My toddler refuses to go to sleep without my wife or myself sitting or lying next to his bed.
Background - My son is about 2.5 years old. His birthday is in October. He has been sleeping in a toddler bed for about 3.5 months now. Prior this this past week, he's loved his bed, and loved to sleep in it. He goes to daycare during the day, and has a good nap that ranges anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours in length. His bedtime routine has consistently been:
- 7:00pm - Bath time
- 7:30pm - Downstairs for Sesame Street and milk
- 8:00pm - 8:15pm: Walk upstairs for stories then tucking into bed
After doing some research, and found that TV/blue light can hinder sleep, we've eliminated TV before bed. Instead, we've opted for quiet play in his playroom, puzzles, or reading books from 7:30pm until bed time. He has no toys in his room to play with, and we have a little juke box thing that plays the same lullaby that has been playing since he was born when he sleeps. He has blacked out shades, and there is little to no light in his room. His room is set to a comfortable temperature.
What is happening - When my wife lies him down in his bed, he asks, 'Lay with me' or 'Sit there' [pointing to the floor next to his toddler bed]. When trying to leave his room, he simply gets out of his bed, and cries for one of us to sit there. After reading some articles, we've succumbed to sitting there and when he falls asleep, and leave the room quietly.
Anywhere from 1:00am to 2:30am, he gets out of his bed, walks down the hallway, and asks for one of us. This past week, we've tried the same method where we sit in his room until he falls asleep, and then sneak out when he does so - slowly positioning ourselves closer to the door each time.
Two nights ago, after leaving his room, he would get out of bed anywhere from 5-15 min later. This would go on from about 2:30am until 5:15am every night.
In the morning, we ask him about his night, and every morning he says:
"I'm sad for you."
This makes me believe that he is having some sort of separation anxiety. I've read posts on here about trying to explain to them about big boy beds, but he just doesn't care. He repeats, "I'm (or I was) sad for you." Rationalizing with a 2.5 year old never really worked for us/him.
What we've tried -
- Sitting in his room while he falls asleep. Each night scooting closer and closer to the door. RESULT: He wakes up sooner, sees that we are not there, and walks down the hall again.
- At the middle of the night wake up, sleep in his room. RESULT: He sleeps through the rest of the night without getting out of bed because he sees us sleeping next to him on the floor. We've only done this one night, and I feel like we've failed. I do not want to co-sleep. I feel like this method will just put so much pressure between my wife and I. We share our bed and prefer to sleep together. I read somewhere that sleeping next to him could build back the trust that was lost with us sneaking out. So, temporarily, we will spend the next night or two going through this routine.
- Keeping the door closed, and preventing him from getting out of his room. RESULT: This went over horribly. I won't go into details, but this does not seem like a feasible option for us at this point.
So it seems like we have two issues:
1. Getting our toddler to fall asleep at bed time without one of us sitting next to his bed.
2. Preventing my toddler from getting out of his bed in the middle of the night asking for us, and keeping him in there for the remainder of the night.
Any input would be greatly appreciated.