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Getting Your Kids to Sleep Alone

This topic has been super requested since I mentioned that Presley is now happily sleeping alone after two years sleeping mostly with Ross.  I’m not a sleep expert, but I wanted to share what worked for us.

First a little backstory, Presley was a pretty good sleeper until we went to the hospital to deliver Ford. My parents were with her and she climbed out of her crib so they had to convert her to a toddler bed, and of course, lay with her until she fell asleep. Fast forward two years later we were still laying with her to fall asleep and with another new baby on the way we knew we had to change things.

Blame Someone Else
I told Presley that the doctor told mommy that she and daddy had to sleep in their own bed to get the best night sleep for the baby (which is not entirely a lie!) and she really bought that.

Set a Reward
I would pretty much do whatever it took just to give her the confidence that she could sleep by herself for one night. Just do it this one night and you’ll earn yourself this doll that you’ve really wanted. We got a little chart and we made it for a week and now we’re at a month. To be honest, she’s almost forgetting to ask me for one.

Checking In
You think to do this when you’re sleep training a baby, but Meg suggested doing this with Presley. Say you’ll come back in 5 minutes and then you make sure to follow through and actually come back. I believe that made so much of a difference for Presley.

Be Specific
Tell them specifically what you’re doing. “Mom’s gonna go load the dishwasher, I’ll be right back.” “I’m gonna call Aunt LaLa, I’ll see you in 5 minutes.” I think this really comforted Presley to know exactly where and what I was doing in the house.

Give Choices
Ask what stuffed animal they want to sleep with; if they want the lights bright or not. I feel like getting out the door was the hardest part so the last thing I ask Presley is if she wants the door open or closed. She always wants it open, but it seems to work.

Positive Reinforcement
I know they tell you not to over-praise things that you want kids to be doing anyway, but I wanted to let Presley know that I’m proud of her and that I feel so great this morning cause I got to sleep in my own bed, and Dad did too and this is so great for our family. I think she’s really proud of it. In fact, one night she was actually sick, she had the stomach flu and I wanted Ross to sleep with her, but she said, “no, I sleep by myself now. I want to earn my thing!” I told her if she’s sick it’s an exception.

We’re really happy now to have both kids sleeping alone.  Let me know what works for you guys!



Elle Walker is a co-founder at What's Up Moms and the mom to three kids (7, 4, 2). In her spare time, she loves testing out kids activities (often muttering, "Pinterest, you lie"), to find the best play that minimize set-up, reduce costs, and uses stuff up around the house.