It can be a bit more challenging beyond the infant stage, but every child can be taught to self-soothe and fall asleep by himself," says Parents advisor Judith Owens, MD, coauthor of Take Charge of Your Child's Sleep. There are different ways to get him snoozing solo. Choose the one that works best for your lifestyle and your child's temperament.
The hard-line strategy: You put your child to bed and leave. Try your best to ignore any protests, and if he comes out of his room escort him back and simply say, "You need to stay in bed." Some experts suggest putting a gate up so there's no escape. This technique can be tough on both parent and child but often works well and quickly, says Dr. Owens.
The graduated method: You put your child to bed but tell him that you'll come back in five minutes to check on him -- and you follow through with that promise. Then, keep checking on him, waiting successively longer intervals of time before going back into his room. Eventually, your child will get bored waiting and fall asleep. This is the method most parents choose.
The gentle approach: You stay in your child's room but don't lie in his bed or interact with him. For example, the first night sit in a chair by his bed. Each night, move farther away from him. Ideally, by the time you've edged your way out of the room he has learned to fall asleep on his own.