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How Can We Keep Our Son Out of Our Bed?

Dear Heather,

My 2-year-old has been climbing into bed with my husband and me for a couple months. He goes to sleep fine with one of us in the room, but once he's awake at night, he wants to be right by our side. We need our bed back, and want our toddler to get more sleep at night.

Please help!


Dear Mary,

The place to start is with his habit of falling asleep with you still in the room. It seems to be working for bedtime, but it's the reason he needs your presence in the wee hours. He drifts off to sleep peacefully with you close by, and then wakes later in the night and can't fall back to sleep without you. The way a child—or an adult for that matter—falls asleep at the beginning of the night is so important. It sets the stage for either smooth or broken sleep during the night.

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If you don't want to share a bedroom with your son, you'll want to extricate yourself before he falls asleep at bedtime. Usually, we do this with what we call in "The Happy Sleeper" book, the Reverse Sleep Wave—you set up automatic checks with your son after you say goodnight, so that he doesn't have to call you back the room.

You tell him, "I'll check on you in five minutes" and then leave the room. The first time you do a check, make it only 45 seconds before you pop your head back in. The checks are very brief, but also very reliable for your son so he knows you're close by. The Reverse Sleep Wave is a super effective way to achieve this goal of falling asleep independently, so I'd recommend using it.

RELATED: Sleep Expert Fixes Most Common Family Sleep Issue

Let us know if you have any questions about it.

Sleep happy,


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Sleep expert Heather Turgeon, co-author of "The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep—Newborn to School Age," will fix your family's sleep problems in this space as she does in her home consultations. Turgeon's solutions are nonjudgmental, kind and—best of all—based on science.

No situation is too challenging. Leave your sleep problem in the comments. Let's all get a good night's sleep, finally.

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