What To Do When Your Child Outgrows the Sleep Pass


Have you heard of the expression, “What goes around comes around?” Nothing more accurately illustrates that sentiment than my kids’ sleeping habits. I was a horrific sleeper myself as a young child, frequently requiring my mom to lay with me for countless hours before I could fall asleep.

Well, as my mom now fondly tells me when I complain to her about my children’s sleeping woes, “Payback is a b**ch.”

Given my lifelong struggles with sleep—my neighbors tease that they can tell when my husband is out of town because every single light is on in our house—my husband and I have tried very hard to instill in our children self-soothing techniques to help them feel confident enough to fall asleep on their own.

When my kids got bored with those techniques, one of my closest friends introduced us to the wonders of the Sleep Pass. That sucker helped us survive my son’s last 6 months of Pre-K, and we were rocking and rolling with our youngest for several months until suddenly, out of the blue, it just stopped working.

One night, when our daughter was refusing to stay in her room, we reminded her about the sleep pass and how she would not get any reward in the morning if she didn’t follow the rules.

My spunky, independent 4-year-old daughter looked me right in the eyes and said, “I don’t care. I don’t want any rewards. I hate the sleep pass. I just want to PLAY.” And then promptly started running around the house screeching happily. Mind you, it was 9:30 at night.

After a difficult and sleep-deprived night, I wondered: what do you do when your child (who might already be smarter than you) decides they are no longer interested in the one thing that has created a peaceful bedtime routine in your home?

Desperate for help, I called my mom, who laughed and reminded me about payback (see above) and that I was merely paying my dues.

Looking for a more sanity-saving solution, I turned to our Pre-K teacher, who is wise beyond her years and knows the Answers To All Things. And yet again she did not let me down.

Her suggestion was so simple and so obvious, I couldn’t believe we hadn’t thought of it ourselves.

“You should get her a little speaker or audio player and have her listen to books on tape while she falls asleep,” she suggested.

At first, I was dubious, thinking my smart-witted almost 5-year-old would quit on that in a hot second.

But… she didn’t. She was actually very excited about the idea. Apparently, they do this before nap time at her school, so she already had a list of her favorite stories.

Being avid Amazon Prime members, we signed up for Audible that same day and downloaded two of her top choices. I bought her a small iHome speaker from Costco (and actually bought a second one for our bedroom, too!) and we had everything set up by that same evening.

I’m happy to say we have been alternating audiobook stories ever since, with great success. When my daughter’s not yet tired or ready for bed, she lays there quietly listening to stories. We are sure to pick narrators with soothing voices so it doesn’t keep her awake. I also control the app from my iPad which I leave outside her room so I can turn it off once she’s asleep.

If you’re interested, I strongly encourage you to pick books read by Arnold Lobel. He has a very warm, full voice that can lull almost anyone to sleep. So far we have been enjoying Mouse Tales and the Audio Collection of Frog & Toad, although a brief search on Audible shows there are many more stories to choose from.

Plus, now that we have these stories available, we can listen to them on road trips, flights, and other times when we need a break from screens. And, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve become a huge Audible fan myself. I have downloaded several of my own books to listen to on my way to work, and it has made my commute SO much more enjoyable!

So if bedtime is an ongoing struggle in your household, and you’ve already tried the Sleep Pass, why not add audiobooks to your bedtime repertoire? Let us know if you find any good ones you want to share!

Previous articleHow Long ‘Til We Go to Grandma’s? How to Count Down to Fun Events
Next article8 Secrets to Looking More Awake
Meredith is a transplant to the Bay Area and has fallen in love with the weather, gorgeous scenery, and plethora of local wineries. A wife and mother of two, she works part-time as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She hails from Texas, where she attended the University of Texas and will always bleed orange. She then moved to Washington DC to attend Georgetown's School of Medicine, where she fell in love with her future husband, a fellow student, and has been happily married for almost a decade. She and her husband lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for several years for their medical training and found it the perfect place to start a family. She relocated to the Bay Area a few years ago and has quickly adapted to West Coast living. Meredith enjoys the balance of part-time working and full-time parenting and loves to write about this ongoing struggle. In her persistent drive to find more "me time", she actively pursues her interests in reading, running, soccer, baking, and wine tasting.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here