My toddler has been waking up 2-5 times a night for the past 1.5 months following the birth of our twin girls last December. Each time, he comes into our bedroom and asks us to take him back and sit with him in his room until he falls asleep.

Before the twins were born, he slept through the night consistently, 8-10 hours. It was very rare to have a bad night. So we just thought he needed the extra parenting at night since he's no longer the center of attention. The twins cry at night for food and such so I'm sure he's being woken occasionally. But even when it's quiet, he's still waking up and coming to our room.

He sleeps in a toddler bed against the wall. He has a white noise machine and a small night light he likes. We're just tired and it's getting very difficult to not yell at him and send him back to bed on his own.

The twins are still in our room. We're working on getting them to sleep on their own.

We're not really sure how to get past this and I think it's been long enough. We've asked him kindly to stay in bed. We've tried bribing him with sweets. We've tried to get him to explain how he's feeling. Nothing seems to work.

1 Answer 1


Full disclosure: I still cosleep with both our children and have made no effort to change that, so I have no personal experience in this endeavour.

I see you've tried both requesting him to simply comply against his inclination, and asked that he analyze and put words on his own distress. Note that these are both big asks of a three year old.

I see you've tried bribing him with sweets. I will suggest this is not what a young child craves, and what suddenly decreases in supply following the arrival of new siblings. What our children really need is our time, attention, closeness and affection. This is fuel to them. Going to sleep entails an extended period of disconnection from you. This can be a terrifying concept even to kids who cosleep, so I imagine it'll hold just as true for sending someone off to another room.

His need for closeness is not something you will gradually wean him off of any time soon. Thus, I think you are unlikely to be successful with any strategy that is based on meeting the need at night time and trying to gradually reduce the need. Rather, I think you will need to make sure he is well resourced for the night by giving all the closeness you can during the day.

Furthermore, all the strategies you enumerate risk to some extent signal that he is somehow wrong to have this need. I think you would be better off if you could acknowledge and validate his needs. You could say "hey I get it, a whole night on our own? I'll miss you too. Can't wait to wake up tomorrow." You could put him to bed and leave after whichever routine you may normally follow, just to come back and say, "no wait, I'm not ready yet, let's just read one more book together, ok?"

I get that moving from one kid to three is a massive change for all of you, and I can imagine you're worn out. This suggestion may seem like one more burden. More things you have to find time for in a day. I hope you'll find that in practice, taking time off to emotionally recharge with your child can be mentally replenishing for the both of you, and with the added benefit of less time and emotional drain spent on bargaining or yelling, this'll be easier than your current route.

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