Real Mom Tips for How To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Through The Night


Hello, my name is Alison and I haven't slept through the night since May 2012, when my second child was born. 

…around midnight the madness would start. Sometimes she'd show up in our room and I'd wake up to find her just standing there silently staring at me like she was plotting to steal my soul.  ~Kristin

My 15 month old toddler does not sleep through the night. He naps great, he falls asleep at night easily, and he sleeps in his crib. However, at midnight every night, he wakes up, I nurse him in my bed, and we both fall asleep there. He then wakes up two to three times a night, and yes, I nurse him back to sleep, lying on my side. You can probably see where this is going. Weaning and not co-sleeping for part of the night would probably help. The plan is to transition him to his older brother's room by the time he is 18 months, and maybe, just maybe, I'll get my nights back. 

MORE: 5 Things I Learned About Baby's Sleep }

I asked a few experienced mothers how they ‘trained' their toddlers to sleep, either on their own, in their own bed or room, or to a shared room with a sibling.

Photo courtesy of Angela Amman
Photo courtesy of Angela Amman

We started with Dylan (3) on a trundle in Abbey's (5) room because he kept leaving his room to try to sleep in our room. We used a sleeping bag on our floor for a while, out of desperation, and then decided to try the room sharing. It works for us; they sleep better. Bedtime takes longer because they talk and can be silly, but we have a rule that they need to stay in bed with books and stuffed animals.

~ Angela, mother of two and blogger at Tread Softly

Image courtesy of Laura Rourke
Image courtesy of Laura Rourke

We use a sleep clock (toddlers can visually see the difference between asleep time and awake time). Cameron (3) will NOT come out of his room or make a noise in the morning until his clock tells him it is wakeup time. Have a clear routine for kids to follow. Make it visual (like a bedtime routine chart) so they can take charge of it. Be firm. We'll go in a few times at night, but after a few call backs, we tell Cameron that we will not be in again. It took a few times of sticking to that, but now when Cameron hears those words, he is quiet. No toys in the room but don't feel bad encouraging quiet reading. Show them how to fall asleep. Cameron will still call me in on occasion to “help” him go to sleep. This involves me telling him to lie his head on his pillow. I cover him up if he wants. I tell him to hug Beep the Sheep (his sleep toy) and then he and I take about three deep breaths together. Then I tell him to close his eyes and take more deep breaths if he needs them. Just find ways to help your toddler calm and relax and that will help sleep go much better. Doing it with them creates a little more bonding time too.

~ Laura, mother of two and blogger at Mommy Miracles


Image courtesy of Kristin Alexander
Image courtesy of Kristin Alexander

Vivian was always a great sleeper, even as a baby, until just after she turned two. Then she started waking up multiple times a night – at least once, usually twice, and sometimes three to four times. She'd go to bed fine – she's been in her own bed since she was five weeks old – but around midnight the madness would start. Sometimes she'd show up in our room and I'd wake up to find her just standing there silently staring at me like she was plotting to steal my soul. Other times, she'd just call for us from her room. It was beyond frustrating, but we were determined not to give in and let her sleep with us. So, we just stuck to our guns, whether that meant walking her back to her room or just walking out on her in her own room. Which most of the time worked fine; I think she wanted the attention more than anything else. On the rare occasion that she fought us, we just let her cry it out, which she did for a couple of minutes and then she was fine. So, that was our method. Although it wasn't so much a method as it was sheer stubbornness.
~ Kristin, mother of one and blogger at What She Said

Photo courtesy of Brittany Vanderlinden
Photo courtesy of Brittany Vanderlinden

Sophia and Violet share a room and our bedtime is 7:30 p.m. Rarely do we waver from this. We do allow quiet conversation, reading in bed or brushing doll hair as long as the room is quiet. The key is really getting upstairs and starting the bedtime routine early enough so that it is not rushed, they have time for plenty of books and conversations. I also limit electronics before bedtime to none because the light from these devices stimulates the brain.I think the key is really sticking with it. The kids all know that no matter what they will wake up in their own beds. Bedtime is bedtime. Full stop.
~ Brittany, mother of three and blogger at That's Vandy

How do you get your toddler to sleep through the night?



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Real Mom Tips for How To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Through The Night

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, she traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison is a former blogger (Writing, Wishing), and her writing has been featured on Mamalode,On Parenting at The Washington Post,The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, Club Mid, She is one of 35 essayists ... More

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  1. My son is a year and 5 months and he still sleeps with me He will not go to sleep in his crib he throws the biggest temper tantrums sometimes I can get him to sleep in his crib but thats if I wear him out throughout the whole day running around chasing him.

  2. Shericial says:

    My baby isn’t a toddler yet, but with my other 3 kids, by 10 months of age they were sleeping all night without co-sleeping or night feedings. My baby boy wakes up just about every night, I’ve tried going in his room in the dark and giving him his pacifier, laying him back down and walking away several times, but that has not helped. I’ve tried bringing him in mine and my husbands room, feeding him a few ounces of formula, and putting him back to sleep then tiptoeing into his room and laying him back down and before I can turn around to walk out he is at the end of his crib looking at me. When my husband and I do co-sleep with him of course he will sleep for hours and hog the bed. This has really gotten old, HELP!

  3. Kimberly says:

    Elicia, There is a book called the Sleep Easy Solution and it has specific instructions for weaning night feedings, step by step. It basically involves waking the baby before he/she is due to feed and feeding them a smaller amount. You do this progressively until you’ve cut the feed out entirely. I used this book for sleep training my two kids, but I didn’t have to wean night feedings because they did that on their own. Good luck.

  4. Nikki says:

    My son is now 18 months old and has not slept in his crib for more than a few hours at a time. When he was a baby he would sleep in it but his father did not live with us so when we slept there he did not sleep in a crib so the instability is what messed up his routine. He will sleep anywhere else with no problem, even on the floor! But not his crib. We now just finally got our own apartment and we are dreading getting him to sleep in his crib. Everytime I’ve tried in the past, he has woken up after a few hours freaking out and I would just put him in my bed. How can I make this easier on all of us? We’ve thought about converting his crib to a toddler bed and just blocking rooms off so he can only get in and out of his room and our room but I’m not sure if he’s too little for it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    • Lisa says:

      No, its not too early, 18 months old is good, but I agree, put a baby gate up so he cant get into mischief while you are asleep. I took the barricades down at night a few months ago because of potty training, but it worked well for me.

  5. Elicia Hardy says:

    None of these tips were relevant to getting a 15 month old weaned from night feedings…

  6. Morgan Hart says:

    I think ideally the best way to get your toddler to sleep well is by instilling good habits in your baby. However, we all learn as we go, and children’s sleep habits can also change as they go through different stages, so…I am a huge fan of reward charts. Kids old enough to understand pictures can have a simple chart to positively enforce any behavior. My son has always stayed in bed, but he did go through a phase of dragging his feet getting ready. A simple chart on the bathroom door and an extra story for getting ready within a timer limit and voila! No more bedtime fights to get dressed or brush teeth. I’ve also read about a mom who puts three small items on her son’s dresser each night. Every time she has to return to the room after initial tuck-in she takes one of the items. If he still has an item the following night he earns an extra story. You could tailor the reward and number of trips to your child, starting with a higher number and working your way down.

  7. Teresa says:

    My granddaughter’s sleeping habits have changed. She still has problems sleeping some nights when she takes too long of a nap during the day.

  8. Zion says:

    I’m having the same issue but I can figure where the problem is. My toddler is 16 months and he naps during the day. I want to wake him but I get lots done in the house, however I’m sacrificing my sleep. He’s also a recent eater of solid food which now I’m trying to rid the bottle only at night until I can completely break him away. I feel that all I’ve mentioned is keeping him restless. I know what I should do but everything is a process. Hopefully we both can get a good night rest soon!

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