First of all, I'm a Dad not a Mom, I hope that's ok :)

I know there are a lot of questions on this topic and I think I've read all of them. My problem is that everyone seems to have a less stubborn child than I do (trust me, I'm not just giving in easily!)

My son is 2 1/2, and we just got back from a month long stay away from home where he slept on the couch because that's where he chose to sleep. He was sleeping in the crib before, but since that time he's become quite a climber and we can't keep him in it anymore.

He hates his toddler bed. Even though we couldn't get him to leave it at the store, now he doesn't want to sleep there. This is the second night of training. Last night, I got him to at least stay in the bed by lying down on it myself, where I fell asleep. When I woke up and tried to leave (at 4 am) he would not stay put. We tried a gate but he gets over it. I stayed up and took him back to the room about 15 times. For the first dozen, he simply immediately got up and followed me out. Eventually he realized that I wouldn't put him back if he stayed quiet and snuck out, but then he would make his way into our room and I put him back again. At this point, I had to go to work.

I had to put a sock over his door knob to keep him from opening it and shut him in his room. He turned on the light (he can reach from the bed) and stayed awake until my wife got up about 9 am (we've got a newborn which kept her up late).

Tonight, he was so exhausted that he fell asleep on our bed before his bed time. I moved him to his bed and we shut his door, and he only stayed asleep for a couple hours. He woke up, again turned on the light, and screams every few minutes. After a couple more hours, I went in to try to keep the light off and calm him down, and he simply cried and fought himself loose from my arms for 45 minutes, at which point I left.

I have no idea if we are taking the right approach or not.

  • I don't like locking him in his room, leaving him feeling abandoned.
  • If we don't lock him in his room, I'm afraid he will either A) keep us and himself up all night, and then fall asleep on the couch or our bed during the day or B) force us to let him sleep on our bed
  • He's a fairly obedient kid on most things (for instance, if he misbehaves, after a time-out, he usually calms down and apologizes, or he loses his privilege and is OK after just a couple minutes), but when it comes to something regarding his care, that requires some amount of cooperation, sometimes there is just nothing we can do and he won't help himself.
  • He's a little behind on communication - he has a good vocabulary, but doesn't talk about feelings at all, use sentences, or understand complex instructions (if-then, etc.). About bed, he just says "Buzz", "Thomas" (wants his toys), "Light on!", "Door" (ask us to open it) "Hands" (get us to hold his hand and take him out), "I don't want to" if I try to lie him down. "Please!" (trying to show he's asking politely)
  • He slept in his crib well from 3 months until 3 months ago when we had our second child. We had a bed time routine (bath, pajamas, story and milk, kiss goodnight) and 9/10 times went to sleep without a fuss. When the baby came he started screaming about going to sleep every night (I think he thought it was unfair that the baby got to stay up with us), but would fall asleep in about 10 minutes and not wake up during the night.
  • I'm willing to stay up all night if I need to, but I don't want him going truly insane from lack of sleep!
  • This child is more likely stubborn as a result of heredity than parenting, but it could be both :)

I know that the exact answer to my situation is impossible to give, but my question is - when nothing seems to work, but a crib is an impossibility, what approach do you take with a stubborn child to transition them to sleeping in a bed? What things should I try and what obvious mistakes should I avoid?

asked 15 Jan '11, 08:09

Nick's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 15 Jan '11, 08:15


Dads are definitely welcome here:

(15 Jan '11, 13:11) Scott ♦♦

If he's that against sleeping in his toddler bed, is it possible to try some other different kinds of beds?

I know many kids that go straight from their cribs to a full sized double or queen bed without issue. You could try to tell him that his bed is just like Mommy & Daddy's. Or, if he sleeps that well on a couch, then maybe he would like a futon bed?

Good luck!


answered 15 Jan '11, 16:19

Shannon%20B's gravatar image

Shannon B
accept rate: 9%

My 1 1/2 year old is now in a queen mattress on the floor, but that's because he didn't like the crib. Maybe yours is a restless sleeper like mine, so he needs more space. Of course, then the couch wouldn't have worked...

(18 Jan '11, 15:31) Anne

Wow, that sounds difficult. With our daughter (a little younger) we had a bit of trouble getting her to stay in her toddler bed once she realized she could easily get out, but we just kept putting her back in (over and over and over). However, once she actually fell asleep, she was out for the night.

That makes me wonder why your son wakes up after 2 hours. Is he potty trained and feels the need to go to the bathroom? In that case maybe less to drink before bedtime? Is he cold? Does he wiggle around and bang himself on the wall or headboard and wake up? Maybe extra padding around the edges might help...

Was sleeping through the night a problem in his crib?


answered 15 Jan '11, 13:15

Scott's gravatar image

Scott ♦♦
accept rate: 10%

We moved our daughter to a child's bed when she was two, and she made no fuss about it. Then again, she's the best kid in the world (trust me, I'm objective ;-D ). There have been times when she protested going to sleep on time, but usually that happens when she is mad at us for some other reason. A newborn in the house sounds about right for that. Resolve this, and I believe your problem will go away on its own.

Children, in my experience, are very adaptable. Whatever method you choose, be consistent and your child will fall in line (sooner or later). Remember, they have the shorter attention span, and you and your wife have a numeric advantage over him, if you take a coordinated approach.



answered 16 Jan '11, 04:57

Yuval's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

Well at least there's no mystery. New baby = regression.

Where's the baby sleeping? I the baby's in with you, that would also explain why he wants in on the 'fun'.

I'd say there's more risk of you going crazy through lack of sleep than him. They recover quickly and can function ok on insufficient sleep: they're just even more crazy-making.

So, I'd take a different approach: Does it have to be now? Could you put off this particular 'fight' till later? Let things settle for a while?


answered 17 Jan '11, 07:24

Benjol's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

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Asked: 15 Jan '11, 08:09

Seen: 5,510 times

Last updated: 17 Jan '11, 07:24