21 answers

3 Year Old Wakes Every Night

I was wondering if anyone has experienced the same thing as us. Our 3 year old son has been waking up nearly every night for the last month now and wanting either myself or my hisband. He is not waking up crying so I do not think he has having nightmares. At first we had a safety thing on the door so he could not come out but we took it off as he would wake up and just bang the door until we came. Now he walks to the top of the stairs and calls us until we come. We put him straight back in bed and kiss him goodnight and leave the room. We do not lay with him and he usually goes back to sleep. Last night he came out 4 times!!! Please anyone have any ideas? We have tried a sticker chart so if he does not wake us up then he gets a sticker and when he has 3 he gets a small toy however this does not seem to work. I think he does not remember this in the middle of the night when he wakes up

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What we have told my boys is that if the sun isn't out/if there isn't any light outside, that it is not time to get up and to stay in their bed. It works for us and they only come down when they are scared or really need something. We went through a similar phase with both kids. I think they just get to an age where they are more aware when they wake up in the middle of the night. Hang in there, it should pass. :)


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How about a mattress or blankets on your bedroom floor where he can come in quietly and just lay down if he needs to be closer to you? My 4-year-old goes through phases where he needs to be closer to us and then just goes back to sleeping through the night. It sounds like his desire to be close to you is stronger than his desire for the toy right now. Also, I notice my son wakes more at night if he eats a lot of dairy or sugar. Is there anything different about his diet that could be causing him to wake or anything new developmentally -- trip coming up? school or home changes? reading or learning about something new? (My son woke a lot when we were reading about dinosaurs!)

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I know all three of mine have gone through phases. Heck, I just woke up with my 6 yr old in the bed the other night. Didn't even know she was there until the morning. There are so many variables. Nightmares, temp off in the room, growth spurts, any number of reasons. We keep a sleeping bag in our room for when the cycle lasts for longer than a night. If he came out 4 times in the middle of the night something is definitely up. If it was once a night I would just think it just some reassurance, but 4 times, says that something needs to be addressed rather than going back to sleep. You just have to figure out what. When you touch him is he sweating or cold? Mine used to kick off their covers and wake up freezing. Finally turned the thermostat higher at night upstairs.

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Hello D.,

have you figured out what's waking him up? what if you put one those sound machines in his room? is it too cold, too hot, etc. could the airconditioning unit be waking him up when it starts in the middle of the night? cars driving by? trains? airplanes? is he in a growth spurt and need extra protein at dinner time... so many questions and not enough sleep for you... Good luck! ~C.~

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Hi I had this experience with my son before but slightly different he was having nightmares. I am not sure what could be causing this for your son it could be the very same thing. My Son did not cry either he would just come get in the bed with me in the middle of the night. I began to pray with him before he went to bed and kept a night light on for him. Maybe you do already but prayer to me was the best solution. Pray over him in his room before he goes to bed that the Lord gives him sweet dreams and peaceful sleep during the night and that nothing torment his dreams. Ask the Lord to place protection around his doors and windows as well.

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Alright this is going to sound crazy to everyone reading, but I've seen it work 4 different times now with friends of mine. Some psychologists say that children have an innate desire for family togetherness and unity. Their whole world revolves around the security that mommy and daddy bring. Thus, if they do not see mommy and daddy directly loving each other in an obvious way, they may wake at night to see mom and dad work together to help him. Just give this a shot. I know that we get so so busy with work and house hold chores and caring for our children that often our precious time with our spouse is after the babies go to bed, the kids never see it. So for a week, as soon as you are both home, tell your son it's mommy and daddy's special time, give him a designated place to play in view of the couch, and just sit together where he is witness to you enjoying one another's company. Hold hands, give a little smooch and talk about your day. He may resist at first because he wants to be a part of this time, but explain to him that it's very important to mommy and daddy that they have 10 minutes to spend together. I'm telling you D., this works. It's nutty, but I have friends who tried EVERYTHING, and for whatever reason this just puts the kiddo at peace (not to mention helps you feel more connected with your spouse), enabling them to sleep. Give it a shot-everyone wants to know that their parents love each other right? And who knows, you might like it so much that you keep it around. It really helps my hubby and I after a long day. Good luck and please feel free to email me directly if you have questions!

1 mom found this helpful

My 3 yr old is doing the same thing! Sometimes she sleeps all night - other times she is up 3-4 times a night! Not good... I have noticed her imagination really developing and getting more vivid and I figure that is leading to more vivid and maybe even scary dreams. She hates bugs and a few times she has thought bugs were in her bed or on her! I've asked her why she woke mommy up so much and she has told me she just missed me! :) My older daughter did the same thing, so I am hoping that this phase will pass soon!
Good luck - hope we both get some sleep!

I also have a 3 year old who does the same thing sometimes. It may last a week or just be a few days in a row then nothing for a month. We have found that just puting him back to bed quietlyu works, but ours is just once a night.

We have also tried the potty, sometimes I think they wake up because they need to go but don't know it. We have worked hard on limiting drinks after 6:30 and one more trip to the bathroom before bed and that is helping.

Good luck

No answers here! I have never had the luxury of an all night sleeper. When my 3 year old wakes up and comes to our bedroom I always send him to the potty and then to his bed. I might lay with him or sometimes being tucked in is enough. One good thing..........since 2 1/2 he hardly ever wets the bed. He hasn't been in a pull up since last year and it's great! Oh and if it happens again during the night, he gets in bed with us. I'm to tired to fight about it and my husband doesn't mind. Hope things work out and I feel your pain

Cade wakes up every night multiple times. Last night he was distraught looking for his blanket. Sometimes he is thirsty. Others, he just wants to be with us. If you figure out how to make this insanity stop, let us know. =) I really don't know that he is fully awake when he comes into our room. Good luck!

What we have told my boys is that if the sun isn't out/if there isn't any light outside, that it is not time to get up and to stay in their bed. It works for us and they only come down when they are scared or really need something. We went through a similar phase with both kids. I think they just get to an age where they are more aware when they wake up in the middle of the night. Hang in there, it should pass. :)


My son did this and we just did what your doing. It stopped after a while.

Our son did the same thing. Hate to tell you but, it just stopped as suddenly as it started. It only lasted a few months. We did exactly as you are doing, just put him back to bed. Our son is now four and occasionally wakes up in the night. I think he wakes up because he needed to go to the bathroom but didn't wake up in time. He sleeps so soundly that he still wears a pullup. We have a sound machine that we put on for an hour which might help your son to only get up once. Hang it there, it will get better!

2 ideas: I know that dairy products help them sleep sounder. In fact, if you have issues with bedwetting, that is the first thing they tell you to cut out (after 6pm). Other idea is to put a pillow and blanket under your bed. When my daughter came down, instead of having her climb into bed with us, I just reached down and pulled out her little 'pallet' and she slept the rest of the night on the floor next to me. She's 9 now, and I miss her being there. Good luck! J.

We just got thru a two week hiatus with my 2 1/2 y/o son. He's always been a great sleeper and 2 weeks ago he decided to stall and fight going to bed and get up several times a night. We tried everything to resist putting him in bed with us. Finally, what worked was locking his door. We told him the first time he got out of bed he got a warning, the second time we shut the door, and the third time the door was locked. Of course he tested us and after going thru this once we opened the door and told him he could get a second chance to have his door open if he stayed in bed. It worked!! He got up in the middle of the night and we gave him the warning. He didn't get up again because he hates to have his door closed.

Hang in there!! Kids just like to keep us on our toes! :)

This is only a couple of ideas. He may be awakened by the urge to pee, so maybe on the first time try to get him to go. Or it may be the A/C coming on and waking him if he is a light sleeper. Maybe you could run a humidifier or sound machine to help block out noises. Also, things like tags, being hot in the room, or cold, toys in the bed that he is rolling over on. We have a 3yr old and it always seems to be something. Good luck!

HI D.,
I'm sure my answer will cause a stir. But our now 3 1/2 y/o son did the same thing. At about 2 1/2, he would wake up and get in our bed. He has always been a cuddly boy and we think he just needed to feel both of us. He did co-sleep with us for as a baby and his crib was in our room for the first year. Our first son didn't do this all, so we figured this was something our little one needed, so we didn't fight it. It did last about 7 months. But right about the time I was really getting tired of having his foot in my back, he started sleeping through the night in his own bed! In the morning we really made a big deal out of the fact that he stayed in his bed all night. I am glad he can do this now, but I miss feeling him all snuggled up between us. I would say this is a phase. You are doing what works for your family and I'm soon it will end soon.

Hello D. J

I feel your pain!!! My son is 14 and he still does it. I found out that he is not even awake when he does this. He will come into my room and ask me questions and talk to me or want to sit on my bed. He will look like he is wide awake but he really isn't I just say okay lets talk in the morning go back to bed and he will go. I talked to his Neurologist and he said when he does this do not wake him up just tell him to go back to bed. He said they follow a routine that they know. He said alot of sleep walkers do this because of stress or lack of sleep. I found that if he does not eat after 8:00pm it does not happen as much. Try to make him go to bed early and get at least 8 to 10 hrs sleep. You will see a difference.

I am having the same problem with my 3 yr old daughter. She wakes up 2-3 times a night and wants either myself or my husband to come & lay down with her. I dont know what to do. Her room is literally directly across the hall from ours so its not that she is far away. It is just so frustrating because I am 5 1/2 months pregnant and already needing as much sleep as possible! there are some nights when I am so desperate for sleep that I just put her in my bed so that we can all get some sleep. Please let me know if you find something that works and I will let you know if I do....I just want you to know that you are not alone!!

Reading all of the responses I think you keep doing what you are doing and I would be interested to find out if you try the mommy daddy time thing so that the kid can see it if this seems to correlate with the sleeping issues.

With me, my youngest was the only one that was worth a hoot in sleeping through the night but at 18 months, he had to be hospitalized with a case of strep that went nuts. We let him sleep in bed with us when we got home for a week or so and it was HE double hockey sticks getting him to stay in a bed for a couple of years, oy. Bless his heart, he is 9 and would still rather sleep with me than his own bed.

One thing that kind of worried me about the other responses was making sure that if you want the kids to stay in bed or their room, they really know that you don't mean for them to not get up to go to the bathroom. Now, once I get my kids to bed they sleep the sleep of the dead, but occasionally they will all three get up to use the bathroom at night. If there was even the seed that they weren't supposed to do that, it wouldn't be pretty.

I have a friend who did role playing with her daughter. During the day they'd pretend it was the middle of the night and she fell out of bed or woke up. They'd practice getting right back in bed and going to sleep again. My friend said it appeared to work because she never missed any sleep. My best to you!

My 3 1/2 DD still does this - every night. I've tried putting her back to bed - over and over and over. I've tried sticker charts, I've tried bribes of "bigger" toys, a new bedroom set (she has a crib/toddler bed) I've tried "All your friends sleep in their rooms!".... Nothing works for her!

I think that part of it is that she's an only child, and she just doesn't want to be alone. She will flat out say - I just miss you - or - I don't want to be in my room all alone. I mean - how do you explain that to her? While you and your hubby are all nice and snuggled in your room together?? (Oh yes - we even bought a LIFE SIZED Elmo for her to sleep with!)

I also think that at 3 - 3 1/2 - 4 - they are going through a "where's Mommy" stage, and mine is constantly asking - where are you??? so - at night - in the dark, and quiet - it's even more of an issue.

I know that it's hard - but congrats to those that can reassure their little ones, and get them back to their own beds - a time or two! :-)

There are others of us that are still sleeping with feet in our back, and elbows in our kidneys. But I, for one, am just blessed to have that little foot in my life - even if it's in my sleep deprived face some nights!

Hang in there - we are all feeling your pain!

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