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What is it reasonable to expect of a 3 yo at bedtime?

(27 Posts)
bondgirl77 Tue 04-Jan-11 20:04:47

Trying to get my 3 yo ds into bed is proving a nightmare at present. He isn't bad at all if he hasn't napped but during hols seems to have got into an afternoon nap habit again which I'm hoping will resolve itself once normal routine kicks in in the next few weeks. Am reading no cry sleep solution for toddlers as also trying to break nasty habit of sitting with him at bedtimes. Thing is tried the gradual withdrawal by sitting in corner of room but there is not much sign of settling down yet. For those of you that have 3 yo what do you do after the bedtime routine is over? Leave them to settle themselves? If so do they do it? I'm wondering what is reasonable to expect of him.

bubbleandsqueaks Tue 04-Jan-11 20:09:07

DD is 3.2 and her bedtime routine is:

Change into pyjamas
Cup of warm milk
Kisses me goodnight
Dh takes her up and does teeth/wash/toilet.
Reads her 2 books (she chooses one and the other is relevant to what she is doing now eg atm its about starting nursery)
He kisses her goonight, puts the light out and comes downstairs, we call goonight to her up the stairs and don't hear a peep from her till 6am the next morning.


Skimty Tue 04-Jan-11 20:10:53

Story CDs have worked with both of mine from 2 -2.5. That way they're not just staring the the ceiling!

whoknowswhatthefutureholds Tue 04-Jan-11 20:13:38

similar to bubble.

When tries to get out of bed (never now), we just said bedtime now, put in back in, time and time again til he got the message.

Works a treat.

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 04-Jan-11 20:17:02

DD was 3 in August. She has a bath most nights, cleans her own teeth, we get her pyjamas on. She hops into bed. We have 2 stories. Say good night and leave. She has a night light on and a supply of books by her bed and a cup of water with a lid. Also has cuddly toys at the end of her bed.

She will, depending on how tired she is, read, shout for milk, play with her cuddly toys or go to sleep. So far it hasn't actually crossed her mind that she could get out of the bed.

Hope the NCSS for toddlers works for you. We used NCSS with DS and found it to be really helpful.

BlueberryPancake Tue 04-Jan-11 20:22:34

We have two boys who share same bedroom (5 and 3 yo). They have milk whilst watching quiet TV for half an hour. They have bath but not every night especially now (bath every night in summer), and they brush their own teeth with a bit of help (they are learning to spit at the moment and it's hilarious). Then pyjamas, three books, lights out, a story and three songs in the dark. By the third song they are usually asleep or very drowsy. They both have a bedtime soft toy.

lecce Tue 04-Jan-11 20:42:56

My ds is 3.9 and for the last 2 years he has had:

- a bath every other night or just a wash and teeth cleaned.
- Two stories in bed.
- A kiss and is then tucked in with some cuddly toys.

I then leave the room and turn the light out.

Up until about 6 months ago, after the second book, we'd also read a lovely short poem/book callled 'Sleepy Me' and that was a really strong sleep cue.

He is always wide awake when I leave, and sometimes chats away to himself for a while but never gets up.

I don't think it matters what you do as long as it is low-key and pretty uch the same every night.

It works really well, in fact, the other night I was still feeding ds2 when it was point at which I usually leave and ds1 said, "Can you go now, then?" Charming grin.

bondgirl77 Tue 04-Jan-11 20:54:57

Thanks everyone. This all sounds like the stuff of dreams to me. I long for the day when this is possible! But just what I was after hearing.

twirlymum Tue 04-Jan-11 20:58:24

DS is 3.10 and he cleans his own teeth (I check them!) goes to the loo, and climbs up to bed (cabin bed). It's usually one story, then a little chat about our day, a kiss and a hug, then lights out.
He invariably shouts down for something- thirsty, can't find his teddy etc, but I think it's just to check we're still there!

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 04-Jan-11 21:08:00

bondgirl77 you will get there. Know there has been times when we thought we would never get a whole nights sleep but then something clicked and she is sleeping through.

AnyFuleKno Tue 04-Jan-11 21:10:03

the rapid return technique which whoknowswhatthefutureholds recommended is very effective at this age.

Do routine, put them to bed with a 'goodnight'

if they get up, put them back with no eye contact, just a brief 'time to go to sleep'.

Repeat - probably a lot on night one
a bit less on night two
by night three you should have more or less cracked it.

Egg Tue 04-Jan-11 21:23:51

My twins are three next week. At moment they normally come upstairs by about 6:15 after either bath or tv and have one or two stories in our bed. Clean teeth, dd has a wee and ds2 gets clean nappy and they get into bed. Kisses and cuddles and sometimes requests for water. Both have blankies which are vital to them. Have nightlight on while they go to sleep and we turn it off later. Occasionally if dd has had a nap in day she gets up a couple of times and wanders round to find us but normally they go quiet fairly quickly left on their own. Ds2 often still nods off in day but this wont normally effect him going to sleep but does mean he might be up before 6. Sorry no paras my phone is cack. My twins have many faults but getting them to bed thankfully is usually ok. Touch wood...

BlueberryPancake Tue 04-Jan-11 21:24:22

Well we do the 'sit down and enjoy the moment' technique. I love holding my children's hand when they fall asleep!

thisisyesterday Tue 04-Jan-11 21:25:23

what happens if you leave him bondgirl?

i always used to just put mine into bed and leave them. sometimes they mess about a bit, look at books, play with a toy, but tbh as long as they stay in bed/in their room i am not too bothered!

if i were you i would just stop him napping in the day though if it's messing up his bedtime

bondgirl77 Wed 05-Jan-11 19:22:05

Will work up to this gradually I think. If I just leave him he takes hours to get himself off will be up and about. We are on our second night of me sitting on the box in his room. Will continue this for a week and then start to leave the room. Tonight it is easy as he is knackered after first day at new nursery and childminder. It is usually possible to keep him going it is just those days that we travel back in the car or if he takes himself off to lie down without me noticing! Anyhow will see how we get on.

Orissiah Thu 06-Jan-11 13:31:03

Hope he manages to stop napping as I think that will help to settle him to sleep quickly at night... Can you/carer pre-empt him when he goes off to catch a few zzzz's during the day eg does he take himself off to nap at the same time each day - can you distract him with activity when you/carer knows he's getting tired and may want to slope off to nap? In the car can you play games with him as you drive or sing songs to prevent him dropping off? Eventually his body clock will get used to no napping and he'll have more stamina to stay awake.

Sopster Thu 06-Jan-11 16:06:14

My little boy has just turned 4. We have bath, teeth, 2 stories and then dim the lights and walk out. He got a little numbers/letters electronic game for Christmas which he loves so we leave him with that but he's always asleep within 20 mins. I have used a reward chart a lot with him (for potty training and eating) and these have worked brilliantly. (My Big Star Chart from is the one one we used which is reusable and has stickers for lots of different issues and ones you can tailor to your own needs). We would give him a sticker each time he did what we asked (ie performed on potty) and then a small reward for 10 stickers (extra TV, bedtime stories, small toy etc). Good luck!

AliBaba40 Thu 06-Jan-11 16:29:52

Oh you poor thing. I know how frustrating it is when they're clearly knackered but just won't go to bed.

With DD1, we used to have two stories and then a "sleepy story". During the first two, DD1 could sit beside whoever was reading or on their lap. For the Sleepy Story (ideally something that rhymes and which ends with characters going to bed or saying goodnight) she would have to be in bed, lying down, with the covers pulled up. Otherwise she didn't get the story.

I've just started a similar routine with DD2 (18m) as she's just moved from a cot to a bed. Seems to be working so far (2 weeks and counting...)

We use story CDs too, or music. Not typical lullabies, DH made a compilation with all sorts of songs on it - everything from the Doors to Dido - but DD1 loves it. Haven't tried it with DD2 yet.

But of course even with all that (which at least got DD into the right place, ie bed!), we did, like you, go through a period where she refused to settle and kept getting out of bed. I used the old bore-them-into-submission trick, so every time she got up, I put her back, as calmly as I could, and said "Bed time. Good night".

For a few nights it took hours (or it certainly felt like it!) but I kept telling myself "I have more patience than you. I can do this for longer. You are tired and I am, well, not quite so tired. I will not be beaten by a three year old". After a few nights, it got easier and I only had to put her back two or three times and then, quite suddenly, she got the message and stopped.

I really hope that helps. I remember how awful it was when she just wouldn't settle and I'm praying that DD2 will be easier. Given that she seems quite keen on sleep (slept in till 10am a couple of times over Christmas - alas, unlike her sister!) I'm cautiously optimistic... hmm

PorridgeBrain Thu 06-Jan-11 16:51:32

DD (3.4) has been in a pretty good routine for a while, however despite that routine if she is not tired at bedtime (i.e had a daytime sleep), then she can be up talking, singing, dancing to herself for a while and there isn't much we can do to make her go to sleep. If she is being rowdy/noisy, we go and warn her to quieten down or if its going on for a while we remind her its bedtime and tell her no more talking (may have to get cross with her if it carries on) and eventually she gives in. ATM, she is generally not having a daytime sleep and is going off quite quickly - not sure there is much you can do in the circumstances apart from try and limit/cut sleep if possible.

GnomeDePlume Thu 06-Jan-11 16:53:07

I offer this with trepidation:

At this age our 3 DCs were cuddled to sleep downstairs with DH or me once they hit the manic tired stage. Once asleep they were carried up to bed.

As they got older and were at school bedtimes were introduced. These were not early - around 8.30 to 9pm. Often DS would say he was tired sooner and take himself off to bed.

By keeping DCs downstairs with us DH & I simply chatted drank wine over their heads and watched what we wanted on tv.

In self-defense my DCs are all now much much older (oldest 15 and youngest 11) and have no sleep disorders. My opinion was to not make going to sleep a battle.

Queentroton Thu 06-Jan-11 21:17:09

Hi everyone, I'm really interested in these comments as I'm having problems with my 2.8 y.o. (DS1). Suddenly, from being the baby that slept through at 3 months to having 12 hours every night ever since, he has started waking up shouting and sobbing in the middle of the night and refusing to go back to sleep. The other night he kept going for 3 hours. He doesn't appear to be having nightmares although has made a couple of comments about the dark, he just says he wants cuddles and to play with his toys.
It started 10 days ago over Christmas, staying with my inlaws where we took him into our bed so as not to wake everyone. We never do this normally.
We have a 5 month old baby (DS2) who has just started to sleep much better. Oh the irony...
So, could it be - delayed reaction to baby? Teeth (just cut two last back teeth)? Disruption to routine (although never happened before)? Sudden separation anxiety? Nightmares?
Going into him seems to make it worse and last longer. Do we just leave him?
Any similar experiences? I am finding it heartbreaking. And knackering.
Thank you ladies.

GnomeDePlume Thu 06-Jan-11 21:55:25

Queentroton - Does it really matter if he doesnt go to bed at a particular time and just stays up until he is tired? Is he going to bed too early?

Queentroton Fri 07-Jan-11 10:02:03

Hi GnomeDePlume - it's not going to bed that's the problem, it's the waking up sobbing at 2am and not going back to sleep.

GnomeDePlume Fri 07-Jan-11 11:26:35

Queentroton - what time is he going to bed?

I just wonder if he is getting to the end of a sleep cycle just an hour or so too early. If he got to that point a little bit later in the night (ie 3am rather than 2am) he might be able to get back to sleep more easily or not even wake at all. From what you describe he is awake and bored at 2am.

Have you tried keeping him up a while longer?

bondgirl77 Fri 07-Jan-11 16:12:09

Queentotron - my DS had this problem too a while back. Always been a terrible sleeper - as am I!! I looked it up on google as thought it might be night terrors, but it seemed to me after reading about it that he was having a night tantrum. The nearer I got the worse he shouted/cried. I stayed near him and spoke in a low soothing voice. Also sometimes he would snap out of it if I used one of his toys to 'speak' to him and soothe him that way. You are not alone though (and I found that more comforting than anything!!) HTH.

Orissiah, yes could try keeping him going in the car. Got one of those in-car DVD players which might help although he does still fall asleep in front of it. I usually try desperately to stop him by singing and talking to him but it doesn't always work!

AliBaba, I came across a really lovely CD called 'lullaby' it is traditional lullabies sung by the woman from Zero 7. Really relaxing and more 'grown up' than the traditional schmaltzy children's songs. I'd recommend it and it makes a great alternative pressie for new babies!

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