Wakeful toddler in parents' bed: Now no one sleeps

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/03/10/wakeful-toddler-in-parents-bed-now-no-one-sleeps.html

We did the family bed thing with our kids. It made the midnight feedings MUCH easier - no need to get out of bed. Wife could just shove a boob in the kid’s mouth.

We stopped when the kids started sleeping through the night. That was at around 4 months.

Everything we read about it beforehand said that the longer you wait before putting the kid in their own bed, the harder it will be to get them to do it. There were horror stories of 8, 9, or even 10 year old kids refusing to sleep in their own beds. The thing is to not let it get that far.

No judgement from me, but I’m not envying the struggle these parents are setting themselves up for…


Needs more swaddling. Or tie its legs together. A miniature sleeping bag might do it.

(I might be being sarky. Or I might not.)


Kid needs to be in his own bed. The very presence of his parents is a distraction to him and is preventing him from going to sleep. Remove the distraction and he’ll settle down.


That, too. If not more so. In which case, perseverance and persistence are the way to go. Though a slightly weighted blanket or a sleeping bag or just being well tucked in to reduce the thrashing around can still help even in his own bed.

(The post does not say it, so I must have somehow invented the idea this was an alternative to his own bed which was also not working.)

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I’m impressed they put up a barrier to keep the kid from falling out of the bed. That level of protectiveness is something I hope doesn’t lead to codependency. But it’s basically a long-standing invitation.

Can’t say much myself. My three-nearly-four year old regularly gets up before everyone and crawls into our bed, disturbing our sleep and often waking up an hour or so before our alarms. Not as bad as continual sleep disturbance, but we all understand how having that last hour or so robbed can have an impact on the mood for the rest of the day.

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That’s also a matter of perspective. My daughter has been sleeping with us until she got her own room when she turned three. In Korea, where my wife is from, the “family bed thing” is the norm and not a subject of special discussion. It felt right for all involved and while nights like in the video did happen every now and then I can count them on two hands.

She now sleeps in her own bed in her own room and usually comes over to our room some time in the early morning carrying her blanket and pillow and it’s nice having her sleep over for a few hours.

Some say sleeping in the family bed contributes to small children’s confidence and a basic sense of trust. From my experience I can confirm that. My daughter is very sociable, outgoing and calm (exceptions happen of course). No struggle here.


As with most things parenting: this too, shall pass. We did co-sleeping for what felt like forever, and the kids in a toddler bed in our room for an additional forever, and it felt like they would never learn to sleep on their own.

Guess what? They did. Now teens/young adults, the challenge is getting them up out of their (own) beds from their (own) rooms, just like every other teen throughout history.

When you’re boots-on-the-ground with a small child, every milestone feels significant, especially as the sleepness nights pile up. And then you blink, and you realize it was only a week/month/year, and everything has changed.

There is no parenting advice that works universally for every child, as I’ve had to remind myself over the years as friends crowed about little so-and-so going down for naps easily or learning ancient Greek by age 4 while my own children seemed prone to use drawers as a stepladder. But this too shall pass and eventually they will grow out of whatever-it-is and move into something-you-didn’t-expect.

Parenting! It’s harder and far more rewarding than you think. Eventually.


When my kids came along, my mother assured me that it gets a lot easier after the first 40 years. Helpful.

I’ve noticed: my friends with one kid will tell people “the way kids are”. My friends with two kids will tell people “how most kids are, but allow for variation and exceptions…”. My friends with three or more kids will tell people, if asked, “who knows? they’re random, get used to it.”


Ah, the standard kid-in-bed choreography.

bounce on mum. roll around. kick dad in testicles.


My friends with no kids will offer all kinds of detailed parenting advice.

I just smile and nod.


“One is like none, two is like ten” goes the adage. And yeah: past two, you’re just counting bodies in car seats. “Looks like we have enough, let’s go to the grocery*.”

[*] In the before-times. :mask:


The only thing that kept us sane through many stages of child rearing was the adage that “This too shall pass”. It is both hope and a reminder to treasure the good times because it applies universally.




I do not miss those times. My kiddo has a sphincter that didn’t quite close right, so we couldn’t do the cry it out method, as she would always just throw up. I would get her to sleep on my chest (sometimes falling asleep too) but then she would wake after being put in the crib. Eventually we did cosleeping and it worked - finally got to sleep most of the night.


A yes, I miss those days! Not the nights, just the days.

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Yup. We blended two families on an outing in the late 70s and wound up accidentally leaving my little brother behind at a local pizza joint.


Don’t forget the crossbar-in-the-H. Got a bigger bed to accommodate that pose.

This seems perfectly natural and reasonable. The whole Ferberize cry-it-out technique is so cruel. We only tried it a few nights on the first kid.

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We had a second hand crib with a drop down side (these are technically banned in Canada now). We removed that side, plunked the crib against my partner’s side of the bed and bolted it to the bed frame so it couldn’t move away and leave a gap. A bit of a compromise between co-sleeping and having the baby in a separate room that worked fairly well in that it was less disruptive, though it still took our kid a long time to sleep through the night consistently.

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Hahaha I am this horror story. I have a 9 yr old and 5 year old that sleep in my bed. I could write a book about all the things NOT to do to get your kids to sleep. The first one had colic/reflux and (would be determined much later) autism so trying to follow all the normal sleep advice got me nowhere. Little one says she has to sleep in our room because of zombies. There’s also a dog and a cat in the mix.