3 year old won't stay in bed at bedtime

evajeanJune 13, 2006

The one thing we could always count on was 8:00 bedtime. We always stuck to the same routine. Bath, potty, books and then bed. My son has been in a big boy bed for almost three months now and just in the past two weeks he won't go to bed. We've been sticking to the same schedule but everytime we close the door one minute later he's out of bed and walking down the stairs. We walk him right back to bed but it continues for sometimes two hours a night. We don't know what else to do. My husband has laid down with him a few times but I think that's a huge mistake. Any ideas?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would guess maybe it's lighter outside for longer so he is not used to going to bed when the sun is still out. Or, he may be growing up a little and needing a little less sleep. Maybe try shortening a nap or putting him to bed a little later to see if it helps. Or, it could be the opposite extreme...he is getting more exhausted and is over tired due to more outside activities...so maybe trying to put him to bed a little earlier would actually help.

Anothe idea...Could he be going through a growth sput and be a little hungry before bed? Maybe an additional snack with some warm milk would help.

What has changed in the last couple weeks? Is he watching different tv shows that could be bothering him? Does he have a new babysitter? Has he been sick or have allergies been actiing up? Has he been swimming a lot? etc... If you can pin-point what changed, you may be able to solve the problem.

He could also just want to join in the family fun; Have you tried a gate at his door so he can't leave and needs to stay in his room. He may not be so tempted to leave his bed if he knows he can't get out of the room.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 1:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

He has had a slight cold for the past week or so but I would think that would tire him out more. He plays outside all day at the babysitters. He still takes a nap at the babysitters but refuses to nap for us on the weekends. He gets so exhausted on the weekends and basically only gets a nap when he falls asleep in the car. I don't think it's time to cut out the nap yet. He has seemed a little more alert at bed time lately so maybe he needs a little later bedtime. I just don't know if letting him stay up until 8:30 will help since he hasn't been falling asleep at night until between 9:00-10:00. I don't want him to dictate his bed time as I'm afraid once we give up on that we will never get it back.

After work we come home and make dinner. We usually eat around 6:30 which puts my son finishing dinner around 6:45 or 7:00. We usually start bath time at 7:30 and then read books until 8:00 or 8:15. We've gone on a walk a few nights but my son wants in the stroller and doesn't want to walk. Should we try to get him out for a walk and more physical activity at night or does that just wind them up? I've tried putting in a video and laying on the couch with my son. He seems pretty tired when we lay there but he gets a burst of energy when it's time to go to sleep.

I'm pregnant with our second child and go to sleep at 9:30 myself. I feel like I have no time to unwind at night at all. With all my hormones I seem to break down into tears quite a few nights. I don't know how much longer we can take this. My husband is actually caving in to my son's request to lay with him. I think that's a huge mistake as now my son is reaping a benefit of getting up. My husband is just so tired of climbing back up the stairs every few minutes to put our son back into bed. We've been trying to take shifts of 30 minutes each so neither one of us has to go it alone. But when my husband gets into my son's bed I feel like it just puts us back at square one and we are no closer to breaking this habit.

The gate sounds like a good idea but my son is a climber and would just climb out of his room.

I hope this comes to an end soon.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 1:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My son did the same thing when I was pregnant, but during nap time when I wanted to nap also! I found a great solution. I bought a tape player (the type kids can work on their own-- now they probably have CD players) and allowed him to lay in bed and listen to stories or peaceful music.We told him he could NOT get out of bed! He had a choice,he could lay in bed with his player and stay in bed or we would take away his player and close the door. Also, work out a reward system-ie-he can get a treat from the "toy chest" the next morning if he stays in bed all night.It may take several failures on his part to realize he will not get a special reward if he continues to get up. Be sure to stick to your plan and do not bend. It will fall in place, you have had a great routine set up thus far! LOL!!Keep us posted!!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 5:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Leave his bedroom door ajar, so he can hear you, whilst he is drifting off to sleep.

If he comes out, take him back, and dont lie on the bed with him, sit on the floor, and dont'speak to him. Gradually move back towards the door, each time. I know you are exhausted going up and down the stairs, but perhaps if you try this, it will solve the problem. Dont make a fuss, dont speak, dont grumble, dont even look at him.

He might feel anxious about the new baby coming.

Night light in the room.

Stars on the ceiling.

Rewards for staying in bed.

Spend more time talking to him.

He might miss spending time with you, and just wants to be with you and dad. He has probably only just realized that he can get out of bed, and control his destiny somewhat.

Plan an outing on the w/e especially for him, if he can stay in bed. Something simple, with Mum and Dad.

Good luck, hope it all works out for you, I am sure it will.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 5:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a problem with getting my 3 yr old to get to bed. i have tried to get back to the routine now that the holiday season is over with and that i am not working so many hours. He always wants me to sleep with him and i have been tring to get him back to his own bed but it is a stuggle every night and i seem to be always sleeping with him and then moving out of his bed and then waking up a few hours later to him screaming for me again. How can i help him get used to the point of sleeping by himself again?? Any help would be nice. We have been doing a bed time routine of bath, picking up toys and watching a movie then off to bed we go- but it is kicking and screaming.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 7:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would do your routine, and put him to bed. When he cries, screams, gets back up, just carry him back to bed without saying a word. DON'T SAY A WORD!! Don't coddle, kiss, or any positive attention. And repeat. He'll get the point, but could take a few hours. It should only take about 2 or 3 days, if that! Good luck! Christy

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 7:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My son won't sleep though the night any more. he's 3 we still have the same bedtime routine and he goes down at 8 o clock and sleeps for 2 hours then wakes up and crys. he doesn't get out of bed just screams and screams till u go in. i've tried leaving him but he can screamed for an hour and vomited before i stepped in. I'm trying a reward chart if he wakes up more than 2 times he gets nothing wakes up twice = small treat 1= 2 small treats and no waking big treat i.e swimming or activity of choice. thing is he's only ever made it to small treat. if i remind him about treats he just says i dont want them! i'm at my wits end im 17 wks pregnant and need sleep help please

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 7:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe night terrors ?

Perhaps if you go into his room at the time he wakes up and just reassure him, before he gets upset, he might just drift off to sleep again.

Its probably a habit now, I wouldnt let him yell at all, he will get too worked up.

Hope that works for you, I feel for you, its really hard managing on not enough sleep and you have another on the way.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 5:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This probably isnt the issue,but I'll mention it just in case. It's the vomiting that would concern me.
My daughter started doing this at age 3 too. Turns out she was having stomach migraines~which can be very painful and cause vomiting. If your family has any history of migraines,you may want to look into this. See if giving him some children's advil helps at all.
Good luck,I hope you and your child can figure out what's bothering him.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 4:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sometimes they're just afraid of monsters. If they are, spray monster go away spray. Fill a bottle with water and spray it around the room and tell your kids that it is a special spray that scares away monsters. It really works!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 11:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Okay. I'm in the same boat. My daughter is almost 3 and has been in a twin bed for 3 months. There are nights that she does pretty well with staying in bed. I assume it's from being so tired. And there are nights when I have to go back in about 2 or 3 times within the hour. But, last night was the worst. I don't think she slept at all. We did the usual routine - bath, stories, prayer, lights out (except for night light). I won't leave the door open at all cuz I know she will come out for sure. Usually she will get up and just sit against the wall next to her door and cry. Then, I or my husband will go in and put her back in bed. We usually ask if something scared or or ask what is wrong. She never answers. But, last night was a lot different. Last night my husband went in and put her back in bed. He left her room and she was quiet. That was around 8:15. Then around 9:30 I went in to check on her and couldn't get her door open. She had gotten back out of bed and sat against the wall next to her door and fell asleep sitting up. Her legs were blocking the door. I had to use the door to nudge her awake so that I could get her back in bed. After that she was up all night and so was I. She would not stay in bed at all. I tried making her a pallet on the floor in my room and she just lied there for over an hour eyes wide open. So, I put her back in her bed. She asked for the door to be left open. I agreed but told her she has to stay in bed or the door will be closed. This time I left the door open just a crack. I don't know what time she got up next I just know she did. I don't even know exactly how many times she got out of bed. I stopped counting and stopped looking at the clock. Until about 4:30 this morning. I had enough. I grabbed her and put her back in bed without a word from my mouth. I was livid. Then around 6:15 I went in to wake her to get her ready for the sitter. She was so exhausted and wouldn't let me put her down. I don't know what else to do to get her to stay in bed. I've tried the treats. That worked for about 2 weeks. I don't want her losing sleep like that anymore. And I can't afford to lose it either. I'm an insulin dependent diabetic and loss of sleep makes my sugars spike very high the next day. What else can I do?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 12:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The solution came from your mouth. You grabbed her and put her back in bed and you didn't say a word and she fell asleep.After the first time when you ask what's wrong and she can't come up with why, there should be NO MORE TALKING, no nothing but put her in bed and turn away and say nothing Don't make a pallet on the floor or anywhere else. Her bed is for sleeping and she has to learn that and that has to be consistant--the same thing ALWAYS no if ands or buts. It may be hard the first couple of times but keep at it. If you persevere she learns the rules and it doesn't take long before you get the desired behavior

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 10:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

omg im at my wits end :-( my 3 1/2 yr old son will go to bed no trouble..... but getting him to stay there or go to sleep is a whole diffrent ball game. hes got routine i think,, nursery at 12pm til 3pm, play about time at home, dinner n bathtime, then bed at 8pm, every night. but im still runnin up n down stairs at 10.30-11pm. ive tried the going up n not sayin a word thing. ive tried the thing where you leave him a minute longer each time you go in, ive tried ignoring him. but alas, epic failure. ive tried lying with him, ive tried being calm & just cuddle n back to bed. ive tried t.v for half an hr- an hr while he nods off(which did actually work for about a month or two) but its all just a great big nightmare now. pleeaassseee somebody????????

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 6:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I read a book called, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
and it was SO right on when it came to sleep habits. When your son is getting those spurts of energy after he lays and is sleepy, it's his body trying to stay awake. Those quiet moments are when he needs to be going to bed, and if he doesn't, his body produces adrenaline in his body to help him stay awake, hence the bursts of energy. It's a survival mechanism. Put him to bed earlier.

My toddler goes to bed between 630 and 7 and will actually sleep LONGER than when he went to bed a t 830- and it's amazing how his attitude changes when he has more sleep. Check out the book, too. You won't regret it! :)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 7:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow I am in the same boat.
I also read the book Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child and it had some great stuff that helped me.
My LG was not a sleeper until she was about 14 mnths but then she turned into a great sleeper.
My LG is 3 and was a great sleeper from about 14 mnths until this spring when the days started geting longer. She started getting up out of her bed and coming out of her room which she never used to do. As the days got longer she would take longer and longer to settle. She has always gone to sleep indapendantly, is not afraid of the dark and does not have nightmares or night terrors.
I put a huge piece of cardboard in her window frame to block out all light. Then a black out roller bling comes down over that and metal venetion blinds over that. She can still sense when the sun is setting.

I have tried using the no interaction, no talking, just putting her back in her room thing for a month and it only makes me want to pull all my hair out. She either thinks its a neat game, and does it for 1-2 hrs or she hates it and screams for 1-2 hrs.

She can open all of those door handle covers as I tried those but they did not work.

My husband has taken to laying with her for 15-20 mins as he says she just needs to cuddle and then she settles down. I have tried this but she will keep talking to me and fidgeting with my cloths for an hour even though I am not making eye contact, I'm usually facing away from her and I do not talk to her during this time. At that point I am usually ready to pull my hair out. I am also concerned about her losing the ability to go to sleep indapendantly.

Her routine is 7pm clean up, then story 7-7:30 then tiolette and off to bed. I sit 3 minutes with her for wind down and then give a snuggle and leave the room.

I need some new ideas because I am losing my patience and have resorted to threatening to take away her story time, to lock her door and even to send her to the nauhgty corner. All of which have not worked and have made me contemplate my fitness as a parent.

Please help

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 3:53AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
my 2 year old son can spell words
so my sons favorite toy is his collection of magnet...
playdates - how to relate to a "passive" mother?
I have one 2 yr old son. I am trying to have playdates...
my 3 yr old daughter will not mind
Please help! My 3 year old daughter is going through...
babysitting rates
I have one 17 month old son. Generally, What are the...
Toddler Gifted - What to do?
I am not bragging (and my husband has administered...
Sponsored Products
Calhoun Single Arm Chaise - Key Largo Grass Green
Joybird Furniture
Skyline 2-drawer Nightstand
Red Race Car Twin Bed
Serena & Lily Mosaic Sheet Set
Serena & Lily
Serta Revival Firm Full-size Mattress and Foundation Set
Calhoun Single Arm Chaise - Key Largo Ruby Red
Joybird Furniture
Calhoun Single Arm Chaise - Key Largo Pumice Beige
Joybird Furniture
Serena & Lily Mosaic Sheet Set
Serena & Lily
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™