Overcoming Baby's Bedtime Battles

Transitioning from the Family Bed

The family-bed thing was nice for a while. But now you've got a toddler or preschooler and, well, you and your husband would like your bed back, if not for a little privacy, then simply for sleep without a small pair of feet in your back every night.

Bide your time. Wait until life is calm with no big changes on the horizon: there are no new siblings on the scene; she's potty trained; she's used to her preschool schedule.

Start with small changes. Encourage her to nap in her own bed during the less intimidating daylight hours.

Let her stay in your room -- but not in your bed. Sleep expert Jodi Mindell, PhD, recommends setting a futon or air mattress at the foot of your bed. Tell her that for now, the futon is her special bed in your room, until she's ready to go to her own bed in her own room. Or put the mattress in her room, and you sleep on it, staying there until she's used to staying on her own. Be patient. Work over the course of a week or two.

When she inevitably shows up in your room in the middle of the night, put her down on the futon or walk her back to her room with as little fuss as possible.

Julie Tilsner is a mom of two and the author of three humor books on parenting. Visit her Web site at julietilsner.com.

Originally published in American Baby magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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