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Your 3-Year-Old Won’t Sleep? Are You Making Any Of These Mistakes?

Getting A Child To Sleep Is No Easy Task, Especially When You Could Be Contributing To Their Sleepless Nights. If You’re Having Trouble Getting Your 3, 4, Or 5-year-old To Sleep Through The Night, You May Be Making One Or Even All Of These Common Mistakes Without Knowing It! 3-year-old Won’t Sleep | Toddler Sleep | Child Won’t Sleep | #sleeptips #toddlersleep #toddler #toddlerlife #preschool

Your 3, 4, or 5-year-old might smile like a champ in your Facebook pictures… but you know the hidden secret.  The secret sleep challenges that have been driving you nuts for months or even years.  Each night is a horrible groundhog’s day.  The same old battle every night.  The hours it finally takes your child to sleep… Your child is always getting out of bed.  He needs you to stay with him.  He gets out of bed at night… many times.  You have to sleep with him.  You are surviving each day as a mom-bie (part mom part zombie), half in the bag and chugging coffee like it’s your new job.  You’ve had enough that your 3-year-old won’t sleep.  You don’t know what to do.

Who wears the pants in your family (or is in charge?)  There is a good chance that your child does.

#1:  Does A ToDDLER CravING MOre Attention from you MESS UP SLEEP?

Your child needs to fill up in the parenting love department every day.  And when their tank gets low, they will start begging, pleading, and probably throwing a huge fuss to get what they want.

Bring your relationship to the forefront. Strive to spend quality time with your child each day.

Ideas:  Carve out 10-30 minutes each day of “special time.” It doesn’t have to be expensive; it doesn’t need to involve treats or food.  It just needs to be a phone-distraction-free chunk-o-time just dedicated to fun.  Bonus points, this will give your child the attention that they desperately crave.

#2 IS YOUR TODDLER In Control?

I’m right there with you.  My child is for sure the one that since birth has been in charge in the family.  My then 2-year old ruled our roost. Her mood affected us all.  For sure!  But, that is wrong… so wrong, and I know that I’m here to make sure that you don’t make the same mistake.

It wasn’t until I read Beyond Time Out from Chaos To Calm that I realized that the imbalance of family power was way out of whack.  Our child has way too much control.  She dictated everything.  Like, everything.

It was my job as the parent to take back the control.  I had her best interest in mind, and it was my job to lead.  Not to follow.

Guess what?  Taking control is not yelling – belittling – punishing.  It’s about communicating and setting limits.  And boundaries.

Once you, as a parent, have limits and boundaries set (during the day too), you can establish nighttime limits and boundaries when it comes to sleep.

CASE STUDY:  A 3 Year Old Gets Back On Track (With My Help)

Meet Matt and Felix.  Matt booked one of my personalized consults after looking to google trying to get his 3-year old son, Felix, back into a good sleep routine. Matt stumbled upon this exact article that you’re reading now and he reached out since he thought my tips made sense.  Matt lost control.  You see, Felix was a good sleeper for years, but at 3 years old, Felix started pushing his parents’ buttons and “no” was a common response.

Felix didn’t want to sleep alone, or nap so his parents thought they were doing the right thing by bringing Felix to their bed and now, no one was sleeping!!  The day before our sleep consult, Felix was up at 10 pm and out of desperation, Felix was eating meals in the middle of the night.  Matt needed help, ASAP!

With my plan (a super detailed plan), we got Matt confident that he was in the driver’s seat to get back control in a very loving way.  Through a family meeting, Matt laid out what was important for Felix. He made sleep rules and bedtime book to make things fun for Felix.  During the implementation of the plan, Felix was always checked on during the night and as hard as Matt stuck with it. 

Felix went back to napping within just a few short days, getting 12.5-13 hours sleep per day. Even though Felix still says “no”, Matt is so relieved that things are back on track!

Ready to become my next case study?  Book a sleep consultation here!

#3: IS Your 3 Year Old Getting Enough Sleep?

Many children just aren’t getting enough sleep.  They are going to bed way too late and waking up way too early.  The AAP’s guidelines for healthy sleep for a 3-5-year-old is 10 – 13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.

The problem is that many parents of 3-year-olds are complacent when their child is only getting 10 hours of sleep at night and saying “hey, it’s in the range” when in reality that range is pretty large.

So, here’s a good guideline to work with for each aged child:

3-year-old:  12+ hours of sleep (10+ hours overnight + 2 hour nap)

4-year-old:  11+ hours of sleep (including nap)

5-year-old:  11+ hours of total sleep

sleep needs by age | how much sleep does your baby need | #babysleep #toddlersleep #sleep

It’s helpful to get a target and if you are targeting more asleep than less…you are on the right path.

“At Age 3, Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say Is So Important”

#4 IS YOUR FAMILY Prioritizing Sleep?

Your family isn’t focusing on sleep enough.  Eekk… I said it.  I know it probably didn’t feel good to hear that and I’m sorry.

This blunt piece of advice is always a tough one to swallow.  Yes – parents need to focus on sleep to get out of the sleep rut.  It means giving some dedicated time and energy to make sure you’re doing everything you can.

Now is not the time to keep your kids up late to do a family sleepover.  It’s now the time to un-enroll in late-night activities (beg for money back).  It’s the time to have a nice family dinner and start working on an enjoyable bedtime routine that can get you enough time to get your child to bed sooner than later.


So many parents have the perception that “crying it out,” and fixing sleep is the same.  Oh, friends, that is not even close to accurate!

Let’s talk mom-to-mom for a second, anything that you want to do to help your child learn how to sleep is OK.  You’re the parent; you set the rules.  But as the parent, you need to ENFORCE the rules, which is easier said than done.  

This is the time that you have to follow through on what you say.  Say what you mean, mean what you say.  

If you want to let your child come into your bed at night sometimes and not others your child is getting mixed messages, and it’s no surprise that they will keep trying.  But, if you’re looking for your child to stay in their bed, then you must come up with a solid plan.

If you decide to walk your child back to their room each night, great!  Now, every time your child attempts to b-line it to your bed, you must walk your child back for as long as it takes!  It’s not easy, but it’s necessary – since this is when behaviors change.  Even if it means that you are going to walk your child back 1,000,000 times – you must be consistent.

If you’re not going to be consistent, what’s the point of starting in the first place? 


OK, please tell me which mistake you’re guilty of making. We are a judgment free-zone so don’t worry if you’re guilty of doing something wrong (we’re right there with you).  Are you over the fact that your 3-year-old won’t sleep?  Now, what are you going to do to make things better?

Susie Parker

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

This Post Has 69 Comments

  1. I have fallen into the habit of yelling and punishing. I am extremely embarrassed by it. Some days are easier than others, being a single mom and working. I start to focus on the “right” way of trying to get control back from my 3 year old daughter. Right she turned 3 my sweet little girl literally turned into a different child. Reading above, I’ve realized that since I started working more hours is when this behavior started. She is the boss 100%. Sleep is the other big issue I’m having, and I’m wondering if its because she wants to stay awake to make up for the loss time during the day?

    1. Hi Stacy, For sure being sleep deprived will affect behavior! If you take stock of who is control, you can lovingly get the control back by prioritizing sleep!

      1. My almost 3 year old has always been a bad sleeper, he takes forever to fall asleep and doesn’t stay asleep. His big sister is a champion sleeper so we are really thrown off, frustrated and tired! How can we get your 1:1 help? Thanks!

        1. Hi! Here’s how to book my 1:1 services. I usually recommend a two-week consultation for this age. Hope to work with you soon!

    2. I feel like we do all of this, my child was a great sleeper and about a week ago she decided she wasn’t going to go to sleep. She was sleeping around 12-13 hours a day and now it’s getting worse every night, we can even make her lay down in her bed to tuck her in and sing songs, we walk her to her room 20,30,100 times if needed and we don’t let her stay on our room even if she tells us too. She cries and screams that she won’t go to bed and I’m afraid she will end up waking up her brother (it hasn’t happened yet thankfully). I would get very frustrated with her before and I know that part wasn’t helping at all but now that I remain calm that I just let her know the boundaries and don’t give in to her demands but instead have established a routine of taking a bath, praying, reading books, tucking her in and singing she is not wanting to even lay down in her bed, it’s been 3 hours since we have been trying v and I’m at my wits end. What are we doing wrong? What can we do?

      1. Andrea, we are going through the same thing right now. Our daughter was on a great bedtime routine that we established when she was a baby. She has been sleeping in her own full-size bed since she was 17 months old (to make room for her baby brother). She has also always napped well and continues to do so at daycare. She is now 2 months shy of being 3. This last month she has started to refuse to go to bed and refuse naps on the weekend. She is the sweetest little girl throughout the day, extremely helpful with her 10 month old brother. Daycare constantly tells us how nice and polite she is there. However, at bedtime she will sometimes scream when we put her to bed. She will yell, “go away” and screams more if we leave. She also won’t stay in her room. We are going to try and re-establish her bedtime. Hopefully this is just a phase. She is a strong willed little girl.

        Did you find something that worked for you? Hopefully you are getting some sleep.

  2. So what are you supposed to do when the 3 year old continues to walk out of their room over and over at bedtime and then in the middle of the night?

    1. If getting no attention other than a consistent quiet walk back to bed every single time for a few days doesn’t work (did for my first, did nothing for my second), there’s lots of “kid hack” suggestions floating around. Really depends on your kiddo–you know what’s likely to motivate them best–my first loves her toddler clock that turns yellow when it’s morning but my second doesn’t care. She thinks pennies are the most amazing thing, so I lined a few up on the low dresser, right where she’d have to walk past to get to me. Each trip back, I quietly (no fanfare) removed a penny, and she was allowed to put the remaining pennies in her bank in the morning after a pointedly excited conversation about how many times she had gotten up and how many pennies were still left. It took a few weeks, and (uhg) this was after several other Great Ideas hadn’t fully panned out, but we’ve now moved the pennies on to helping her work on other “Hard Things”–like not hitting when angry and not going outside in her sock feet.

  3. I have 3 year who will not go to sleep at night. She will walk around the house, in the dark, refusing sleep. She will not sleep in her own, just screams and runs into our room … we have tried everything. She currently sleeps on a mattress on our bedroom floor. Trying to get her to sleep at a normal hour (between 7pm and 8.30) results in screaming until 11, waking the other children. Putting her in her own room also results in screaming and waking the other children.
    We have a bedtime routine – dinner, shower, book and cuddles then bed … she is happy to do everything except the bed part.

    1. I hop you ll get an answer because it sound exactly like my little girl… I would love to see the suggestion so I could try them because it s way out of hand here… I m hitting the depression mode!

    2. Ugh, same here. I have a 6 and 2 year old that go to bed fairly easy … my 3 year old screams his head off, dictates and wakes the whole house up at bedtime. Once he finally falls asleep he gets close to 10 hours, but we go to daycare so no option to let him sleep past 7:00. I get so frustrated. He knows it and I feel awful. Sadly our once a month date nights have flown out the window, along with my husbands golf night : (

    3. Hey!
      Reading at your comment, i could see myself cus am passing through the same problem with my three year old daughter, she won’ t sleep , try to put her to be at 7:30 and she will stay up till 11, its getting out of hand. I really need solution fast

  4. My child has not been the same since she turned 3 years old. Literally overnight she became a little dictating tyrant! I feel like all I do is scream and yell at my child. She refuses to take naps anymore and she will only sleep maybe 4-5 hours at night. Yep you heard that right, only 4-5 hours a night and then go all day with no sleep. It’s turned all of us into very grumpy, very depressed individuals. I honestly don’t know what to do anymore. I’m exhausted 24/7 and have almost fallen asleep driving several times which is extremely dangerous. I’m depressed and I’m a bad mood every single day because I’m not getting any sleep and then on top of that I’m dealing with my daughter who’s like the spawn of Satan!!!!! She never use to be like this but like I said, she turned 3 and it all went downhill. Nothing has changed in our family dynamics. Everything is the same! I am at my wits end and becoming seriously depressed because I’m so tired I can barely function. I’m glad reading some of these comments i see I’m not alive in this matter. I’m currently up with my daughter who went to bed at 9:30pm and has been up since 1:15am and it’s currentky 4am….she’s still going strong up running around the house……’s to another day…..

    1. I can confidently say that 3-4 hours isn’t enough. I would start with your pediatrician and reach out for professional help.

    2. Out of all these comments. Yours I can only empathise with. My daughter is 3 in 2 months
      Since 6 months she’s constantly woke up
      But now like your daughter. Surviving on 4 -5 hours sleep up from 2-3am and that’s her
      Some replies to comments are infuriating from the do gooders. But it’s healing to know you’re not alone.
      Let’s hope all this energy / imagination whatever it may be. they have turns into something wonderful ? because I am stumped at what else I can do. ?‍♀️

  5. I’m guilty of not bwing consistant and punishing. My 3 year old has been fighting bedtime for months now and I’m at my wits end. She refuses to sleep unless it’s with my hisband and/or me in our bed. My husband has esrly work days, so itms typically me fighting with her for hours to go to bed. We stick to a pretty routine bedtime routine, in ned no latercthan 8:30/9, but she still fights. I’m struggling to renain sane and get the sleep I need to

    1. thanks for sharing. I know how hard it is – but you have the ability to change things for the better without using punishment. You just need to come up with a solid plan!

  6. I’m a single father to a little boy just turned 3. I work a full day and have to keep him in daycare from 7:45 until 6. We’ll go home do dinner relax, do bathtime and then it’s already 8-8:30. This past month after we get to bed and I’ve read books sang songs, went multiple trips responding to requests its 9:30 and heres the kicker. He will literally stay awake for an hour by himself in the bed talking. He’s not falling asleep until 10:30 most of the time and that’s hours after we start the bedtime routine. I’m afraid hes not getting enough sleep and I don’t know what to do. I’m thinking of getting a nanny to pick him up from school cause I have such a long commute to get him more settled.

    1. My suggestion would have daycare give him dinner before you pick up at 6. This will allow you to go home and work on your routine. Good luck!

  7. Oh you’re not alone my girls bedtime is 730pm I have to sit with her for an hour and a half till she’s asleep then once I leave she will get up and come into our room at 2am lately she’s been waking up two to three times before my going to bed I’m at my wits end oh great she’s up 1030pm I need a serious coffee habit to keep awake

    1. This! My husband or myself sit with our son for a good hour before he falls and REFUSES to fall asleep without one of us sitting next to him. We’ve tried slowly moving closer to the door each night, having a routine, and unfortunately crying it out 🤦🏼‍♀️ Nothing has worked. And he wakes up every 3hrs or so throughout the night! Once again…won’t go to sleep unless one of Us is there. We have a 6m old who will be sharing the room soon but they just keep waking each other up all night?! I’m clueless and sooooo tired..

  8. Like many parents here, i feel like a mombie, well both, my husband and i. Our 3 year old who turns 4 in February btw, has never slept through an entire night. We have a 2 year old, who has developed the same habit. We continuously have these two wake up through out the night. My 3 year old falls asleep instantly however he gets up multiple times through the night, cries and wants us to sleep with him. Last night was by far the worse! After working and seeing patients all day and not to mention, 8 year olds Girl Scouts activities, i was finally able to get in bed. Relaxation lasted 5 minutes, we have been going in and out of rooms since 11:30 pm and HE IS STILL NOT SLEEPING. I am at my wits ends. We have tried sleep training, day time changes, spending more time, routines, same ol routines, peaceful area to sleep, perfect temperature, a fan for white noise, sun blocking curtains, i no longer watch tv downstairs, afraid he might wake from the noise. Sorry for the long vent, this lack of sleep which has been this odd persistent routine since 11 pm to 5 or 6 or now has lasted for the past 18 days. I have developed a weird twitch in my eye due to lack of sleep, i am falling asleep on the wheel, i am.zoning out with patients, i am angry, sad, depressed, anxious all at the same time. Grateful for having others who are struggling like me, like us. :'(

  9. I am having issues right now with BOTH my 5 year old and 3 year old. However, the 3 year old is worse. Last night we went to bed at 8 pm ( myself included). He woke up at midnight, woke up the 5 year old. They both finally fell back asleep at 2:30am and he woke up at 5 am. I just spent 2 hrs trying to have nap time and he’s finally fallen asleep…45 minutes before we have to leave to pick up the 5 year old from school. I’m here because I lost my temper the other night…sleep deprivation + sleep deprived kids is not a good combo. But…
    I’m a nurse and 2 years ago I heard one of our respiratory therapists tell a patient who was being noncompliant “short of breathing for you, there’s nothing else I can do, and I can’t breath for you”. Well…there are certain things you just can’t force anyone to do, no matter the age. Yes, I can want them to sleep, I can try a thousand different methods, but what it comes down to is “I can’t sleep for you. I can’t eat for you.” Of all the struggles we have as parents, there are times when things don’t go the way you think they should, no matter what you’ve done right. It’s frustrating, but impossible to have physiological control over another human being. Sometimes we just have to work with what we have until it passes.

    1. You are absolutely right. You can’t sleep for your child. But you can provide a loving plan to help understand the expectations of sleep. Many times parents are too frustrated to completely implement their methods and it’s easy to give up and say that it “didn’t work”. If not through my program, Preschooler Sleep Made Easy or direct sleep consultations, I do hope you figure out something that can work so you’re not so deflated. Hang in there, mama!

  10. My 3 year old for the past month or so has not been wanting to go to bed and then when he finally does fall asleep he will come in our bed a couple of hours later. My husband and I are too lazy at 2 or 5 in the a.m to get up and take him back to his bed lol. He says he is scared and comes upstairs whimpering but he can’t really pinpoint what he is scared of. We tried a nightlight and changing his sheets which have Thomas trains and faces on them. Can you help?

  11. Our perfect sleeper has, a week after turning four turned into a beast. He fights bedtime and it’s turned into shouting matches on everyone’s end. We initially thought it might have been because we moved his big sister down the hall because because the garage door would wake her and she had been a notoriously light sleeper from birth. So we moved her back to test it. No go. He screams, gets out of bed and ultimately wither my husband or I end up sitting with him for sometimes HOURS until he passes out. Then comes the dreaded 12:30 – 1am knock. Sure he’s cute with his pillow and kitty cat, but we make the mistake of letting him stay with us once (he kicked me out of bed) and ended up staying nearly a month. I’ve been trying what worked on his sister (I know, no two are the same) which is greeting him at the door and walking him back to his room — only it ends up a replay of earlier in the evening or I end up staying with him until he falls back to sleep or I pass out first. I’m exhausted.

  12. I have a 3 year old that will go to sleep in his own room every night with out a fight however he wakes up 2-4 every night screaming bloody murder! All he wants is for me or my husband to tuck him back into bed tell him good night and then it is back to sleep. This can take anywhere from 5 mins to 1.5 hours. Not including the wake up time he is getting maybe 7-8 hours of sleep, with no naps. We are lost on what to do.
    We know he needs more sleep just lost.

    1. Hi Hallie, It’s easy for your child to demand you to scream and ask your husband to sleep with him – but it’s when you can focus on getting more sleep!!! great place to start!

  13. My 3-year Old is just a night-owl. She used to fight bed time tooth and nail. We had regular routine and her bed time was around 8pm. She screamed and kicked during the routine and came out of the till about almost midnight. It was exhausting.
    I had enough and just told her that she can go to bed when she wants and told her to tell me if she needs help. You may think I’m crazy, but so far; it’s working pretty good. She know goes to bed between 8:30- 9pm and wakes up at around 7pm by herself. It’s been much more peaceful . My DD is very strong willed and doesn’t do anything unless it’s her idea.

  14. we have definitely made a mess of things. Our first made things look easy so I wasn’t very structured with the second because I assumed things would just happen when she was ready. She is now 3 and has an energy level that is surreal. No nap and she is still running around like a maniac at ten pm. We didn’t commit on our earlier attempts to stop co-sleeping and stop nursing so now we have an incredibly insistent toddler who doesn’t seem to ever get tired. Some nights we give her a small bit of melatonin just to get her tired and some nights we wind up handing her our phone in our bed so we can sleep. I have it the worst because she still insists on nursing and will nurse a couple of times in the middle of the night. We know what we are supposed to do but it is overwhelming to think about commuting to the battle. We keep waiting for a miracle 😉

  15. I have a soon to be 4 year old. Since he turned 3 he has not slept all night without waking up. He use to sleep all night! It was normally to the point where I’d need to wake him at aroun 9am after sleeping a straight 13 hours. But now…. now he goes to bed and wants a kiss and a hug about 18 times before h finally closes his eyes. Just when I start to fall asleep I see his room light turned on, then the hallway. If I wait 10 minutes he’s back in bed asleep, there are times he would turn on the light and fall asleep right in the hallway. I’m so tiered I don’t even wake up anymore to the sound of his foot steps. I got him a night light but he wants a whole room of light. I’m not sure what to do. He Only sleeps through the night in my room, but I get no sleep because he is a black belt in karate when he’s asleep. I may need to spend more time with him, this makes so much sense. It made me feel guilty thinking of my daily routines and noticing I don’t really have a slot to specifically spend with him.

  16. How much are your consults for a 3 year old child? Just started having issues with her falling asleep and waking too early…. Thanks!

  17. My 3 year old started nursery/school 2 weeks ago. The day she came home she got all of her dummies and threw them in the bin and said she was a big girl. Since then she CANNOT self settle at night, she cries and cries and cries until we sit with her. She has a bath and story before bed and then as soon as it’s lights out and we leave the room she literally starts a tantrum. HELP!!!! I’m 8 months pregnant and need my sleep!

  18. My 3 year old, almost 4, was an unexpected blessing (my son is 22). At 37 I had her without knowing I was pregnant and I was not in a good place in life, if I didn’t have her her dad and I wouldn’t be in the amazing place we are. Needless to say she’s extremely spoiled and she runs us, we realized a few months ago that this is only hurting her so we are trying to take control but we give in too much. She won’t nap, she’s up 13-15 hour’s a day and we we are on a third shift sleep schedule and Dad is on a first shift work schedule, I am home with her full time since August. I’ve done everything I can think of, she’s very mean and defiant when she’s tired and if she doesn’t nap by 5 I don’t let her sleep and she’s up from 11:30-12 in the afternoon until 3-4 in the morning……HELP PLEASE!!!

    1. My son won’t go to sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning. And will wake up at 1pm.
      I’m so exhausted all the time. This behavior started when I started working. I work from 3-1130pm . I feel guilty now, and wonder if I should quit.
      I don’t spend time with him, Nebraska’s when he wakes up sometimes it’s just to drop him off so I can go to work. And when I get home, all I do is yell eventually because I’m so exhausted and all he wants to do is jump head, rub his face on mine, pull my hair. Please help

  19. Here’s the problem I have. I met this guy almost 2 years ago and he has a 6year old. It’s only been them two for a few years. Within the past few months the six year old will go to bed and wake up throwing a tantrum at 4am every night. I took the tv out of his room because he originally would wake to watch tv and be up even though he only slept about 5-6 hours if we are lucky. Now he throws a fit for his dad to sleep next to him and will continue for hours. My fiancé (yes supposed to marry into this) keeps saying he’s only 6 this is normal… and actually has told me I think we should put the tv back and let him watch it so we can sleep. I know that’s not healthy and I don’t agree with is, its like I’m the bad guy. What do I do? This is giving me doubts cuz I can’t live like this. I’ve been very patient I swear.

  20. It’s 1am right now and I have just started a ‘dedicated’ sleep training with my 3yr old. I say dedicated because my son has slept through about 3-4 nights in the last 11 months and I feel like every night is a type of sleep training. We had our second child and about 2 weeks after, my first started waking up with nightmares. I used to take the first shift to around 3am in which I would always put him back to bed and leave him, then my wife would take the next. The problem was she was always too tired to fight him and would just sleep with him in his bed. So we were really doing two different styles in the one night. But we didn’t know any other way. We have tried absolutely everything we can think of but the only thing we haven’t done is consistency with one technique. Until now….

    We have had a very complicated living situation until now two where we have finally moved out into our own house with no other people living with us. This was our first step and have managed to get him to go to sleep in his bed by himself at bedtime – 6pm (my wife used to lie with him until he was asleep as he was in a bed and would get up for 2-3 hours at bedtime).

    Now is stage two – he wakes up 1-2 times between 9pm-2am which he just walks out into the dining room half asleep. I can normally put him straight back to bed and he falls back asleep. But between 3-3:30am he will always wake up, more awake and more upset. (he is always covering his eyes, saying he is scared etc.)

    This is night number 4 out of 7 where I will be staying up all night to continue to put him back to bed. I am trying to catch him in the later part (3-3:30) as early as possible before he fully wakes up to try and break this cycle. I generally go to bed around 5am as he is up from about 6am anyway and that’s when my wife takes over. We are also going to spend the next few days where my wife focuses especially on him attention wise during the day.

    We are really hoping this will do it as we now have a quiet house with no other people here, and our baby is sleeping through the night (They are in the same room, and she also used to wake him up and scare him with her random screams). It is hard because I still have a full time job (thankfully I can work from home), and I obviously need to function both day and night. It has also put massive strains on our marriage as my waking time during the day and evening is working, and the morning I sleep. I have slept in the same bed as my wife for more than a few hours only for a handful of days in the last year. I go to bed a few hours before she wakes up. It goes without saying, we have no social life and rarely see any friends.

    Part of our problem was not wanting to put him in his own bed when he was genuinely scared and couldn’t even breathe normally out of fear. We have also had his tonsils out as he had a little sleep apnea and would stop breathing.

    Anyway, end of rant. Long story short, your article has confirmed that consistency is vital. We’ve been doing many things, but not this, and well… we’re out of ideas if this doesn’t work.

    1. Congrats on taking the leap. You have to believe this will work out. This is a great first step for your child’s age

  21. I don’t even know where to begin. My issue is a little different. My son sleeps, just not when he should. He had issues with feeding as a baby. I wasn’t producing enough to breast feed so had to do formula but he had so many belly problems with formula and they all came to a head at night. When he was old enough to start drinking milk I gave him milk which seemed to be better for a little while but then it was the same thing gassy and in pain at night unable to sleep. I began to lower his milk intake tried to get him to eat more ( (he’s an extremely picky eater also) which did help some, but every once in a while he still had the been issues eventually I just cut milk or completely. Dr says he was intolerant cuz he didn’t have diarrhea well Dr was wrong because cutting out the milk worked for his belly issues, But he was now stuck on the crazy sleep schedule. And that schedule has only gotten worse. He began to fall asleep later and later. I’d try to wake him up earlier and keep him from napping, (everytime he took a nap while I was at school from 5-9 pm he was up extremely late. ) But if I did get him to fall asleep before midnight like clock work he would wake up at 3 or 4 am and stay up for hours. He has a Dr appointment scheduled for the 16th and I’m hoping they can help, but they have been useless so far. This is a new Dr I’m trying. He is now on a completely opposite schedule of sleep than he should be. He did not go to sleep until 10 am. Yes am!!! And because I’m a single mom with other children who need to get up early for school he sleeps with me so he’s not keeping them up. I can’t afford a 4 bedroom, doing all I can to to afford a 3 bedroom alone. He has his own little bed in the room it’s a large bedroom, but he rarely stays in it. And if I fall asleep while he’s up which I do because I can’t sleep all day he will wake me up. If I try to go sleep on the couch he freaks out himself or bites himself. I’ve Tried to give him melatonin to help him fall asleep earlier it had zero effect on him. My 16 year old passes out if he takes it yet my 3 year old is in no way aftected by it at all. Even tried a low dose of children’s Benadryl but nothing. I limit sugar intake and don’t ever allow anything with caffeine. And like I said, he sleeps just not at the right time. I can’t get him off this schedule that is increasingly getting worse. It started where he was up till 1 or 2 am and turned into 10 am at this point. And if I get him up after only a free hours of sleep which is hard to do to begin with, he will just wake up at 4 am anyway. That’s how he got even worse was my waking him up when he was still tired. Thinking he’d pass out earlier ( he did) and stay asleep til the morning going on a normal schedule. But nope just got up at 3:30ish and stayed up till 10 then fell back asleep and would not get up too after 4 pm! So now it’s twice as bad.

  22. Hi! I wondering if naps this age need to be capped to improve night sleep? No matter what I do with regards to bedtime my almost 3 year old is awake at 5:45. I know he’s exhausted as he yawns all day long. When he does nap, I have to wake him after two hours and he is miserable. I’m at a loss on how to improve our night sleep. We’ve done earlier naps, later naps, early bedtime, later bedtime… all the same.. up before 6 am. How long do I still with each to know it’s truly failed?? Thanks!

    1. yes, at 3, naps sometimes can attribute to night sleep – but there are many factors to look into in addition to the nap time!

  23. Reading these posts is the best thing to happen to me I thought I was the only one could never understand why my son would sometimes stay up till like 2am with no nap all day. My 3 yo never had a problem sleeping or napping till (1) a friend thought him how to escape his crib at like 1 and a 1/2 (but once he got his own bed he slept in there every night no problem he loved it besides getting woken early. (2) He turned three, and just before he turned 3 he started to refused to nap, I didn’t think it was to bad some toddlers don’t. But Now heres the kicker I also have a 1 yo that will go to sleep around 7:30-8:00pm and wake up like two times a night sometimes three plus wake up at like 7am and then wake up my 3 yo🥺 so they’re not getting the right amount of sleep😪. At 5-6 we eat dinner together talk about our day they will have a bath and I’ll play with them after that I give my 1yo a sippy cup with milk (I know he should be off 🤦🏻‍♀️) now this is around 730-8:00 when my 1yo goes to bed. After my 3 yo and I will read a book or we will talk about his dreams (he remembers his dreams, idk if at that age they can but idk) count, sing then He gives his father and I a hug and a kiss and tell each other goodnight. Then goes and lays down And watches a movie (May be my problem also) and 10% of the time he’ll fall asleep. If not he will continuously come out of his room asking for , juice, food, me to come lay/sleep with him, he’s itchy, he’s hot, he can’t sleep etc. and he will some nights do this till around 1am latest is around 2am and I’ve tried staying with routine and getting down to his level and explain to him why it’s time to go to bed how he needs sleep to grow he’s very smart but nothing works I’ve tried taking his toys or blanket I’ve been so patient and just keep telling him over and over. Some nights (almost every) my 3yo will wake my 1yo and my 1yo will refuse to go back to sleep without milk I’ve tried having him cry it out, tried watering it down, tried being firm with him and keep laying him down and telling him it’s time to go to sleep and sometimes it works until he gets woken up again or wakes everyone at 7am. I’ve come to a point where idk what to do I’m so patient with them and I’ve tried everything. I refuse to have the be dependent on something to sleep

  24. Hi Susie, I am writing this because I literally don’t know what to do with my son and I am starting to wonder if I need to take him to a specialist for sleep.

    My son is 3.5 years old (4 in October). He has been having a “problem” sleeping since the week prior to his third birthday. At that time, his daycare teacher approached me and said that he stopped taking naps at school with the other children, but that he was very good about it and would lay or sit quietly until it was time to get up. I expressed to her that on the weekends at home he had also stopped taking naps. But that I wasn’t too concerned because he sleeps in on the weekends.
    Fast forward to now, I have a very sleep deprived toddler on my hands.
    I will admit that his bedtime routine is not to the minute, however he does have one and has had the same routine for over a year now. We do dinner, bath/shower, potty, story time, prayers, cuddles, and then sleep…. or at least supposed to sleep. Every single night from 8:30-9:00ish is supposed to be his bedtime (we’ve tried earlier, but it is hopeless because he’s so hyperactive until 8:30ish). But as soon as dad and I leave the room, he’s up for 2+ more hours. And it’s the same thing every night, he lays in bed quietly and sings and talks to himself until about 11PM. (it’s almost cute, except for the sleep deprivation thing). I have tried everything from calming tablets to warm milk to extra cuddle time. I’ve tried harsher things like taking away his toys, but nothing seems to put him to sleep.
    I read through your article, and yes I will admit that I struggle with him at times with listening to me, but for the most part he knows that mom is in charge and that he will get punished (appropriate for the “crime”) if he doesn’t behave.
    My son is a very “good” child, and he is on the spectrum for being gifted, and sometimes I know that he acts out because he has to be constantly mentally stimulated. (I am looking into gifted schools for him for kindergarten) And sometimes I wonder if this is the root cause of his lack of sleep. He’s also extremely energetic, but not to the point where he falls into hyperactive disorder (he’s able to sit still and focus on projects).
    I don’t want to continue giving him calming tablets, and my heart hurts for him in the mornings when I see dark circles under his eyes and he’s really cranky. But at this point I don’t know what to do.
    Please help!

    1. i don’t recommend punishments – yet natural consequences and firm limits. all can be done in a positive manner. – I’d recommend that you take a look!

  25. My 3 year old has NEVER slept through the night without waking up for a soother or bottle at least 4 times a night. She has one 1-2 hour nap a day and falls asleep between midnight and 3 am every night , just to wake up at around 8 or 9am…. melatonin ain’t working

    Save me!!!!!!! I have 3 other children one who is severely special needs, this is breaking me

    1. You have to teach that 2am is the middle of the night. But, going to sleep at 9pm might be part of the problem too!

  26. I have just started to keep my love bug out of my bed for good now after reading. I have to set rules and bed time for the family now to get to bed. But my mistake was any time she will get up and come to my room i will just let her go to sleep with me but now i know what to do when she try to get in bed with me. this help me a lot


  27. Any suggestions for my 2.5 year old. She will not nap period anymore. She supposedly naps at daycare twice a week. But here at home she refuses. She doesnt cry but the moment I leave the room she up and playing. She ransacks her room opening every drawer and closet and throwing everything out with glee. Every attempt at discipline on this matter is met with hysterical laughter in my face from my exhausted kid. Any advice would be helpful.

  28. Our 3 year old has not slept in 2.93 years. We’ve tried more naps, no naps, white noise, sleeping in our bed, comforting when she wakes up, stern words and punishment, everything (seemingly) except medication. Do you have more resources other than this article? Number 2 will be here in about 5 weeks and I feel like we’re about to go over Niagara Falls.

    1. Yes! Tons of resources on my blog or my free workshop! Just remember, you need to be consistent and you can do so in a positive way!

  29. My son won’t go to sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning. And will wake up at 1pm.
    I’m so exhausted all the time. This behavior started when I started working. I work from 3-1130pm . I feel guilty now, and wonder if I should quit.
    I don’t spend time with him, Nebraska’s when he wakes up sometimes it’s just to drop him off so I can go to work. And when I get home, all I do is yell eventually because I’m so exhausted and all he wants to do is jump head, rub his face on mine, pull my hair. Please help

  30. Please help !

    My son is 2.5 he sleeps 7:30 pm – 7:30 am that’s 12 hours is it too much ? nap time is 1pm -2pm but for the last 2 weeks I’ve been keeping to my schedule but he just won’t nap ! He sings every song he knows walks around his crib even try’s to climb out – I don’t go in unless he’s about to climb out I have black out curtains in his room he doesn’t sleep with me ever I don’t know what to do is it time to cut out the nap completely? About 2 weeks ago he had a tooth injury and before that he’d use a pacifier to fall asleep that was the only time I allowed the pacifier however since this tooth injury I’ve taken away the pacifier he sleeps throughout the night -and falls asleep in the night easily but won’t nap He also uses a blankie should I wake him up earlier and try the nap ? Is it ok that he gets 12 hours at night and none in the day or does he really need that day nap … he seems tired but won’t sleep I tried quite time as well just so I know he’s relaxed a bit in the day … thoughts ideas helpppp !

  31. Our 3 year has never slept well. His sleeping habits have gotten worse within the past year. He will take a 2 hour nap for the babysitter with no issues but at home, on the weekends, it’s 30 mins to an hour. I’m not as worried about naps as I am sleeping at night. He will go to sleep just fine for us but he wakes up shortly after and fusses. Not crying, just whining. Still asleep. Usually the husband or myself will listen on the baby monitor to see if he will self soothe and go back to sleep. If he doesn’t, one of us will end up going in there to check and console him. 99% of the time, he’ll go straight back to sleep. BUT then a few hours later, he’s doing the same thing. Majority of the time, he wants to come in our bed and yes, we give in because we’re both exhausted and don’t want to fight with him. He will get in our bed and then wake up constantly, talking in his sleep. I think they’re night terrors or he’s having dreams. I’ve tried several different things you’ve mentioned, nothing changes. Send help! – Tired Mom and Dad

  32. My 3.5 year old son has always put himself to sleep, even if it takes 30 mins or so of talking/singing to himself. The past two days he has completely reversed. As soon as I stand up to leave after routine (books, songs, prayers, kisses) he starts shouting “wait, wait!” And he keeps requesting things. He wants me to fix his covers, says he’s cold, wants me to cuddle, etc. Nothing has changed at home. He usually sleeps 830-700 and then a nap from 1-3. We have been trying to back up nap because he used to go to bed earlier. Now he has been sleeping 900-630 and only a one hour nap. Any tips for nipping this fast since it has only been 2 days? We have had to go in and sit next to his bed For 5-10 Minutes to get him to calm down. I have walked out before he falls asleep, and then he will drift off.

  33. Tons of good feedback on the blog and subscribing to my emails. You have to take back the control in a loving way! Make a plan and stick to it!

  34. I have a 3 yr old who is in control. She is the baby we have a 16 yr old and a 11 yr old whi were so calm and mellow. Our little girl is loud in charge and demanding. She has never slept through the night at all. We started her in melatonin just so we could get her in a decent sleep time range because for the last 2 yrs. She wouldn’t go to sleep tim 10 om to 12 am. With only 2 weeks on it she lets us know at nighttime when she is tired which is around 830. However with this nee sleep time she wakes more often. Most of the time its bc she wants me. I try not to go in there right away and i try nit to lay in bed but i get so tired after the 4th time. Especially when i all ready suffer from insomnia that i crash beside her. Well now she is skipping naps. I have tried quiet time where she lays down with lovey and we watch a show bc that is how she calms down otherwise we are playing barbies and ambulance and dancing and jumping around all hours if the day. Still after 45 min of calm time no nap. This happens about 2 to 3 times a week and i dont know what to do

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