What Age Should They Be Going to Sleep on Their Own?

Updated on January 19, 2007
T.M. asks from Lincoln, NE
9 answers

My daughter will be 6 at the end of this month. Regardless of what i do she will not lay down to go to sleep by herself. My friend's daughter started to go to sleep on her own when she was 1 or 2. Is it normal for a 6 year old to still have trouble falling asleep by herself? Some nights it gets so bad, and she is so tired, that she drives me crazy. Any suggestions on how to teach her to fall asleep on her own? I have one more year at home... I'm terrified that i wont be able to handle everything when i move out on my own... especially with no help.

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answers from Lincoln on

Like Jane said, I recommend using the book The Sleep Fairy. It is a reward system for going to bed and staying in bed all night. My three year old loved it, and it stopped any need to cry at bedtime.

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answers from Fargo on


As you can see from the different responses you have received so far, every child is different. There really isn't a "normal" when it comes to individual children. The advice from Holly J and others is what I would focus on, to enjoy this time in your daughter's life and use her "need" at bedtime as an opportunity to share some special time together.

My daughter turned 6 yesterday, and it sounds like she has a lot in common with your own. We do a routine at bedtime and I "snuggle in" with her for a few minutes before I leave the room. She said the other night, "Mom, will you stay until I fall asleep?" I said, "If you fall asleep in two minutes, then I will be here." She didn't, but she didn't whine when I got out of bed either.

Mostly it is about security, I think. On the nights that you are home with her at bedtime, set up a special ritual that you can both look forward to. Good luck with everything.



answers from Pocatello on

T.- Hi, I also have a sleepless 6 year old... She must cuddle or have her back rubbed to fall asleep. I just use it as a "night time ritual" and enjoy it! It is usually easier and faster than fighting with her.

I talk about something she did at school or daycare while I cover her up and rub her back...she's usually out in 5 minutes.

I know your busy but, enjoy-they are only young once and she obviously needs you-

Good luck-H.



answers from Des Moines on

By 6 your duaghter should be able to sleep on her own without much difficulty. Do you know the reason as to why she is having such a hard time..eg. affraid of dark, etc..., maybeifyou are able to get to the bottom of what she is affraid of you may be able to spend sometime fixing it and get her to bed without a problem. My son has been sleeping in his bed since he was 18 months without any problems, most children are able to do that by 2.



answers from Omaha on

Try finding the book, "The Sleep Fairy". There is a preface page for parents to read that tells you how to use the book. I would go into more detail but I am pressed for time. It worked wonders for my kids when they were around your daughters age. Let me know if you are having trouble finding the book and I will see if I can help you out.




answers from Des Moines on

It may not be a matter of her not being able to do it herself, but not wanting to miss you. Maybe it's her way of saying I need you. Maybe it means not seeing the friends for a while, in order to spend time with her and putting her to bed. Maybe a sacrafice of giving up you "once in a while" outing for a period of time will give her the security of you being there to tuck her in will help make that a habit.

Unless a doctor has told you there's a medical reason behind her not going to sleep, then it probably has to do more with her not having something consistent in her routine. It could be as simple as you kissing her good night. if you do have to work, then maybe you can come up with a secret substitute that only you and she knows what to do. You have a lot to juggle and sometimes kids don't adapt well to that. Thus, rebelling against it ways we would never think of.



answers from Davenport on

I was having a little difficulty getting my daughter to go to bed by herself too. I would tuck her in every night, turned on the night light for her and left her door open so she could see me. She was still afraid. So I started putting her to bed a half hour early and letting her watch a movie before bed. This seemed to work pretty good. She was usually asleep by her actual bed time. And she didnt wake up in the middle of the night with a bad dream either. Every night I told her it was movie time and she would run in her room excited and ready to jump in bed. I hope this works for you too!! Good luck to you!!



answers from Sioux Falls on

Your daughter should be able to fall asleep on her own at this age. If you need too go out and let her pick up a special stuffed animal, that way she will have a friend to sleep with. Then when it is bedtime put her in the room and leave her let her know that it is bed time. I always read my daughter 2 books before she goes to sleep. You can leave her door open or closed whatever suits you. but if she is having trouble falling asleep it might be better to close her door for the first couple of nights and then let her know that you'll start opening it, if she falls asleep on her own. If she starts to cry let her she might just cry herself to sleep but it will show her that you aren't going to stay in her room any more. This might be hard for you to do, but HANG IN THERE.



answers from Lincoln on

I think that your daughter is old enought to sleep be herself. Both of my children have always put themselves to sleep. But we do have a night light in their rooms and we do read a book and talk before leaving the room. Have you tried that... read a book and then talk about her day and see what is on her mind. Also maye try to talk to her about why she is unable to sleep by herself...I think if you and your family get into a routine that might help her. Good luck

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