My 3 Year Old Will Not Fall Asleep Alone, HELP

Updated on May 09, 2011
J.T. asks from Youngstown, OH
8 answers

I am the mommy of a 3 & 1/2 year old, 2 year old and 3 week old. I have asked before about getting my child to fall asleep on his own, soI am guilty of not following advice, but I need any insight. PLEASE! My sweet little boy will not go to bed alone, we have to sit in his room at bedtime for him to fall asleep at all AND now when he does fall asleep he wakes up 2 to 3 hours later and cries for my husband to sleep next to him, IF my husband gets up in the middle of the night, or for work in the morning, my little boy wakes is like he cannot sleep unless someone is next to him. Please, anyone what can I do? It is harder to "baby"him when I have a 3 week old to nurse, so I am just trying to free up some time. He has actually been like this forever, so I know bad habits are hard to break. He has been spoiled b/c he was our 1st, now we have 2 more. My 2 year old is a great sleeper. He is still in the crib, but once I shut the lights out he is sawing logs. My oldest won't even lay in his room by himself for a nap, he wants me to lay next to him or sit in his chair. Oh my, what can I do. I hate to be a mean mommy, but I need some advice!!!

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answers from Phoenix on

I may not be the best person to give you advise on this issue, because both my 4yo and my 2yo sleep with me (my husband works nights). It all started because my 4yo was super clingy, and never would sleep in her crib. The 2yo slept fine on his own till we went on vacation, and he learned to climb out of his crib :). I'm not suggesting you let him sleep with you, that would be even harder to break. However, I wonder if putting the 2yo in bed with him would help him fall asleep. Is it simply that he wants another body there, or is it more that he just wants dad or you there. For my 4yo, it's that she just wants me all the time. My oldest (12 now) was never clingy and was very much the oposite. Always slept fine, and actually never really even gave hugs or kisses, even when I begged when she was little :). So, I probably let my 4 yo get away with sleeping with me because she wanted to be close. Although, she used to throw up every time I put her in her crib when she was little, which was the other reason it all started with her.
Any how try to see if the 2yo can sleep with the older one. See if that might work.

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answers from Houston on

I believe I saw the Nanny do this on TV.... you gradually move yourself (or your husband) out of the room. First tell him that you will NOT get in bed with him but will sit next to his bed. Do that for a few nights and then move a little further away from the bed, but still in the room. Then move to the doorway. Then sit outside the door, etc.

If you have to go in during the night, go to the same spot you have been in for bedtime don't get into the bed with him.

Have you tried propping a pillow or large stuffed animal next to him to give him the sensation of someone lying next to him?

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My boys ages 6.5 and 4.5 years share a room and I still have to sit in a chair in their room until they fall asleep. My oldest sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night crying and we go in and comfort him and he goes back to sleep. I think he is having a night terror because he talks gibberish and doesn't remember waking up in the morning. My younger son has never slept alone. We co slept until he was 2 1/2 and then he shared a room with his brother when our daughter was born. Our daughter will be two at the end of this month and she still co sleeps with my husband and I. We have an empty room and bed for her, but we aren't ready to move her yet. Actually, when the time comes we may just move her in with the boys until she is a little older or move the bed to our room. Some kids are just this way. I don't think you've spoiled him at all. I would say to just move his mattress to your room and let him sleep there so you can get what little sleep you can with a 3 week old!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

My son slept great on his own until we let him sleep with us for a few days when he was sick. We tried a few different things so I'm not sure exactly which one worked, but here's what we did:

Offer to sit next to the bed holding him until he fell asleep. The next night just hold hands. The next night sit next to the bed but no touching, etc. until you are out of the room.

Sticker chart for going to bed nicely, staying in bed all night. We told him he could have a special event when he filled it all up. (I'm not crazy about giving out toys because then you end up having to buy stuff all the time!) He chose getting to have a special date with Grandma. (Fine with her!) You could offer some special alone time with you or your husband which might be a big motivator right now since you have a new baby.

Every once in awhile he asks us to stay with him until he falls asleep. We usually can get away with telling him he just has to lay in bed for 10 minutes by himself and then we'll come back and see him. He almost always falls asleep in the 10 minutes.

You may have to get tough with him to get him to stay in bed. If he knows you'll eventually give in he'll keep trying. Be prepared for him to go all out when you try to change things on him! But he will get it. I know that if I can get books or videos from the library on whatever I'm trying to get my little one to do, it tends to work a lot better than me just telling him.

Whatever you decide to do you'll have to really commit to it - that's the hard part! Good luck.



answers from Bloomington on

my 4 year old sometimes is too scared to sleep by herself... but recently i bought a handful of little dollar store princess dollies and she happily goes to sleep all alone knowing that when she wakes up she can have a prize!! amazing how easy it was for her to change her mind. nevermind mom, i'm not scared, i can be big and sleep alone because i'm so excited to get a princess!! seriously! we've also had her work on a chart where she earned a very special sparkly coloring book after 10 nights sleeping in her bed. (your 3 year old must have something that he gets excited over... matchbox cars maybe?)



answers from New York on

Read the Dr. Ferber book on sleep training. It will help you address this and any other sleep association issues you want to curb. He advocates progressive waiting for infants, which is what we used to get our baby to sleep through the night. he's 6.5 months, and has been sleeping by himself, from 8:30pm to 7am without interruption. There are other techniques you can use for an older child.



answers from New York on

My 6.5 year old still sleeps in our room but now on a mattress on the floor. Some kids seem to be wired this way. So I'm no big success story but at least on her own mattress, she doesn't really bother us. We did have luck when she was younger sleeping on her own for periods of time but she always seems to come back to needing someone eventually. So if you think you can deal with him in the same room, train him to get used to someone in the room with him but not the same bed. This may take crying, forcing him back in his own bed etc but it's not that cruel as you're not leaving him alone in his room "terrified". Your husband will be right there very close, just not in the same bed. That would make it easier too to get up without waking him. So I'd find an extra mattress and try that approach... And my 2nd has never been like this either. But the experience w/ my 1st is probably why I don't have a 3rd :)



answers from Cleveland on

I want to start off by saying the best advice I ever got was "Just because it is not easy or doesn't make you popular doesn't mean it is the right thing to do." You said it yourself, it is a bad habit. You have to stop cold turkey. Tell him it is time for bed, you love him and he needs to be a big boy and listen to mom/dad. You will see him in the morning. It will probably take several days or a few weeks, but this is something the entire family needs.

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