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3 1/2 yo won't fall asleep alone

(6 Posts)
KCOZ Thu 13-Feb-14 10:43:18

Ds was a great sleeper up to about age 2 1/2 but over the course of the last year it has become progressively harder to get him to fall asleep to the point at which one of us has to sit with him on his bed until he is asleep. Some nights this can take nearly 2 hrs. I try walking out but that results in hysterical crying that the neighbours can no doubt hear. Any thoughts on strategies to get him back to being able to fall asleep alone ?

blueberryupsidedown Thu 13-Feb-14 13:16:13

Is he tired when you put him to bed? Try taking a long walk with him or get as much outdoor time as you can.

Check your routine too - i know many books say bath, book, bed but I found that as DCs got older, a bath would wake them up instead of making them drowsy. So now, they have a bath earlier in the evening, followed by a bowl of cereals and bedtime milk, and watch something quiet and calming on TV. They are 6 and 8, and this has been our routine since they were about 3 and 5.

Then, reassure him that you will stay with him until he is asleep. If he thinks that you will leave he will not go in a deep sleep. Say to him that you will stay, so that you can get him to trust that you will stay there. You might find that he will fall asleep much more quickly.

I am a complete softy though, and stayed with my DCs at bedtime until they were about 5 and 7. But it always took ony 15 minutes ish for them to fall asleep. I know that my advice goes completely against most books out there, who say just leave them, but I actually enjoy spending 15 holding their hands whilst they fall asleep!

lb2014 Fri 14-Feb-14 12:29:53


We have the same with our 3 1/2 yr old dd. Although the difference is we've never left her to sleep on her own (I know, I know, foolish us) but always stayed with her to go to sleep. It used to take us ages and I'd get very frustrated, but lightbulb moment for me was reading in a book - decide what you are going to do and stick with it i.e. if you stay, then stay, if you want to go, then go, but don't be indecisive. So I decided to stay and have been much happier ever since. We now do stories in bed, then cuddle until she falls asleep. Length of time to sleep depends on how tired she is, but it noticeably shortened when she stopped napping a few months ago, to only about 15 minutes now.. and I love having that time with her while she falls asleep. Of course when she wakes in the night she wants me to snuggle her to sleep again, so not ideal... but again, we've decided we can cope with that.

Sorry not for having a strategy to get him to sleep on his own, but I just thought I'd share my experience to reassure you that that you're not alone in staying with your ds even when they're heading speedily towards 4!

enjolraslove Fri 14-Feb-14 13:53:57

We had exactly the same with our dd1- had to get into bed with her and it took ages. She would then wake often until we came to bed and needed to be cuddled again. But she is now 4.5 and suddenly it is easier. She will go to bed with one of us (used to have to be me) sitting on a chair and it takes 5 mins. She now sleeps all night.
Nit sure what we did so no advice as such but it will end I promise!

Misty9 Sat 15-Feb-14 19:35:32

No advice here either I'm afraid as we're in the same boat. Ds self settled alone brilliantly until he went into a bed at 22mo. Since then we've had to stay with him until he falls asleep. On bad nights it can take 1hr and I do get frustrated. What pp said about making decision in advance is good advice - it avoids the resentment aspect of sitting there! I try to use the time for relaxation or just focusing on my breathing if ds isn't mucking about and raising my blood pressure

It could well be to do with how secure they feel at bedtime. Toddler time is when fears start to develop about the dark etc. we've tried gradual withdrawal but his room is only tiny and it always results in him getting hysterical. So we're resigned to it for now.

Girlsville Sun 16-Feb-14 09:27:52

If you think he needs reassurance then I would give it to him. I am not a softie at all, but my oldest dd was terrible at settling at bedtime form when she was a baby until about 3. I used to have to stay in her room ( patting her back when she was a baby and just sitting there in the dark when she was older) . She was genuinely scared of being alone and it only took 5 mins for her to fall asleep and we were all calm and happy. If I left she screamed and it was so traumatic for everyone for an hour or so, and I decided it wasn't worth it. Shortly after she turned 3 it became clear, after lots of talking about it together, that she didn't need me anymore and she is now so happy to go to bed and fall asleep alone after stories. I would go with the flow, sounds like it will be less traumatic for everyone, and talk about it with you Rex in the day to test whether he is ready to fall asleep alone .

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