Getting a Two Year Old to Sleep

My friend Robert says that self-help groups are the path to wellness happiness, so I’m turning to my readership, some of whom are experienced parents, for assistance with an entirely practical matter: getting Oliver to sleep.

When we were in Spain in May, Oliver finally twigged to the fact that he could climb out of his crib, and so when we returned home we had to retire his crib and move him to a single bed all of his own. Since the switch we’ve mostly failed at getting him to stay in bed the night through, and therein lies the problem.

The usual routine is this: we put Oliver to bed about 10:00 p.m. (he has, since birth, been a late-to-bed, late-to-rise child, and as this suits our schedule, we’ve no problems with it). Sometimes he’ll fall right to sleep, sometimes we’ll have to lie down beside him until he falls asleep.

He’ll then sleep soundly for 2 or 3 hours.

Then, around 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m., he’ll wake up, get out of bed, and come looking for Catherine and I. If we lead him back to bed he won’t stay there, and if we lie down with him, no matter for how long, he wakes up and cries when we get up to leave. If, somehow, we manage to escape with Oliver asleep back to our own bed, he’ll often repeat the exercise again 2 hours later.

This all adds up to an exhausted Oliver, and exhausted parents. And the more it goes on, the more exhausted we all get, the fewer thought resources we have to apply to a solution, and the more established this broken routine becomes.

I’m sure our experiences are not unique. Can others offer war stories from the sleeping frontiers that might assist, or at least make us feel better that we’re not padding the halls alone.


John Chik's picture
John Chik on July 30, 2003 - 23:10 Permalink

My wife Sarah took a infant/baby sleeping course and the woman giving it suggested when they get to that stage, that you lock the door from the outside. Basically you need to make sure that the room is totally safe (ie. cover the outlets etc…). Then the room becomes a safe zone. If we were to do this, I think definitely use a baby monitor or something. Her other comment was that if you do this, you will always know where the kid is in case of an emergency (ie. fire). If the kid can wander around, he might gone somewhere else in this situation. I am not entirely comfortable with the idea of doing this and her other ideas seemed a little out there, but what advice we have used, has worked on the whole. Just my $0.02!

Sandy's picture
Sandy on July 31, 2003 - 00:31 Permalink

Hi Peter,
I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. Unfortunately, I don’t have any quick fixes for you. The way that I seemed to get the most sleep was having my daughter sleep with us. I know that this is not for everyone, but I did not have to ever get out of bed and we all slept much better. While I was pregnant with our second child we started working on getting Riley (who was almost 3) out of our bed to make room for the baby. It took a some time and some wakeful nights, but she is now sleeping throught the night more consistently.

There were a few sleep books recommended recently in La Leche League’s New Beginnings Magazine:

Sweet Dreams by Dr. Paul Fleiss
Nighttime Parenting by Dr. William Sears (Availalbe through LLL Ch’town’s Library)
The No-Cry Sleep Solution (I think some of my family members might have this book if you are interested)

Good Luck!

PS- I don’t like the sound of locking a child in a room — a gate perhaps or a half door, but not a full door. Just my personal opinion.

Alan's picture
Alan on July 31, 2003 - 00:48 Permalink

My only advice is sleeping with them in their room rather than letting them come into yours. It solved the waking up problem until the next one…I want to come in and crash on your head and snore loudly 30 seconds later. Make sure you have 27 comfortable beds in your house.

Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on July 31, 2003 - 04:16 Permalink

Uncle Rob here.

Kids are like dogs — they learn from what we do as parents and what we allow. I have found it helps to consider every act of mine as an act of meaning — I reflect what is the lesson for the dog or the child? Every interaction is loaded with meaning and with the issues of power.

Your family is a power structure. Keep an eye out for who holds the power. Many feel that an infant or a small child like Oliver is unaware of power. Power is defined by who is in control.

So here is the deal. When Oliver wakes up — which he is now programmed to do — he knows that he is in for a nice time because it is part of the set up that when he wakes up he has a reward. You and Catherine will cosy up to him. That is his reward and that is the core of his program. “If i wake up then I will be cosied” — hey I would go for that too! He is in control>

When you try and force the issue and then give in — this is called positive intermitent reinforcement — you are teaching him in the most powerful way available that he is the boss. “Even when they say no I can make them say yes!” Oliver is now the dominant Alpha in the family.

I think that you have two choices — keep what you do now and live with the outcomes. This may be the action that in the end suits you both best.


Get a latch, the hook and eye type, nothing that will really hold the door. Give up work for a week and tough it out. No matter what don’t give in. It will be hell but you will teach him a new lesson. That his bed is his alone and that you are in charge.

Sounds draconian but young kids feel safe when there is structure and when they know that their parents are making the big decisions. As he gets older, he can and should be part of rule making. But right now, he will feel safer with you in charge.

I offer this harsh advice as a parent who has made a myriad of mistakes and who is the softy in our family who usually gave in but had the benefit of sergeant major partner who taught me all I now know.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 31, 2003 - 04:52 Permalink

Hi Mr Rukavina

Although not a parent myself, I work with young children so maybe I can offer a few words. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ll give it a shot.

I agree with Rob. When to comes right down to it, you are reinforcing the behavior that you don’t want. When Oliver gets up and you guys go to him, he feels it’s “ok” for him to wake up more often. It’s become habit more then anything. Bed time (as well as meal time) are two of the most challenging times for parents. It’s a constant power struggle. Don’t let him have the power you’re not ready to give over.

Don’t give Oliver choices when it comes to bed time. Meaning, if you want him to do something in particular, don’t allow him the room to “break the rules”. Such as, maybe it’s time to break the habit of cuddliing with him before he falls alsleep initially. Set up guidleines such as making sure he knows he can have one or two stories or songs before bed, then it’s time for him to get comfortable himself. Allow him the chance to learn to put himself back to sleep. This can be quite difficult at first and a challenge for both you and him, but it can work.

Young children need practice and play to learn. If you liek this idea, try taking one of Oliver’s favourite stuffed animals and practice a bedtime routine with him/her. You and Oliver can read the animal a story or two and tuck him/her into bed and practice leaving him/her. Show Oliver how it will work before you try it with him at night.

On the other hand, sleep time is also a great wind down time for you and your son. I can imagine you very much enjoy the time you get to spend snuggling and being comfy before he falls asleep. As Sandy says, maybe Oliver can sleep with you for a while. See how that works. If he can go for a while sleeping right through the night, move slowly towards sleeping in his own bed again. Sleeping with your child is a great chance to bond and be close as a family. Some might not be comfortable with it, but it certainly can’t hurt. It might just be what he needs right now.

Also, does Oliver nap during the day?? If so so, I suggest cutting the nap times down or out all together.

I admit I don’t like the idea of locking the door from the outside. It doesn’t sound all that safe.

Hope that helps some. As I said, I’m certainly no expert, but some of these tactics have worked for me in the past with children I worked with. (such as the stuffed animal routine)

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 31, 2003 - 04:55 Permalink

and please ignore all my typos and spelling mistakes.. it’s late and I’m a spell check junkie.

Ken's picture
Ken on July 31, 2003 - 05:22 Permalink

Have you tried the Ferber Method?.

John Chik's picture
John Chik on July 31, 2003 - 05:32 Permalink

I admit that we haven’t got to that stage yet (Josh is only 8 months) and my “sample size” is N=1, but I agree with Rob et al. It is a matter of choosing which “battles to must win” (a very Dr. Phil thing to say). For example we are soft on Joshua’s naptime. We put him down for a moring and afternoon nap. But we do not enforce how long he sleeps for. If he out for 15min or 2 hours that’s fine. However we have decided to make bedtime non-negotiable. He does scream a little bit (<5min most of the time) when be put him to bed, usually awake, but then he is asleep/quiet for ~10 hours. Personally I do not like the idea of sleeping with the baby. I know of some parents who are still doing it when their kids are 3 and 4. We have decided not to go down that path. On a different note, it is amazing that after thousands of year of child raising, we still have all these question.

Lou Quillio's picture
Lou Quillio on July 31, 2003 - 05:52 Permalink

I offer this harsh advice &#8230

These are the facts on the ground and there’s nothing harsh about them. I give similar advice to lots of folks.

The general idea is that permissiveness starts at zero and expands logarithmically with the child’s maturity. Note the front-end of this scale. Full permission is as inevitable as adulthood, yet small children are incapable of resenting a firm hand if that’s consistently all they’ve known. Recalcitrance is a serious drag on education, and it’s bred, not born.

The upshot is that it doesn’t matter for an instant what Oliver prefers &#8212 on any front. He is being taught how we live. Against this backdrop he’ll later express considered preferences, which you’ll fairly and happily grant from a position of authority.

Now is the time for Dad to perfect his deep growl. Apply it now and you’ll hardly ever need it later.


[“Tomorrow we’ll have a nice breakfast, but I’m not telling you that tonight. Whimper and talk to yourself as long as you need to.”]

Bed. Now!”

Alan's picture
Alan on July 31, 2003 - 12:22 Permalink

I am actually closer to the Lou theory in my practice. Be the latch.

David Upton's picture
David Upton on July 31, 2003 - 13:41 Permalink

Put a double bed in his room instead of a child’s bed and play musical beds. We have done it for years and managed to get some sleep while ensuring our sons felt safe and secure.

Our nightly schedule falls into one of these slots:
1. Sleep with child
2. Sleep with spouse
3. Spouse sleeps with child
4. All of the above

There isn’t just one right way to get through this type of thing. What is the best thing for your son in the long run and how high is the price you pay for him getting what he wants/needs? My guys are a little older now and they are secure,confident and loving boys of 10 and 12 years. I don’t know if our sleeping arrangements played much of a part, but I’m really glad to have had all that extra, quality snuggle time.

Ann's picture
Ann on July 31, 2003 - 13:55 Permalink

How does it work when you aren’t at home? Does he sleep with you then or in the same room? Since he’s such a well-travelled young man, maybe he’s just a little mixed up about the rules.

Kim's picture
Kim on August 2, 2003 - 12:50 Permalink

Peter, just get a king-sized bed and everyone will get a good night’s sleep!!!

Chris Corrigan's picture
Chris Corrigan on August 4, 2003 - 09:33 Permalink

Thank you Kim!

THe “lock the door, lay down the law, condition the child” school of thought makes me cringe and it clearly makes others cringe too, even those who are using it. No one is entirely comfortable with treating their kids this way. There is some speculation that the reason it works is that it dulls the attachment between parents and the child and so the child learns not to expect a ersponse from the parent to fulfill emotional needs. Personally I think two years old is too young to begin to force emotional independance. I don’t think there’s been a long term study of this kind of method, but anything that severs the bond between parent and child can’t be all good, at least in my opinion.

Fact is that most human cultures have co-slept with their children for most of human history. Locking a child in his or her own room and ignoring crying is a brand new invention. I think our hearts are not made for this.

We have co-slept with our kids since they were born. The six year old took to her own room when she was five, quite happily. The two year old still sleeps with us. Because Caitlin breastfeeds, this actually means that she gets more sleep than if she were to have to get up every time Finn needed her.

As for the power and control thing, I have to disagree with the notion that children exert power and control over parents and therefore they must be tamed. Just becasue they CAN be tamed and conditioned doesn’t make it right, at least for me.

I am acutley aware that one of the best ways to start a flame war is to appear to critize other’s parenting methods, so I offer this as my opinion and experience only. I haven’t tried the Ferber method, but that is by design. I have seen it and heard of others who have used it, and I wouldn’t use it for my kids.

Constance's picture
Constance on August 4, 2003 - 12:56 Permalink

We have slept with our children since they were born and it meets the needs of all. When breastfeeding we all got more sleep being in one bed, when toddlers nighttime fears were easily comforted (again, more sleep for me)as young children, exhausted by extreme living, the comfort and safety of the family bed made the adventures of the day safely fade away. As our kids got older they moved to their own beds (together) and are still welcome in our bed, though there seems to be less room. Still, there’s nothing sweeter than a sleepy kid in for an early morning snuggle before the madness of the day. Our family bed has always been our ‘safe’ place. I’ll miss it when they’re gone.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on August 4, 2003 - 14:19 Permalink

[quote] THe “lock the door, lay down the law, condition the child” school of thought makes me cringe and it clearly makes others cringe too, even those who are using it. No one is entirely comfortable with treating their kids this way. There is some speculation that the reason it works is that it dulls the attachment between parents and the child and so the child learns not to expect a ersponse from the parent to fulfill emotional needs. Personally I think two years old is too young to begin to force emotional independance. I don’t think there’s been a long term study of this kind of method, but anything that severs the bond between parent and child can’t be all good, at least in my opinion. [/quote]

Thank you Chris, I could not have put it better. You took the words right out of my mind and mouth.

art's picture
art on August 4, 2003 - 17:49 Permalink

Our third child went through many months of rousing us in the middle of the night. My wife and I used to joke that if he had of been our first, he would never of had siblings because the sleep deprivation was so hard on us. One piece of advice I was given as he reached the 2-3 year stage was to find activities that would bore him so badly that he wouldn’t be as eager to wake up the household. I remember a somewhat dramatic change when I switched to watching Newsworld instead of YTV. Still, he never completely got over late night roving until he was in pre-kindergarden, though he sometimes starts to doze when the headlines at the top of the hour come on.

Jes's picture
Jes on August 12, 2003 - 05:39 Permalink

I am in the same boat. My son Eddie (2) always slept in his crib — until the day he climbed out. I believe the best place for him is his own bed, but have selfishly allowed him to sleep with us for about 3 months now. I don’t know if anyone else’s marriage was suffering from lack of intimate time, but mine has been. As much as I loved snuggling with my son, I miss snuggling with my husband. I realized that allowing Eddie to choose where he slept was not being fair to any of us. So, tonight I “laid down the law” by shutting the door to his room and letting him cry it out. Definately very hard to do, I cried too and am not looking forward to tomorrow night. It took about 20 minutes and I am scared that he has fallen asleep in front of the door and I won’t be able to open it. But, I know that for me and my family this is what we have to do. It helps to know that I am not the only one that doesn’t have all the answers. Thanks.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 12, 2003 - 14:03 Permalink

Thanks for that Jes — we’re in the same boat, it seems. Oliver has settled down into a predictable pattern: we put him to bed around 10:00. He sleeps there until about 3:00 a.m., then finds his way into our bed, where he spends the rest of the night. We haven’t had the guts to “lay down the law” yet ourselves — mostly because, with our own lack of sleep, we don’t have the energy. The April 2003 issue of Parents magazine has a good section of this whole thing. No great solutions, but at least more feeling that others are going through the same thing.

Arlene's picture
Arlene on October 24, 2003 - 09:46 Permalink

I don’t know.. We have fought my third son since day one with sleep.. I can’t tell you any thing that does work, I know what doesn’t. Hes 4 now and sleeps with us and I don’t sleep well since he kicks and push’s and wraps his hands in my hair. He won’t sleep in his bed without keeping everyone else in the house up till 10:00 or later and my middle boy of 7 is suffering from sleep depervation. He doesn’t take a nap and is up at 7:30 some times with a crankness to be heard neighborhood wide. We have gotten him to the point that most nights he’s in his bed, but I am to the point that I am ready to start drugging him for about a week to see if some clock can be reset before my 7 year old starts killing folks in passing. It’s been hell this last week. Normally it’s a Dad and Mom job (Mom deals with till she can’t any more and then Dad steps in and hopefully around 11:00 we are all asleep) without Dad right now there is lots of yelling which I hate. Someone want to tell me a better way to get 2 boy’s to sleep in the same room I am dying to hear. I don’t want to hear how it used to happen all the time either.. Cuz I am living proof that it isn’t as easy as it seems no matter what the routine. We eat, play for a bit, bath, read bed time stories (one for 4 and one for 7) then it’s lights out. We recently started a nighttime music disk that’s waves and all that stuff. It doesn’t seem to do much for anyone but Mom.

Jody's picture
Jody on November 9, 2003 - 03:11 Permalink

My two and a half year old was never a great sleeper, but did go to sleep most nights with no problem and would sleep through the night — after a trip (during which daylight savings time occurred and we were in a different time zone as well), his sleep went downhill. We tried the gate, we tried rubbing his back — and then my pediatrician recommended sitting on his bed and ignoring him — never again. Now he will not go to sleep without us there.

What would I do differently? Hmm, being a psychologist, I know that letting your child know there are rules and boundaries is a good thing and will not decrease attachment or make them feel insecure. Part of that includes letting your child cry it out. It is heartbreaking to hear it, but it should subside over a few days or week, and if you do it correctly (with routine before hand, lots of love before bed and praise in the morning) then your child will not be emotionally scarred. He will learn to calm himself and put himself to sleep, a necessary self control skill that will transfer into other positive coping skills as an older child and into adulthood.

Kids CAN be given the power to run the family — and that is healthy for no one. These are the kids who learn to ned the rules and have problems meeting others needs, since they have learned that the only needs that are important are their own.

Good Luck!

by the way — the book Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child is a great one.

W. Steven Paleos's picture
W. Steven Paleos on November 9, 2003 - 05:34 Permalink

It is incredible to me that there is even a question about where a two year old should sleep. In this culture, wives sleep with their husbands and children sleep alone. It is inappropriate to sleep with your children. It is not inappropriate to hug them, comfort them, kiss them (on the cheek) and love them with all your heart and soul. What man would stay with a woman who was not engaging in sexual intercourse on a regular (multiple times a week) basis? And what is the divorce rate? If you want a two parent household, the man needs sex and food. There are a few men who are saints and will stick around without sex and food and I guess and about as many woman who look like Pam Anderson (without plastic surgery). The old days when everyone slept together? In those days it was culturaly acceptable to engage in sexual acts which would get you the death penalty these days. It was also culturally acceptable to beat and even kill anyone weaker than you if they displeased you in any way. And, in those great old days when somehow we all suposedly loved each other more and all slept together, men’s regular routine was going to the next village to rape, pillage and kill. When they got back to their own villages they were hailed as heroes. No, thinking that children were raised to be kind, good and live ordered lives didn’t happen until children slept alone and their parents, who stayed married so they could help each other fulfill their duties to each other and their children, slept together. And you don’t have to be and shouldn’t be attila the hun to get your kid to sleep. And yes there will be a small percentage of children who are wired a little different and will pose unusual problems. But for the most part anybody with common sense can figure out how to get their 2 year old to bed without an hysterical trauma. Just think about it, how many two year olds insist on wearing their underwear on their heads? I haven’t seen that yet. Why? Even a two year old would understand that they just don’t do such a thing. They don’t try shoving food up their backsides either. If the possibility of sleeping with mom and dad is not even dreamed of by anyone, the reaction from mom, dad, and the rest of our friends and neighbors from the idea of such a thing would be such utter bewilderment that it could not be possible. Now if there is a kid who is the unusual one or two percenter, it takes a great deal more skill. I know from personal experience and I can’t really say I had the skill when he was growing up. All I can say is that I thank God that he didnt insist on sleeping with mom and dad, he didn’t want to wear his underwear on his head, and the time he jumped out the two story window, I was relieved to hear him tell me that he didn’t think he could fly, cause if he wanted to do any of those things I don’t believe there is a power on earth that could have stopped him. I expect great things from that young man.
ps, the kids did come in in the morning when they were little

Paul's picture
Paul on January 4, 2004 - 10:55 Permalink

Well I don’t know what to think anymore! Our two year old hase never been the most restful of children, to say the least — she only ever slept for a very short period in the daytime which we hoped meant that she would sleep through during the night. This was unfortunately not the case and in our sleep deprived state we began to allow her to sleep in our bed. I can see both points of view — it is incredibly cosy, but only until she decides that her feet need to rest on Daddy’s head then the harsh reality sets in: we need to have our own seperate sleep environments (at least until 6am!) so we decided that Ida has to sleep in her own bed. We tried rewards, we tried explaining and my partner even tried to sleep in her bed for a while to get her used to sleeping in her own bed. This last one worked but was proved a spectacularly wrong approach when we tried to get her to sleep by herself… The screams could be heard all the way down to the ground floor of our apartment block. So now it’s the ‘tough love’ approach where Ida has to figure out that sleeping in her own bed is not a bad thing and more importantly when (it’s unfortunatly ‘when’ and not ‘if’) she wakes up it’s OK to turn over and go back to sleep again. Last night was the first time we let Ida cry without our automatic response of bringing her into bed with us. She was awake for an hour the first time, 40 minutes the second and the third time was just 10 minutes. I’m not sure if this was because she was getting progressively more and more tired or if she’s a quick learner. However at 7am when she woke she didn’t cry at all, which she usually does if she wakes up alone, so I’m hoping the procedure might work over the next few nights… I can see there’s lots of conflicting advice but now it’s time to take control of the situation. At two years old, I believe no child can control the family and be truly happy; it’s going to be hard doing it this way but if it means reclaiming our bed and bringing more structure to Ida’s life then I’m sure it will be worth it.

Emilia's picture
Emilia on January 27, 2004 - 06:11 Permalink

I work with children all day long and have had all the educational classes but since having my own child I have come to realize that nothing from a text book can always solve your problems because every child is SO different!
My 2 year old has slept with us since she was born. We used the co-sleeper when she was little and then moved her in our bed when she was too big for the co-sleeper but too young to be in a big bed. We now put her in her own bed. We lay down (8:30) with her till she falls asleep (about 10/15 min)and put on very soft music. She was staying in there until 3 am. then four am. and just recently she has been staying in there until 6 am. We started this at 2 and she is now 2years 4 months. I think that every child is different and everyone has there way of doing things…not right or wrong just different. I will not let her just cry herself to sleep but my sister lets her daughter cry for about 15 min and then her daughter is asleep. It has worked for her but not for me…just different parents different child. She also started it from day one. I think if you are going to do something like that you must start it from the first day…to late to try it when they move from crib to big bed.

Joshua's picture
Joshua on March 22, 2004 - 05:36 Permalink

My wife and I have never had problems with our 22 month old daughter…
until now. She had a bad flu case a month ago, and was vomitting with diarreah. We needed to moniter her closely, and decided to let her sleep with one of us. We do not regret that at all. Now she needs to sleep with either of us, and it is driving us crazy. I am writing this as I listen to my daughter cry. It is 10:36PM and she has been crying for an hour. We did some research, and talked to her ped. Tonight is the night we are starting her sleep training. We are going in in 1/2 hr. intervals to try and comfort her. This has only made things much worse, as she is enraged when we leave. We will now do a steady pre-bedtime ritual which has been recommended for children her age. I am hear-broken to hear her cry, but feel that if we keep giving in to her fits, it will lead to a negative outcome. I too have personally seen the families that are products of a controlling child. It does happen, regardless of what some parents think. We love Madison with all her hearts, but there needs to be a limit on what is acceptable for you and your child. I think it is almost time for me to go, “comfort.” Wish me the best please. And the best of luck to anyone out there that may be going through the same thing.

joshua's picture
joshua on March 22, 2004 - 05:38 Permalink

sorry for the spelling on previous post. i am not uneducated, just very, very tired.

Kelly's picture
Kelly on March 22, 2004 - 14:27 Permalink

We (finally) put a spinner knob on the inside of my 22 month old daughter’s bedroom door. At first I found this cruel, but after a few evenings of her hanging off the door knob (at 8 PM) yelling “I’m stuck!” and us on the other side saying “You’re fine — get back to bed” she’ll mostly stay in her bed. Sometimes she will defiantly camp out on the floor with her pillow and blanket behind the door. We’ll open the door after she is asleep,(and put her in her bed) but the point is that she knows who is boss. Middle of the night she’ll come in for a snuggle in our bed, or if she sleeps all night she will come in for a cuddle before we all get up for the day, but tonight — the door will remain CLOSED! Miss Taylor thought she visit the playroom, at 3 AM in the pitch black. I heard her half way down a flight of stairs and put her back in bed but we never thought she’d do anything other than come around the corner and look for us. This wandering was a first and I shudder to think what could have happened. What if she thought she’d like to go outside? A bright and determined toddler can figure out a bolt and pressure locks on a front door. A lesson learned!

thaka's picture
thaka on March 31, 2004 - 18:55 Permalink

My two year old will fall asleep in the car, when we move him from the car to his bed he wakes up, and starts crying. Normally if this is at night I let him cry it out until he sleeps, which lasts about 20 minutes. But in the afternoon, we run some errands, and he falls asleep on the way home, then I try to move him to his bed, he wakes up, and he has had a 15 minute nap only. Normally he will sleep in my arms for an hour an half. But as soon as I put him in his bed he is wide awake. Then he tries to sleep around 5pm, which I will try not to let him so that he sleeps at 8pm.
It seems that he goes through a face, every once in a while, but I have to get him back in schedule or this face will last a long time.

Lena's picture
Lena on April 14, 2004 - 02:20 Permalink

I am in the exact situation, and its really hard…part of you wants to scream, so the entire world can hear u and the other part wants to jump off a very high cliff.
Right now I am putting my little one in our bed…and later bringing her to her own bed, she sleeps the whole way through, I wish she would start off there, maybe one day right!

Dasha's picture
Dasha on April 21, 2004 - 06:53 Permalink

Well, we have our own story. Veronica was almost two, then she started screaming in the middle of the night. She, though, would show no sign of physical pain. So we thought that this is our sleeping issue. However, one day she started vomiting, and when we went to the ER, she was diagnosed with diaphragmal hernia. We almost lost her. So I would like to recommend those parents whose children are screaming at night to go and check them on ultrasound. This type of hernia happens now in 1 out of 5000 children, but please be careful. After surgeries we still have issues, but I consider them to be nightmares of those terrible days that Veronica had recently. So we simply put a schedule with my husband to sleep with her. Some people argue that it is not good for personal time, but really you can always get up at night for an hour:) to have quality time with your husband. It is still feels better than simply letting your child cry, and struggle with his imagination alone — they are too small for it. My grandma told me that I was never left alone, and that I had also huge issues with going to bed at night. When your child is ready you will know. Until that please be patient with little sacrifices we must make — that is why we are parents.

Lisa's picture
Lisa on June 10, 2004 - 08:30 Permalink

Okay. It’s 12pm pst. I’ve worked a 12 hour day with three hrs. sleep last night. I’m waiting for the first of many
times my 28 mo. old son will wake up, cry and ask for a bottle. I go to work looking like I am living under a bridge.

I am so exhausted, I forgot the name of my place of business
when I answered the phone at work, couldn’t count change and
just generally went brain-dead. My child’s nighttime nightmare routine happens every night. I have tried everything, lavender, baths, music, letting him sleep on my head, etc. etc. When I was in college and I went to schol hungover, I felt better than I do now!! I’m desperate to find a solution. My son is doing well, he’s happy and loved. Whereas I look like 10 miles of bad road and am lucky to get a shower and look presentable. If you think
the anemic look is attractive- then I’m stunning right now.
Does anyone have any advice/suggestions? At this point, spells, a witch doctor, anything I am willing to try. When asked what I would like as a gift, I replied “a nap”. I would pay big bucks for that right now. I can’t be the only one going through this. I’m going crazy and I’m exhausted. If anyone knows what to do, please email your suggestions, no matter how unorthodox they may seem-as this point I’m sooo willing to try anything!!


Lisa's picture
Lisa on June 10, 2004 - 08:55 Permalink

Okay okay- I’ve hit rock bottom here people.
Anyone offering information leading to the arrest of my son’s nighttime waking up routine will be paid cash that’s right-I’ll kick down FAT CASH if your idea results in me getting a decent night’s sleep. No idea to silly, unusual etc. etc. If it works, I’ll pay!! Any replies will be appreciated. Yes,I am TOTALLY SERIOUS. thanks very much!!!

Greg Somerton's picture
Greg Somerton on June 23, 2004 - 22:30 Permalink

My son wil be two in July, and has yet to get into a good sleep routine. He will go to sleep easy enough, and stay there for a few hours, but then it begins. He wakes up and cries for me or his mother, and will NOT go back to sleep on his own. I can lull him back to sleep, only to go through the same thing 1 — 2 hours later. This continues on through the night, and we have tried everything. Nothing works. We both sometimes feel that one or both of us will end up collapsing from exhaustion, but we somehow go on. HELP!!!!!

Robin's picture
Robin on July 13, 2004 - 18:57 Permalink

My two year old sleeps through the night. But I have to lay down with him to get him to sleep. At nap time he is ususally very good, I sit on his bed and read a story or two, then I give a kiss and leave the room. We turned the door knob around so I just lock it from the outside( I felt bad about it at first, but it seems to work) The problem is that I don’t have the heart to do it at night. So here I am lying down with him. Lord give me strength!

Elizabeth's picture
Elizabeth on July 14, 2004 - 13:43 Permalink

I know exactly how you feel!! My son just turned one and we are having a horrible with his sleeping. He wakes up in the night several times screaming and bouncing in the crib. He will not calm down until my husband or I picks him up. I do not believe in crying it out. I have tried it and it broke my heart. But what other options are there? i am at my wits end!! I need help!!

Melanie's picture
Melanie on July 23, 2004 - 04:36 Permalink

Everyone in here must have had their kids the same time, full moon or what?!!!
I have a 28 month old son and I lay with him every night so he will fall a sleep (around 8:30) it takes him about 2 hours to fall asleep and then of coarse I pick up the mess in the living room and try and sleep myself, By the time my head hits the pillow and just doze off, there he is again, to scream out BA-BA, BA-BA! He doesn’t even sleep with a bottle, he takes a sippy cup to bed (just as bad i guess, but none the less He still wakes up 3-4 and even 5 times a night- leaving me Zombified……..Any suggestions?

Leah's picture
Leah on August 5, 2004 - 03:42 Permalink

I have the same problems with my son who is 32 months old. I have tried anything and everything but tieing him to the bed. Everyone else that has him says that he doesn’t give them a hard time getting to sleep. THey just simply tell him night-night and hes off to dreamland. Tonight though I did something that I have never done before. I yelled at him to go to bed or I would turn the light off. Hes now laying in there asleep on the couch, heh its a start but I don’t want the answer to be yelling at him everynight.

Tara's picture
Tara on August 11, 2004 - 03:24 Permalink

Kyle, my 2 1/2 yr old for the past three weeks has been more of a nightmare than usual when it comes to sleep. he will not nap or go to bed anymore without hysterically crying. After the first week, I figured it was time to cut out his nap so for the past two weeks I have not put him down at his usual nap time of 1pm. Some days he makes it to 7pm and still cries hysterically FOR HOURS. Sometimes he falls asleep on the family room floor around 5pm and I let him sleep for a little under an hour (in fear he will wake up at 11pm and not want to sleep. Some nights his crying is so bad I give in and rock him or bring him in our bed (this he likes the best which pisses me off. My problem that is different than everyone elses post is that I put my son to sleep at 8:00pm tonight, it is now 10:30pm and he is still crying. Now is that isn’t tough love I don’t know what is. Thank God my daughter who is 5 is a great sleeper and doesn’t wake up through all of his ranting and raving. I went looking on the web to see if I could find anyone else that has such a stubborn child. I think I will call the Doctor tomorrow and make sure he is OK (that post about the child with a hernia freaked me out). Wish me good luck…..

M ichelle's picture
M ichelle on August 11, 2004 - 05:34 Permalink

I have a 2 yr old girl and I am also going through a tough time getting her to bed. My advice for what has worked so far is a small tv with a vcr attached to it with her fav. movie on repeat. The volume is always barely enough for her to hear but it keeps her occupied. We put up one of those gates in her doorway and double and triple checked all saftey. My sister has advised me to bring her to wal-mart and get her some special “big girl sheets” to maybe help make her feel big and proud of her bed. I think the whole closing the door and locking them in there is a little to harsh for toddlers. I feel like that might make them feel closed in and afraid instead of secure in what should feel like the safest place to be. Maybe it works i don’t know i guess to each thier own. My doctor says never let them get in your bed no matter what after you have made the decision to make them go to thier bed. It only makes them aware that they get to snuggle if they scream and cry long enough. What i do when she cries for me is wait about 10 mins. if she still is crying I go and check on her and if she is okay and in no need of anything i say her prayers and love on her a few mins. and then i return her to her bed and go back to bed. She usually cries for about 10-15mins. then drifts back to sleep. It is very heart wrenching but I know it is what is best for us all. When she is crying i always remind my self that there is nothing wrong with her other than she is just mad and wanting her way. All of this is just my opinion. I have two kids and learn something new about them everyday so I am by no means any kind of expert. I just thought i’d throw out a few ideas.

Melanie's picture
Melanie on August 16, 2004 - 22:53 Permalink

I have a 2 1/2 year-old son who started climbing out of his crib constantly. So about 8 days ago we converted his Crib-for-life crib to a full size bed. Well, Evan (our son) thought it was great for a trampoline but when it came to night time he would not stay in bed. As a result my husband or I have to stay in bed with Evan until he falls asleep (which can take up to two hours) by then it’s time for us to go to bed. Evan sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and comes to our bedroom. Either my husband or I will grab Evan and take him back into his bed and start the whole routine again. Most of the time he only wakes up once or sleeps through the night. However we are going throught the same problems at naptime. This has effected Evan’s personality and he is more cranky during the day and has terrible tantrums that would send any parent into the ER. and this all due to lack of steady sleep. I thought of locking the door but I think it is to cruel and Evan screams his heart out like someone is pinching his booty too hard. Then he falls asleep behind the door. Tried the gate thing but my boy is a climber and gets out in 2 seconds flat! So my last resort that I am trying (before I check myself into a mental hospital due to lack of regular sleep)is that I bought online a baby sleep sack (I bought XL-Large). Bascially it’s generally used to keep infants and babies warm by zipping them in the bag and putting the arms through a sleevless cut out. These sleepbags are highly recommended to prevent SIDS. Evan will not be able to stand up but it will give his legs a little room to move around. I should receive the sleep sack on Wednesday. I will let you all know how it goes. Crossing my fingers!

chrissy's picture
chrissy on August 19, 2004 - 22:07 Permalink

well I’t’s nice to hear that I’m not the only zombie around. All of our friends 2 year olds are wonderfull sleepers and don’t have any problems. I’ve tried the scream tactic, and it only seems to work for a few days and the whole process starts all over again. I’ve tried sleeping in his bed till he falls asleep, but he always wakes up and comes in our room. Our son Kaelib seems to have perfect timing of interupting my husband and I. I’m desparet to get a real nights sleep. While I love him more than anything, I hate him sleeping in bed with us. There has to be a more plausible solution to this, because it’s driving us crazy.
Amazingly enough our our 4 month old has been a perfect sleeper since he was two weeks old. I don’t know how he sleeps through it. I haven’t done anything differently with him than I did with the Kaelib. Personality I guess? I’m just gratefull for that. befor he was born that was my biggest fear- two little ones rotating all night. for that I feel blessed, and hope I don’t have to go through this with a possible 3rd child.
somebody please offer advice on how to fix this problem-I’m at witts end.

Karen's picture
Karen on August 22, 2004 - 06:52 Permalink

I was wanting to know…My hubby and i have a little boy about the age of 2 he will be 2 in october we have tried every thing ,this has been going on for months now.. We have no bedroom doors…We put movies in the vcr in his room play them all night .He waites till sbout 4 or 5 in the morning to go to bed… We even tried putting him in the bed by himslef… Sleeping with us dont work…He dosen’t take naps at all in the day.We need help, we cant even leave him alone with a baby sitter.But I just need sleep couse its been going on for 4 months now.

Carol's picture
Carol on August 25, 2004 - 18:34 Permalink

Karen- seems your child needs to see a doctor. He can’t go on without sleep. Please take him to a doctor as soon as possible and stress to the physician that this has been going on too long and it’s seriously affecting your lives and the health of your son.

Wishing you the best,

Karline's picture
Karline on September 1, 2004 - 06:08 Permalink

Wow! Can I ever relate to TARA. My 2 1/2 year old son is stubborn too. I’ve put him to bed at 9:00 and he is still screaming and carrying on at midnight (tonight it was about 12:30) We tried a babygate but he scaled that no problem. Finally, we put a lock on the outside of the door too but we cut a very large window in the top and a little peephole at eyelevel for him. I highly recommend this for your average, even-tempered child (Which Trent is not)For us though, this was both a lifesaver and a source of frustration. I like that he is confined in a safe environment but…he lies on his back and kicks the door for literally hours. I tell him that if he stops kicking for 5 minutes I will turn on the light, come and lie down with him, stop yelling at him…anything for him to stop the kicking but nothing works. He kicks until he is exhausted and then falls asleep in front of the door. Believe it or not, I am actually a childcare provider and I work with children with special needs. I am very patient and easy-going until bedtime. I’ve tried it all…I’m at my wits end. Any suggestions?

Alasdair's picture
Alasdair on September 7, 2004 - 01:47 Permalink

I’ll probably have more comments after my current approach, but this short one now: there are a _lot_ of people posting on this website, and a lot of people at work telling me they’ve gone through it, and a lot of young parents who roll their eyes when you mention your child not sleeping. You know what this tells me?

It’s normal.

What it doesn’t tell me is what works, and I think the reason is that every child/parent/parent combination (including single parents, of course) is different. Some people can’t handle leaving their kid to scream. I couldn’t. Now I can, because I know it’s going to kill me if I don’t get some sleep. The world can kill you easily if you’re wide awake and healthy. Driving around at 100km/h on two hours a night for three weeks strikes me as being a good way to improve your odds of not making it back to your bed that night.

Bottom line for me is, this website provides a bunch of people’s ideas and methods. Read them like I just did, and try them. All of the people I work with who did this ten to thirty years ago made it.

Here’s what my wife and I are doing: our little one has a spin lock on his door on the inside. We do a routine (bath, bottle, book, bed), I usually lie in the bed with him for a minute, then I sit by the bed quietly and count the ticks on the clock. When it reaches 300 (five minutes), I get up quietly and leave, leaving the door open. If he’s awake, I say goodnight and tell him I love him.

If he doesn’t come out of his room, the door stays open. He can scream, cry, sleep on the floor, play, whatever. But if he comes out of his room, I put him back in bed and stay another five minutes. This time when I leave, the door gets closed and he can’t get out. Of course, I tell him this each time, explain what I’m doing, and he gets out of the explanation whatever his (albeit bright) two year old mind can. He’ll learn.

Tonight, he just about followed me out the door, and was lying in the hallway crying. I went back, and had to lift him into bed (sometimes he goes himself). After five, I got up and left despite his usual words (“No you go?”), saying again that I love him (which I say all the time, so he won’t associate it with being ‘deserted’). He came to the door, cried for about a minute, repeated quietly, “Open my door please”, and by the time I reached the fifth article in this posting he was quiet. Probably sleeping right in front of the door.

For those who worry that it’s unsafe to leave him locked in there, when I go to bed, I’ll open the door slightly and leave a stuffed animal in it to make sure it doesn’t close on its own.

I’m not saying this will work for you. My wife and I came up with the plan two days ago, and we’re going to stick with it unless we run into a really, really good reason to change.

The same goes in the night if he gets up and leaves his room — one chance at five minutes’ company, and if he comes out again before going to sleep the door gets closed. I then have to stay up for twenty minutes or so to open the door again, but it’s better than spending the whole night awake and getting progressively more and more impatient and miserable.

I’m being paged — my wife needs a break from #2 — but I’ll post again when things change.

Thanks for everyone’s input — hopefully mine helps someone. And remember — apparently this is normal, ‘cause damn near everyone has a similar story about their kids.

Good luck to all! (Including me!)


michelle's picture
michelle on September 8, 2004 - 02:35 Permalink

My daughter is now 6 but when she was 2 she would fight going down for bed. Rather than locking the door on her I put up a safety gate to her room and took the door off the frame of her room. Once she realized she had to go lie down she stopped fighting it. Now, My son on the other had is quite the opposite of my daughter and tons more hard headed. I put him to bed and he gets up, climbs over the safety gate so that does not work; last night he got into the powder after he figured out how to open the bathroom door, and dumped it on the playroom floor. I cleaned him up and sent him to bed after a time out. half an hour later he got the baby shampoo and poured it onto his sister’s bed step, the floor and both his bed and hers. I stripped both beds, cleaned up the floor and the beds and of course the boy. I dressed the bed and kids and sent them back to bed. This time I sat right at the door waiting for him and when he started out of the bed I told him firmly to lay back down and to close his eyes. It took him what seemed like forever to quit his figetting but he finally fell asleep. I decided to sit at the door tonight instead of giving him the chance to destroy things, after he realized he had to lie down and go to sleep he went. Unfortunately it looks like I am going to pull door guard for a while.

Gloria's picture
Gloria on September 15, 2004 - 20:22 Permalink

our two year old joshua thinks bed time should nevr come.. its a nightmare.. one of us has to lay down with him.which so night takes one and a half hrs.. or long er we dont have no time for us any more.. we both have to be up by 5:00am so by ten were ready for bed and fighting with a two year old who thinks he rules help we have tried everything…

Jessie's picture
Jessie on September 27, 2004 - 16:02 Permalink

Tonight is the night. My 2 1/2 son Trenton is going to sleep in his bed. I have slept with my son all his life and now we both need to sleep in our own bed. I waited for so long because i have just went through a divorce and I thought it would be to hard on him, but after reading this website I know it is the best thing to move him to his bed. For one reason he thinks he is in control “if i want to sleep with mommy I can” i have to let him know I am the boss and I want him in his bed. My 15 month has always slept by himself and he goes to bed by himself. That is because I never started the cycle of letting him in my bed. From day one he has had his own bed. Wish me luck and good luck to everyone else.

MELISSA's picture
MELISSA on October 1, 2004 - 05:06 Permalink



Marlodee's picture
Marlodee on October 7, 2004 - 02:50 Permalink

I am relieved to find a website that I can read with the same problems that we are having with my 2 1/2 year old daughter, Laney. She takes up to 2 hours to fall asleep at night and will not go to bed without Mommy. If my husband puts her to bed and then she screams and runs head first into the walls and door. Then she will kick and fight and gets out of her door and wants to sleep with mommy. I have to either sleep in her bed (a queen size on the floor for safety) or she will request to sleep in our bed. Or she wakes several times and it’s back and forth from room to room all night long.It’s frustrating. I don’t always know what to do because I realize that she’s little and will probably out grow this behavior. I think that I just will do anything to get a good nights sleep. But I don’t know if this is a mistake or if I should be more strict as she will be turning 3 soon. Please help us with your comments or suggestions.. Tired Mom