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How late is too late for bedtime for a 3 year old?

(20 Posts)
connyrabbit Thu 14-Jul-11 22:35:02

It is 10.30 and my 3 yo DS has only just gone to bed 9 but is still being red to by DH). When I'm on my own he goes to bed around 8.30 (can't manage to make him sleepy any earlier - and he doesn't do naps), but when daddy's home before 8.30 (half the time), bedtime becomes this protracted affair... and it drives me bananas.

DH says he was traumatised by his strict bedtime hour as a child, lying endlessly in the dark, so he won't force that onto his child. He entertains him and stimulates him (deliberately, he wants DS to become a top brain) until DS stops the game by saying he wants to go to bed. But this can take a while as they do have a lot of fun together.

I find it quite hard from a couple point of view (we are rarely alone), and also I'm concerned that DH is taking away sleep that DS needs.

Thoughts anyone?

Penthesileia Thu 14-Jul-11 22:41:16

I think every child is different, but 10.30 does seem too late (unless he sleeps in til 10 the next day). I think that most sleep experts argue that 3 year olds need about 12 hours of sleep.

Your DH is barking up the wrong tree, though, if he thinks that he can "stimulate" your son into being clever... You should buy a book called "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" and terrorise him with the fact that getting enough sleep is more important for brain development and learning than being "stimulated". grin

sunnyday123 Thu 14-Jul-11 22:49:18

my dds age 3 and 5 are both asleep by 7.30 - 8pm. I love this time to myself and with dh.

For us, 10.30 would only be on holidays! It does seem late and whilst your DS may be coping now it'll be difficult when he goes to school or nursery when he has to be up early. Late night stimulation is a bad idea imo and ds is probably milking it to just stay up late- your DH may be creating problems in the future when DS has to go to bed early (at schools he wont maintain those late nights) and so refuses to take part in games without the reward of staying late iyswim!

Niecie Thu 14-Jul-11 22:55:48

I'm not strict on bedtimes. Mine go to bed late by a lot of people's standards but I think my concern with your situation is that the late bedtime is not being driven by your DS not being ready to sleep but by your DH extending his bedtime.

This sounds like it is all about what your DH wants not what your DS needs. There must be a happy medium between strict miserable bedtimes and being forced to go to bed before you are ready on one hand and bedtime being a complete free for all on the other.

I also think your DH's thinking is very faulty on stimulating your DS to make him a top brain. Lack of sleep won't improve his brain, quite the opposite as a lot of processing goes on at night. Your DS needs his sleep. What time does he wake up? Does he get his 10-12 hours at night? Does he show any signs of not coping with his bedtime.

I don't know what to suggest though. Have you had a proper discussion about it all?

GreenTeapot Thu 14-Jul-11 23:00:01

I'm a completely precious uptight PITA about sleep for DC and IMO that's madness. He's still growing at a massive rate, he needs that sleep to develop and rest. Inadequate sleep is linked to hyperactivity and behaviour problems. Your DH can't make him clever by winding him up. Much better to spend quiet time reading with him and talking about his day for a while, maybe after a bath, and have him asleep by 8pm.

My 4 year old goes to bed at 6.30pm if he's had a busy day and will sleep 11-12 hours. If I let him stay up to 10pm he'd be losing almost 3 hours sleep because I'd have to wake him to go to the childminder. No way.

alew Thu 14-Jul-11 23:00:29

I agree that 10.30 is too late, but can't really talk as my 3yr old sleeps 10-5.30, (due to Developmental and physical issues) and it is a nightmare situation to break out of.

LittlePushka Thu 14-Jul-11 23:04:37

I'm wholly with you and Penthesilia on this one. Perhaps by 8.30 latest I'd say, though if child it still hyper at that time then little point. I think 10.30 is WAY too late A low light and a few books for himself in bed may let him bring himself down into a state of sleepiness.
Id say that stimulation is not the thing at all, wind down and relax is more the appropriate. Id also say that in my experience of two boys, physical exercise and plenty of it (proper running about/chasing/playing on scooter/red cheeked stuff etc) between tea and supper will do wonders for bringing on sleep. I think somewhere between 10 and 12 hours each night would be a fair goal.

Can your DH really recall sleep patterns he had at three? Really? I find his take on how to manage the sleep thing a little odd I must say... but I think perhaps you must do too as you put him down and a normal time and are askig thoughts on "stimulation to induce sleep". Hope you resolve your dilemma :-)

thisisyesterday Thu 14-Jul-11 23:06:59

hmmm well i would say that it doesn't really matter as long as you and the child are happy with it

i think it's a really, really bad idea to "stimulate" him until he is so tired he asks to go to bed though to be quite honest. he's only little and he needs plenty of sleep

I do know a family whose kids regularly went to bed around 10ish, dad is Italian and that's just how it is over there. when the eldest started school she gradually started going to bed earlier because she simply needed more sleep and it's worked out just fine for them (despite all the disapproval from other people! lol)

I would approach it with your DH and say that you would like your evenings back and that you would like to instigate a proper bedtime, maybe 9pm as a compromise? I can understand his concerns and maybe you could agree that if DS is very unsettled and clearly not tired/doesn't want to go to bed then you can allow him to stay up a bit later, but if DS is ready and goes down ok then I think you can rest assured that he isn't being traumatised by it!

MerryMarigold Thu 14-Jul-11 23:10:10

My dh does this to a lesser extent and it drives me bananas too. He gets in at 6.45 and he is often messing about with the kids till 7.45. This is too late for my kids (1 has been at school all day and the others are 2.5 with no naps) and they just get moany and awful the next day. I know he's doing it because he enjoys spending time with them, and they him, which is sweet, but it's actually not doing them, or me, any favours. I have had a word with him about this. I also chivvy him along. I think you need some facts at your fingertips about how much sleep kids need. Do you see any difference in your son if he has an 8.30 bedtime or a 10.30 bedtime? Is he difficult the next day when it's a late one?

connyrabbit Fri 15-Jul-11 08:59:22

DS is still asleep so you could say he is totally making up for his late night.
And it's school hols so it's ok - but still, I miss my evenings, and I think some sort of routine is important.

DS is always a happy and good tempered little soul, so it doesn't seem to do him any harm. If he needs a nap to make up for it he says so and we just take him upstairs for a little doze. DH says he himself has always needed very little sleep so any facts of "a child should have 10/12 hours sleep" won't persuade him. He always says DS and him as a child are identical.

But it's really the usual case of dad gets home and wants his share of the fun with the children too. If I want a decent bedtime I have to play the mean wife, which I don't enjoy. They love each other so much.

MerryMarigold Fri 15-Jul-11 21:04:46

Mmmmm...I don't know. He will need a routine soon enough if he goes to school Nursery or Reception. How does your dh manage when it is not school hols? I think it's done my twins a lot of good that they have a bedtime routine whereas ds1 didn't really. It's taken ds1 a year to settle into being at school in the afternoon as he often used to grab an afternoon nap. The twins dropped their nap as they were getting enough sleep from 7.30-7.30, so they will be a lot more used to going a whole day without rest when it comes round to their turn to starting school. I am glad they'll be a bit more resilient.

Laugs Fri 15-Jul-11 21:17:24

Cornyrabbit, have you read that Steve Biddulph book Raising Boys? I know some people hate him, and to be honest I only read a bit of it as DS is only a toddler, but it's just reminded me of this situation.

SB says that where mums tend to do the soothing, caring side, dads tend to do the fun and stimulation. I'm sure he specifically writes about dads getting home from work and winding up stimulating the kids when the mum has been starting to wind them down. I don't know about other households, but it is quite true for mine too. Might be worth looking at (although I'm not sure he says how to fix the problem, but you could show it to DH - it is aimed quite a bit at dads - and he might fix it himself)

I do think 10.30 is quite late. You deserve some time to switch off in the evening. Maybe DH could aim to go to work a bit earlier and come home earlier? (tried this with my DH... still waiting for it to happen)

Roo83 Fri 15-Jul-11 22:14:19

My 3yr old ds is in bed for 7/7.30pm. In holiday time/special occasions he's had much later nights but I've noticed after a few days of this his behaviour really changes-not necessarily out right naughty but pretty manic! He has a torch in bed and is allowed to look at books (obv can't read yet) but not get out of bed. That way I know he's getting quiet/resting time even if he's not actually sleeping. Most nights he's asleep within 10mins of going to bed anyway

controlleddemolition Fri 15-Jul-11 22:17:39

My three year old was in bed asleep by 6.20 this evening. That's pretty typical for her, I would like for her to stay up a bit later (til 7) but she can't manage it so goes to bed early.

So your DS' bedtime seems completely unfeasible to me, but only because I know my DD would be screaming the place down at that time.

ilovesprouts Fri 15-Jul-11 22:24:24

my ds2 used to go to bed wen i did around 11pm ... but hes been going to bed at 7pm every night now for the past couple of months he crys for a while but id always asleep in 15mins

Meglet Fri 15-Jul-11 22:28:12

8pm is a late night for my dc's (4yo & 2yo) and 7pm their usual bedtime. I need quiet in the evenings so have to get them to bed at a sensible time.

Pigleychez Fri 15-Jul-11 22:48:40

Bedtime for DD (almost 3). Up for a bath at 7 then dried, dressed and story before bed at around 7.30 depending how long the bath is. Then storytime and bed. Lights out and door shut. Works perfectly for us. DD is so used to this routine that we can alter the time (special occassions etc) and just follow the routine without any fuss. Sometimes missing bath if its really late..ie gone 9pm.

DH also likes to do 'learning' with DD and does it during bathtime using spongy bath letters to spell words or the bath crayons for drawing, writing etc. Fun and educational without being overly stimulating before bed.

Knackeredmother Fri 15-Jul-11 22:51:58

My 3 year old is still up. NEVER EVER sleeps before 11. She is just not tired. However the fact your ds sleeps earlier for you suggests it may be too late for him, especially if he asks to go to bed,

jcp123 Tue 19-Jul-11 23:30:00

My 3yo son goes at 7pm and is up between 6 and 7am. He does not nap and is always tired at 7pm. If it get's later than this he becomes overtired and hyperactive and can be difficult to settle. Then he is grumpy the next day as he wakes up at the usual time.

Regardless of what has happened during the day, we stick to quite a strict timetable of events starting at 5pm with dinner and wind down time, 5:45pm tidy up. 6pm bath, 6:25 dry and dressed, 6:40 Milk and stories. He knows what's happening and that it's the run up to bed time so there is no complaining or fuss. My DH is occasionally not home before bedtime, but DS knows routine so we carry on without him if that's necessary. It's not a problem when we have visitors either. This routine also works for our 5 month baby, though he will, obviously nap during the day. I'll have to admit, it's lovely having both kids in bed at 7pm.

BlueberryPancake Wed 20-Jul-11 12:55:59

7.30 - 8.00 for my two boys, 4 and 5 years old. They are tired by then. If later than that they do become hyper and are very difficult to put to bed. They wake up 6:30 - 7 am.

I think that 10-12 hours a night is what's recommended. 10.00 is very late for a little one.

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