Sleep Training my Three Year Old Son…

Master Z has co-slept with us since the day he was born. As he got older and as many times as we would put him in his bed after he fell asleep in ours, he would somehow always end up back in our bed an hour or two later. To be honest, my husband and I were fine with it since he would sleep the entire night (only waking up sometimes for a drink of water) and didn’t really feel the need to be strict with him about being in his own bed.

sleep training 3 year old toddler son mummyonmymind

Deciding to Sleep Train…

However, I knew things needed to change when I found out I was pregnant for the second time. Just as I had co-slept with Master Z, I wanted to safely co-sleep with Baby number 2 as well, and I don’t think our King sized bed would comfortably fit all four of us on! ha! As my bump began to grow, it also became rather uncomfortable, and quite dangerous with Master Z flailing his arms and legs around in his sleep.

With about five months still to go before Baby 2’s arrival, I decided to start with sleep training now rather than later, to ease him into his new bed without any misconceptions or feelings of jealousy in regards to the new baby. I did not want him to feel that we were kicking him out to make room for the new baby, or for him to have to get used to another thing on top of becoming a new brother too. The boy is already going to have his life turned upside down in a few months time, so I wanted to make the transition swiftly and as easy for him as possible.

Preparing to Sleep Train…

I decided to wait till I was back from our trip to the UK during the summer and for him to be back in his normal routine a few weeks later for me to start sleep training Master Z. Knowing Master Z was currently undergoing a phase of being obsessed with Spiderman, my father got him a SpiderMan bedcover and pillow whilst we were in the UK. I also read up on a few sleep training techniques and the one that I was most comfortable to try was The Dissappearing Chair technique.

The day I decided to start sleep training him, I changed Master Z’s bed sheets to his new Spiderman ones, and we made sure to make a huge deal about it. Master Z was super happy to see his new bed sheets, but he knew what was coming so was being rather apprehensive and still stating that he wanted to sleep with us. I tried my best not to dwell on this of course…

Night 1…

Night 1 of sleep training was horrific. As expected. He began crying as soon as the bedroom doors were closed and I said to him that he will be sleeping in his own bed tonight. I calmed him down and we began with an already established bed time routine of reading him a story book of his choice, tucking into bed, saying our prayers, followed by Good Night, I Love You and a Kiss. Then came the crying again. And pleas to sleep in Mummy’s bed.

Mr Z and I remained calm through out, and each time I would reassure him saying that I was right beside him, giving him a kiss and stroking his hair. I sat down next to his bed and after about 45 minutes of this, he eventually fell asleep as I slowly peeled my arm away from him grasp.

He woke up again at least 5-6 times during the night, and would attempt to crawl back into our bed. Each time, my husband would take him back into his own bed and pat him back to sleep. Each time I told him that he needs to stay in his own bed, showing him that his bottle of water was right next to his bed if he needed to drink.

Myself and Mr Z woke up the next morning, feeling like zombie parents of a newborn baby. Oh the joys we will be facing in just a few months when Baby number 2 arrives! However, being consistent is key when it comes to sleep training, or any training, of little ones, and we were not going to let one dreadful night put us off.

Nights 2, 3 and 4…

The nights that followed, we underwent the same bed time routine, and this time though he would whinge about wanting to sleep in our bed, there was no full on crying like the first night. He fell asleep in shorter periods of time, going from 45 minutes to about 15 minutes, and I started to creep a little further away each night when putting him to bed. (Thus the name ” The Dissappearing Chair” for this technique.) I also stopped myself from patting or stroking him as he fell asleep, reassuring him instead with my voice by telling him I was right there.

Waking up in the middle of the night also reduced from 5-6 times to about 2-3 times, and this time he would not climb into our bed. Instead he would wake up, sometimes drink his water, and go back to sleep upon instructing him to do so. Mr Z and I were consistent with our approach, both of us doing the same thing, and being strict about not letting him back into our bed until 8 am the next morning, after which he was more than welcome to come for a cuddle.

Nap Times…

I still allow Master Z to take a nap in our bed during the day, only because it is more convenient. Since I utilise nap time to blog, I can keep a closer eye on him. I know he sleeps much more soundly and for a longer duration with me next to him, and let’s be honest, nap times are the holy grail of parenting and every extra minute of peace and quiet is welcomed. Also, since my husband is at work during Master Z’s nap time, we don’t have any issues about bed space. I did think long and hard about this decision because I did not want it to interfere or disrupt with his night time sleep training. However, it seems to be working fine so far, so we are simply going with the flow.

Sleep Training Success…

It has now been more than a month since we started sleep training and though he sometimes still whinges about wanting to sleep with Mummy and Daddy, he knows there is no way that is happening and falls asleep unaided in his own bed. There have been days in between at the start where the crying has returned, almost testing to see if we would give in, but we remained steadfast in our decision. He also very rarely wakes up in the night anymore, if sometimes for a drink of water, but always falling right back to sleep in his bed. He wakes up around 7 or 8 am and comes into our bed for morning cuddles.

I am sure that there will be some hiccups along the way, and we may have to reinforce his sleep training at times such as growth spurts or illness and especially when the new baby arrives, but the foundation has been set. We as parents know that it can be done, and with a little perseverance and patience, we have managed to sleep train Master Z into sleeping the whole night in his own bed.

I, for one, am much more comfortable sleeping soundly in my own bed without being kicked in the face by a toddler, and I am going to relish every single night for the next few months before another little sleep thief arrives into our lives.

Do you have any tips to share when it comes to sleep training a toddler? How did you manage to sleep train your child? Feel free to share your stories and experiences in the comments section below. 

7 Comments

  • diorellajoy September 20, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Aww since day one my first born arrived in our home, we’ve been co-sleeping with him. Honestly am loving it so much. Though I know it would really come to a point when he has to sleep on his own. Am reading this post now and learning a lot from it. Have a healthy pregnancy, Zeyna 🙂

    Reply
    • Zeyna S. September 20, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you so much, and I know what you mean. I truly loved co-sleeping and still enjoy early morning cuddles with Master Z. All the best for when it is your time to sleep train him into his own bed!

      Reply
  • Tanishk September 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Useful information for me. It helps me, and going to follow this same to my 3 year old daughter. Thanks a lot.

    Reply
    • Zeyna S. September 20, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Thank you, and wishing you all the very best! 🙂

      Reply
  • nayeldiaries September 24, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Well done! That’s what I call a mummy success story! Nayel’s jus 17 month and he acts like an octopus on bed. I love co sleeping but I think I should really make a move or atleast try for his own personal space- mine too 😬

    Reply
  • Latika (stars in the desert) September 25, 2017 at 12:03 am

    I have both my boys co-sleeping with us! It’s a disaster on most nights 🙁 we have their separate beds in our room itself. But they always manage to come back to us. I am struggling for a sleep training solution.

    Reply
  • Dr.Nida September 26, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Good job mommy! that really took a lot of patience on your part! I have realised that I tend to have more sleepless nights worrying about Manaal alone in her room than when she is right beside me shoving her foot in my mouth while co sleeping. But then I know that once another little one knocks on the door, i will have to make this dreaded decision!

    Reply

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