Bunk beds don't have to get in the way of a good night's sleep.

How to Keep a Younger Child in a Lower Bunk

by Sara Ipatenco

The battle to persuade children to stay in bed and go straight to sleep is one that rages in many houses across the country every night. Small children have a difficult time stopping the fun to go to sleep and they might also get up because they're curious to see what their parents are doing. If your younger child sleeps in a lower bunk bed, she can easily scoot out of bed and wander the house, but you can put a stop to that behavior with a few simple techniques.

Create a bedtime routine. According to the Cleveland Clinic, having firm rules about bedtime can ease your child's fears and encourage him to get straight into bed and go right to sleep without getting up several times. Send your child to bed at the same time every night and go through the same teeth-brushing and story routine. You might also lie with your child for a few minutes so he has that to look forward to once he gets in bed.

Do a bedroom check before tucking your child in. Look under the bed and in the closets so your child knows monsters aren't lurking in the dark. Check out the top bunk, too, because not being able to see what's up there can make your child nervous. Turn on a nightlight and close the curtains so your child isn't distracted by shadows outside, too. Your child is more likely to stay in bed if he feels secure that his bedroom is safe.

Return your child to the lower bunk immediately if he gets up or tries to climb up to the top. Remind your child that it's bedtime and that he needs to stay in the lower bunk, close his eyes and go to sleep. Be consistent. Every single time your child crawls out of the lower bunk, immediately return him to it.

Make the lower bunk more inviting if your child would rather climb up top, move to your bed or come out into the living room and lie on the couch with you. Encourage your child to choose one or two stuffed animals to share the bottom bunk with, and let him choose his own blankets and sheets so he can take ownership of his sleeping space. You might hang a few photographs of the family underneath the top bunk so your child can see them when he's in bed. This can help him feel more secure so he's more likely to stay in bed.

Reward your younger child when he does stay in the lower bunk until morning. Perhaps you could give him a high-five or let him choose the morning cartoon. The thought of a reward often is all it takes to persuade a child to stay in bed at bedtime.


  • If your child tends to get out of the lower bunk so he can crawl up into the top bunk, you might consider taking the beds apart so they become two twin beds instead. This will help prevent injury if your younger child is able to get up top.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

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