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 :/

roweeena Fri 06-Dec-13 09:24:28

Ok I'm the harsh one but do listen to my advice and just think about why he is doing it - he wants snuggles, which is lovely but lets face it not an option and def won't be when the baby comes along (I know as I have an 8 week old and 26month old, believe me you only want to be looking after one in the middle of the night!)

Yes you gave in last night because its hard and you were tired. I understand that you don't want to be harsh (it is def easier said than done). How about the middle ground you go into him but you are not nice to him so he realises he isn't going to get lovely mum attention - so no cuddling, just go in and say its time for bed and then sit with your back to him until he falls asleep. So he isn't getting any attention from you. It's sort of the same but your not leaving him on his own in the dark. Just keep repeating in a calm low voice it's time for sleep.

The first night will be hard and you need to be prepared for that but he will soon get the idea.

I know it sounds harsh but actually in the long run your DS will get a much better nights sleep. (This is what I did when I couldn't bare to leave my one crying)

Racheld33 Fri 06-Dec-13 09:53:54

Hi littlemiss, I moved our 3.3 DS into his own big room, with big bed when I was 36 weeks pregnant (3 months ago) and I was just strict. I didn't let him cry it out exactly, (although without sounding sceptical he is very clever and I think worked out long ago if he cries he gets what he wants!) but I was so desperate to have it 'sorted' before the new baby came I was a lot stricter than usual.
for the first few nights everytime he cried either me or DH did the same thing....
Walk in, say 'it's bedtime now, and you sleep in your own bed' give him a cuddle, lie him down in his bed (but didn't get in), walk out of his room quite quickly, and waited outside for a few mins, and if still crying do exactly the same thing. First night was hard work, second night only had to go in once, been sorted since then.
I'm not suggesting you need to let him cry, but thought I'd let you know what worked for us.
Also we do have a gro clock but only introduced that a couple of weeks after we'd sorted the sleeping, just so he knew when wake up time was (but I don't think it will help with mid night waking)

superzero Fri 06-Dec-13 10:03:53

My advice is,don't fight it.I was in the same position a few months ago and worried for the same reasons 3.5 yr old coming into bed and new baby imminent.It is tiring enough being pregnant without a battle in the middle of the night.
Have you got a spare room?Once my baby arrived and was sleeping next to me in the cot,DH went off into the spare room as was getting disturbed by the baby waking anyway and if DS1 got up he would come into my bed and sleep or go and find DH and sleep there.
He occasionally still comes into our bed but seems to have grown out of it and prefers his own.

TheMarshwiggle Fri 06-Dec-13 10:09:18

I'm not sure your DH's need for sleep trumps yours. Since I got pg with dd, ds got daddy if he woke in the night. He then learnt to just come and quietly climb into our bed in the middle of the night, which we were fine with as we often didn't even wake up!
When dd arrived we didn't let him in for a bit so dh would go and sleep in his bed with him instead. We now let him come in again as he doesn't get disturbed by dd waking or even crying.
Not saying any of this will work for you but it has surprised me how well it's working for us.
Btw I'm soooo much less tired now then when I was pg even though dd (5 months) is a crap sleeper

oscarwilde Fri 06-Dec-13 13:13:51

Does your DH have time off over Christmas? The practical reality is that when you have a newborn on your hands he is going to have to get up to your son for a bit anyway.

I would hold off for a few weeks and over Christmas if he's got some downtime, do the mattress on the floor (or just get into bed with him if easier but trickier to sneak off) thing.

He will regress when a new baby turns up. Our experience was that the baby slept fine but we were on our knees as DD suddenly started getting up every 30 mins during the night. Clearly she felt she was missing out on a "party" in our room. Things didn't settle down until we moved DD2 into her own room at 3 months. She clearly felt more secure with this so if you have a moses basket in your bedroom it is time to start explaining where the baby will sleep for a little while.

We also made a point of pointing out to her when she was grumpy and we were, from not getting enough sleep. It has gradually sunk in and we get proud announcements now about staying in bed all night and how happy we should all be today.

There is a book "The Dark" by Lemony Snickert which is excellent too.

It is a phase unfortunately. If he is sleeping and not bouncing off the walls in the middle of the night I would be inclined not to fight it. If it will be an issue, then sleeping with Dad over Christmas would be my recommendation.

littlemissblue Fri 06-Dec-13 16:45:35

Eletheomel thanks, yes dh is great at the weekends and takes him out so i can rest. I normally let him lie in on a saturday but he gets up early with ds on Sunday morning and he brings me breakfast in bed smile

Roweena I did what you suggested last night - sat at the end of his bed on the floor, but to be honest it's so dark in his room he couldn't see me and I had to guess when he was asleep from his breathing as couldn't see his eyes! he didn't fight going back to sleep as I stayed in the room but I know if he'd heard me leave he would have kicked off crying. It's just if he wakes every 15/30 mins all night I don't know if i have the will power to go and sit in his room until he's asleep every time as I'm so tired anyway! Don't particularly want to start sleeping on his floor as he'll want to get in with me and it'll be very difficult to stop and get back into my bed at some point.

Rachel thanks for letting me know what worked for you, I think thats exactly what i need to do so he gets the idea quickly I'm just worried if i can go through with listening to him crying for however long it takes!

TheMarshwiggle no way ds would let dh into bed with him even if he wanted too! Dh works very long hours in a high pressure job and has to have to sleep to be able to concentrate at work, I'm fine with that it just makes things more tricky. Obviously if i was ill or physically couldn't get up for whatever reason he'd step up willingly but generally it's up to me!

Oscar Dh has from 25th dec to 2nd jan off but we are away for 3 nights 27th-30th so ds will be on an airbed on the floor in the same room as us then. We've ordered a bed nest for the baby so will explain baby will be sleeping there when it turns up. As ds doesn't see dh in the week barely at all when he does occasionally go to him in the night ds just cries out for me and wakes up properly, i'm awake anyway as I heard him so it's just easier for all if I go!

So tonight i'm going to try to do the same as I did last night and stay in the room until he's asleep, if he wakes too often again then tomorrow night I will try to be harsher and tuck him back in then leave the room and see what happens.....

littlemissblue Fri 06-Dec-13 16:46:42

Oh i bought a little plug in nightlight from John Lewis today too, as I asked ds this morning if it was too dark in his room and it scared him and he said yes. So will try that tonight too...

Eletheomel Fri 06-Dec-13 19:29:47

Good luck littlemissblue - really hoping the nightlight works and you get a better night (crossing all fingers and toes!)

roweeena Fri 06-Dec-13 19:54:00

Good luck - I know its hard but it is a battle of wills! Xxx

Racheld33 Fri 06-Dec-13 19:57:08

Good luck!

littlemissblue Sat 07-Dec-13 06:27:41

We did it!! I went to bed early as dh not home til 11pm and I was tired and DS woke at 10.55pm so I stayed with him but he took a little while to go off and was pretty cross.

Woke again at 12.30am and he was having none of it! Tried staying but he wouldn't go to sleep just was kicking off wanting to
come in my bed, throwing his cuddlies etc so I explained it was night time and time for sleep (cue more shrieking) and told him I was going to bed too as I was tired and left for 2 mins.

He screamed of course and tried to lay him back down when went back but he resisted, explained it again and left for 4 mins, he ramped it up coughing so much he was gagging screaming help me mummy I'm sick, I don't need sleep I have lots of energy (!) etc, tried to settle him when I went back but he was so angry!!

Left again and he threw his cuddlies out as was screaming for them then after 5 mins he came running into our room (unheard of but night light must have lit room up enough so he wasn't scared of dark) crying he needed a wee, I took him straight to toilet he did a wee and took him back to his bed, he starting crying he wanted to come in our bed and I retrieved cuddlies, told him I know but it's not going to happen and he needed to go to sleep now else he'll be too tired for swimming in the morning, he let me tuck him in and I kissed him and left - and he went to sleep!!!

I couldn't sleep for ages but I woke at 5.30am and heard him make a noise, thought here we go as he NEVER wakes and stays quiet in bed but at 6am (earliest acceptable getting up time in our house) I got up to toilet and peeped in at him and he was laying there awake!

He grinned when he saw me and was pleased as punch when I praised him for staying in his bed all night. He's having snuggles in bed with us now (lights on etc) and did say 'I cried lots didn't i!' but I told him it was because he was cross, but he was a very good boy for going to sleep in his bed smile

I'm so chuffed with myself too! Dh said if I felt like I was going to crack then wake him and he'd take over but didn't need too!

BarberryRicePud Sat 07-Dec-13 06:41:16

Brilliant OP!

Hope your DH brings you some flowers home, you deserve it! Really hope that's it cracked.

Happy sleeping.

roweeena Sat 07-Dec-13 10:37:58

Excellent, its so easy to give the advice but very hard to do. Keep it up for the next few nights and hopefully you will have it cracked xx

cravingcake Sat 07-Dec-13 12:04:01

Fantastic, well done.

Misty9 Sat 07-Dec-13 22:49:44

Well done. I must say I'm amazed your dh can sleep through that! So far tonight we've had two wakings...and he's asleep in his bed at the moment. He spent last night in with us and I was kicked in the back/front all night. Not tonight!

Will see what my resolve is like at 2am though... Keep it up OP, you're doing great smile

15thaugust Sat 07-Dec-13 23:40:35

I kicked out DH when DD 6 months, as he was useless at night and she woke every 1 or 2 hours when i was on my knees from lack of sleep and resorted to co-sleeping with her against professional advice, however i regained my sanity. She then migrated to his bed when new baby brother woke her. She is now 3 and will get her own room and a single bed soon, but two doubles has been easier on everyone. It is not normal for young children to happily sleep alone all night. Just enjoy cuddles while this phase lasts. Don't feel bad. do what suits you. Good sleep is essential. Thankfully DH not European so this arrangement totally normal in his country & family where 3 generations under 1 roof and adults happy to do this. His niece and nephews regularly asked get in grandparents and aunts and uncles bed not just parents. Gradually as they get older they stop. This seems more natural when you remember how frightening nightmares and the dark are when you were a child.

BarberryRicePud Sun 08-Dec-13 07:09:39

Any more success last night littlemiss?

Hope you got a decent stretch of sleep.

littlemissblue Sun 08-Dec-13 07:34:07

Misty I know it amazes me what dh sleeps through - DS used to wake EVERY HOUR through the night from 4 months to 18 months pretty much - I turned into a basket case! But dh used to tell ppl DS slept through!!!!!!

Barberry we were visiting my BIL yest so got DS in his pjs (it's an hours drive away) and we left at 6pm, DS asleep by 6.20pm in car, put him straight into bed when got home and next thing I hear from him is at 6.10am when he climbed into our bed happy as a sailor!!!!!!! Couldn't believe it!! grin

BarberryRicePud Sun 08-Dec-13 08:49:25

Oh that's brilliant! He'll love all the attention for being such a clever boy too.

Wishing you a good sleeper with your soon to be dc2.

littlemissblue Tue 10-Dec-13 08:27:35

Well it looks like DS was lulling me into a false sense of security night 2 and 3 were great, last night however he woke at 3.30am and crept into our bed waking me to tell me to move up!

Took him back to bed and he kicked off and wouldn't settle, he was in and out of our room, crying on and off, he stayed in his bed quietly for half hour so I was sure he must be asleep but then came in saying he didn't like his room...dh took him back a couple of times too but he just couldn't go to sleep!

In the end I sat with him and he finally went off at 5am hmm

He slept til 7.15am and is full of it today, unlike me.

Feel really fed up about it, thought we'd cracked it :/

BarberryRicePud Tue 10-Dec-13 08:56:59

But you are cracking it! It was never going to be perfect from night one. You've had 2 good nights and 1 bad. That's a major improvement from every night being bad.

Stick with it. Loads of praise all day when he stays in his room. Maybe pick out some wall stickers together and he can put one up when he stays in his room. May make his room feel nicer to him too.

Don't lose heart. DD is 7m and we're working on sleep. It's 2 steps forward and 1 back. Doesn't mean we're not making progress. Just don't let him back in now!

roweeena Tue 10-Dec-13 14:58:14

Be consistent and he will get the idea, it won't take long. I know its tiring but it will be worth it.

oscarwilde Tue 10-Dec-13 15:18:11

Wow - you are doing soooo well. Yes, last night wasn't so good but there will always be an off night here and there.

Loads and loads of praise will do it. Also, giving him a name like SuperStar helps - it seems to really appeal to be called TopX or Superstar or whatever. The nurseries really do this with kids over silly stuff. Obviously with a more competitive environment it helps but have a go.

littlemissblue Tue 10-Dec-13 17:01:47

Thanks, he had he pre school jabs this morning and so i'm in the bad mummy books! "why did you let her do that mummy!!??" So hope that won't affect tonight. I can't have another night like that tonight i've felt hungover all day :/ not looking forward to dd coming along now!!

rooted Tue 10-Dec-13 17:11:29

We have just been through this with one of our twin girls. Unfortunately I went down the bribery route And told her she could have a toy of her choosing if she stayed in her own bed for a week! Lots of false starts but she did it and got a belle doll which she loves. Last 4 nights has still slept in her own bed so hope that it has broke the habit! I told her belle would go back to the shop if she didn't sleep in her own bed!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now