Our three-year-old boy who has been sleeping between my wife and me is becoming a problem. I know we need to transition him to his own bed and we will go through that process in the near future. We have been trying for a while but he ends up coming to our bed again. We will keep trying.

In the meantime while he is sleeping or half asleep he kicks and hits us. In some cases he is half awake and will take aim at our faces. Mostly it is random. This wasn't really an issue in the past. It has become a problem in the past few weeks.

Could this be a symptom of something else? Does anyone else experience this and can they give some advice?

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    Good question. One month becomes a year, a year becomes two years and so forth. He has slept in his own bed before but then they get sick or something else happens where it becomes the norm again. Our preference is for him to sleep in his own bed. We have a plan in place for him to move to his own bed but we will be consistent every night until he adapts. My main concern was the kicking and hitting. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 14:51
  • @ShaneHouston yeah, I know how it is :) For the kicking, it's normal. My son also moves a lot while sleeping. It's not rare to even find him upside-down.
    – algiogia
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 8:08
  • Must be normal. My 2yo has his own bed, every time I go check on him he is in a different position. Sometime I really wonder how he can sleep or if he's actually a yoga prodigy. When you'll give him his bed, make sure it's low on the ground so he doesn't hurt himself if he falls while moving.
    – the_lotus
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 11:40
  • As for not wanting to be in one's own bed (in one's own separate room), I think a night-light helped--I believe it was in the hall, with the door ajar. (I grew up in the country, though, so natural illumination (from the moon) was at reasonable levels. In the city, I don't think I'd need a night-light.)
    – Mathieu K.
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 8:29

9 Answers 9


I'd say that's entirely normal at that age, and not a lot you can do about it (short of getting him his own space). Any time our 3 year old comes into our bed (after a nightmare or just having trouble sleeping), this is what we expect. In his own bed he'd do roughly the same thing (except that nobody would be the victim).

What he's doing is a combination of getting comfortable, feeling for his boundaries, and the kind of automatic reactions that some people and animals have while dreaming; if you've ever heard the phrase "puppy dream" that refers to something like this, where the puppy dreams of running around so he moves his limbs (though I'm not sure if it's truly tied to the dreaming or not, that is the folklore). Toddlers are quite similar in that regard.

The only suggestion I have other than moving him to his own space is to see if he's less mobile when either warmer or colder. Either one may cause more activity, either to try and find a warmer space (like, next to you) or to try and move away from a warmer space (kicking you to get away). Adjust his temperature and see what helps.

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    I've had the same experience. It became much less of an issue around 4 years old for my twins. They're 5 now and sometimes one manages to sneak into our bed and sleep there without us even noticing.
    – Cyrus
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:27
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    Our 18 month old will crawl up next to our heads and turn sideways - we can very well have a difficult night sleep, so we try to remove her back to her bed whenever she falls asleep, or unless it's after 5am. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 10:54

I wouldn't worry about it. Sounds like you might want to wear a hockey mask to bed though ;) enter image description here errr...Maybe not :) hah!

We have 'co-slept' with all of our 4 children and they all had moments like this. Eventually they transitioned to their own beds without too much of a hassle.

One thought, our bed is big but trying to pile in 6 people on a king bed doesn't really work too well so we did have a couple of small mattresses that we would pull out, trundle style. You could maybe try that and see if he does ok just sleeping on that instead of in between.

Good luck!

  • A+ on the humor and the answer overall! I love the idea of weaning the child into another bed by starting in your room but on a different mattress.
    – L.B.
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 15:51
  • Having a bed nearby to transition sounds like an excellent idea. He still has the security of his parents being right there, but also has his own space, and is separated enough to hopefully prevent hitting/kicking of anyone else.
    – Doktor J
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 20:13
  • I frequently just get up in the morning because it's usually around 5AM when my son comes in. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 20:30
  • Use a makeshift trundle; genius.
    – Mazura
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 1:10
  • Add a cup and a pair of headphones and you have what I call, "The New Dad's Uniform".
    – JS.
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 0:45

My only advice is him having his own cot. My son always had his own cot, starting with a Moses basket and scaling up from there. It's a bit late for that with your boy though!

One obvious suggestion is to move him from being between you to being on one side. A side guard will stop him falling out, and a bolster cushion between you and him will ensure he has a defined space of his own but is still close enough to you to not be worried.


Set up his own own little bed right next to yours--like set up the room so it is: Wall -> His little bed -> Your bed and no gaps inbetween.

Then refer to the little bed as his own. Make it sound fun and great that he gets his own bed. He'll take it it really quickly, especiall if the wall and your bed creates a little bit of a boundary for him to thrash around in in his sleep.

Works for us and ours never comes into the big bed unless it's morning and he wants milk.

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    When I was a kid my parents had a small sleeping pad slid under their bed that they'd slide out if we came in with nightmares or were afraid of the dark. They'd say "grab your pillow and blanket. You can sleep next to us on the floor" but they didn't let us sleep in the bed with them directly. It met both the needs of the parent and the child. This or some variation on it may be a good transition between what you have now and having the child sleep in their own room. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 22:27
  • @jinglesthula Good suggestion, that's how we handle it too. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 20:20

I think this is completely normal (see the below picture for further confirmation you are not alone). For both our kids, it started much younger than that, and ultimately was what made us transition them out of our bed.

For some reason it was only me who got kicked in the face. Even in their sleep, they knew not to kick Mom...

enter image description here

  • I would suggest this makes a strong argument for keeping a child in his/her own bed from the get-go, from a crib to a toddler bed to a full-sized one.
    – Mathieu K.
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 8:28

We have had all the kids in our bed, the newer kicks out the older until this one who like your child is the most physical sleeper.

It's just the way it is. When he or she is ready they will move out. We sell her on the idea of "sleepovers" with her sisters on the weekend and slowly she is moving in with them. We make it a little slumber party, she has yet to stay a full night.

At the end of the day i think, It's dark, they are scared sometimes. I can't protect them from the evils of the world but i can make a small child feel secure.

I think the relationship down the road will be better too.

Good luck,

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    I like this answer but I am not sure if it fully addresses what the OP was asking.
    – L.B.
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 15:47

Younger kids do tend to kick when they're asleep, I did this when I was younger too, it's not specific to certain kids. However, if the kicking does generally become a problem to you, you may want to make him have a 'dream diary' to see what your children are dreaming about, if it's nightmares or just if they're very physical. However, a good thing to note is to make your children relaxed before bed. Are they generally hyperactive before climbing into bed? Try a warm bath without any toys or a milk bottle, maybe a gentle story. On the note of moving your children out of your bed, I would suggest a mattress in their siblings room, or your room, just so that they're still with you and can stumble into your bed in case of a bad dream or something of the like. If they are scared of sleeping alone, get them a night light, maybe a teddy bear or a soft action figure. I know as children grow, they may start to feel immature, but they will eventually grow out of it, you don't want a lanky, pubescent thirteen year old curling up to you at night! If the restlessness during the day and night truly becomes a problem, seek advice from your GP.


There's nothing wrong with your child - three year olds can be real jerks. It's just one of many iterative phases growing up and learning healthy boundaries. Part of getting him to stay in his own bed will be telling him no and not backing down about it. (This teaches him how to appropriately handle when being told no.)

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    I don't know if telling him no will get him to stop flailing in his sleep.
    – Acire
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 18:58
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    I didn't say tell him no in his sleep. I said put him in a different bed, where he can flail all he likes and it's not a problem. And enforce it, while he's awake. I'm sure there are good studies of children reacting to instruction while they sleep, but if I caused confusion by implying it's best to discipline children while they sleep, I apologize. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 19:32
  • I think I read your question too quickly and misunderstood what you were going for -- my apologies :)
    – Acire
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 21:22

In the past we had to sleep with daughter in same bed (for living in a caravan). We built at the time a wooden frame with soft coating that was placed over the bed and the child inside. Worked like a charm.

  • It's hard for me to picture exactly what you are describing, but I believe covering a young child with anything is definitely not recommended these days. Maybe I'm just not understanding exactly how it worked. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 21:09
  • @ChrisSunami, I wrote "frame", not "cover". Imagine a wooden (but soft coated) rectangle of your desired size that has baby inside and you outside. Baby doesn't feel separated by the say 15cm high walls around it. Such walls around baby are enough to protect you (and protect baby from you for that matter). btw covering baby with a blanket is fine IMO ;) Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 21:29
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    Oh, that makes much more sense. I was picturing a upside-down crate placed over top of the child, and I was sure that wasn't what you meant. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 12:56

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