5 Tips for Getting Your Child to Sleep by Themself

In order to get your child to sleep by themself, it's essential to establish a routine and avoid exceptions, as these disorient the child.
5 Tips for Getting Your Child to Sleep by Themself
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 21 February, 2023

There comes a time in our children’s lives when they have to learn to sleep by themselves, without our help or presence. Sometimes, it’s very complicated for different and varied reasons. But, in this article, we’ll offer you a series of tips to achieve it.

Many times, the problem of a child not wanting to sleep by themself can appear due to mistakes made by parents. Fear that something will happen to them if we’re not with them or simply because we’re inconsistent in the rules we set regarding bedtime. In this article, we’ll give you some tips to get your child to sleep alone. Keep reading.

Tips for getting your child to sleep alone

There are times when parents are partly responsible for their children not wanting to sleep by themselves. Sometimes it’s because we’re the ones who find it hard to separate from them at night, not hearing their breathing and being uncertain that they’re well. Therefore, we put off the moment of moving them to their bedroom.

Other times, it may be because we’re inconsistent when it comes to bedtime rules. For example, when we let the child sleep with a parent or at some specific times when they fall asleep with us, we’re so tired that we don’t take them to their room. If we do this, what we get is a lack of consistency in the rules established for them to sleep by themself in their room.

As a result, the child won’t understand when they should sleep in their bed and will always try to sleep with us. We mustn’t forget that, to our children, sleeping with their parents gives them a sense of protection, but it’s important that we teach them to sleep alone in their bed if we want intimacy as a couple and good sleeping habits. Here are some tips on how to do this.

A toddler sitting alone in his bed crying.
Getting your child to sleep by themself in bed as early as possible will make the whole process easier. Around 8 months of age, when separation anxiety arises in the child, it will be more difficult for them to stay in their room.

1. Make the change as soon as possible

If we teach our child to sleep by themself in their own bed as soon as possible, it’ll be much easier for them to learn to do so. From the age of 6 months, when we introduce complementary feeding, the baby no longer needs to be fed at night, which is why they tend to sleep through the night in some cases. Then, starting around 8 months, separation anxiety arises and it’s more complicated to separate the little one from our side.

2. Introduce a relaxing routine

A child who’s relaxed at bedtime will find it easier to stay alone in their room. For that reason, it’s important to establish a nighttime routine, which can include a warm bath, dinner, singing a song, or reading a story.

We can also leave a stuffed animal or a favorite doll for them to hold on to and feel more secure and protected. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s best that we leave their room before they fall asleep so that they manage to fall asleep alone, without our presence.

3. Make sure that their room is in optimal conditions

When a child usually sleeps 8 to 9 hours without interruptions, they’re less likely to wake up in the middle of the night. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to the conditions in their room. Ideally, there should be a comfortable temperature and not many noises, and, if they need a little light to remove their fears, we can leave it on.

Another important issue is to put the children to bed always at the same time to generate a habit in them. It’s essential that children have good sleep hygiene.

If parents decide that their child should sleep by themself in their bed, there should be no exceptions. Otherwise, such inconsistency will disorient them.

4. Be consistent in your decision that they sleep by themself

If both parents have decided that their child needs to sleep alone in their bed, you have to be firm about it. It’s normal, when they’re a little older, for them to get up and look for you, but the best thing to do is to pick them up and take them back to bed. Another option is to stay with them in their room until they fall asleep and then go back to your room.

5. Don’t make exceptions

We can’t and shouldn’t make exceptions that confuse children. If we sometimes let them sleep with us and sometimes we don’t, they’ll feel confused. For example, if the child wakes up because they’ve had a nightmare, we can go to their room and comfort them, but it would be a mistake to take them to our bed. If the child’s sick, we can also do the same.

Sleeping must become a habit

Throughout this article, you’ve learned some tips that can help your child to sleep alone. If you put them into practice early on, you can get them to learn a sleep habit that will help them rest and, moreover, do it alone in their room.

We mustn’t forget that we have to be patient and, if in the process, the child comes looking for us, we can talk to them calmly while we take them back to his bed. Remember that it’s very important to avoid exceptions, as these disorient little ones.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Estivill, E. (2014). Duérmete, niño (edición actualizada y ampliada): El Método Estivill para enseñar a dormir a los niños. Plaza & Janés.
  • Estivill, E., & Segarra, F. (2000). Insomnio infantil por hábitos incorrectos. Rev Neurol, 30(2), 188-91.
  • Sancho, E. E. (2002, January). Duérmete niño: 12 años de experiencia. Revisión crítica. In Anales de Pediatría (Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 35-39). Elsevier Doyma.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.