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For Parents

Parenting Tips

Crying-Out-Loud Sleep Problems

Dear Janie,

I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old. Bedtime at our house is the worst part of the day. The 3-year-old won’t go to sleep unless I lie with her until she falls asleep. My 6-year-old wants me to lie down with her since I always lie with the 3-year-old. I have tried letting her cry herself to sleep but she ends up making herself sick. How much sleep does a 3-year-old need? What are your sleeping solutions?


Dear Exhausted,

Sometimes I wonder if the “cry-it-out” method makes moms or their children cry harder. Although, it does work, if you do it the correct way, and you don’t give up, and you don’t give in. While this approach can be effective, it’s not easy to do and, if done the wrong way, the approach can make the problem worse. However, it definitely can be the most effective and quickest way to get your snuggle bug to sleep on her own in just a couple of days.

Nevertheless, there are other options to help your children sleep by themselves. Night #1 set an egg timer for 30 seconds after she lies quietly by herself. When the timer sounds, immediately cuddle her to sleep as you normally would. Night #2 increase the time on the egg timer to 1 minute after she lies quietly by herself. Again, when the timer sounds, reward her with mommy’s cuddles. Increasing minute-by-minute nightly will give her the comfort of mommy and the success to let her see she can do it all by herself! This may take longer than crying-it-out, but you will all soon be cuddling in your own beds.