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My toddler used to sleep through the night but lately has
been waking up every three hours cryinghysterically. I don't know what to do and, since it's the middle of the night, I bring him into bed. It's the only
way he'll go back to sleep.
It sounds to me like there's something in his
bedtime routine that's causing him to wake up every few sleep cycles.
son falling asleep with you in the room, or is he very drowsy when he gets into
the crib/bed? Does he have a pacifier that falls out, or does he not know how
to re-tuck his own blankets? Anything that changes—even slightly—between when
he falls asleep at bedtime and when he wakes in the night will make him call
out to you to fix or re-do.
Start by assessing the circumstances around bedtime
to make sure this isn't the culprit.
It sounds like you don't want him in bed with you, which
means, if you're sure he's not sick or in pain (usually teething pain only last
a short few days if that's the problem), I'd recommend using the Sleep Wave
method in "The Happy Sleeper," my book about the science of sleep for newborns to school-age children.
The Sleep Wave method is the approach for responding to your
child while also establishing a new pattern. In your case, the new pattern is him sleeping independently and not in
your bed, if that's your wish. The Sleep Wave will help you turn around a sleep habit like
this, which is what it sounds like to me.
Don't forget to assess your bedtime
routines first, though!