Child won’t sleep alone: What you can do

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — May 11, 2019
  • 1 / 9

    Don’t be alarmed if your kid won’t sleep alone. He tells you he is afraid of doing so. Many young children go through a phase when they prefer to be with others during the night. There are many reasons for this, and here are some practical suggestions to help you tackle this challenge effectively.

    Related: This is how much sleep your child really needs, from newborns to primary schoolers

    Load more
  • I'm scared
    2 / 9 I'm scared

    What’s wrong: He’s afraid of the dark, and this makes him want to have company.

    How it shows: Your little one refuses to let you put the bedroom light out and starts to cry when you try to switch it off. You may find that after you switch the light off, you hear him get out of bed to click it back on again.

    Related: How to get your toddler to sleep in her own room


    Load more
  • 3 / 9

    How you can help: There are several options. First, you can fit a dimmer switch to his bedroom light enabling you to gradually darken his room a little bit more each night.

    Second, you can have a night-light or a glow-plug, which gives off a small amount of illumination all the time.

    Or you can sit with your child until he falls asleep – though that can soon turn into a habit that is hard to break.

    Load more
  • I need a tuck-in
    4 / 9 I need a tuck-in

    What’s wrong: After waking in the middle of the night, he can’t get back to sleep.

    How it shows: You are fast asleep when you suddenly realise your young child is at your bedside, wide awake and afraid of being alone. He mumbles that he can’t get back to sleep and he wants to come in beside you.

    Related: Singapore mum confesses: Why I will not stop co-sleeping with my kids

    Load more
  • 5 / 9

    How you can help: Take him back to bed, give him a quick cuddle, and then leave the room. Resist any temptation to give him food and drink and definitely don’t play a game with him.

    Your basic strategy should be to reassure your son and return him to his own bed, while making it clear that this is not a time for fun and games. Do this every single time he wakes during the night until he settles down.

    Load more
  • I'm stressed
    6 / 9 I'm stressed

    What’s wrong: He is so worried about something that he wakes up troubled and lonely.

    How it shows: He goes to bed at the usual time without any complaint, but he genuinely struggles to get to sleep. He may lie awake for hours. You may also find he wakes up crying in the middle of the night and doesn’t want to stay on his own.

    Related: 10 good habits to teach your preschooler

    Load more
  • 7 / 9

    How you can help: Start by calming your child and by giving him lots of reassurance that he has nothing to worry about. But keep him in his own bed while you do this.

    The next day, think hard about possible areas that may concern him – for instance, falling out with his best friend at preschool, or continual teasing from his older sister. Do what you can to make practical changes to resolve his concerns.

    Load more
  • I'm manja
    8 / 9 I'm manja

    What’s wrong: His so-called fear of sleeping alone is simply attention-seeking behaviour.

    How it shows: Although your little one tells you he doesn’t want to sleep alone and that he is afraid, he makes a remarkable recovery the moment you appear in his room! Your attention lifts his mood instantly and he wants to play with you.

    Related: 10 signs you’re spoiling your preschooler

    Load more
  • 9 / 9

    How you can help: Take more control of when you give your kid attention. For example, try to ignore him when he calls out that he doesn’t want to sleep alone – and if you feel you have to go in to see him, keep that contact brief, without any fuss.

    In addition, give him positive attention when he wakes up alone in the morning. Tell him you are pleased that he slept alone, cuddle him and play with him.


    Load more
rewarding child behaviour

Are you rewarding or bribing your child for good behaviour?

leadership skills

4 important leadership skills to teach kids

good hygiene

6 good hygiene habits every parent must teach their toddler

Raise a challenger of the future

child become more independent

5 ways to help your child become more independent

Latest stories

video kid-friendly guide admiralty park's playground

Video: Kid-friendly guide to Admiralty Park’s playground

kid's love for reading

5 ways to help your kid love reading

vincent ng wife son

Hot dad Vincent Ng loves junk food and durians, but can you tell from his six-pack…

Holiday packing list tips from frequent traveller mum Ahnah Han

19 countries in 3 years: Holiday packing list #goals from a frequent traveller mum

how to make up after a fight

5 ways to make up after a fight with your wife or husband: Marriage tips