Sleeping Alone is . . . Lonely

August 9th, 2010 by Dionna | 17 Comments
Posted in Ensure Safe Sleep, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

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Kieran and I were reading a book the other night. At the end of the book, the main character of the story (a child) was in bed. As is typical of many children’s stories, the child was in bed alone. His parents were standing at the door to his bedroom looking lovingly down at the child in his crib. The following conversation ensued:

A puzzled Kieran asked: “what that baby doin?”

“He’s sleeping in his crib.”

Brow furrowed: “What he mama and papa doin?”

“They’re standing there looking at him. Sometimes papa and I like to watch you when you sleep.”

Undeterred: “they sleep with him?”

“No, it looks like they sleep in their own room.”

Thoughtfully: “This that baby’s room?”

“Yes, this is the baby’s room.”

Llama Llama, Cosleeping Drama

And that was that. Until the subject came up again in another book. In this book, the child llama1 was in his own bed, alone and scared. Kieran made the connection immediately:

llamaLooking slightly worried: “His mama not sleep with him.”

“No, she tucked him in then went downstairs to work. Papa and I work after you go to sleep too.”

“You sleep with me.”

“Yes, we come to bed with you after we’re done working.”

Matter of factly: “This his room.”

“Yes, this is his room. Would you like to sleep in your own room?”

Moment of silence, followed by shocking announcement: “Yes!”

“Where would you sleep?”

“In the bed where Tio Darin sleep!”

“All alone? What would you do if you got lonely?”

In that tone that instantly conveys “duh!”: “Yes, I just yell for you, mama!”

“I just yell for you, mama.” I love how his toddler brain had worked it out to that simple conclusion. And I would come running (pearls flapping and hands dripping with dishwater, of course).

And so I started to come to terms with the fact that my toddler was going to grow up and sleep in his own bed. This change will quickly be followed by similar milestones, such as tying his own shoes, riding a bike, obtaining a driver’s license, and leaving for college.2

Despite my fretting, I began preparations for the big move. Our house has had some construction projects going on, so the extra bedroom (that Tio Darin sleeps in) was in complete disarray. I spent the last few days cleaning it up, and I talked to Kieran about how he could sleep there whenever he wanted.

Llama Llama Wants His Mama

And then tonight, Kieran saw me getting this post ready. He saw the picture of llama llama, and he went to the bookshelf and grabbed the book.

Concerned: “Read this to me, mama. He in bed alone.”

“Yes, his mama went downstairs to do some work.”

In a small, scared voice: “I don’t want he be lonely.”

“You want him to sleep with his mama.”


“Do you want to sleep with mama?”

Nodding and snuggling close: “Yes.”

“You can sleep with mama whenever you want to.”

It would appear that I still have some time to watch out for the occasional toddler toe in my eye, to wake up to groggily whispered “I love you’s,” and to wrestle for a piece of our Cal-king bed (most of which Kieran has staked a claim to by eminent domain).

I’m not complaining.

How old was your little one when they voluntarily left the family bed? How did the transition happen? Do you have any tips to make the transition smoother?

  1. Llama Llama Red Pajama is one of the very few books that, after checking it out from the library 20 times, I finally broke down and asked grandma to buy for Kieran. It is one of his favorites. And yes, that’s an affiliate link.
  2. I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

17 Responses to:
"Sleeping Alone is . . . Lonely"

  1. Hmmm… it seems the end of Everett’s cosleeping days are a ways away still, but you never know… We;re taking the opportunity when we move to set up his own bed in his room and have been talking about how he can sleep there if he wants. He said to me, But who amd I going to sleep with? haha. I’m curious to read the other mamas comments on transition.

  2. Great dialogues! I can never remember what exactly my kids said in these kinds of situations. My girls love Llama Llama too, though I know other APers who are not a fan!

    My oldest’s transition was not exactly a voluntary/child-led one (at around 20 months, due to my pregnancy), but it was gentle and peaceful. We got a low double/full sized bed, and started sleeping in it with her in her room. She didn’t seem to mind at all that it was just one of us (she had partially nightweaned at that point) so we traded off who slept with her for awhile. Eventually, we left her for longer and longer periods, but still closlept part time (later in the night/early AM). Eventually, she would get up and crawl into bed with us when she woke (or we’d go back to her room and lie down with her).

    I loved the way we did it because she didn’t have a bunch of changes at once — she got used to new bed/new room with Mama or Daddy close, then transitioned to sleeping by herself more and more once she was comfortable. Key to all this: a big enough bed in her room! No toddler beds around here!

  3. Annie

    For a while we had this conversation too with my little one (now 37 mos) when we’d see kids in books alone in bed. He’s still with us (usually me in his big boy room with him) but Daddy misses us both and we will soon be heading back (all of us) to the King sized bed when baby #2 arrives any day. He likes to be in his own room, but it is a given that I will be there with him!

  4. The Elf was four or five when he moved to his own bed – a twin in our room, about three feet away from us. When he was six he moved to his own room. He was ready and I was too nervous to have him in bed with the (then) newborn Imp (he still climbed in with us sometimes). Being in his own room was made easier by letting him keep our dog with him all night and having a cd player so that he could listen to music.

    The Imp (two in September) still sleeps with us. That twin bed I mentioned in shoved up to our king bed. My husband cuddle with the Imp while I nurse the Beast all night. (:

  5. Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes   sheryljesin

    Dylan, who is 2.5, starts most nights off in the double bed in his room and then joins us in our bed at some point (anywhere between 11pm and 5am). Some nights he asks to go to sleep in our bed and that’s ok too.

  6. Amber   AmberStrocel

    Both of my kids left the family bed at 18 months. However, I bought both of them double beds, so that I could sleep with them if they needed me. I found myself in bed with my daughter nightly until she was around 2 1/2, when she started sleeping through the night. I am still in my 2-year-old’s bed most nights.

    I wasn’t a fan of the family bed, after a certain point. 2 adults + 1 bed-hogging toddler was not super-comfy, even though we have a king-size. By being flexible, though, I found ways to meet my children’s needs outside the family bed, and ease their transition out of co-sleeping on their own timetable.

  7. Alicia   LactNarration

    Both of my kids have their own rooms and spend the first part of the night in them. My Sweets is 15 months and I have a queen bed in her room along with her crib. When she wakes up in her crib, I go in and we spend the rest of the night together in the queen bed. My Munchkin is 4 years old and at some point in the night she typically wakes up, uses the potty, and then finds her way to my room. I’m usually already in Sweets’ room by then, so Munchkin cosleeps with Daddy for the rest of the night. Every so often we find Munchkin still in her own bed in the morning. I’m guessing that this will just gradually start to happen more and more with time.

  8. Heather   xakana

    Mine are still there. I was 8 when I left my mom’s bed. Lilly (she’ll be 4 in October) has zero interest in sleeping somewhere else, nor do I have any interest in her sleeping somewhere else. Instead, I’d rather increase the size of our sleeping area ;) I’ve been wanting to butt up a twin on the other side of DH for Lilly to give us all more stretch out space. Never had a problem with Naomi (19 months) in the bed, too.

    And before anyone thinks 8 is weird, it’s perfectly normal in Japan, where all the kids sleep with their parents until mid-to-end primary school, when they move to their own room.

    Lilly’s seen kids sleeping by themselves on t.v. and in books and just ignores it. She just wants her own bed to have it, not to sleep in it, lol.

  9. My 2 year old daughter does have her own room with a floor mattress and we do co-sleep there. I can get up to do other things once she falls asleep, but as soon as she needs me I’m there. I haven’t read the Llama Llama Red Pajama book, but a friend had recently mentioned it and it sounded cute.

    I love co-sleeping. It is one of the things I swore I’d never do before becoming a parent, and it just happened very naturally.

  10. Cassie

    My 3yo DD has had a room from birth (which she will share with DD2 when DD2 gets older) although bed-shared with us until I returned to work in the evenings/night when she was just shy of 4mths.. She slept by herself (after being rocked/walked to sleep) until I came home from work and then spent the rest of the night in our bed. We transitioned her from a crib to a twin bed at 18 months, and we were then be able to lay down with her until she fell asleep. Once we were asleep for the night, if she woke we brought her into bed with us. Now DD sleeps about half the week in her room by herself for the entire night, and the other half she either comes to our room (in that case, DH often goes to sleep in her bed – nothing like musical beds in the middle of the night) or DH goes and sleeps with her in her bed since we now have an 8mth DD and the bed can get a little crowded. Luckily DH and I are both small and thin people otherwise a twin would get seriously crowded.

  11. I bought a toddler bed when my first was 2.5, expecting it to be a really gradual transition. She slept the whole night in it the VERY FIRST NIGHT! I, of course, did not sleep a wink. After that, she usually started off in her bed, but very often still found her way into our bed at the end of the night.

    Whe she was 3, we moved to a new house and I got pregnant, so I brought her back into our bed full-time. It was easier for me b/c I was so tired, and I think made her feel more secure with the move. She ended up staying in our bed until baby brother came along. Ironically, it was my husband (who had been unsure of co-sleeping at first) who was reluctant to move her to her own bed permanently. At 9 months pregnant and barely sleeping, I was ready to have the four year-old arms and legs out of my bed. But it was pretty cool the way it ended up — one night I had my four year-old daughter sleeping next to me, and the next night I had a baby boy who was just a few hours old sleeping in the very same spot. And my daughter transitioned to her own bed beautifully because she was really ready.

    She’s six now, and she’s been sleeping in her own bed in her own room for awhile. But I made sure to buy a queen bed, so that if she ever needs us, there’s always room for my husband or I to sleep next to her. A lot of nights, I still climb into bed with her while she falls asleep.

    And I’m not sure which one of us enjoys that time more . . .

  12. Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)   ALotofLoves

    We didn’t really co-sleep. I was petrified to have my son in our bed due to all the scary things I read about co-sleeping. He slept in our room for a few months and then moved to his crib.

    I tried co-sleeping with our daughter but no one seemed happy. When she was 5 months, I tried her in her own crib and she slept through the night quite happily. I decided not to mess with that!

    I think it’s very sweet that you all co-sleep so well.

  13. MomAgain@40   karentoittoit

    Cute story! Love it that Kieran gets a say where he wants to sleep!
    We carry our toddler back to her bed, but when she wakes up, she comes back to our bed! :D

  14. mamapoekie   mamapoekie

    Be still, my heart… this post has moved me to near tears. It is a timely post for me since LO has spend some nights in the cosleeper crib at the feet of our bed this week, and seems to devellop an interest for sleeping in her own room.
    It started with her wanting me to make her a bed in the dog’s basket (equally in our room) several times. She is 26 months old, but now she’s back in the bed with us.
    I think we’ll have a bed made for her room and see where that takes her. We, the parents, are not quite ready for her to move out

  15. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    That was lovely, to overhear those conversations. I’m digging the recommendations to get an adult-size bed for the little ones so that you can sleep there, too, when needed — what a great idea. I’ve done the cosleeping in a twin bed thing when we’ve been on vacation, and it sooo not happy-making.

    Mikko’s 3 and still in our bed, and we’re selfishly not bringing up the whole idea of moving to his own bed/room, because the other bedroom right now is being used for our business. ;) It would take some reorganizing for sure to fit him into it. Poor, deprived child, who has no idea he’s deprived — ha ha! I am curious when he’ll notice that other kids sleep alone and what his reaction will be. That will definitely be interesting. He saw a baby being put to sleep in a crib last week and was confused, although part of that confusion was it was still light out. “Why go bed when not dark, Mama?” You can tell we have a night owl.

    We have a king-size bed, so there’s plenty of room for the three of us, plus potentially more. But I was just thinking today if we have another baby, we might do a mattress on the floor or similar — either for the baby, or for the big boy. Or we could clean out the other room!

  16. Sarah

    Our older DD moved out of our bed and into her own room b/c no one was getting any sleep – it wasn’t as gentle as I’d have liked but there were never tears, and she was never left alone until she was ready. After about a year we encouraged her to come back to our bed, since I still wasn’t getting sleep as I stayed up worrying about her all night. We also had a 4 month old co-sleeping with us at the time.

    baby 2, Agatha, is now 2. About 3 or 4 months ago she moved out of our bed with her big sister. Some days they sleep int he crib upstairs, sometimes they sleep in the twin beds downstairs. Tonight Ella is asleep in a homemade tent in the family room and Agatha is asleep on the futon. When we have them sometimes the girls will sleep in giant cardboard boxes, and for a couple of days Agatha would only fall asleep on her mini-trampoline.

    I’m not sure how things would have been different if we’d let Ella move out of our bed in her own time, but I believe they both would have moved out together close to the same time. the biggest problem we have now, is Ella prefers to sleep alone in her own space, and Agatha prefers to cuddle. They were both that way from birth, and things haven’t changed : ) BUt Agatha wants to be close to the big sister she loves so much and mommy and daddy are just too far away.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      That is so sweet. I know I will be a wreck the first time Kieran sleeps on his own. I can’t imagine having an empty space where my baby lays next to me now!

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