I have a 2-year-old son who won't sleep more than 2 hours a night.

I've done the CIO (cry it out) which only means he gets up and goes into my bedroom and wakes me up, bath time before bed, reading before bed, no sugar - we started giving him vitamins, no pacifier, no sippy cup, cool room around 72 - 73°F, his favorite blanket. He doesn't have a favorite toy.

He goes to bed around 08:30 or 9 and that's me fighting with him. I constantly lay him down and he gets up. We do this for about an hour or so, sometimes more. I usually fight to get him into bed. If he goes to bed at 9 he will be up by 11, 2 hours later he's awake again. This happens every single day. I can predict at what time he will be getting up. He runs all day, plays all day, naps some days, on others he doesn't nap at all. He wakes up for maybe 2 mins to 5 mins a night.

Can anyone help me?

  • Have you tried putting up a barrier to keep him in his room to let the CIO work? Most parents try shutting the door, then adding a baby gate and then possibly (if you're comfortable with it) locking the door. I suggest giving this article a read. Its titled "I locked our toddler in his room every night to save my marriage" - dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2250785/… In the end they say they taught their 2.5 year old to stay in his room in 3 nights.
    – user7678
    May 12, 2016 at 12:13
  • 1
    You say he wakes up for only 2-5 minutes a night. Does that mean he goes back to sleep?
    – hkBst
    May 12, 2016 at 12:35
  • What are you doing when he comes in your room? If there's any reward there (hugs, snuggles, talking, getting tucked in, etc) then he's going to be motivated to come in. When he comes in you need to calmly pick him up, carry him back to bed, cover him and leave.
    – Drew
    May 12, 2016 at 14:52
  • I know the horror all too well. I'm going on about 4 solid years of this now between 2 kids. My wife is deaf in one ear so she almost never hears when one comes in and pulls me away. I got in the routine of laying at the foot of their bed till they are asleep then replacing my barely functional carcass with a pile of stuffed animals. Sometimes thats enough to make them think I'm still there. We run a fan for white noise, and to block out whatever sounds I might make trying to escape. Time is all I can say. It took 3 years for the first. It's looking like 3 years for the second too. Good luck
    – Kai Qing
    May 12, 2016 at 20:58
  • do you mean 2hours total, or 2 hours at a time? May 29, 2016 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


I have five kids, and we have found this book invaluable: "Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth (on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1WdggMU). This has been invaluable for us in understanding our children's sleep rhythms, with practical advice on how to make it work for a variety of age groups.

I would ask your child's doctor about sleep, and see if she/he has any ideas on what you might try. Your child's doctor has a lot more information than we do, so I'd seek and follow that advice first (If you haven't already done that).

Finally, some kids don't seem to need as much sleep as other kids. We have a friend whose toddler would only sleep for about 3 hours each night, no matter what they tried. This went on for several years. They locked him in his room, and locked his window so he couldn't get out[1], and he played and read and did whatever during the time he had to be in his room at night.

For us, we decided to get a king size bed so that kids could come in to our room during the night and it wasn't especially uncomfortable (most of the time). My in-laws kept a thin mattress under the bed, and the kid could pull out the mattress and sleep on it if they weren't comfortable in their own bed/room.

Your health and mental well being is important too! So find a balance that works for you, your partner, AND your kid.

[1]: I'm certainly not saying that this is the best solution, or that it will work for you. There are several things you need to consider, including fire safety (what happens if there is a fire and your kid can't get out the door OR window). What I AM saying is that you have to figure out what works for you and your family.

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