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How We Got Our Toddler To Sleep Alone

How We Got Our Toddler To Sleep Alone

If you’re in the trenches right now at bedtime, I FEEL you. It’s a hard time when you’re spending 1, 2, 3+ hours trying to get your freaking kids to just SLEEP already! You’re wondering how to get your toddler to sleep alone.

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I also want to reassure you that you’re making the right choice by even attempting to do this. My husband and I didn’t even TRY for so long because we felt guilty about it!

Aren’t you supposed to WANT to spend time with your children?

YEAH, absolutely.

But those hours before they sleep?

Those aren’t QUALITY hours.

Basically, you’re their crutch for falling asleep. It’s not fun for you, and really, it isn’t great for them because they aren’t learning to fall asleep on their own!

I am a huge advocate for co-sleeping. We’re the only culture that puts our babies away from us in another room for the night and it’s not good them. You can read more about that here.

However, there does come a time when you want your own bed back because your baby is now a toddler (or preschool age!) and they need to sleep on their own or with a sibling. The time I’m talking about in this post is basically the limbo where you’ve gotten them out of your bed or a crib (yay!) but they need you be in their new bed with them until they fall asleep (not yay.)

So, how do you get your toddler to sleep alone, without tears?

*Please note, this is what worked for OUR family. We’re not experts. We’re parents of 3 kids. We experimented and found something that worked. Hopefully, this can work for you too!

Ditch The Guilt

If you’re spending 2 hours every night lying in bed with your kid or kids and it looks something like this:

  • Hopeful, at first, that they’ll just magically go to sleep and you can get out of there!
  • The hope fades as minutes tick by in utter darkness with their writhing bodies pressing against you and you start whisper yelling “just go to SLEEP!”
  • The hope is gone, you’re frustrated beyond belief because you cannot believe you spent all day either with them or working and now the last hours of the day that could be yours are spent in a hot, dark room and damn it- you’re falling asleep.
  • You slip into sleep along with your kids and when you snap out of it you’re groggy, annoyed as hell and realize it’s 10pm.

So, what do you have to feel guilty about if you want to skip that shitshow every night? My husband and I finally realized that we weren’t spending beautiful quality time with them- we were spending 2 more hours just being annoyed and angry. What’s the point if they’re ready to sleep on their own?

It sets you up for a better day the next day because if you have 2 hours of freedom to reset and recharge, you wake up a lot happier to see them again.

Ditch the guilt of thinking you’re taking something away from them- you’re giving yourself and your kids a beautiful gift. Freedom for you and the gift of falling asleep on their own for your kids. That’s a great skill to be learning!

RELATED: Toddler Activities (to keep momma sane)

Let Go Of Your Expectations

If you’re expecting it to go a certain way, try not to. You never know how your child will react to change. It might go smoothly or it might not. Go in with a sense of curiosity.

Be ready to try different things until something works.

Stick With It

Make it happen, but in a kind way. You can be firm and let them know you mean business but still be kind.

Make it happen, because if you are stuck in bed with them every night for multiple hours, the benefits of getting through this are off. the. charts.

We now have from around 7-730 to whenever we go to bed to do whatever we want but didn’t even realize how badly we needed this until we got it.

We’re happier, have sex more and look forward to seeing our kids in the morning because there is no bad taste left over from the night before.

I truly hope this helps you my friend. Truly.

RELATED: SAHM Schedule To Save Your Sanity (free printable!)

How To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Alone:

  1. Go through your regular pre-bed routine (brush teeth, go to the bathroom, etc.) Make sure that your kids have a stuffy or something to snuggle.
  2. Explain that tonight is going to be a bit different. Whether you read them a story or sing them a song, tell them you’ll still do that but after you’re not going to lie with them. You’ll sit on the edge of the bed for 10-20 minutes and then you’ll be leaving. Do this one more night.
  3. On the third night, move to the floor after the story or song. Do this another night.
  4. On the fifth night, let them know that after the story or song you’ll be leaving right after.
  5. Please experiment with different times and repeat a certain step as much as you need. Our son was 3 when we attempted this and he had an older sibling to sleep with so what worked for us may be different for you if this is your first child and younger than 3.

Things Change

The one thing that you can always count on with kids is that you can’t count on anything. Just when you think you have it figured out, the phase ends or something changes and you’re wondering what the hell is going on again.

Our kids are now in a new phase, one where they’ve discovered how fun it is to sleep without mom or dad and they’ve become loud and wild.

So, now we’re figuring out this new phase and how to get them to be quiet. Once we figure it out, we’ll let you know ?


Did you try this routine for how to get your toddler to sleep alone? Let me know how it went in the comments, I’d love to connect with you!

How To Peacefully Transition Your Toddler To Their Own Bed


Thursday 17th of November 2022

Wow you literally described my life so accurately! I will try but A bit differently because mine is 2 and can’t sleep with her brothers, I will get her own bed in my room instead. I need to start with setting a proper bedtime routine first… Thanks for sharing it was fun and easy to read.


Tuesday 15th of February 2022

My two-year-old needs milk to go to bed and wakes up during the night for more. I am trying not to give it to him. a) so he doesn't always want milk in the night b) so he eats better in the day c) so he sleeps through the night knowing there is no more milk. Lately, because I did not give him the milk he freaks out. We have tried to get firm with him but he doesn't care. He screams, wakes up the house. It breaks my heart because he only listens to my husband once he is at this limit and gets mad. I do not want this to continue. I am in tears every night.

What do I do?


Tuesday 5th of July 2022

If it makes you feel any better I still give my 2 1/2 a bottle at night to help him be full and go to sleep.. didn’t think about it affecting his eating the next day 🤷🏼‍♀️ Never heard that before.. they’re still so young ♥️ I sit with him until he falls asleep.. for now going to try some of these things consistently soon.

Jenni Madsen

Thursday 24th of February 2022

I wish I had some solid advice for you but truthfully, we have gone through the same type of things. Usually, it's a phase and will pass. Can your husband put him to bed without you present? Sending you luck and solidarity <3


Tuesday 1st of December 2020

My almost 5yo sleeps on her own without a problem. But she will get up in the middle of the night and go back into my bed. I’ll usually take her back into her room but she’ll come back throughout the night. Any tips on how I can make her stay in her room?


Monday 14th of December 2020

How there. Our 3 yo refuses to go to sleep on her own and be alone in her room. If we try to leave she will scream and throw a huge fit which we are afraid will wake up her 1-year-old sister. So of course we sit in the room with her until she falls asleep which takes anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. Then she will wake up multiple times a night and ultimately end up with my husband in bed with him. My husband and I have been sleeping in separate beds because I have the 1-year-old's monitor who finally just started sleeping through the night, But will sometimes fuss a little bit at different times. So how do we get the 3-year-old to sleep on her own without a huge temper tantrum? She claims she is afraid.

Jenni Madsen

Saturday 12th of December 2020

Hey Daniela-

I wish I did have some awesome advice for you but I don't. Have you tried a grow clock where they aren't allowed to leave the room unless the clock is green? That may work along with a reward system. For instance "if you stay in your room until the clock is green in the morning for 5 nights in a row we can get a special treat or book."

Hope that helps! Having kids is crazy. Hang in there girl!

Jeannette Zerle

Thursday 26th of November 2020

My son is six and he does not want to sleep in his own room he wants to sleep by his sister every night and she is 13 is this normal or should we stop it and try get hom back in his own room please give me some advice

Jenni Madsen

Sunday 29th of November 2020

Hey Jeanette-

I'm so sorry but I don't have answers for you. Just sympathy and solidarity- having kids is wild.

Take care momma <3


Sunday 2nd of February 2020

Hi there! Going to try your method with my 3 year old, but I got some questions:

What do you do when your at step one and after the 10-20 mins my child is still not asleep while I sit on the bed?


Monday 3rd of February 2020

Hey Anna!

During that time I would just sit and be on my phone. Also make sure they're quiet but try not to engage too much. Good luck!