You asked

Not sleeping through the night at 3 years old - what can I do?

If your child relies too much on external factors such as lights, bottles and music to go to sleep, then those things will be needed every time they wake up during the night. When your child wakes up, go immediately to check what the problem is – it might actually be serious. If there is no problem, make sure your child is comfortable and warm enough and do not pick your child up or allow him to come to your bed. If you need to stay in the room for a while, do so, then leave and check on your child after a few minutes. Do a number of checks and increase the length of the intervals between them.

If your child gets out of bed, put him back without getting upset. Stay in the room until your child is still, then leave. Repeat this if necessary and your child will realise that you won't compromise on the sleeping arrangements. If he keeps getting out of bed, you can close the bedroom door and keep it closed for increasing amounts of time, until your child stays in bed willingly. Start off with a minute, use four intervals and increase the last interval to five minutes. If the problem persists over a number of days, then increase the closed interval until you reach 30 minutes for the last interval. Always check on your child when you open the door, but do not go inside the room. Offer praise if your child stays in bed.

Most toddlers are able to go back to sleep by themselves, using conversation with imaginary people or comfort from stuffed animals. Sometimes your child might wake up from a bad dream and need comforting. If your child is crying, check and see if there is a problem such as a dirty nappy, clothing that is irritating, blocked nose or other ailment.

Of course, if your child has had rapid development or growth, or is recovering from illness or trauma, then special attention may be needed at night until things settle down.

More questions

Tips for getting your toddler to take a nap
Unlike night terrors, nightmares truly are bad dreams, that occur during the dream or REM sleep phase of sleep – usually later on in the evening.
Night terrors are terrifying for parents, but for the children who have them, they’re not even something that they remember in the morning.
By the time your child is two years old and older, his or her napping requirements have probably changed quite a lot!
In spite of what you have heard, waking a sleepwalker is not dangerous, although it’s not the best solution.
Night time potty training is a big part of the potty training process, and it can be one of the trickiest.
Once your child is older than six months, you shouldn't need to do night time feeding.
If your child is old enough to sleep all through the night, but wakes up at times, you need to try to help him self-induce sleep.
There a few different approaches you can use to get your 2-year-old to sleep, all of them rely on routine.
Establishing a set routine and sticking to it, is the best way to get your child used to going to sleep at the right time.

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