Signup for our newsletter to receive pregnancy, parenting and child health updates.

ask an expert

How do we beat the bedtime battles?

I have a 3 year old boy who seems to think he has to have mom go to bed with him, in his bed. He fights falling asleep, and when he does, mom leaves and goes to our bed. He consistently wakes up every 2 to 3 hours all night long, crying for mom, and will not go to sleep without mom laying in bed with him. Being woke up every 2 to 3 hours every night is exhausting for us. Is there anything we can do with him to get him to fall asleep, and stay asleep all night long, without mom laying with him until he goes to sleep?

Margo Anderson-Fowler | Family Medicine

Margo Anderson-Fowler

As you may have seen on Supernanny (LOL) - the only way to break this habit is to continue to put him back in his bed and let him cry/fight etc.

Set a specific bedtime ritual - brushing teeth, reading a bedtime story, etc. and then put him to bed.If he gets up, take him directly back to bed and tell him goodnight. If he gets up again, do not talk to him, but rather pick him up and put him back in his bed. The second time, sit in his room with your back to him and ignore him. Every time he gets up, do not talk with him, but put him directly back in his bed and sit in the room with your back to him (stay quiet, calm). After awhile (minutes to hours), he will go to sleep in his bed and stay there.

This ritual will need to go on for several nights until he learns to sleep in his own bed and stay there. You may try music, very little light, something to cuddle with, but overall, it's the pattern above that will break this habit. It's hard and for a few nights, none of you will sleep well, but soon, you will ALL be sleeping better!

Good luck!

Read more answers by Dr. Anderson-Fowler