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Parenting Q&A: Haven't Slept Through the Night in Three Years

Parenting Q&A: Haven't Slept Through the Night in Three Years

Q. I have been awake for three years! Our son still wakes up at least twice a night. How can I get him to sleep through? Our older son just did it on his own.

A. I can remember sitting in my car watching people walk by thinking, “You’ve probably had more than two hours sleep” and glaring at them like a sniper. Sorry your first-born spoiled you, but now there is only one answer. You have to make him stay in his bed and go back to sleep. Here’s the formula I prescribe. If you follow it, I promise within a week you will get a full night sleep and no longer be a Mommy Zombie longing to eat the well rested.

To see Lonna's process,


  • Tell him he WILL sleep all night starting tonight. Tell him everyone needs a full night sleep and mommy needs rest to be a great mommy.
  • When he voices concerns (I’m scared, etc.) do a house tour and assure him there is nothing to fear and that everyone is safe and will wake up refreshed.
  • Remind him all day, “Tonight you will stay in your bed” and give him extra hugs.
  • At bedtime, have a spray bottle with scented water and spray away bad thoughts and nightmares. Leave it by his bed and tell him if he wakes up to simply spray.
  • NO nightlight because they cause shadows. If necessary, leave the door a bit open and then close it as soon as he’s asleep.
  • DO have a white noise CD, this can work wonders all night.
  • When he does wake up the first night and comes into you, you simply take him back to bed without conversation and say goodnight and leave. You could do this for a very long time, but it is the most important step. He needs to know that you are serious.
  • This process is to be repeated every night, in the same order, until one morning you wake up and think your clock is broken because it says seven and you realize he did it. Then you go out to breakfast.

    — Lonna Corder

    Parenting expert and Montessori school director, Lonna Corder has been doling out advice for 25 years as a teacher, parent/child consultant and on television. For more information, visit

    If you're at your wit's end about an issue and want another take on the situation, private message your question to lilsugar. We'll be running this feature all week!


lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
i think most parents go through this at some point. my middle daughter JUST got through the bad dream phase and literally 3 days later my youngest daughter came in because of one :faint:
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
Our 4th child was like this. She woke up every night sometime between 2 and 4 am until she was a little over 2 years old. Honestly there wasn't anything we could do differently that we hadn't already tried - she eventually just stopped and started sleeping through the night.
beansandsyke beansandsyke 8 years
my friend has this problem with her 3 1/2 year old but they let him fall asleep in their bed with the tv on. then move him to his own and at some point in the night he gets back into their bed
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