2.9yr old making bedtime a nightmare, help me!

(6 Posts)
vaticancameo Mon 29-Jul-13 22:27:32

DS is 2.9 and used to be an angel at bedtime. We have always had the same routine - bath, warm milk and stories, brush teeth and lights out. He would go straight to sleep without any fuss and didn't need us to sit with him. Then the hot weather started and disrupted his routine as he couldn't get to sleep, and since then things have gone from bad to worse. He now refuses to stay in bed after lights out. He gets out of bed and comes downstairs (we have a stairgate, but he can open it). We have done the Supernanny put him back with no talking approach - eventually he falls asleep, but after he's been put back at least fifty times, which takes over an hour. I know you have to be consistent with this and I would happily keep going with it, but the problem is it only works when DH is here too. We also have 3-month-old dd, and she is tired and ready for bed at the same time as ds, and is ebf and feeds to sleep. So right at the time when ds is doing his getting-out-of-bed routine, she's tired, crying and needs a feed, and if I don't feed her to sleep then, she gets overtired and will cry for hours.

If DH is here, I sort dd out and he stays upstairs, putting ds to bed as soon as he gets up. Fine. Problem is, he works a lot of evenings, and also works away a fair bit - he's away for the next fortnight. I'm really struggling to get them both to bed on my own. I've tried letting ds stay up whilst I get dd to bed, but the problem is he won't leave her alone and tries to mess with her feet, lie on her etc (he hasn't been particularly jealous, but is inclined to be naughty with her when he's tired). Then obviously she won't go to sleep. I've tried sitting in his bed until he goes to sleep - this does work, but it takes about half an hour, and it only works if I have by some miracle got dd to go to sleep first as if I attempt to bf her whilst in his bed he won't go to sleep but just tries to wind her up. I know I should ignore him and not reward him with attention, but when he's actually hurting dd I can't. Telling him off has no effect, and pushing him off makes him laugh as he thinks it's a game.

What else can I try? I think he wouldn't understand a reward chart yet as I tried that when he was refusing to brush his teeth and it didn't get anywhere. Sorry this is so long, but this is making evenings a nightmare. Tonight I started the bedtime routine at 6.30 after tea and they weren't asleep until 10 - poor dd was exhausted and crying and would have been asleep long before, but he kept trying to hurt her whilst I was feeding her, and stopping him from doing that kept waking her up. Then I had to sit with him and it was ages before he fell asleep. Now the house is a bloody mess and I haven't done the washing up and I don't get a minute to just sit down as they're never asleep at the same time during the day...

He is definitely tired at bedtime btw - I make sure of that. Today he has been outside loads, puddle-jumping etc, and burnt off loads of energy. He's had lots to eat too, so it's not hunger keeping him awake.

estya Tue 30-Jul-13 07:06:47

Just a quick reply as I shouldn't be in here really.
I'd drop or restrict his day time nap and offer a bribe 'Let's make a deal, you can have some milk in your bed if you will wait quietly in your bed for sleep to come'
Also consider that it may be a delayed reaction to having a sibling/competitor. My dc2 was about 6 weeks old when the real horrors started.

vaticancameo Tue 30-Jul-13 08:13:35

Thanks estya - should have said, he's dropped his nap by himself! I've tried bribing him, and it doesn't work. I don't think he understands the concept yet really.

vaticancameo Tue 30-Jul-13 08:14:19

Plus the only thing that would possibly work as a bribe is ch

vaticancameo Tue 30-Jul-13 08:15:16

Plus the only thing that would possibly work as a bribe is chocolate, and I don't want to start doing that...

beela Tue 30-Jul-13 08:40:42

My DS is the same age and has also been disrupted by the hot weather, plus growing out of his nap - but still needing the nap on days when he didn't go to sleep until 9pm the night before.... etc etc.

We're just planning to go with the flow until the weather gets back to normal, but then we don't have a 3mo to cope with as well.

Have you tried sitting him down and talking to him like a grown up? (e.g. a serious talk about how you need him to be a big boy so that you can get DD to sleep because she is so much younger than him, and once she is asleep then you will have time to read a story to him, explaining why you don't want him to get out of bed in the evening, etc). This approach has surprisingly good results for my DS, he usually looks at me blankly at the time, but later on it turns out that he has listened and understood.

We've also recently had better results by getting bathtime done early, PJs on and downstairs for quiet time for half an hour before bed. Seems to help him calm down a bit better.

Hope it improves for you brew

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