SleepToddler and Preschooler

Getting Kids to Sleep Through the Night

I have 3 year old twins that have recently started waking up during the middle of the night, off and on for 2 or more hours. I'm exhausted, and so is my husband. Please share any tips you have to help them stay asleep!



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January 7, 20090 found this helpful

If you feel you can rule out any health issues, this is probably just a behavioral issue. I would start by having a talk with them before bed about not waking each other up, and make it clear that if they wake up, they may go potty, then straight back to bed. If you think they would be receptive, you could make a reward system, where whoever stays in bed (quick potty trips allowed) all night gets a sticker in the morning; and when they earn a certain number of stickers, they get a reward. (It could be a movie, a small toy, or other such reward.) Also, explain that if they do get up at night, they will lose some priveledge that they enjoy the next day (for example, NO television or food treats).

If they persist in getting up, they need to be given a potty trip, then kissed and tucked back in. Then whichever parent is up may need to sit in the room and remind them they must be quiet and stay in bed (until they fall asleep). No conversation, no stories, no getting out of bed, no toys (other than whatever stuffed animal they may sleep with), no play. You may need to be stern, and have to steel yourself against tears. No cuddling (that is for bedtime, not the middle of the night), no lullabies, no interaction other than "shhhhh" or "no".


The important thing to remember is that they are enjoying some sort of "gain" from getting up--attention from mom and dad, play, maybe more stories, maybe a snack, tv, etc. (And since a 3-year-old can nap during the day, they don't suffer the consequences.) You need to create a reason to stay in bed, and consequences for not doing so.

If you can tough it out a few nights, they should get back in the pattern of sleeping. It is very important to be "tough" and stand your ground. By three, a kiddo is learning to try to control his/her world and will really try to push limits. If both Mom and Dad can back each other up and reinforce the limits, the children will learn that there are some rules that stand--which is an important life lesson.

Good luck! All parents have been there and we can sympathize with the sleep deprivation! If you can nip this in the bud, you should be sleeping well soon!

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January 10, 20090 found this helpful

Don't get up or respond.

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January 10, 20090 found this helpful

I'm guessing Jilson has had children. Nobody but a parent would be so wise! I'm a mother of 3 and totally agree with her. NO rewards for waking up in the middle of the night.


Do this just as you would an infant. With them you change, feed, burp, and go back to bed. With your child no bright lights, no talking (any more than you have to), no food, no play...just potty then back to bed. Hang tough!

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By Pam. (Guest Post)
January 12, 20090 found this helpful

When my son was about the same age, he started waking up in the middle of the night. The docter told me to make sure he wasn't doing or watching anything that was stimulating before he went to bed, make sure he had a routine, etc. I was doing that. Then I heard an FYI info bit on TV about this issue. They said that what children eat before bed could cause them to sleep well (Things like chicken, milk, etc.) or be restless (Items such as chocolate, fruit, etc.). My son was eating an orange shortly before bed. As soon as we stopped the fruit, his sleeping though the night resumed.

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By Leigh Ann (Guest Post)
January 12, 20090 found this helpful

While the twins sleep problems may very well be behavioral, I experienced this with my now 12 yr old at age 3 or so. I found that he was getting quite a few items that were "orange". At the sitters he was getting mac n cheese, cheese pringles, corn curls and doritos!


Everything was orange! I cut ALL of these out completely and very quickly found that he was again sleeping through the night where he had been wanting play time in the middle of the night! It would be worth checking into for you I would think! Good luck!

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January 13, 20090 found this helpful

Hi their now I have an autistic daughter who has very weird sleeping habits. One could be are they taking naps during the day and when and how long? Second kids have better sleep than parents do. They are better at the REM sleep. So since this is winter try to see if you can get them some exercises during the day and then just before bedtime try to have some sort of routine too. Wash kids in lavender body wash and warm milk and story time and like the person before wrote how about the lavender stuffed animal. It may take awhile but good luck. Always remember you are never alone ok.

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By Rosemarie P. (Guest Post)
January 15, 20090 found this helpful

Since my kids were little, I never forced them to take naps during the day, unless they wanted to. I feel that if they sleep too much during the day they won't sleep at all at night.


Or try this: put a camera in the room to videotape what happens when they do wake up at night. Then maybe you'll be able to see for yourself, why they wake up, and be better able to fix the problem.

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