My toddler sleeps well at night, its getting him to bed part is really frustrating. The main problem is that he won't let me leave the room until he falls asleep. He is not scared to be alone, he just wants me to be there. The problem is that, he can take 2 hours go to sleep. If he wants to stay awake until he falls asleep, that is fine by me, but I want to be able to walk out of the room without him throwing a fit. Any suggestions?

  • 2
    I am working through the same issue.
    – Paul Cline
    Apr 18, 2012 at 17:19
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    If it takes two hours to fall asleep, then he's being put to bed too early. If someone expected you to lie there for two hours, you would go nuts too. Apr 18, 2012 at 21:08
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    When is too early and when is too late? I thought between 8 and 9 was good at this age.
    – Xaisoft
    Apr 19, 2012 at 8:38
  • Between 8pm and 9pm sounds reasonable, assuming he gets up at 6am-7am and sleeps an upwards two hours during the day. That's what our daughter does. But 2hours on that means he doesn't fall asleep until 11pm, and that's very late unless he sleeps to 9am. Apr 19, 2012 at 11:21
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    I know it sounds counterintuitive, but have you tried an earlier bedtime? You might be going beyond his point of "I'm tired" and into "overtired" territory, where it actually becomes harder to fall asleep.
    – Shauna
    May 3, 2012 at 18:50

6 Answers 6


Tell the kid to go sleep alone after your "good night" procedure of reading books etc., then leave. Now you're going from a Sleeping While You're There routine to a Sleeping Alone routine, and every change in life will cause the kid to readjust, understandably -- the kid perceives the change in routine strongly (kids love routines, because they guide them in life when they need a lot of guidance).

Now, this phase might take as little as 2 nights, and will be accompanied by crying. You can go back into the room, but increase the periods in which you do. If the kid's crying, this will get less and less, and in around a day or two the kid will have gotten it and be able to sleep alone.

Remember, a kid sleeping alone will also be able to sleep more restful in night, because all humans wake up multiple times at night; the big difference is that some people -- some kids! -- have problems finding back to sleep alone. Solve the problem of having the kid go to sleep alone in the evening, and you might solve this problem too.

For my parenting, the hard part was not to let the kid cry for a bit during this day or two -- the hard part was always trying to prevent my wife from entering every 5 minutes. Entering the room during the crying will affirm the crying, and keep this Change Phase go on forever; bad for the parents, but even worse for the kid. The kid will accept as normal what you think is normal, so explain to the kid, then do it and believe in it. Good luck!

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    I really disapprove these cry/console later and later methods, which are not different from the good cop/bad cop method you see in the movies. It will work, of course, but I'd rather not have something similar applied to me, and you don't want to do something to a kid which you wouldn't like yourself. People who say are glad to have done this can't say the opposite, because it would mean the truth: they have ignored their parenting instinct and probably let their child cry to sleep because someone advised them so.
    – Metiu
    May 4, 2012 at 12:01
  • @Metiu: All answers are very similar, if you know a different approach I would like to hear it.
    – user4311
    Aug 21, 2014 at 21:08

Just do it!!!!!! Leave the room. Every time he gets up to find you don't talk to him or hug him just put him back into bed.

Be sure he has lots of stuffed animals and books and let him know that he is welcome to play and read IN BED until he falls asleep but he is now old enough to go to sleep on his own. Let him know you will check on him in 10 minutes and then do it. Checking on him would mean coming in, saying good night again and leaving. (This may entice more crying, in which case stop this part) DO NOT come in because he is crying.

This is what we have done. It is akin to 'crying it out' but at this age they can understand what they can do and why you are doing it.

  • 1
    I have tried this, but he will cry non-stop.
    – Xaisoft
    Apr 19, 2012 at 8:39
  • @Xaisoft He can't cry forever. Good Luck! Apr 19, 2012 at 12:25
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    I know that, but it sure feels like it. He is really persistent.
    – Xaisoft
    Apr 19, 2012 at 13:28
  • "Just do it" did not work.
    – Xaisoft
    May 3, 2012 at 13:17
  • Keep just do it just do it just do it. It will work, I speak from experience. May 3, 2012 at 14:03

All of the methods mentioned may work for some, but if your child is very active, it probably won't. Mine gets 2 - 3 hours of nap time a day and that rejuvenates them, so the only way I got him to sleep a little faster was to take him to bed a little later, so instead of 8 - 8:30, I take him to bed around 9:30. This seems to do the trick with him going to sleep. On days were he does not nap, sometimes he will fall asleep between 7 and 8.


It sounds like you need to read Richard Ferber's Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. Though, I believe @Freed's answer is very close to what Ferber would recommend in this case. Yes, there will be crying---there may even be a tantrum or two. But, you will be establishing mutual respect between you and your child. After the short period of tension, he will be able to sleep better and you will be more relaxed and more in control of your own life.

We've used Ferber's techniques on both of our children and it was one of the best decisions I think we've made as parents.


This worked for us. Our daughter is 2.5. Always a nightmare to put down and wouldn’t sleep through the night.we started counting everything down. 10 mins to bedtime, 9 mins, 8 mins etc. two more books 1 more book. I’m leaving the room in 5 mins goodnight, 4 mins good night. No more tantrums. No more bawling. Do the same thing with using tv or YouTube. Good luck.


If you come in to calm down tears, you do it without words: just cuddling (as they stay in bed -- no picking up!) and patting and sushing.

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