My son is almost
3 and a half. He was the most perfect sleeper until
we put him into a bed just shortly after he turned 2 and a half. He is now a terrible
sleeper. He wakes up almost every two hours, crying because he wants Mommy or
Daddy to sleep with him or wants to come into our bed. We have to constantly go
into his room and lay him back down and reassure him that everything is OK, and
we are just down the hallway. But he continues to wake.
We have also tried a
sticker chart with him where, if he sleeps the entire night without Mommy and
Daddy coming in, at the end of the week he can get a toy. It didn't work.
We have a new baby coming in five weeks, and I don't know how to fix this
situation. I'm not going to be able to go in and out of his room all night when
I'm with the baby in the middle of the night. And let me also mention: I can't
leave him too long to cry, because he'll throw up.
Any advice or words of
wisdom? Please help!
Even the best of sleepers can get off
track with the transition to the big bed. All that new, wide-open freedom is liberating,
but for some kids, it’s almost too much freedom to know what to do with. At
If the sticker chart worked, I’d say
that’s great. But overall, we encourage parents not to use rewards when it comes
to sleep. Sleep is natural and inherently rewarding, so we want him to feel
confident and good about his own abilities when he sleeps well, rather than
feeling like he’s doing it for an external reason.
Make sure his bed is cozy and maybe put
up a guardrail that mimics the crib side. He was used to containment and
probably felt safer and more tucked-in with it, so initially it might help to
re-create that in his bed.
If he’s waking in the night and crying
(but not getting out of bed), you’ll want to respond to him in a very reliable
and trusted way, while keeping it clear that he sleeps in his bed until morning
and everyone sees each other when the sun comes up. That requires some planning
and, if you use the Sleep Wave method in "The Happy Sleeper" book, you’ll be able
to accomplish this.
If he’s popping out of bed and coming into your room (and
you don’t want him to sleep with you), then you’ll want to walk him back to his
own room without much fanfare. That can take many repetitive visits trailing
back down the hallway, but after a few nights, he will get the hang of it. We
always want to respond to him and let him know you’re there, and you are your
warm and attentive self, but that you aren’t going to break the pattern of
walking him back to his cozy bed.
Do you have a sleep question you want Heather to answer for Sleep Fix? Email her at email@example.com. Sleep expert Heather Turgeon, co-author of "The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep—Newborn to School Age," will fix your family's sleep problems in this space as she does in her Los Angeles-based sleep consultations. Turgeon's solutions are nonjudgmental, kind and—best of all—based on science.
No situation is too challenging. Leave your sleep problem in the comments. Let's all get a good night's sleep, finally.