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Helping your child sleep on their own


Your child will sleep in their own bed or crib at St. Jude. The hospital has some rules that are designed to help your child get the rest they need and protect their health. This article tells you how to help your child sleep in their own bed at St. Jude and at home.

Sleeping at St. Jude

Your child needs to sleep alone in a crib or bed if they have a monitor or other medical equipment. We will have your child sleep in a crib if they are:

  • Less than 24 months old,
  • Less than 3 feet tall, and
  • Cannot pull themselves up to a standing position.

Children who are older, taller, and can pull themselves up might sleep in a bed. The St. Jude team will choose the safest option for your child.

Your child’s immune system might be weaker in the hospital. They should sleep alone to lower the risk of getting an infection. (See “Do you know… How to Prevent Infection.”) Your child may not sleep on a bedside chair, sofa, or floor mattress. They need to be in their bed or crib to get good rest and prevent infection. (See "Do you know… Helping babies and toddlers sleep safely.")

Helping your child learn to sleep on their own

Your child might act like they do not want to sleep on their own, or sleep at all. The tips below will help them learn to go to sleep on their own.

  • Put your child in the crib when they are awake, but sleepy. They will learn to go to sleep on their own.
  • Keep night feedings short and boring. Avoid playing with your child. This gets them too excited to go back to sleep easily.
  • Do the same routine every night. For example, your child might get a bath, massage, rocking, stories, or soft music. When the routine is done, say good night and leave the room.
  • Your child might cry for a moment when you leave. But after they get used to the routine, they will calm down and go to sleep quickly.
  • If your child is still crying 5–10 minutes after you leave, go in and comfort them for a minute or two. Let them know you are close by. Stroking their body or legs slowly can help calm your child.

When your child wakes up at night, give them a few minutes to go back to sleep by themselves. If they keep crying, go in and comfort them. But do not bring them to your bed.


If you have questions about helping your child learn to sleep on their own, or where your child sleeps at St. Jude, please ask your child’s doctor or nurse. We are always happy to talk with you.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

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