When our youngest was born, we didn't have an extra room, and the age gap with his sister and the difference in their sleeping patterns was too big to let them sleep together, so he slept in our room from the start and stayed there.

Until now, we managed to build an extension to our home with new bed rooms for both our children. He finally has his own room. He is six, almost seven.

The problem is that he is quite easily scared (also doesn't look to be on one floor of our house when everybody else is on the other, during the day). Also he never learned to fall asleep on his own, always one of us has to stay besides him until he has fallen asleep. This is slowly getting better, I think he will soon accept that we leave when he is still somewhat awake. When he used to wake up during the night, he knew we were there and would fall asleep again.

But now he has to sleep alone. In a new room. The first two nights he was unlucky, it turned out he was allergic to one of new bed sheets and he was moved back to his old bed, but now that is solved.

When he wakes up, he is alone, gets out of bed crying and asks us to be there. This happens four times or so and then it is the middle of the night, we give up and sleep in his room on a mattress until it is the morning. We are 46 and 51 with jobs and can't be awake that much during the night. This happened the last three nights and is probably going to be the pattern for a while.

Any ideas on how we could solve this? It's obviously going to take some time -- he has to learn to fall asleep alone when he wakes up, in a new bed room, on his own, and he has related fears. And we don't have the energy to try some cold turkey way. But we don't want to get stuck having one of us sleeping on a mattress there long term... Which order should we try do things?

He is motivated and enthusiastic about his new room, and he tries, he just can't quite do it yet.

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    Can't answer your question directly, but we had a (fortunately very) large bedroom with foam mattresses on the floor for kids who preferred not to sleep alone. Those who wanted to went to bed at their normal bedtimes in our bedroom and slept through the night. That way there were fewer tears and conflict, and it didn't interfere with our sleep. Commented Mar 21, 2021 at 3:19
  • You are right in the "step by step" thought I think. We are now in the phase "falls asleep in it's own bed, cuddling with a parent, will call at night or come straigt to our bed".Sometimes, if I need to do some work on the evening, I get "permission" to go, let the door open and do, with the promise to come back right after finishing ;) step by step... To know, one is allowed to come back, takes a lot of bad feelings away, so we all feel comfortable with it. A thought about the new room: spend much (day-) time in it, to let him "build a relationship" with his own room and feel save there. Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 21:45

2 Answers 2


Your situation sounds almost exactly like ours.

In our case we had endless conflicts trying to get him to sleep on his own. Trying things like moving slightly further from the bed each night etc.

Nothing really worked. Ultimately we'd nearly always end up having to stay with him until he fell asleep anyway.

He eventually just grew out of it.

In hindsight, I just wish we hadn't had all the conflict. I wish I had just stayed with him for a while each night without getting worked up about it.

I worry now that it may have helped him to become a more anxious person than he otherwise might have been.

They're only little for a short time. It's not much of a sacrifice really, to keep them happy and feeling safe to go to sleep.

I'm mostly of the opinion now that young children already know what they're doing, it's us adults who need to learn to do things properly.

In other words. If a child thinks we should hold his hand while he goes to sleep. Who are we to try to convince him otherwise? Why is our idea of how to fall asleep better than his? He's his own person, with his own thoughts, feelings, and needs.

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    I accepted this because the sentiment really spoke to me.
    – Remco
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 7:23

We found a great workbook thru our child psychologist, called “What To Do When You Dread The Bed” It really spoke my 9 year old, and i think it would still click with a mature 6 year old. It walked thru what fear are and used a lot of really relatable metaphor. It also has some in between steps to do as you transition him to independent sleep. We too have a crib size floor foam pad for nights she needs us, I feel like her knowing the option is there has helped her, even when she doesn’t use it.

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