a family member in the downstairs room for a time). Now, instead of wanting to sleep in her own room, she wakes during the night and wants to sleep in the kids bed in our room. Most nights I'm so tired and/or sympathetic to her fear (and my own) that I allow her back into our room to sleep on the smaller bed.

How do I make it more comfortable, secure, easy for her to adjust to the room downstairs? The way our home is set up, there isn't much to fear, but I still worry about her being so far away.

Should I move her to the loft though it's more open space, thus more likely to be darker and frightening but she'd be upstairs with us?

I don't know what to do.

She voices her fear pretty well that she feels like she's all by herself and is scared of sleeping downstairs.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

We're into Day 3 of "Project Downstairs Bedroom"; I agreed, however reluctantly, to try it a little more persistently to see if she begins to take to the room better. I haven't slept and I'm a cranky you-know-what right now, but no one can say I'm not trying. We're even loosely talking about switching her room to the upstairs and turn the downstairs into our master bdr. I may feel better about that, even though we'll still be on separate floors and I may never sleep again :-(

Thanks for all of your help. Cheryl O., thanks for the additional insight you provided me via messaging.

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answers from Houston on

Could you put the kids bed in the loft and then start her off in her own room and if she got scared or wanted to be closer, she could just hop in that bed. Maybe have a fan going in the corner for a comforting noise. Does she have any animals that are comforting to her that she could carry up with her? You could just let her know that it is OK to sleep there if she wants and then still have her room all cute and fun and she could play there and in time get more and more comfortable with her own space. I know it is hard. My mom moved into a town home with I was a kid, older than her and actually put me in the master upstairs bc she was concerned, but there was no man involved, so I understand why you really need her in the downstairs bedroom. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

I'll probably be in the minority here but she is only 5 after all. She is adjusting to the new house AND marriage so IMO I would let her continue sleeping in your room on the small bed. Believe me it won't be forever and in time she will feel more secure. My husband and I moved into our home when our daughter was 6 years old. For the first year she slept in our room on a small bed. Then all of a sudden she wanted to be in her own bed/room because we decorated it all fun for her. We even painted her ceiling like the sky with white clouds! For the first few months I would cuddle her to sleep in her bed. That seems so long ago....Now she sleeps about 12 hrs a night and a train going by wouldn't wake her! =-)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I would not be comfortable with my child sleeping on an entirely different level of the home, alone, especially if both of you are used to co-sleeping. My son sleeps in a twin bed that is sandwiched between my bed and the wall. We have our space, but our closeness too.

There is no way I'd relegate my child to the scary, distant, downstairs bedroom all alone when there are other options. Talk about making her feel pushed out of the picture! From sleeping all cozied up with mommy, to what probably feels like the other side of the world, all alone... not fun for anyone, much less a 5 year old. I'm not criticizing, just being dramatic for emphasis... lol But seriously, I really do feel bad for her! This time is full of transitions for all of you, why make things more difficult than they need to be? If you have a loft area that is close to you, I'd make it as kid and sleep friendly as possible, and let her sleep there for a while. Probably, when you both are more comfortable in your new enviroment, and she gets really used to being in her room in the daytime, she will probably choose on her own to sleep there. In the meantime, put some nightlights and the small bed in the loft and let her be there, where you BOTH feel more comfortable. She is only 5, after all.

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answers from Goldsboro on

First of all let me say I have never been a fan of kids sleeping in the bed with their parents, be they 6 days old, 6 months old, or 6 years old.

She is old enough for you to explain to her that she's a big girl and she can sleep in her own room, even if "her room" is the loft area for a while.

My concern is how this will affect intimacy with your new husband. A 6 year-old in the room or the bed can't make for much romance...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

**I read your Edit:
SHE is saying what is wrong and how she feels. Don't make her feel bad for that. She is being honest... and OPEN with you. Cherish that. Nurture that. A child needs to know they can tell their Mom ANYTHING and about their worries.
Next: she is scared. That is normal. Let her be nearer to you in the loft or in your room on the kids bed.
It will not last forever. She will grow out of it.
Again, she has a TON of changes in her life too... and she is only a child. One day, she will not need you that way.

Okay... she is undergoing a TON of changes in her life now. And you have a new Husband. Major changes for her.
Her sleeping with you previously is not a big deal. LOTS of kids do that.
No biggie.

AND kids this age, DO get night time 'fears' and anxiety. It is developmental based. NORMAL.

Also, how your new Husband handles this, will affect her too... so I HOPE your new Husband is child friendly... and caring... soothing.

For us personally, we have a floor futon in our room, for when the kids 'need' to be near us or if they are sick etc. It is NO biggie to us.
In some cultures, it is commonplace.

And yes, SHE is on a different level of the home for sleeping. I would not like that either.

Ultimately... her being attached to you is fine. YOU are her Mom. Her life has changed. She has lots of things to adjust to too and a new "Man' in her life too, and a new house and a new set of expectations... per your new Husband... and well, any kid, would get anxious about that.

Again, night time 'fears' in a child is common at this age and younger and older. It is developmental. My daughter is 7... and she still sometimes gets afraid of the dark and night time. Fine. No biggie.

If you have her in the loft.... can you perhaps put up some curtains on a rod... to make a 'door' like appearance on the entry to that area???? Or get a folding panels screen type thing... to provide a boundary to the area and make it cozier????

Next, your new Hubby does not know about kids. Do not second guess yourself in conjunction with him, and how to comfort or parent your daughter. Your daughter is normal. He... would need to learn about 'parenting' too.....

Next: when I was that age and younger... I was like your daughter. In the middle of the night, I would wake. I would then creep down our LONG DARK hallway, to go to my parents room. I would squeeze in between them to sleep. They let me. I grew out of it. I simply was 'scared' at night and 'missed' them. NO biggie.
It was and is... one of my FONDEST memories from my childhood. I love, that my parents handle it that way. No biggie.
AND... for 'intimacy' with your Husband.. .well, just go somewhere else in the house. That is what me and my Hubby do. No biggie.

all the best,

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answers from Washington DC on

My gut reaction is tha tsh has genuine fear, and I wouldn't puch too hard, especially wiht all the changes in your life of late. It could cause a lot of resentment of you or her stepfather if you force the issue. I also woudl have a lot of anxiety about being so far from my child at night.

I second the idea of an intercom and in the meantime making a big prodcution of redecorating her room. I would also talk about rules for what she may and may not do downstairs by herself - don' topen the windows, don't use the stove, etc. Sometimes, you give a kid a little independence and they misinterpret it and think the rules dont' apply if you are not around :) We have a security system too. Even if it doesn't call a central station, it is reassuring to have the doors and windows beep if opened!

I assume the master is bigger and has a bathroom? I sort of wonder if it would make sense to switch rooms? YOU redecorate downstairs and let her have the extra space for her toys - and any siblings that come along. I know that is a big switch, but might be a good family-oriented decision.



answers from Washington DC on

When I was a kid (older than 6 though), I had a bedroom on a downstairs floor. My parents put in an intercom system so I could call them when I needed them. It gave us both peace of mind. How about looking for one of those? THey probably have way better technology now anyway!



answers from Kansas City on

Could you put her bed in the loft area and use one of those "mosquito nets" type things around her bed? My daughter had a princess themed one that we got at Walmart. A hoop hung from the ceiling and the netting surrounded her bed. She felt like she was in a cocoon. This way, she is close to you and you and hubby have some privacy.

Good luck!


answers from Washington DC on

Congratulations on your recent marriage. It's a lot for a man and a child to take in.

Okay - my initial thought is she is playing you - she KNOWS you will NOT say no to her so she has no problems waking up in the middle of the night and coming to you. At six she should be sleeping the night through. She is playing off your fear of her being away from you - why you would do that to a child I don't know. Have you said something like "are you okay in here by yourself?" or "I'm all the way upstairs - so far away from you..." things like that will push a child into fear.

In my opinion , YOU have conditioned her to sleep next to you. You have conditioned her to wake up in the middle of the night - it's almost like you have Munchhausen by Proxie only you NEED your daughter to NEED you (she does) and to be close to you to give you attention instead of getting the attention from others.

I can't imagine my kids waking up that often anyway - I have let and will let my boys sleep with me when they have had a bad dream - once they are back to sleep and not having the dream again (about 30 to 40 minutes) I pick them up and put them back in their bed and they wake up happy in the AM.

Yes, you've gone through a lot of changes lately - but my question is this - How much of this "fear" are you pushing on her? It's REALLY easy to push a child into fear. She can feed off your fear - why you have this fear is beyond me. do you think someone is going to break into the house and kidnap her or what? I do NOT get your fear. Are you afraid someone is going to do something to her? I just don't get it. She is in the same house as you. My bet is you sleep with one eye open (how you are well-rested is beyond me as well)

She MUST sleep in her own space.
Transition her to HER BEDROOM - give her a monitor so she KNOWS you can hear her if she needs you and YOU will COME TO HER. Heck get the video one so she knows you can SEE her. Safety 1st sells them.

DO NOT put her in the loft - she is SIX YEARS OLD. Yes, she has had some changes - but now you must teach her to adapt and overcome - she can still be a child but not have to live in fear of sleeping by herself.

STOP THE INSANITY!!! Your husband did NOT sign up for a child sleeping in his bed - did he? I don't think so. Yes, he signed up to be a step-father - but unless you fear HE will do something to her - then she has nothing to fear. And if you fear he will do something to her - you have a bigger problem! :)

It's hard to hear my voice in this as you will read it the way your brain is telling you. I am NOT trying to be mean. I want you to realize how you are pushing your child into fear (kinda like my telling my son that I was afraid of him leaving for summer camp 3 years ago - he got to the point where he almost didn't want to go - after we had paid $1500 for it and it was NON REFUNDABLE - I woke up and realized I was having a "mommy moment" and got over it - yes, my husband flew my best friend out from Colorado to support me through my mommy moment - but it was FOR ME not for him!! LOL!!!

You can do all of this without being mean to your daughter or giving her the feeling that she is not wanted by you any more (as you have conditioned her to sleep with you and be close to you) buy the Safety 1st Video monitoring system - you can purchase them on ebay much cheaper than buying a brand new one) so she will see that you are with her - she IS safe in her and you MUST reiterate that to her (and to yourself) - it's not like she's a baby and needs a diaper changed or fed - she's SIX. Let her know that she can call for you and YOU WILL COME TO HER as you will be able to hear and see her.

You have got to get her sleeping the night through - you will end up being worn out all the time because yours (and hers) sleep cycles are being hosed by the waking!




answers from Hartford on

I would transition her to loft 1st. Then I would let her decorate her new room and that would help her want to sleep in it. You could use a monitor to help you feel more comfortable about how far away she is. After her room comes together then try getting her to fall asleep in it at bed time. Allow her to come in to her loft bed if she feels scared in the middle of the night. We are-were co-sleepers, but as my son got older (and bigger) we started expecting him to stay in his room for most of the night. We set up a alarm clock (without the alarm set of course) this way when he woke up during the night he could see what time it was. We started with you can come in mommy and daddy's room after 3am, then 4am, then 5am, ect. Now he just comes in every morning at like 6:30 to snuggle a bit before we all start our day. We never made a big issue of it seeing as we were the ones who started it. You can lay with her in her room till she falls asleep at 1st. Good Luck. Baby steps :)

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