Special Report: How to get your child to sleep

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It's your child's bedtime - but you are tired. You know your child is tired, but sleep just isn't happening. So what do you do? (WPVI)

It's your child's bedtime - but you are tired. You know your child is tired, but sleep just isn't happening. So what do you do?

Like many new moms, Alison was running on fumes, sleeping less than two hours at a time.

"There were days I would say I'm not safe to be with her because I was so exhausted," said Alison.

Like most newborns, little Cleo was still "learning" to sleep.

"The myths of sleep are getting parents into trouble," said Andrea Elovson.

Elovson of Sleepy Bug, LLC is a certified sleep coach. She says you can't train a baby to sleep through the night until they're six months old.

"Children can start to respond to something called behavioral modification. Their whole neurology goes through a change and children start to sleep more like adults," said Elovson.

And once they do, like now 10-month-old Cleo, Elovson warns sleeplessness for children comes in waves.

"People think if the child is sleeping through the night, that it's going to last forever and it doesn't," said Elovson.

Most parents know - no one sleeps when kids become afraid of the dark. But she warns - there are ways to know if their fear is just a figment.

"See if your children are starting to say things like, 'It's dark in there,' or 'I'm scared mommy' and that's probably a sign that they are really getting scared of the dark," said Elovson.

She suggests leaving a night light on, the door open and rearranging the bed so it faces the hallway - making the child feel closer and safer.

When it comes to nightmares?

Always take the time to soothe them on the spot, and the next day - talk it out.

"Bring it down to their level - never, ever say to a child that you shouldn't be scared. They are scared and you really have to be sympathetic and compassionate with them," said Elovson.

Is your 3-year-old a master negotiator? Do you get a tug from the edge of the bed halfway through your REM cycle from a little one looking for a little more water? Another trip to the potty? One more story?

"You have to set limits and don't set them on the fly. We have to prepare for the fight," said Elovson.

She suggests leaving a Sippy cup of water by the bed, letting them know it's okay to rely on the night diaper and making them choose their set bedtime stories in the morning.

"Think about what is fair and stick with that ahead of time, not when you're right in the middle of the war zone," said Elovson.

Now that Cleo's sleep coaching has clicked, Alison is finally getting some sleep too.

"I feel like a normal person and she's much happier, I'm much happier," said Alison.

And parents - you have to be disciplined too. Even if it's once or twice a week, Elovson says you need early nights too.

By the way take a look at what Alicia Vitarelli does to get little Priscilla to sleep.

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