Getting 3 year old to stay in own bed all night

(130 Posts)
littlemissblue Thu 05-Dec-13 16:37:50

I have a 3 1/2 year old DS who has always been a bad sleeper. Until recently he would get v upset if I left him at bedtime to go to sleep by himself and wanted me to stay in the room with him.

I have managed to stop this though and he now goes to bed around 7pm and I can leave the room and he'll go off by himself.

Recently dropped his nap so he's going to bed earlier than before which works well for me as I'm 31 weeks preg.

He wakes between midnight and 4am every night though and cries for me in his bed (daddy won't do he gets hysterical if daddy goes not me) and wants to come in our bed. I have been giving in as he goes straight back to sleep in bed with us until around 6am.

However with new baby due in Feb I feel he needs to stay in his bed all night now but not sure of best way to go about it. I'm so tired I hate the idea of hours of crying and battling with him but I guess that's inevitable??

Anyone been in this situation? Have tried the gro clock but found it lit his room up so brightly it woke him properly when he went into light sleep (even on dimmest setting). Do I just need to tuck him back in explain its still night time and he needs to go back to sleep in his bed and leave? Or stay until he goes back to sleep again? If I leave him and he screams should I go back after a few mins?

Hoping after a few nights of hell he'll get the idea, but he's a sensitive soul (esp with baby coming) and will pull out all the stops to make me back down - scared, thirsty, pull up leaked, mummy I need you etc etc and I'm so hormonal I'm worried if I can do it!

Dh works 5am - 10pm in London so won't be able to help me inthe night as he needs his sleep, plus DS gets more upset if he goes to him in the night.

Any advice welcome! Sorry it's so long :/

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 05-Dec-13 16:41:01

I'd just let him sleep in with you - sorry, I know that is not the advice you wanted. That way everyone gets more sleep, plus he's probably feeling a bit insecure about the new baby.

Lastofthepodpeople Thu 05-Dec-13 16:54:06

No advice I'm afraid but will definitely be watching this thread. I'm in the same boat!

littlemissblue Thu 05-Dec-13 17:06:14

I appreciate that it's easier in one way to let him sleep with us but I don't sleep v well with him in with us, plus when I'm up in the night feeding the baby I don't want him disturbed and then have him and the baby to settle by myself!

ImaginativeNewName Thu 05-Dec-13 17:10:42

Also in the same boat. My ds is 4 and we now have a 2yo too who conversely, is a great sleeper. Every now and then DH gets fed up of it and makes noises about returning him to his bed each time but as he never gets up with him anyway and I need my sleep at the moment, this never happens. I think it is more common than a lot of people would have you think.

EatDessertFirst Thu 05-Dec-13 17:37:02

Honestly (cue the flaming grin), I'd just keep returning him to his own bed and let him cry it out. He isn't a tiny newborn and a bit of crying shouldn't be the end of the world. He just needs to re-learn to self settle which you say he has done previously. Don't go straight back in if he screams. You'll be able to tell if its genuine pain/distress or if he is just a bit cross at being left. Give it a few minutes and see if he calms down of his own accord when he realises he doesn't 'need' you just then after all.

You sound like you have tried everything else with a new bundle of joy on the way the last thing you need, as you rightly say, is TWO little ones to settle.

I'd make sure you include him as much as possible with the new baby, and make some time for him to have you all to hiself every day.

Congrats on your baby. Good luck.

roweeena Thu 05-Dec-13 19:01:30

Definitely just go in a tell him it time for sleep and walk out and leave - it will be horrible but its what you have to do. He is a clever little 3 yr old who has realised that if he cries in the night he manages to get in bed with you. Be very firm with him, tell him what's going to happen in the day and don't back down. It will take two - three nights max.

Eletheomel Thu 05-Dec-13 19:40:29

It could be worth persevering with the gro clock. We got one when DS1 was just over two years old, and like you were quite alarmed at how bright it seemed (even when dimmed) as we never used a nightlight at all.

However, after a day or two he got used to the light and really took to the clock (switching on the star at night, staying in bed until the sun, and then coming through to our bed at sun up (his reward :-) and we'd read the gro clock story the first few weeks (it was dull, it didn't last long after that!)

It didn't work right away (in terms of him staying in bed until the sun, he was an early riser (not a wanderer) and it took a while to get him to stay in bed awake until sun time, but he was a lot younger than your son, and by the time he was your sons age he had it down pat.

He's 4 now and we take our gro clock whenever we're staying away anywhere else as he looks for the sun for his cue to get up.

Given you have a baby coming soon, I'd be wary of doing any kind of harsh sleep routine now, purely because when the baby arrives it's likely he'll regress for a short while anyway (he might start wetting his pants, want you to spoon feed him, want to sleep with you) and it'd be a shame to go through something harsh now that might only work for a month or two (if you know what I mean).

If I was in your position, i'd start taking him back to his bed everytime he comes through to your room during the night and sit with him until he falls asleep, when he realises that mummy's bed is no longer an option at night, you might find he wakes less often (and will fall asleep quick with you there).

APipkinOfPepper Thu 05-Dec-13 19:58:27

We had this with my 4yo DS. Once the new baby came along, we had a while where he would still come through to our bed in the night, but he was not so settled with (dim) lights on, baby waking and feeding etc. It wasn't long before he started staying in his own bed all night! So in our case, we did nothing and it all seemed to work out ok in the end smile

BarberryRicePud Thu 05-Dec-13 20:10:49

I wouldn't be too harsh tbh. DS is 3.6 and had been sleeping through since 8m until I was pg with DD. She's now 7m and he still has runs of genuine nightmares (comes in shaking) and some attention seeking, particularly with early starts.

I had spd and couldn't keep returning him and was exhausted. I also recognised that he was and still is feeling very insecure about the arrival of a sibling. I let him stay for 10-20mins and then take him back and stay with him for 10 mins or so. I also put this on which is v soothing and he calms very well with it on. Mostly he'll go back to sleep. Sometimes he comes running back in after the turtle has finished still scared and I let him stay then.

Many a night has been spent cosleeping with baby one side and DS the other!

Would you consider putting a little mattress and sleeping bag in your room? Tell him he can creep in if he's scared but not to wake you. If he doesn't use the bed overnight he gets a treat in the morning. Also, the passes thing can work. Give him 3 passes for getting things once he's in bed (drink of water etc, extra loo trips) and any unused ones get swapped for chocolate buttons in the morning.

Only you can know if he's taking the Mickey or if he's genuinely distressed but if you're unsure I'd go with the gentle approach. Having been through the arrival of a sibling, id really recommend as much support and tolerance while maintaining boundaries, for your 3 year old as you can.

Good luck. (Oh and it's much easier having a toddler and a baby than being pg with a toddler!)

littlemissblue Thu 05-Dec-13 21:38:12

Thanks all, he never comes into our room in the night he sits up in bed and cries for me until I come, I guess if I didn't he'd come find me eventually but he's scared of the dark when he wakes I think, so doesn't get out of bed!

I think I'll try to stay with him in his room until he goes back to sleep and if that works then gradually retreat.

I know he wouldn't sleep on a mattress in our room - he wants to snuggle up with me!

Perhaps I'll have another go with the gro clock too.

Thanks for the support!!

Misty9 Thu 05-Dec-13 22:06:24

Also in the same boat here - ds is 2.3 and I'm 22wks pregnant. He usually appears in our room at least once a night and dh does the 'rubber band bounce' where he immediately (once I nudge him!) directs ds back to his own room then stays until he's asleep. If it's later than 5am we let him into our bed for a snooze and cuddle, but I think he's starting to like this a bit too much as he's coming earlier and being more resistant to being returned... Doesn't help that dh likes cuddling his boy...

One thought - does your ds have a nightlight? He's a classic age to develop fear of the dark etc, and crying out for you might be a sign of that?

We're thinking of trying the gro clock too but the brightness you mention is concerning as ds is such a bloody light sleeper. I think I'll have to get used to settling two children through the night... Good luck.

Misty9 Thu 05-Dec-13 22:07:21

Oh, and we've not been able to walk out and leave ds to self settle since he went into a bed. If we do he gets hysterical and starts trashing the room...

cravingcake Thu 05-Dec-13 22:46:05

Another one here with no advice but in same boat. My DS is 2.1yo and has only just gone into his big boy bed. I'm 32 weeks with DC2 and trying to decide the best way to handle this. I'm having an elcs in January so know i wont physically be able to take DS back to his bed, plus i will need sleep to be able to deal with him and baby during the day so dont want him getting used to sleeping in bed with us, especially as he doesnt settle well and wriggles too much. DH will help as much as he can when i kick him hard enough but its so difficult to know what is best.

littlemissblue Fri 06-Dec-13 06:27:47

Well we had mixed results last night, DS woke at 1.15am and I managed to settle him and only had to stay 5 mins before he was asleep. He then woke at 1.50am and again only took 5 mins but more resistance as desperate to come in my bed. Then woke 15 mins later and I couldn't face doing it every 15 mins all night and so gave in hmm he fell instantly asleep in our bed til 6am.

Feel like I completely failed. Not sure if I'm doing the right thing by staying but hate the idea of him screaming in bed in the dark by himself.

BarberryRicePud Fri 06-Dec-13 06:42:35

In that case I'd put a mattress on the floor in his room if there's space and just sleep there from when he wakes. And gradually retreat the mattress.

I too couldn't stand the thought of DS crying in the night.

BarberryRicePud Fri 06-Dec-13 06:53:31

Or better still find a friends house to sleep at for 3 nights and let dh deal with it. If he can show your DS you're not there he will learn that Dh will do. And believe me you need that before dc2 arrives. It will involve tears but its not leaving him alone. Be back in time for breakfast and say bye bye before he goes to sleep (let Dh put him to bed).

And you're not failing. It's bloody hard being pg with a preschooler.

cravingcake Fri 06-Dec-13 06:59:27

Not failing at all, you both got (hopefully) a 4 hour stint of sleep. Dont beat yourself up about it, just try again tonight with your plan. The mattress on the floor in his room may work well for you.

I'm thinking of putting a stairgate on my DS bedroom door, i think part of his problem is he has gone from restriction of cot to freedom of all upstairs and its too tempting for him to get up and come into us.

JellyMould Fri 06-Dec-13 07:03:21

Sticker chart. He gets one sticker for going to sleep on his own, and two for staying in bed all night. When he calls out, go through and remind him of the sticker deal, give a quick cuddle and leave.

MortifiedAnyFuckerAdams Fri 06-Dec-13 07:03:54

Seriously - your DH works 5am - 10pm? Every day?

littlemissblue Fri 06-Dec-13 07:14:23

Every weekday yes hmm we live a 2 hour commute away from London so as he has to be in the office from 7am until 7/8pm he's out the house a lot sad

Which means I'm a single mum in the week and I have to do all the bedtimes and getting ready in mornings - not looking forward to this when baby girl comes along!! Dh is great at weekend and will help with bedtime and get up in morn with DS but he needs sleep to recover from his week at work too. It's a juggling act!

I will try again tonight and try to be tougher. Unsure about the mattress on floor as I know DS will want to be down there with me!!! He's such a clever boy he knows what buttons to push to make me cave!

He said "I love you so much mummy that's why I love to sleep next to you" this morning!

BarberryRicePud Fri 06-Dec-13 07:50:27

Or are there any DGP or close friends nearby that he could go to for a sleepover, just to break the habit?

Don't know if you'd consider this?

littlemissblue Fri 06-Dec-13 07:57:20

Barberry my parents live close and he does sleep over there occasionally - and sleeps through every time!! (Or they don't hear him crying!)

BarberryRicePud Fri 06-Dec-13 07:59:55

Ah. Could you send him there for 3 nights and then join him staying (in a different room) for a couple more nights?

Does seem to be 3 nights to break habits with kids.

I'm not saying there's an easy answer btw. It's bloody difficult.

Eletheomel Fri 06-Dec-13 08:08:11

You've not failed, you were just shattered - you're in late pregnancy and you need your sleep more than most, don't be too hard on yourself.

Ideas from other posters are good.

Maybe best trying this (or any other plan) at weekends though when your DH is around so he can help out (if not during night times just now (if your little boy wouldn't take to it and that would just keep you awake anyway) then he can look after him during the day to let you have a catch up nap?)

You'll get there and one day you will look back with rose tinted glasses and smile (honestly!)

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