How does your 5 year old fall asleep? - Mothering Forums
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The Childhood Years > How does your 5 year old fall asleep?
LittleLime's Avatar LittleLime 10:58 PM 01-06-2009
I have reached the end of my rope with getting my 5 yo to bed at night. Well..I have reached the end of my rope many times with her :-) Anyway...I am expecting my 3rd in about 9 weeks and the bedtime routine with my girls has got me on edge.

I just can't lay with them for 20 minutes - sometimes up to an hour! while they fall asleep. DD1 is almost 5 and DD2 is 2.5. The little one goes to sleep without me more easily than the older one!

After I leave the room I hear her whimpering so I go in to 5 yo cries that she's scared, needs me, misses me, has a bad dream etc. and wants someone to lay with her until she is asleep.

Either myself or dh has accompanied her as she falls asleep every day of her life until the past week or so when I finally decided I just couldn't do it anymore. She has been in her own bed (officially) since about 3 yo. She shares a room with DD2 who is already in her own bed and falls asleep pretty easily without me sitting or laying with her.

I feel like I'm not being unreasonable about wanting her to fall asleep without us laying with her...we have a nice bedtime routine with snacks, stories, teeth, tucking in (sometimes even stories and lullabies in bed) etc. I feel like we do a lot to make bedtime enjoyable, soothing etc. Sleep has just been a struggle with her since birth and with all the other challenges of raising a 5 yo this is one I can do without!

So I don't really feel like I'm wrong telling her she needs to fall asleep without me laying there...but I'm just do your kids fall asleep? Anyone have a similar I just really impatient expecting her to go to sleep without me at this age?

Still_Learning's Avatar Still_Learning 12:37 AM 01-07-2009
My almost 5yo DS needs us to lay with him until he's asleep. Takes 1/2 hour to hour most nights. We can't leave the room at all while he's falling asleep.

It's just what he needs and I'm fine giving it to him. We are expecting #2 as well and just plan on DH doing bedtimes with DS when I'm tied up with baby.

He won't need it when he's 15, so I figure I'll enjoy the snuggle time while I can!!
amynbebes's Avatar amynbebes 12:47 AM 01-07-2009
I'm in the same boat but I'm fortunate enough that my 5 yr old has a sweet 12 yr old big bro that will let him sleep with him.
meg-momto2's Avatar meg-momto2 01:22 AM 01-07-2009
DS(just turned 5) still request that someone lays with him. some nights we do, some we don't. we transitioned by getting a night light and leaving the door wide open. we go in a check on him often. i don't expect him to go to sleep alone for a while. i remember my mom laying with me until i was probably 7.
babygrant's Avatar babygrant 01:23 AM 01-07-2009
For the past year my 5 and 3 year old have been wonderful to get to bed. We all go into their room at 7 pm, read two books each that they choose, sing a couple of songs, talk about the day and I'm out of the room by 7:30. I leave a nightlight on and the door stays open with the hallway light on. My 3 year old is usually asleep in 5 minutes, but my 5 year old lays and hums to himself for about 20 minutes.

With my oldest son we had to lay with him until he was 4. We didn't have any problems doing it because we figured he just needed the reassurance. Looking back, I kind of miss it My youngest son had to be rocked for a couple of years.
Drummer's Wife's Avatar Drummer's Wife 01:27 AM 01-07-2009
not what you want to hear but my 5 yr old will tell me he's tired and go up to bed.

we don't, however, have a set bedtime so it's not really an issue with him not being ready to go to sleep and coming up with excuses. On occasion, I do lay down with him because I'll often go up with him to read a story or two and end up relaxing myself.

Kids are all so different, though. It may just be a habit but like babygrant said, it won't be forever, ya know?
meemee's Avatar meemee 01:38 AM 01-07-2009
Originally Posted by LittleLime View Post
After I leave the room I hear her whimpering so I go in to 5 yo cries that she's scared, needs me, misses me, has a bad dream etc. and wants someone to lay with her until she is asleep.
this has been my experience too. i noticed at 5 esp. my dd' s fears intensified. she had way more nightmares at atht age than any put together.

seems your oldest is a litle more sensitive than your other. i know its hard. maybe cut down on the routine part so you can get some more time.
jgale's Avatar jgale 01:35 PM 01-07-2009
Most nights we do the 5 and 2 year olds bedtime routine together. Bath, teeth, then each chooses one or 2 stories that we read in their room. Then 5 year old goes up to his bed (top bunk) and gets "scratch, massage and nuggle" from his dad (I'm not even sure exactly what this is but it only takes about 2 minutes) then someone lies with the 2 year old until she falls asleep.

If he's still awake when she falls asleep, he's okay with staying in his bed alone.

I have a feeling we're going to be laying with the 2 year old for a long time. Sigh.

dillonandmarasmom's Avatar dillonandmarasmom 01:42 PM 01-07-2009
My 5.5 year old still needs us BOTH to be in bed with him. He has fears, too. The only time DH can be out of the room is if either he simply isn't home, or DD is already asleep and I can be on the door side of the bed (we cosleep). Some nights it's a bit much. But, most nights we just accept it.
We got the kids a bunkbed for Christmas, but they have yet to sleep in it because DS does not feel safe on top with all of the shadows. I can remember having intense fears until my late teen years, so I am pretty empathetic towards him. DH remembers having to sleep on his own, so he has a more difficult time with it. But, we both agree that DS needs to know we are there for him, so we accept this responsibilty as part of his development of trust.
sweetcheeks's Avatar sweetcheeks 02:03 PM 01-07-2009
We have a routine that we go through -- my 5YO showers, then he gets PJs on, brushes teeth and he comes to mine and DH's bed for stories. He usually reads one of his readers to me and I read a couple chapters out of whatever chapter book we're working on. We have a quick chat about what tomorrow will be like and then I take him into his room, tuck him into bed, goodnight hugs and kisses. He usually takes a book in bed with him and I leave the lamp on so he can look at his book for a few minutes. He's usually asleep in 20-30 minutes.
elizawill's Avatar elizawill 02:08 PM 01-07-2009
we have a bedtime routine (pjs, brush teeth, potty, bedtime stories). then the rule in my house is you don't need to go to sleep, but you need to stay in bed. if my children aren't tired, they can play their leapster or DS...or my dd can read. both of my kids have christmas lights in their room & they love this - makes it not scary & very pretty. sometimes my kids enjoy i download the stories for free and burn them to CD and play them if they aren't sleepy. my ds (almost 5) will fall asleep in my bed often (but not with me) and my dh moves him when we want to go to sleep. anyway...all of these tactics work well here. hope this helps. oh..and "white noise" is needed for everyone in my family, including dh & i. and fwiw, my kids are usually asleep in 30 minute tops.
Evan&Anna's_Mom's Avatar Evan&Anna's_Mom 02:59 PM 01-07-2009
We still read and snuggle both kids (5 and 9) to sleep each night. Both will go to sleep without company in a pinch (e.g. babysitter nights), but both are happier with company. DH and alternate between kids so we both get special one-on-one time with each child. Since both of us WOHM FT, this is our special time. I am sure the time is coming when DS doesn't want to hve us near him anymore, and I dread it. Of course, when DS asks to go to sleep by himself we honor that. This tends to be when the difficult discussion topics come up and questions that are really bugging them get asked.

I do, however, draw a limit at about 15 minutes -- if they aren't asleep by then I will leave and come back every 5 minutes or so to check if they want. Mostly they are asleep within 15 minutes of when we finish reading/talkking. Those 15 minutes are a good time for me to rest, regroup, say a prayer or two, generally recharge for the next couple of hours of housework and such.
Jessy1019's Avatar Jessy1019 04:02 PM 01-07-2009
My kids have gone through similar sleep progressions, and this is how they generally worked:

From birth til age 2.5 or so, nursing to sleep was the norm. They'd nurse to sleep wherever I was sitting, and then I'd lay them down in their/our bed, depending where they were sleeping at the time. Close to their 3rd birthdays, nursing to sleep ended on its own, and they began falling asleep on the couch with us while we watched a show or movie. Then we'd put them in bed.

Around 4-5 years old, we sometimes started sending my daughter to bed if she wasn't falling asleep and we were ready to go to sleep ourselves. She would read in bed until she fell asleep. She's six now, and she'll either read in bed or fall asleep on the couch at night . . . depends what we are doing.

I don't think it's too much to expect a five year old to fall asleep somewhat independently, but I would definitely consider letting her fall asleep wherever you are in the evening rather than laying in bed with her. Could you sit down and read for awhile, and let her lay next to you on the couch? Or relax in front of a movie until she falls asleep?
mistymama's Avatar mistymama 04:28 PM 01-07-2009
Well ds has always had the same bedtime routine, and around 2.5 years old is where I was able to stop doing the lay down with him thing. As he got older, our rule was that of course he could come get us if he was scared, or needed a drink or potty, but we expected him to play/read in bed until he fell asleep. He would always be asleep in about 10-20 mins.

That said, not long after his 5th b'day, he did start having fears and needing more attention at bedtime. Many nights during that time he would end up in bed with us saying he had a bad dream.

Do you think some of this might be the age? I think it's pretty common for their fears and bad dreams to get worse before they get better at age 5.
LittleLime's Avatar LittleLime 10:39 PM 01-07-2009
thanks so much everyone...I really appreciate hearing all of your experiences!
annethcz's Avatar annethcz 10:44 PM 01-07-2009
Have you considered slowly working your way away from parenting your child to sleep? Rather than laying next to your DD, can you try sitting next to her on the bed? Then once she's comfortable with that you can try sitting on the floor or on a chair next to her bed. Once she's comfortable with that, try sitting in the bedroom, but across the room. Then sit in the doorway.

We did this with our little ones and it worked well. The only time I sit with my girls now is when they are being wild and crazy and are having a hard time settling down for the night.
nichole's Avatar nichole 11:25 PM 01-07-2009
Well this is the fun thing, my ds who is 5 insists that I be in the room but can't stand it if his brother is in the room for even a story. I can't really blame him, b/c the 2yo does a lot of getting in and out of bed, stealing the covers, etc.

The only thing that works when dh isn't home is to let the 2yo fall asleep watching tv, carry him to bed, and then lay down with my 5yo who cannot sleep without silence, dark, and a parent.

I can't decide what's worse, a two year old dependent on tv to fall asleep or a mother who has lost her patience.

Then most nights we fall asleep together at 8pm. Good for my body, not good for time alone with dh! I can stand it if I have some music or a book on cd with headphones.
anywaybecause's Avatar anywaybecause 11:53 PM 01-07-2009
I haven't read all the replies, yet -- *and* I have twins, -- so this may not be helpful, but here's what we do.

My twins are almost 6, and they have small reading lamps on their bedside tables. Penny is an early bird, and almost always falls asleep before her night-owl twin, Emma.

Once we have done their bedtime routine, and read them a story, and tucked them in, and hugged and kissed them . . . we give them 30 - 45 minutes of time to wind down and read or chat before we have them turn off their reading lamps. Sometimes they read, sometimes they chat, and sometimes they make a little ruckus and we have to go up and remind them that it's time to slow down. But if they want good dreams, we give them good dreams; if they want a few 10-minute checks, we give them a few 10-minute checks; about once a week, one of them will need help falling asleep, and then one of us (usually DH, as they seem to always rev up when I go in) will go up and sit with them in the dark for 5 or 10 minutes, then do a 10-minute check after that.

It's really only in the past year that they've started to need less help with good dreams, fewer 10-minute checks, etc. Anyway, just my $.02
crl's Avatar crl 01:08 AM 01-08-2009
We did the gradually move away thing and DS (5 1/2) now goes to sleep in his room alone, but he still needs/wants me to be upstairs. So I lay down in my room and read while I wait for him to go to sleep, which sometimes happens as fast as 5 minutes and sometimes takes as long as 45. This is a significant improvement for my sanity as I get super bored just waiting for him to go to sleep. . . .
mamabohl's Avatar mamabohl 11:04 AM 01-08-2009
I lay with my 4 yo and 6.5yo until they are asleep. 4yo nurses to sleep, and they sleep in their own sibling bed together. It takes 20-60 minutes like you said, and if the 4yo accidentally took a nap that day it can take 2 hours! Most of the time i don't mind, so it's a different situation for us, but I am also expecting #3 (not until June or july) so I'm not sure what we're going to do....Anyways though my 6yo is very easily scared, it's real fear, and i don't feel right about forcing him to face these fears that are very real to him.

I hope you get some good ideas...maybe there's a compromise you can find? Have you asked her for ideas? What about slowly getting further and further from the bed each night until you're outside the room and then gone? i think that idea was in no cry sleep solution but it would never work for my ds, lol. This summer when my ds wanted to try going to sleep on his own (so he could stay up later) I checked on him after 5 minutes, then ten minutes, then every 15 minutes until he was asleep. That worked fairly well for him until our house was burglarized while we were gone one day and then the fears got worse than the fun of staying up....
LittleLime's Avatar LittleLime 06:58 PM 01-13-2009
thanks all...some really good ideas here and I just love hearing what happens at everyone else's home at night.

I am going to be trying to just sit in a chair next to their beds and slowly decrease the amount of time I sit each night. It is hard because the 5 yo really does seem to have legitimate fears (for a 5 yo anyway) but at the end of the day my patience is limited! Someone suggested asking her for her own bedtime ideas which is great! I will try that too.

sweet dreams!
rzberrymom's Avatar rzberrymom 05:21 AM 01-14-2009
I didn't see anyone else mention this, but I'm sorry if it's a repeat--what about putting the two of them in the same bed? Maybe it's the closeness of another person that she likes as she's falling to sleep, and having her sister next to her might help?
jillmamma's Avatar jillmamma 03:33 PM 01-14-2009
Originally Posted by rzberrymom View Post
I didn't see anyone else mention this, but I'm sorry if it's a repeat--what about putting the two of them in the same bed? Maybe it's the closeness of another person that she likes as she's falling to sleep, and having her sister next to her might help?
I was going to suggest the same thing!

Also, for DS who is 6, laying with him for a few minutes, then saying I have to go to the bathroom, but will be right back, or I have to take a shower then I will be back (sometimes he would then fall asleep on his own before I got back) has helped him transition to being okay with just laying for a few minutes then leaving. For him, knowing that I was just gone for a few minutes and would come back eventually made him secure enough to go to sleep.
JuniperMama's Avatar JuniperMama 08:11 PM 01-14-2009
I have been following this thread because my 4 1/2 yr old is fighting sleep like crazy. He used to go down pretty easily but lately its a big production every night - he gets up multiple times: drink, bathroom, needs cuddles, "i have to tell you something", "i have a surprise for you", on and on.

I am newly pregnant so my patience is particularly thin for these antics. My DH who is an incredibly patient man gets really annoyed with this routine.

We have tried laying down with him but it doesn't seem to get him down any faster - he just talks and plays. Even if we don't talk to him and say we're only going to lay together if he's quiet and restful, he still keeps on going. Last night, DH laid down with him at 8:45. He was still chatting away at 9:45. Finally they both fell asleep and I came to get DH out (he was snoring super loud ). As soon as we left the room, DS woke again and kept saying he "couldn't sleep." We took him to potty and then I went in and sang him 2 songs and he went back down.

This is driving us both nuts though. Late evenings are our only time to get things done let alone to spend any time together. Right now, I can barely stay up til 10 so that hour after he goes down at 9 is kind of critical to the household chores, etc. if nothing else.

I am at a loss with this whole thing. We've been consistent with bedtime routine, etc. The only addition is that we've been trying to lay with him since he's been refusing to settle down but that's yielding zero improvement. I don't know what's changed???

ShadowMom's Avatar ShadowMom 08:16 PM 01-14-2009
I lay with my 5 yo while he goes to sleep. For my 5 year old, he is not at a place where I think is ready to put himself to put bed yet. He seems to rely on those times as a way of connecting with me. I rely on them a bit too, it's a time for me to make sure I tell him I love him, I'm proud of him, and just say a couple of things, you know, it's easy for me to forget to do those things during the rush of the evenings sometimes.

I can completely understand your dilemma, but I don't have a lot of suggestions. Sorry... hope it gets better for you soon, mama.
OakBerry's Avatar OakBerry 08:20 PM 01-14-2009
My 6 y/o still wants us to lay with him.
We have a compromise. Dh and I will each lay with him for about 10 minutes (separately) and then we go out of his room. Usually he drifts right off, but he has his own battery lantern that he can use to read if he can't sleep.
He's been doing this since about 4.5. It took a while to implement and some nights we did end up laying with him until he was fully asleep. He gradually was able to let us go sooner.

Part of the problem was that the stimulation of having us in there has the opposite effect, he gets hyper and crazy. He won't calm down until he's alone.
JuniperMama's Avatar JuniperMama 09:05 PM 01-14-2009
Originally Posted by OakBerry View Post
...Part of the problem was that the stimulation of having us in there has the opposite effect, he gets hyper and crazy. He won't calm down until he's alone.

It's weird because he used to put himself to sleep really easily with no fuss after we did the bedtime routine and left the room. Now, suddenly its a thing.

The kiddos, they baffle me.
oliversmum2000's Avatar oliversmum2000 09:23 PM 01-14-2009
my 5yo has his own set of ipod speakers and i lend him my ipod, he listens to stories as he falls asleep.
rumi's Avatar rumi 12:05 AM 01-15-2009
dd recently moved to her own bed on her own initiative, but the bed is still in our room. I dont think she would mind if it were in a different room, but we have only one room.

she wants stories etc for a long time but now she can also read and does stay up till midnight reading. a few months earlier we were also using books on tape with her own earphones. we should probably do that again so that we can have the lights out at least.

but before she had the attention span for books on tape (and this too is an acquired skill) we also were struggling to supply all the stories, listen everytime she said, "i have something to tell you," play musical games like you might use on road trips, etc .... and me all the while wondering "when are we ever going to get there?" (i.e. to sleep!) and inevitably all that activity would make her hungry again and we'd have to get a banana or yougurt or something she could eat and then just swish without having to go through the entire brushing routine again. all I can say is, that too, did pass
runnerbrit's Avatar runnerbrit 02:42 AM 01-15-2009
My boys both went through a similiar stage. Instead of lying down next to them, I would sit on the floor and hold their hand. I would hold their hand through their songs and then once their songs were over I would sit and hum until they fell asleep. We also did the same songs in the same order every night to create more consistency. They whole routine ended up taking about 20 minutes from first song to both boys being asleep. It took awhile to get through the phase but it helped to have a set in bed routine and it also helped that I was no longer lying down next to them, so they could not feel it when I climbed out of the bed.

I also experienced frustration with this phase but when I fought the 20 minutes or so it took to get through our regular routine it always ended up taking a lot longer to get them to bed and most of the time at least one if not all of us ended up in tears.

Hugs and Good Luck.
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