Keeping your kids in bed all night (it can be done)

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  April 8, 2010 10:54 AM

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My youngest child -- age 3 -- has never been big on sleep. When he was as a baby, he'd refuse to nap and would struggle to stay awake even when he was falling-down tired. Bedtime itself is better now, but every so often he likes to creep around the house at night. He usually heads to our bedroom around 6 in the morning, carrying an armload of stuffed animals, and slides under the covers to cuddle before facing the day for real.

I'm fine with that. But sometimes, he detours through the rest of the house first. "Hi, Mama!" he chirped when he traipsed into the kitchen at midnight recently, happy to see me on my laptop at the table. "I was jus' tip-toein' awound!" Another night he woke me at 2 a.m. to report that his older sisters were all asleep -- our 16-year-old later said she thought she was dreaming when she saw his little face at the side of her bed in the dark -- and that the dog was on the couch downstairs. Last night, he had to go to the bathroom at 11 p.m., was looking for his older brother at 1 a.m., and ran into my room at 5:30 a.m. to see if my clock read "7" yet.

A friend of mine is having problems with her toddler daughter sleeping through the night; her child hollars for Mama loud and clear around 4 a.m., waking the entire household. "Any ideas for a fix?" she asks.

It's a common problem: A 2004 study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 69 percent of children younger than 10 have problems staying asleep several times a week. Modern Mom suggests that parents try to create a consistent bedtime routine, use a patterned sound (like a white noise machine or a small fan) to block out noises that might keep your child awake, make sure his bedroom is a comfortable temperature, and consider implementing a rewards system.

I think it's also important to try to figure out why your child is calling you at 4 a.m. or exploring the house in the middle of the night. Is she scared? Is he bored? Does your toddler still take a long nap during the day and simply isn't sleepy anymore by 4 or 5 a.m.? Does the sound of the TV seem more interesting than the silence in her room?

All five of our kids wandered for a while when they were little, each for different reasons. One child needed to make sure her room was monster-free; a spritz of flowery perfume on her pillow and another into her closet made her feel safe (she reasoned that scary things are afraid of pleasant things, so a monster wouldn't like the pretty smell of the perfume). Another kept getting up for bathroom breaks; eliminating that last glass of water did the trick. Another slept better while wearing one of Daddy's gigantic T-shirts. And permission to turn on a small light and read helped keep middle-of-the-night boredom at bay. (Youngest boy may get a digital clock soon, so he can stop coming in to check mine.)

When I was a nanny, I used to wear several bangles specifically so I could leave them on the kids' bedside tables after I tucked them in; if the bangles were gone when the kids woke up, they knew I'd been in to check on them, and they didn't feel a need to get up to look for me at night.

Readers, I'd love it if you could weigh in with what worked for you. Did you just walk your child back to his or her own bed each time? Climb in for a cuddle? Did you co-sleep and avoid the entire issue? What do you do when your child keeps getting up in the middle of the night?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.  

 

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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19 comments so far...
  1. I actually have never had this problem, knock on wood. My youngest just transitioned from her crib to her "big girl bed," and she is just under three.

    For both kids, when we moved from the crib, we said to them "You are not allowed to get out of your bed without me here. If you need something or need me, call me, and I will come right away." And we have always honored that promise. Their bedrooms are close enough to our room that we can hear them if they call us (although we actually still use a monitor with the littler one). We have just always stuck to the "don't come to us, we'll come to you," with nightmares, with sickness, with insecurities, and that has always worked.

    My older son, who is now almost seven, had to be conditioned away from this behavior when he was past five...he was STILL saying 'Mom, I'm awake! Can I get up?' Both kids have their individual issues with night waking, but they are not prone to wandering, I guess, because it's not allowed. They know that their safety is the reason.

    All that being said, I was concerned that my little one would test us on this. My plan if she was a jack in the box with her bed was to use a gate at her door (but leave the door open) so she couldn't wander about the house. It's been a month now since she got her new bed she is staying in it from bedtime until morning.

    Posted by RH April 8, 10 02:16 PM
  1. My six year old gets up every night around 2am, sometimes it is earlier between 11 and 12. He started this about a year and half ago. Now that I remember back, he was doing this longer ago, but then he would just go into the family room, hide something and go back to bed.
    Now he comes into my room, and crawls into bed with me. I know I have to strong and get up and send him back to his room, but that is very hard to do at 2am.
    Any suggestions?

    Posted by KabBoston April 8, 10 02:20 PM
  1. We established a "no kids in the adult bed" rule and kept to it. Children are walked back to their bed and they stay there. In my experience, children are horrible bedmates and I'd rather sleep on the couch than have toes stuck in my ear at 2 AM because they think it's funny. About the only thing worse than a kid is a bored cat. But I digress.

    We make sure they get a lot of physical activity during the day. We also denied whatever odd requests they had at 4 AM. At a certain point, we made it clear that waking us up in the middle of the night for something not important would result in the loss of something the next day -- no TV, no favorite toy, etc. We also did some role-playing of what was OK to wake people up for and what was not. We've also started getting them to read the clock. I've heard of some clocks that will change color so that you can tell the kid it's OK to get up when the numbers are green.

    Posted by K April 8, 10 02:23 PM
  1. I'm fortunate that I've never had that problem with either of my kids. They go into bed, fall asleep, and rarely wake up before morning unless there's a bad dream or something, and even then they usually call out for someone to come in to them. They do get up to use the bathroom, but they go right back to bed.

    I think they might have gotten up a few times when they first got into beds, but we just walked them calmly back, said something like 'nighttime is for sleeping, you need to stay in your bed', and it stopped quickly.

    One of my favorite things is having them come in for a cuddle on weekend mornings. I will be very sad when that ends.

    Posted by akmom April 8, 10 03:03 PM
  1. We got him a digital clock and use a rewards system. He gets a sticker for going to sleep nicely (no temper tantrums) in his own bed (no wandering down to ours), and one for not waking mommy & daddy up before 7. 10 stickers and he gets a prize. We found it helped a lot to keep a bunch of prizes stocked in the closet and let him choose. Prizes are small lego kits, a coloring book, small cars, etc -- all under $5, which I consider a small price to pay for a good night of sleep!!

    Posted by murfman April 8, 10 03:40 PM
  1. My 4 year old daughter is like RH's kids, she has never gotten out of bed, and calls us when she wakes up. It kind of makes me laugh.

    She was HORRIBLE sleeper as an infant, but one she started STTN - which wasn't until 15 mo, she has slept great ever since. We were also very late in putting her in a big girl bed, three and a half years old. I think her crib, with the crib tent was super cozy and conductive to sleep.

    Posted by CB April 8, 10 04:06 PM
  1. My aunt told me when my son was born to immediatley and always talk of bed as a positive place. "Time for sleep, you are so lucky to go into your nice cozy bed"....and then when they wake, always say "does your body feel healthy and rested? your bed is so wonderful!"

    Never Time Out in a bed or punish to a crib...it has to be a cozy, warm, yummy place to be. Also...the favorite animal and blanket NEVER LEFT THE CRIB unless we were traveling and would not be back for nap time or bed time...we always take the animal away and say ssshhh....napy time for fuzzy. We put him under the blanket and give him the pacifier and walk out of the room together saying sssh sssh sssh.

    My olderst is 5 now. Sleeps from 7p-7a, all year long. If he is sick, he knows to call for us. Never moves without permission. Baby is still in the crib and we are hoping that she will follow suit. Always go to them, never let them come to you and if they do, gate the room.

    Posted by ohmyohmyohmy April 8, 10 07:03 PM
  1. Wow, what a timely topic. My son, 2 yrs 2 months old, climbed out of his crib for the first time this week so he's on night 3 of his new big boy bed. I know it's early to make this switch, and we've been having a rough time, especially with naps. We totally child-proofed everything in his room and put child locks on the door. We've maintain his pre-sleep routine as much as possible. At bedtime, we're on the second night in a row of him going right to sleep. But his naps, which were a little hit-or-miss before the switch, have disappeared. Instead, he rattles around the room doing as much damage/mischief as he can. Yesterday he stripped himself naked (a new skill) and peed all over the floor. Today he managed to overturn the rocking chair (another totally unanticipated danger).
    I'd love to hear any suggestions about naps in addition to nighttime! Should I just resign myself to the idea that he'll never nap again? (And sorry to hijack this topic a bit.)

    Posted by Carriefran April 8, 10 07:50 PM
  1. Seriously, this article couldn't have come at a better time. My 2 1/2 year old is suddenly inconsolable in the middle of the night. He's awake and just whaling complaining his belly and knee hurt (and no, he's not sick and his knee is just fine). No change in our routine/surroundings/etc, he gets tons of exercise and is generally a good kid. This is totally out of the blue. We were up 3 times with an hysterical child last night. Nice to have rules about no kids in the bed, but at the end of the day, I have to get up and work the next morning. We have to find a happy medium. Suggestions?

    Posted by SleeplessKid April 8, 10 08:52 PM
  1. None of my kids were wanderers, but I was. I clearly remeber getting up at all hours of the night. I was wide awake and couldn't sleep anymore. I often read when I was older, and I loved looking out the window and seeing what went on in the middle of the night. I was very active, and ran around outside constantly as a kid, so it wasn't because I was awake from a nap, I simply couldn't sleep. By the way, I still wake up at all hours, but we keep a tv in the bedroom, so I watch tv until I fall back asleep. However, it is not unusual for me to be awake for 3 or 4 hours in the middle of the night. Good luck.

    Posted by patches02 April 8, 10 09:20 PM
  1. We have 3 children...and the only thing that has worked in our house is a sound machine. 3 years ago, we bought a SleepMate 980a from http://www.sleepwellbaby.com. It changed our lives. Now, our kids go right to sleep and stay in their beds all night long. Best purchase we ever made!

    Posted by Melinda April 10, 10 07:16 AM
  1. I have a 2.5 year old who woke at 5:30 for hour months before I discovered Kid'Sleep alarm clock. http://livelovedream.com/catalog.php?category=11

    This thing is the miracle you're searching for. Within 3 days my daughter was staying in bed until 6:30. We're going strong after six months and when she occassionally wake early we tell her she has to stay in bed "til bunny wakes" up and she does it! It's a miracle seriously.

    Posted by Megan April 14, 10 10:23 PM
  1. My 6 year old will willingly without a problem go to sleep in her bed but wakes up every night between 2-6 and comes in my bed. I have spoken with her and tried everything. Then she started to come to my bed and ask to come in because she said she had a stomachache or headache. We spoke with her again about doing this and lies, etc. Now instead of coming to my bed, she sneaks into her sisters room and climbs into her bed and sleeps peacefully until I find her in the morning. I need her to stay in her own bed? What could be the problem? I don't know what else to try? I tried leaving the tv on (no sound, just the light), a nightlight, leaving the hall light on, closing her door so she could not hear any distractions, rewarding her for staying in bed and taking away when she didn't? Help!

    Posted by Darnice June 9, 10 09:27 AM
  1. My son wakes up in the middle of the night around 2-4 and wants either mommy or daddy to watch him from the door, we can't do this, how can he stop this? He tells us he is scared but he doesn't tell us why. He has his door wide open, closet light on... He needs to sleep and we need to sleep, we are very disturbed and upset, please help, suggestions?

    Posted by Lori-Anne July 9, 10 06:00 AM
  1. My son is going to be three in November. About 9 or 10 months ago we turned his crib into a big boy bed. He slept in his big boy bed just fine until I purchased this small fire truck couch in his room and he will only sleep on that, which is fine if he stayed in all night. He wakes up 3-4 times in the middle of the night wanting milk and mainly wanting to come in bed with me. At first I would just lay with him until he went back to sleep, but then it became he sleeping in bed with me and his dad and now it is every night. I start by saying okay tonight I will start with just sending him back to his bed no matter what even if he cries but it is so hard. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do and if I am horrible for letting this happen????

    Posted by Jennifer August 15, 10 09:00 PM
  1. My 4 1/2 year old son has been getting up 5-10 times/night between 1am and 4am every night for about 3 months. We try everything to keep him in bed. He seems to wake up to use the bathroom, or with a bad dream (always different reasons), then never go back to sleep. I think he wants to stay up and play. Any suggestions?

    Posted by Kristi November 16, 10 11:01 PM
  1. My girlfriend has a 10 year old would will not stay in her bed. She goes to sleep in there and wakes during the night and gets in her mom and dads bed. They have locked her out of there room and she gets a blanket and sleeps on the floor next to there bedroom door. You can leave all the lights on and it still doesn't matter. She is stressed to the max and her husband is as well. If she has a friend that stays over she stays in her bed cause she say she has someone in her room but once that friend goes home it's back to the same thing again. Is there any help?

    Posted by Sherry February 5, 12 12:11 AM
  1. Please help. I have an almost 9 year old who continues to wake up at night, asking if she can sleep in my bed. It's extremely frustrating because she insists she can't fall back asleep unless she's sleeping beside me, which we all know is not true. I've recently let her sleep on the floor of my room in a sleeping bag, but that is not ideal either. How can I get her to stay in her own bed when she wakes up at night?

    Posted by Lbed457 January 10, 13 11:38 AM
  1. my 6 year old son has had a problem for the past few years with sleeping through the night. he might go a week or two sleeping just fine, but then all of a sudden, one night he'll have a nightmare and wake me & my wife up, and one of us will have to go and cuddle him until he calms down and falls asleep. this might happen once or twice during the week. some weeks he might do this 3 or 4 times. there are even some nights that he might wakes us up more than once during the night. we tried eliminating certain foods that he has for dinner and for his snack before bed that we've found aggravate his stomach (no dairy, no broccoli, no popcorn). we've also tried moving his before bed snacks earlier and earlier. we tried eliminating TV & video games an hour before bedtime. these things seemed to work for a little while, but then he would fall right back into his pattern of having nightmares and waking us up 1 to 2 times per week (on average). a year ago, our pediatrician told us he would eventually grow out of this. but it hasn't gotten any better since then, and we're desperate. we need our sleep, and so does our son. someone please help!!

    Posted by David January 20, 13 06:03 AM
 
19 comments so far...
  1. I actually have never had this problem, knock on wood. My youngest just transitioned from her crib to her "big girl bed," and she is just under three.

    For both kids, when we moved from the crib, we said to them "You are not allowed to get out of your bed without me here. If you need something or need me, call me, and I will come right away." And we have always honored that promise. Their bedrooms are close enough to our room that we can hear them if they call us (although we actually still use a monitor with the littler one). We have just always stuck to the "don't come to us, we'll come to you," with nightmares, with sickness, with insecurities, and that has always worked.

    My older son, who is now almost seven, had to be conditioned away from this behavior when he was past five...he was STILL saying 'Mom, I'm awake! Can I get up?' Both kids have their individual issues with night waking, but they are not prone to wandering, I guess, because it's not allowed. They know that their safety is the reason.

    All that being said, I was concerned that my little one would test us on this. My plan if she was a jack in the box with her bed was to use a gate at her door (but leave the door open) so she couldn't wander about the house. It's been a month now since she got her new bed she is staying in it from bedtime until morning.

    Posted by RH April 8, 10 02:16 PM
  1. My six year old gets up every night around 2am, sometimes it is earlier between 11 and 12. He started this about a year and half ago. Now that I remember back, he was doing this longer ago, but then he would just go into the family room, hide something and go back to bed.
    Now he comes into my room, and crawls into bed with me. I know I have to strong and get up and send him back to his room, but that is very hard to do at 2am.
    Any suggestions?

    Posted by KabBoston April 8, 10 02:20 PM
  1. We established a "no kids in the adult bed" rule and kept to it. Children are walked back to their bed and they stay there. In my experience, children are horrible bedmates and I'd rather sleep on the couch than have toes stuck in my ear at 2 AM because they think it's funny. About the only thing worse than a kid is a bored cat. But I digress.

    We make sure they get a lot of physical activity during the day. We also denied whatever odd requests they had at 4 AM. At a certain point, we made it clear that waking us up in the middle of the night for something not important would result in the loss of something the next day -- no TV, no favorite toy, etc. We also did some role-playing of what was OK to wake people up for and what was not. We've also started getting them to read the clock. I've heard of some clocks that will change color so that you can tell the kid it's OK to get up when the numbers are green.

    Posted by K April 8, 10 02:23 PM
  1. I'm fortunate that I've never had that problem with either of my kids. They go into bed, fall asleep, and rarely wake up before morning unless there's a bad dream or something, and even then they usually call out for someone to come in to them. They do get up to use the bathroom, but they go right back to bed.

    I think they might have gotten up a few times when they first got into beds, but we just walked them calmly back, said something like 'nighttime is for sleeping, you need to stay in your bed', and it stopped quickly.

    One of my favorite things is having them come in for a cuddle on weekend mornings. I will be very sad when that ends.

    Posted by akmom April 8, 10 03:03 PM
  1. We got him a digital clock and use a rewards system. He gets a sticker for going to sleep nicely (no temper tantrums) in his own bed (no wandering down to ours), and one for not waking mommy & daddy up before 7. 10 stickers and he gets a prize. We found it helped a lot to keep a bunch of prizes stocked in the closet and let him choose. Prizes are small lego kits, a coloring book, small cars, etc -- all under $5, which I consider a small price to pay for a good night of sleep!!

    Posted by murfman April 8, 10 03:40 PM
  1. My 4 year old daughter is like RH's kids, she has never gotten out of bed, and calls us when she wakes up. It kind of makes me laugh.

    She was HORRIBLE sleeper as an infant, but one she started STTN - which wasn't until 15 mo, she has slept great ever since. We were also very late in putting her in a big girl bed, three and a half years old. I think her crib, with the crib tent was super cozy and conductive to sleep.

    Posted by CB April 8, 10 04:06 PM
  1. My aunt told me when my son was born to immediatley and always talk of bed as a positive place. "Time for sleep, you are so lucky to go into your nice cozy bed"....and then when they wake, always say "does your body feel healthy and rested? your bed is so wonderful!"

    Never Time Out in a bed or punish to a crib...it has to be a cozy, warm, yummy place to be. Also...the favorite animal and blanket NEVER LEFT THE CRIB unless we were traveling and would not be back for nap time or bed time...we always take the animal away and say ssshhh....napy time for fuzzy. We put him under the blanket and give him the pacifier and walk out of the room together saying sssh sssh sssh.

    My olderst is 5 now. Sleeps from 7p-7a, all year long. If he is sick, he knows to call for us. Never moves without permission. Baby is still in the crib and we are hoping that she will follow suit. Always go to them, never let them come to you and if they do, gate the room.

    Posted by ohmyohmyohmy April 8, 10 07:03 PM
  1. Wow, what a timely topic. My son, 2 yrs 2 months old, climbed out of his crib for the first time this week so he's on night 3 of his new big boy bed. I know it's early to make this switch, and we've been having a rough time, especially with naps. We totally child-proofed everything in his room and put child locks on the door. We've maintain his pre-sleep routine as much as possible. At bedtime, we're on the second night in a row of him going right to sleep. But his naps, which were a little hit-or-miss before the switch, have disappeared. Instead, he rattles around the room doing as much damage/mischief as he can. Yesterday he stripped himself naked (a new skill) and peed all over the floor. Today he managed to overturn the rocking chair (another totally unanticipated danger).
    I'd love to hear any suggestions about naps in addition to nighttime! Should I just resign myself to the idea that he'll never nap again? (And sorry to hijack this topic a bit.)

    Posted by Carriefran April 8, 10 07:50 PM
  1. Seriously, this article couldn't have come at a better time. My 2 1/2 year old is suddenly inconsolable in the middle of the night. He's awake and just whaling complaining his belly and knee hurt (and no, he's not sick and his knee is just fine). No change in our routine/surroundings/etc, he gets tons of exercise and is generally a good kid. This is totally out of the blue. We were up 3 times with an hysterical child last night. Nice to have rules about no kids in the bed, but at the end of the day, I have to get up and work the next morning. We have to find a happy medium. Suggestions?

    Posted by SleeplessKid April 8, 10 08:52 PM
  1. None of my kids were wanderers, but I was. I clearly remeber getting up at all hours of the night. I was wide awake and couldn't sleep anymore. I often read when I was older, and I loved looking out the window and seeing what went on in the middle of the night. I was very active, and ran around outside constantly as a kid, so it wasn't because I was awake from a nap, I simply couldn't sleep. By the way, I still wake up at all hours, but we keep a tv in the bedroom, so I watch tv until I fall back asleep. However, it is not unusual for me to be awake for 3 or 4 hours in the middle of the night. Good luck.

    Posted by patches02 April 8, 10 09:20 PM
  1. We have 3 children...and the only thing that has worked in our house is a sound machine. 3 years ago, we bought a SleepMate 980a from http://www.sleepwellbaby.com. It changed our lives. Now, our kids go right to sleep and stay in their beds all night long. Best purchase we ever made!

    Posted by Melinda April 10, 10 07:16 AM
  1. I have a 2.5 year old who woke at 5:30 for hour months before I discovered Kid'Sleep alarm clock. http://livelovedream.com/catalog.php?category=11

    This thing is the miracle you're searching for. Within 3 days my daughter was staying in bed until 6:30. We're going strong after six months and when she occassionally wake early we tell her she has to stay in bed "til bunny wakes" up and she does it! It's a miracle seriously.

    Posted by Megan April 14, 10 10:23 PM
  1. My 6 year old will willingly without a problem go to sleep in her bed but wakes up every night between 2-6 and comes in my bed. I have spoken with her and tried everything. Then she started to come to my bed and ask to come in because she said she had a stomachache or headache. We spoke with her again about doing this and lies, etc. Now instead of coming to my bed, she sneaks into her sisters room and climbs into her bed and sleeps peacefully until I find her in the morning. I need her to stay in her own bed? What could be the problem? I don't know what else to try? I tried leaving the tv on (no sound, just the light), a nightlight, leaving the hall light on, closing her door so she could not hear any distractions, rewarding her for staying in bed and taking away when she didn't? Help!

    Posted by Darnice June 9, 10 09:27 AM
  1. My son wakes up in the middle of the night around 2-4 and wants either mommy or daddy to watch him from the door, we can't do this, how can he stop this? He tells us he is scared but he doesn't tell us why. He has his door wide open, closet light on... He needs to sleep and we need to sleep, we are very disturbed and upset, please help, suggestions?

    Posted by Lori-Anne July 9, 10 06:00 AM
  1. My son is going to be three in November. About 9 or 10 months ago we turned his crib into a big boy bed. He slept in his big boy bed just fine until I purchased this small fire truck couch in his room and he will only sleep on that, which is fine if he stayed in all night. He wakes up 3-4 times in the middle of the night wanting milk and mainly wanting to come in bed with me. At first I would just lay with him until he went back to sleep, but then it became he sleeping in bed with me and his dad and now it is every night. I start by saying okay tonight I will start with just sending him back to his bed no matter what even if he cries but it is so hard. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do and if I am horrible for letting this happen????

    Posted by Jennifer August 15, 10 09:00 PM
  1. My 4 1/2 year old son has been getting up 5-10 times/night between 1am and 4am every night for about 3 months. We try everything to keep him in bed. He seems to wake up to use the bathroom, or with a bad dream (always different reasons), then never go back to sleep. I think he wants to stay up and play. Any suggestions?

    Posted by Kristi November 16, 10 11:01 PM
  1. My girlfriend has a 10 year old would will not stay in her bed. She goes to sleep in there and wakes during the night and gets in her mom and dads bed. They have locked her out of there room and she gets a blanket and sleeps on the floor next to there bedroom door. You can leave all the lights on and it still doesn't matter. She is stressed to the max and her husband is as well. If she has a friend that stays over she stays in her bed cause she say she has someone in her room but once that friend goes home it's back to the same thing again. Is there any help?

    Posted by Sherry February 5, 12 12:11 AM
  1. Please help. I have an almost 9 year old who continues to wake up at night, asking if she can sleep in my bed. It's extremely frustrating because she insists she can't fall back asleep unless she's sleeping beside me, which we all know is not true. I've recently let her sleep on the floor of my room in a sleeping bag, but that is not ideal either. How can I get her to stay in her own bed when she wakes up at night?

    Posted by Lbed457 January 10, 13 11:38 AM
  1. my 6 year old son has had a problem for the past few years with sleeping through the night. he might go a week or two sleeping just fine, but then all of a sudden, one night he'll have a nightmare and wake me & my wife up, and one of us will have to go and cuddle him until he calms down and falls asleep. this might happen once or twice during the week. some weeks he might do this 3 or 4 times. there are even some nights that he might wakes us up more than once during the night. we tried eliminating certain foods that he has for dinner and for his snack before bed that we've found aggravate his stomach (no dairy, no broccoli, no popcorn). we've also tried moving his before bed snacks earlier and earlier. we tried eliminating TV & video games an hour before bedtime. these things seemed to work for a little while, but then he would fall right back into his pattern of having nightmares and waking us up 1 to 2 times per week (on average). a year ago, our pediatrician told us he would eventually grow out of this. but it hasn't gotten any better since then, and we're desperate. we need our sleep, and so does our son. someone please help!!

    Posted by David January 20, 13 06:03 AM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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