To be at the end of my tether with this?! (Toddler sleep)(25 Posts)
DS is 3 next month. He has always taken hours to fall asleep, and we have always accommodated it as gently as we can, but it's now getting ridiculous. If we make his bedtime later he falls asleep slightly quicker for a few days, then seems to accommodate himself to it. Ditto if we increase exercise. We were doing bedtime at 7.30/8 but have recently given up on even trying until 8.30. Today, he woke up at 6, then ran around all morning at nursery. He had a 1 hour nap there after lunch, then ran around again until 5.45 when I picked him up. Then we popped to the shops, then we went fecking swimming as I thought that would serve a duel purpose of cooling him down and tiring him out. Got him showered and into pjs at the pool, he was yawning his head off. We were home at 8.30 and got into bed, and it still took him until 10.45 to fall asleep. He's not messing around (mostly) - he does just lie there, and is clearly tired, but he will not/ cannot go to sleep!
He seems to be almost ready to drop naps, but if he has no naps he goes to sleep slightly quicker (more like an hour) for two or three days, then crashes sometime in the mid-afternoon on the third or fourth day and sleeps unrousably for hours. Last time he crashed out at 4pm on day 3, woke at midnight, didn't go to sleep again until 5 and then it takes us days to sort out the mess.
We already limit screen time, and have none at all after about mid-afternoon. He is kept very busy at nursery three days a week and really quite busy the other days. He eats a decent amount. He's had the same bedtime routine of songs and milk and story since he was tiny. It's driving me nuts. Tbh I'm reaching the point where I might just put him to bed at 10 - but then surely that's not enough sleep when he's waking at 6?! It's not enough sleep for me, never mind a 2 year old!
I am obsessing about this somewhat as DS2 is due in two weeks time and I have no idea how I'm going to manage this with both of them, as DH often works evenings...
My DD is also three next month and very similar. Don't have a solution but am watching with interest. She's better if she has a nap but that nap is no more than an hour but BEFORE noon. This isn't always practical though so some days she's awake all day, but it doesn't make much difference.
If it's any consolation OP Our DD2 is 10 months and a perfect sleeper (touch wood) and has always just settled down like an angel and gone to sleep in spite of her sisters bullshit so you may be like us and get lucky on that at least.
Try melatonin? My DS has it and he's the same age, some kids don't produce enough of the hormone to fall asleep until late but you can get a natural supplement from America that replaces what they're not producing, the paed recommended it to me
My two are a bit older but ever since they can rememember it's been bedtime at 7 (they are 7 & 10 now so it's later, 7.30 and 8.30.) They are then allowed to watch a film till 9ish (if the youngest falls asleep then 9.30 for the oldest) then it's a story cd and sleep. My youngest is an early to sleep, early to rise type of girl and eldest is a night owl like me (unlike me she gets up earlyish too). They still share a room so we have to cater for both but are lucky the dd2 will fall asleep when she's tired no matter what's going on. The rules have always been as long as your in bed by bedtime you can do what you want in your room (except getting toys out, what I mean is watch a film, read a book, chat etc) until cd time. This works for dd1 as she really struggles to sleep and it works for us as they are happy and will drift off when ready and we get a peaceful evening. I know some won't like the idea of a film or tv in the bedroom and this routine doesn't work for everyone but I just thought I'd share what works for us.
Cut the nap.
TBH I wouldn't stress too much because it will all change again once baby arrives (hopefully for the better)
What's his bedroom like? Is there lots of books, toys etc. If so, move them out of the room. No stimulation.
I feel your pain, just been through all this with my DS. The age gap is exactly the same as yours : he's now 3.5, DD is 6 months old.
Op I feel your pain my ds now 8 only sleeps for 5 hours a night and that's with melatonin it doesn't matter how much he runs around or how much screen time he has, all summer we're out camping and hiking (days with no electronics ) still he doesn't sleep
Speak to your Dr they can help, sometimes there can be an underlying issue such as ADHD sometimes it's environmental sometimes they just need less sleep a referal to a sleep lab can help (if only to tell you why they don't sleep )
Eventually they either grow out of it or get old enough to safely entertain themselves
I know it's hard but stick to a strict bed time routeen it really does help but tbh it is almost a war of attrition 😭
Ps my dd now 15 has always slept for Britain she's been on 10 hour's minimum since she was 12 weeks 😕
I have two DC. 5yo was a nightmare to get to sleep as a baby, now sleeps perfectly through the night and doesn't mess about at bedtime. 3yo was great as a baby but is an utter nightmare now. He just doesn't need much sleep. Bed anytime before nine means he's up at five. Nothing we have done changes this, it's crazy. I have him out in the garden at seven running races up and down but he just doesn't tire. It's exhausting.
Only my opinion but - He shouldn't be napping aged 3, put him to bed at 7/7.30 and definitely no later than 8pm and be winding down from
6pm. Good luck x
My DD was 3 in may and we dropped the nap in Feb because of the exact same reasons. We're now down to about half hour messing around before settling but it's better than it was before. If she drops off in the car etc for 5 minutes that's fine but we don't encourage naps now. She sometimes has a rest on the sofa in the afternoons but that's more for my benefit! We have bedtime story and bed at 7 as nothing changes the time she gets up
My HV told me to put my DS to bed earlier when he couldn't sleep. She said if you put them down earlier they will sleep longer and better.
He was about 6wks old. He is now 14 and we all know if he can't sleep he needs an earlier bedtime the next few days / weeks. Even he acknowledges it now.
So try an earlier routine. If he was yawning at swimming at 630, try bed at 630 today. It may sound bonkers but it works.
I do the same as intuition, and put my children to bed a little earlier if they're not sleeping well. I was told when the eldest was a baby that 'sleep promotes sleep'. It sounded bonkers but does actually work.
I have a 3.5 year old (who isn't a great sleeper and is a kid who doesn't seem to need much) but she doesn't nap and in the days she's clearly exhausted (well, she's as high as a kite and doesn't think she's tired) she's in bed by half 6.
is he just lying in bed awake or actively crying for attention?
if its the former then I would just leave him there is no need for you to be around to try and settle him. it is the latter then you need to adopt a tougher strategy if you want to crack this. I would be definitely dropping the day time nap and putting to bed and using controlled crying. I also agree that sleep promotes sleep and think sometimes if parents are around fussing, keeping on popping in etc to check this doesn't help either.
I wouldn't let a 3 yr old nap. All mine have dropped nap quite clearly (as in they suddenly got difficult at night) around 2.
I'd just leave him to it. The rule in our house (4, almost 3 and 1.5) is that they are in bed at X time and after that, even if they are awake they are not to call or disturb me. Selfish but I need thise hours after 7.30/8pm to feel normal.
I wouldn't be too gentle about bedtime. It's a really, really important family affecting issue that needs serious discipline.
I have a 5 year old with autism who has sleep issues. Things that help us are no napping during the day, melatonin (via the gp, it really is magic stuff and is produced by the body anyway so all you're doing is giving more of it - as a child would normally produce more when they're tired, some don't!) and oddly enough giving unlimited screen time (controversial I know). We find if we let ds watch you tube videos before bedtime it helps him to relax, and if he wakes up super early I frisbee the iPad into his room and he will go on that for a bit so I can get some more sleep! We always go out every morning for activities (if he doesn't have school) and by the afternoon he's worn out and we do stuff at home so winding down time.
I feel for you OP, dd1 is 3 and has always been an awful sleeper. She started dropping her nap herself just before 3 and I tried to enforce it was was heavily pregnant and needed a break but when she didn't nap she went to bed much better most nights.
She now doesn't nap unless on long car journey and goes to bed at 7-7:15 and wakes up at 7:30.
We had lots of sleep training for months before with a gro clock and sticker chart as she would try to get up for the day between 4/5am!! Then she just suddenly seemed to get it shortly after her 3rd birthday.
We keep bedtime routine consistent and reward sleeping until the gro clock is yellow and she loves it now, luckily this all fell into place about a week before dd2 was born!!
Perhaps try and be a bit stricter with the routine and try rewards?
Hugs to you though, bloody exhausting isn't it!!
Make the nap shorter rather than cutting it out? So he won't get the crash a few days down the line?
Good nurseries will accommodate this.
I'm never sure they run round that much at nursery tbh, at least not compared to being at the park or the energy used going swimming.
Also my dh works shifts and is away nights and evenings too-it's amazing what is mums can cope with, you'll be fine
Thanks everyone. Especially those who have said DC2 might sleep better . The earlier bedtime thing does make sense, and actually has worked in the past, but like everything he seems to adjust. So he will go to sleep within an hour (which is what I count as a win) with bedtime at 6.30/7 for two or three days, then he'll start waking up at 3/2/1am. And won't get back to sleep all night . Then after a few days of that he'll do the crashing out for hours in the daytime thing and we're back to square one. It's as though he has some internal trip switch that goes 'oops, I've been sleeping like a normal person for the last three days - must try harder'.
He does just lie in bed - but only as long as DH or I is in the room. If we leave all hell breaks loose. I don't actually mind staying with him til he falls asleep - my parents always did when I was little until I was happy for them not to when I was about 5. But for 1/2 an hour/ 45 mins. Not hours and hours every bloody night.
(ps for my kids age three was too old for a nap but just dealing with the issue you raised)
I forgot to add that we have a strict 'no pissing around' policy. They can read, play quietly etc if they don't want to sleep but don't disturb us!
It took a bit of hard work to enforce it, but even the 2 year old gets it.
Re naps - part of the issue is with nursery. Not because they won't accommodate a shorter nap in principle but because he is dreadful to wake up. Unlike at night he goes out like a light for a daytime nap and left to his own devices would sleep for about three hours I think. But when he's woken about 50% of the time he has total hysterics - screaming and shaking and begging to go back to sleep and falling asleep upright for up to an hour afterwards. I find it very difficult to manage and I quite see they can't really deal with that at nursery when they have lots of other kids to cope with, and it does feel very cruel. So basically they now try to wake him but if he begs to go back to sleep they let him 'as he obviously needs it'. He is going to start doing just three mornings there soon though instead of three full days as it seems silly for him to be there all day while I'm off, so maybe I can fix it then.
Rather than dropping naps and crashing and burning what about going to a nap every other day. Or every third day. My DD is a few months off 3 and definitely still needs naps but has some days where she isn't sleepy or misses it because we are out and about all day.
I would wait until the nursery hours change and keep him awake until bedtime with no naps. It's awful, my DS is the same and we've had to stop his naps because bedtime was just getting beyond a joke. He's also hideous to wake up, and impossible to tire out!
Is the sleepy rabbit book worth a try? Worked with my then 3 year old when we were trying to get him into a good bedtime routine for baby's arrival. And he used to mess dh around like nothing else before this sorted him out.
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