How Can I Get My 2 Kids to Sleep Through the Night?

Updated on October 14, 2009
C.M. asks from Denton, TX
13 answers

I have two kids, a 3 1/2 yr old daughter and a 1 yr old son. They both wake me up several times during the night...I think last night I was woken up 2 times by my daughter and two or three times by my son (I can't remember...all my sleepless nights are blending together). To put it this way I was SO excited one day after only being woken up once by each one. How can I get them to sleep through the night-esspecially the 3 yr old?

Here is a little background info
1 yr old goes to bed between 7: 30 and 8 and cries for a few seconds and then he is out. He wakes up at night because he is still nursing and is teething (4 coming in, already has 4). I'm not as concerned about him sleeping all the way through because every time he wakes up, he nurses...he doesn't just wake up to get me in the room.

My daughter also goes to bed at the same time (she keeps coming out, but I think that is because I need to watch her nap times). She wakes up and asks for me to tuck her or because she wants her pacifier (yes, I wished she wouldn't use one but that is the only thing she has ever been attached to) or she just wakes up and I think kind of sleep walks over to me for no reason. She always lays right down when I bring her to her room. She started waking up at night and coming to my room when my son was a few months old. I used to sleep in his room so it would be easier to nurse but I don't anymore. I thought when I wasn't in there anymore she would stop. Any ideas? The serious lack of sleep is finally taking it's toll on me and I need all the energy I can get since my husband is gone a lot for work and school.

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answers from Dallas on

I hate to tell you this but my daughter had sleeping issues all the way up to first grade. For a long time I actually would sleep in her room when she woke up. We tried the cry it out method, kept putting her back in her room every time she came into mine, but I was very crabby with the loss of sleep. It was easier to go into her room (we put a queen bed in there so we both could sleep) the first time she came into mine...that way everyone could go back to sleep quickly.

When she hit kindergarten, she would still come into my room, but I had a pallet set up on the floor next to the bed so she could come in and not bother me...just crash on the floor on her pallet. When first grade rolled around we really talked with her about big girls staying in their bedrooms. She has a princess night light from Home Depot (a lamp with a night light as an option) and she gets music every night when she goes to bed). She stays in her room 99% of the time now. I think when they get older you can reason with them better. Maybe offer the lamp as a prize for staying in her room for several nights. Good luck. It will work itself out eventually.


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answers from Austin on

Hi C.
I disagree with some of your previous advice that recommend putting your daughter to bed later or cutting out her nap. I have read MANY things on this topic because of some issues we had with our 2 1/2 year old (also when a new baby came into the house!) and here's what I found out. Ensuring your daughter gets MORE sleep will help her sleep better...seems counterintuitive, but it's been proven. So, if she is skipping her nap (or waking up during the night every few hours!), she is probably getting too LITTLE sleep which makes her sleep even less---a self-perpetuating cycle.

Here are a couple of website that I thought you might be interested in, which say that a 3 year old should be getting anywhere from 12 to 13 hours of sleep per day:

It sounds to me as if the new baby has her schedule disrupted. Perhaps her bedtime routine was altered when the baby came? Or perhaps she is just experiencing more separation anxiety because she is now "competing" more for Mommy and Daddy's attention?

Ensuring your daughter has a very clear, consistent bedtime routine, which allows her to wind down, will usually help. We always take a good 1/2 hour to put down our 2 1/2 year old, turning off all of the lights except for one small reading light, turning on his white noise machine (we bought one when the new baby came b/c we have a very loud house (cement floors) and every noise carries). We talk about all of the fun things we did today and how he now needs to rest so that he can have lots of energy for tomorrow's fun activities. We say that Mommy and Daddy are going to sleep, too, so that we can also have energy for the next day. We read him a few books in a softer and softer voice and are practically whispering by the time we say "OK time to go night-night, we'll see you in the morning. Mommy and Daddy are going night-night now too"...

Make sure your daughter gets that time all to herself, where possible, i.e. no baby in the room (much harder to do when hubby is out of town). She may just be craving some of her own Mommy-time or Daddy-time, if she's unable to get it during the day. In fact, you may want to make sure that she gets some one on one time during the day so that she doesn't use the night-time for that purpose...

I really like some of your other advice re: teaching your child about an acceptable time to come wake you up in the morning. I will probably need to implement that now that we are about to move our toddler from his crib to a toddler bed (yikes!). Re: your daughter, putting a couple of books/toys right next to her bed (let her pick them out the night before), so that she doesn't actually have to get up to get them, may keep her in bed while she is "killing time" in the morning, so that she may fall back to sleep. We have found that if our toddler first calls out in the morning, but has to wait a few minutes for us to respond, he will go right back to sleep because he is still in bed. Just a thought...

I hope this helps!! (sorry for the novel ;-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Check out

I know the person who created the clock, which was inspired by her twins. Her story is on the website but it is a really great product that works! Kids love it - check out the information on how it works.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree for the 1 year old, I would just go with the flow. For your three year old I have a friend whose technique may work for you. Their 2 year old when they moved him to a toddler bed would get up and wander into their room during the night really just because he could. The put an emphasis on a clock and taught him to recognize the numbers 6:00. To also help him they put a light in his room on a timer and it turned on at 6:00. He was to stay in his room until the light came on. He was allowed to read a book or play if he woke up before then, but had to be quiet and stay in his room. After about a week, he had the system down and it worked perfectly. They also established that if it was an emergency then he could come see them, but they outlined what an emergency was and made it very clear that he would be in trouble if he woke them up and it wasn't an emergency. It worked great for them and it is something I plan to try when my son gets a little older.

Good luck...T.



answers from Dallas on


It sounds like you've answered your own question. Your son is teething and nursing, and you said that you don't expect him to sleep through the night. You said that perhaps your daughter's naps are interferring in her sleeping through the night, and I think you're right. If she naps and is in bed asleep by 7:30, that is a lot of time to be "sleeping." Either cut out naps or make her bed time later. If you make your daughter's bed time later, some one on one time coloring, playing or reading books may make her feel more secure since having a little baby brother who needs lots of attention. I'd check sleeping charts to know approximately how many hours children need of sleep each day. All kids are different, but it's a good estimation for you.

You could also try co-sleeping with the kids to see if that helps???




answers from Dallas on

after reading some of the responses you've been given - not to be disrespectful of other's thoughtful efforts - but i would recommend just skipping down to debbie c.'s, reading (maybe printing) her post, and then simply closing the window.




answers from Dallas on

Nowadays there are books on everything! Have you tried the library to find a book on this topic?

Going to the library on a weekly basis (to the weekly story/entertainment session) is fun for kids also and they can check out books to read. Then they'll have new-to-them books for entertaining themselves in the way that several moms have suggested = staying in the bedroom until 6. Reading or looking at books is a good plan! You can teach your daughter how to recognize 6:00 or set a digital timer or have a lamp or alarm go on at 6.

Also, there's no physical reason why a 1 yr old couldn't get through the night without nursing - he's big enough to last 8 hours. Have you thought about stopping the night time feedings? That would give you more sleep. Teething pain can be addressed with tylenol and gum gel. I know it's nice to cuddle with the baby while nursing, but it might be more beneficial to you and your body if you cut out the night time feedings.

Hope you get it worked out!



answers from Dallas on

Might be just us, but my daughter actually slept better once we got rid of the pacifier. She was constantly waking to put it back in her mouth or search for it. We switched her to a blankie that works pretty well.

Maybe use a sticker chart for every night she stays in her room and doesn't wake you? Or if you don't mind her getting up, teach her to sleep on a sleeping bag in your room when she gets up- but she isn't allowed to wake you... Just some thoughts. Hope you get some rest soon- I know that is miserable!



answers from Dallas on

Your pediatrician will tell you - stop nursing in the night. Nutritionally he does not need to be fed. Do not go to him when he calls you at night. He will cry for a few nights, but then he will start sleeping through. For your daughter - put a babygate at her door so she can't leave her room. Tell her when you put her down that she is to stay in her bed until you come and get her in the morning, and if she cries from her room, don't get up. It will be a rough couple of nights, but it will stop. This is a habit - not a need.

Good luck.



answers from Dallas on

When my son was around that age he started waking 3 or 4 times a night, after he used to sleep perfectly through the night. our solution - we moved his bed time 30 minutes EARLIER and made sure he never missed his naps! That extra 30 minutes of sleep apparently got him the sleep he needed and he stopped waking up. I had read in a book to try it and thought it was silly until it worked!



answers from Dallas on

It could be that are going to bed too early. Maybe you could keep them up until around 9 or 10. Or it could be that they are sleeping too much during the day or both. I know my daughter just doesn't require as much sleep as some other children, so maybe that is the problem.


answers from Dallas on

A few things to try. Cut out the nap as I think you know you may have to do, or at least make it earlier in the day.

You didn't talk about the bed time routine. Does she have one? I agree to put her in bed 1/2 hour later, then read to her for 1/2 hour. Or just try the reading at 7:30pm. Be sure she gets all snuggly and settled in.

Do you leave a light on or the door ajar? She may just be afraid. If she can't sleep give her permission to look at books or quietly play in her room. If she stays in her room offer her a reward. If she wants the light on altogether........why not?

This last suggestion as a last resort won't be the most popular. Worst case scenario put a bedroll outside your bedroom door. If it is her habit to wake at 2 in the morning then let her wander in and sleep there. Not in your room, but near to give her comfort.....then you can get some sleep.



answers from Dallas on

OH C.,

I understand what you mean about sleepless night...but that's because I have an 11 month old breast baby too...who still gets up 1-2 times a night. But my 3 year old sleeps from 7:30-about 8ish. You have to start having consequences for continuing to get out of bed. When we first moved our daughter into her big bed it was hard because she could finally come out whenever she wanted to, but a few firm talks and we don't really have that problem anymore! Best of luck!

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