I know there are questions similiar to this, but mine is a little different.

I have a 2-year-old son. Against my will, as a stay/work at home father, my son always slept with my wife and me until he was about 18 months. Putting my foot down, I taught him to fall asleep in his crib without the front on by laying with him, but in the night he would wake up and come to our bed and crawl in.

About two months ago, I put the front of his crib on and he goes to sleep no problem with two of his hot wheel cars (lightning McQueen and one other) and sleeps well until usually 12. He then wakes up and I go in and give him a little bit of water, check his diaper, and tell him to go back to sleep, and it usually works. He goes to sleep each night watching Bambi and it runs all night.

Usually around 3 he wakes up again and just screams until my wife gives in and goes to get him and, because I don't let her bring him to bed, she sleeps on the couch with him. He will go back to sleep if I let him cry it out, but my wife usually will not put up with the crying long enough. He does sleep in his crib all night about 3 nights a week but I have given up.

My wife will not work as a team and help me train him to sleep in his crib and just keeps reinforcing that if he cries long enough she will give him whatever he wants, which is out of his crib. He just repeats screaming the word "out." I want the TV out of his room but it does get him back to sleep sometimes.

What else can I try except the crying it out method?

  • 9
    The TV is not your friend in this situation. It might help him fall asleep but it will keep him from falling into the deep sleep he needs. WebMD article on TVs and sleep We use a white noise machine with our 21-month-old; it gives him something boring and calming to listen to as he falls asleep.
    – Valkyrie
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


This is definitely a parental issue in that you and your wife are definitely NOT on the same page about this. Just based upon your comment that you are a stay-at-home/work-at-home dad, I can only make the guess that your wife probably works outside the home (I might be wrong...).

If this is the case, I'm wagering your wife is suffering from some mommy guilt. I can tell you from experience that the guilt that can come along with being a working mom can be agonizing. So allowing your son to simply scream in the middle of the night might be more than her poor mommy heart can stand, and getting some middle of the night snuggle time probably helps her feel a little better.

I can also tell you that CIO is hard on a mom who is on board with the plan.

There are lots of other sleep training methods that do not include crying it out. Dr. Sears is a huge advocate of no-tears sleep training as is Elizabeth Pantley author of The No Cry Sleep Solution. Most people, I think, ultimately sort of create their own combination of mild-CIO with some no-tears techniques thrown in (or vice-versa).

But I think at the root of this is a desperate need for you and your wife to sit down together and really discuss the issue in a gentle and loving manner. It sounds like you put your foot down and she sort of just caved but is passively undermining your efforts. But the way you all are continuing, someone is going to throw their hands up and say, "Fine, if this is how you want it then you can get up with him in the middle of the night every night!" and this is not constructive (I know. I've had this conversation). Perhaps the rule needs to change to "He can't come to our bed until after 5 a.m." or something like that. So every time he wakes up before that, he needs to stay in his crib, but once 5:00 rolls around she can bring him back to bed.

Additionally, as Valkyrie posted, studies are showing that falling asleep with the TV on and leaving it on does prevent a deep, restive sleep. This might be a big part of your problem and weaning him off the movie might help him stay asleep longer and wake less frequently.

  • As I started reading the OP's question, I really wanted to answer, as this situation hits close to home on multiple counts. However, you said everything I would have said, plus a bit more. +1!
    – user420
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 15:50
  • It might work with a toddler, but with young ones who don't have an idea of what time at night it is if you bedshare at any point some kids won't understand why they can't bedshare earlier in the night and it can contribute to additional wake-ups. The "no coming to bed until" rule does work for some kids, but not all.
    – justkt
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 13:24
  • @justkt: No, it won't work with all kids, but the OP was looking for suggestions and I know it's a method I've used with our kids with a good deal of success. Since the parent is the one who sets the time, it can be something as simple as "No coming to bed until the sun starts to come up". At the age of 2, this can easily be communicated to the child as, "No coming to mommy and daddy's bed until the sun starts to come up. Then you can come snuggle with us." By the time the sun is coming up, kids are starting to wake up anyway and the desire to sleep in the bed is lessened.
    – Meg Coates
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 17:20
  • If he's still sleeping in his bed after the sun comes up, let him sleep! But it's pretty clear from the OP's post that the primary problem is a lack of agreement on the part of the parents as to how to handle the situation. Putting themselves on a firm, agreeable schedule might do more to remedy the situation than any sleep training ever could.
    – Meg Coates
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 17:22

I think you should take a couple steps back from the sleeping issue and talk with your wife. More harmony, a positive atmosphere, and teamwork between the both of you will greatly help in "fixing" this issue and the many other parenting issues to come.

Don't underestimate the little kid's ability to pick up on your emotions. You two are his world, and when you are upset, that is a very big thing to him. Enough in itself perhaps for him to fuss at night.

There's plenty tips and tricks here to help your kid sleep better. But it's no science, and there is no single best way to handle this, no matter what the guru's are trying to sell to you. You'll have to try things out, think things through, and also follow your gut instinct. And a mum's gut instinct screams pretty loud that kid needs comfort NOW! when he's crying, never underestimate this...

Try to focus on the fun bits of raising your boy together. Share with your wife the funny things he says and does. Do fun things together. Cuddle and playfight with him. They'll make the sleepless nights easier to cope with. Respect her instincts and suggestions. But do demand that she acknowledge when the kid is beginning to run the show. Sleep/comforting issues are a tug of war with the kid and they can be little devils when you give the rope too much slack. She's bound to notice this too.

If at all possible, I'd advise against negotiating compromises and rules with your wife. You're in this together and each situation will be subtly different. You're making things harder for yourselves when you negotiate one single rule you both must follow. Suppose you negotiate no bed before 5am, and he is teething. She needs to have her options open when he's crying at night.

And keep in mind that it will pass. It's just a phase. Like the rest of them.

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