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Being honest, how do you actually get your toddler to sleep?

(38 Posts)
Ber2291 Tue 11-Mar-14 20:16:46

My DS 2.3 has always been a horrendous sleeper and I just do NOT know why. I have always been pretty consistent with my approach and quite strict. I can count on two hands the amount of times he has slept in our bed and I have very rarely stayed with him til he fell asleep etc bar being ill.

His bedtime routine is always cosy and nice, stories in dim light and plenty of time for winding down.

Yet he still cries to get to sleep and hates bed time so much. He has gone through a phase or two some time ago of just going to bed happily but it never lasted. This all happens regardless of nap or no nap by the way.

I don't know that many other mums and the ones I do know seem to do sitting with them
Until they fall asleep, cosleeping, back stroking etc. I just don't want to believe its not possible to just cuddle your child good night and then enjoy supper with your husband and see them in the morning. Am I being unrealistic? Tell me truthfully does your child for the most part just go to sleep on their own? Or do you jump through hoops?

ReluctantCamper Tue 11-Mar-14 20:22:42

Ber, every other night we bath DS, this is often accompanied by a tantrum. But the rest of the routine is fine. Into pyjamas, brush teeth, story, kisses and cuddles, then tuck him in switch the light off and leave. Occasionally I go back in if he wants a drink of water, and sometimes he does cry so me or his Dad will give him a quick cuddle, but for the most part I don't see him again until the morning.

Like you, I would be very reluctant to get into any back stroking, staying until DC is asleep etc. If you don't want to do this, I would strongly suggest not starting!

Good luck with bedtime. It's never the easiest part of the day (but some days it's what you're wishing for!).

ReluctantCamper Tue 11-Mar-14 20:23:09

should have said, DS is 3

CalamityJones Tue 11-Mar-14 20:23:46

At actual bedtime my 2.5y dd is a delight. She has supper at 6 then a bath at 7pm for 20 mins followed by toothbrushing then pjs and a cuddle in her room with a story (just the one). Then the stars come out on the gro-clock and I say goodnight, she tells me she loves me and I am downstairs by 7:30 - this routine works equally well with dh, her grandparents and her babysitter. I did controlled crying at 12 months old, it took about three nights and I don't think she ever cried for more than about 15 mins at a time.

Naptimes are a completely different story. I found myself rocking her to sleep yesterday. Today I lay on her bed for 30 mins stroking her hair, with no success. The only guaranteed way to get her to sleep during the day is to go out in the car.

pod3030 Tue 11-Mar-14 20:26:05

My DD (2.4) self settles now, but i put a hell of a lot of work in to begin with. I did gradual withdrawal, at one point standing next to her cot til 4am, ankles swelling, slightly hallucinating, before i could leave. Gradually I got further from the cot, then sat with my back to her, then in the doorway, finally she was confident enough that i would be there for her that she played and chatted herself to sleep. If she needed me, i always came.
She is now a confident wee girl, we have stories and one song and then she goes to bed and has a good old chinwag with her toys on her own. By 8pm she's asleep and i can get on with some work/have friends round.

I made a big effort in making the bed a nice place to be- she would scream like she was being murdered in the early days, I shed many tears it was so distressing. It can be done.

Ber2291 Tue 11-Mar-14 20:27:22

Damn all you perfect parents! What's your
Secret? smile

JimmyPerez Tue 11-Mar-14 20:27:32

Never had a "wind down" routine. Simply "right, that's it - bedtime off we go". Has applied to both since they were babies.

ilovepicnmix Tue 11-Mar-14 20:27:34

My DS is 20 months old. He has milk and a cuddle in the half dark. I then stick him in his cot and say goodnight. He goes to sleep usually within about 10 mins but lies quietly. I reckon 90% of the time I don't have to go in to him until the morning (anywhere between 6 and 7). If I do have to go to him in the night I usually bring him in with me. He was an awful sleeper for 12 months and I always too the path of least resistance. It's a fluke that he sleeps well now and I really hope I've not cursed it.

bigkidsdidit Tue 11-Mar-14 20:27:57

I do a story in his room (bath first then we put the baby to bed). Then a cuddle on his bed, then I tuck him in. I let him have a couple of cars, usually lightning and mater. I put his nightlight on and go down to tidy up. I can usually hear him chatting and playing with the cars for about half an hour, I don't mind what he does as long as he doesn't come out of his room.

I go up after an hour and he's always asleep then so I tuck him in again. He's 3 but it's Been the same since he turned 1.

Ber2291 Tue 11-Mar-14 20:29:08

But I feel like surely I have shed all
The tears. I did controlled crying and I've never wavered and given in really. Surely the consistency should count for something?

CalamityJones Tue 11-Mar-14 20:32:09

I really sympathise, I feel very lucky that dd is co-operative. I'm sure that it can't and won't work for every child, but how long did you try controlled crying for? What are you doing at the moment when he cries?

sausagefortea Tue 11-Mar-14 20:43:23

Ds2 had a bath, drank some milk, plopped him in his cot, sang twinkle, twinkle to him, kissed goodnight and he rolled over and went straight to sleep.

Ds1......everything was consistent down to temperature amd darkness of room, 2 stories exactly, warmed milk, put down sleepy, kissed goodnight and repeated last two steps ad infinitum, occasionally mixing it up by lying beside cot singing 80s tunes until exhaustion kicked in (usually mine).

No difference in parents.....luck of the draw.

Ds1 is now complete lazy bones and has lovely lie ins at the weekend!

ReluctantCamper Tue 11-Mar-14 21:06:51

Ber, I'm not sure what to suggest as it sounds to me like you're doing the right things. When DS and I disagree, I always think 'what do I want to happen, and how important is it to me?'.

You want your DS to go to bed at a reasonable time and settle himself. I think this is also an important skill for him to master.

If it is important to you, then keep doing what you're doing. I found this book really helpful with figuring out ways to deal with DS's more emotional moments. It's not specifically about bedtime, but may help?

Jaffakake Tue 11-Mar-14 21:07:56

Ds 2.5 yrs has mainly been lovely to get to sleep. At one point you'd say bedtime & he'd even get up & go to the stairs! Over the last 12 months tantrums have been about bath time mainly. He'd get into bed & even on bad nights after a bit of a noise would drop off quickly. On the odd occasion he'd kick off, fight sleep & be awake up to 2 hrs after he should've been. But it was the odd occasion


The last 4 weeks have been very different! We're back in the land of sleep regression & he needs cuddles, pats, blankets, toys, songs, chats etc etc. it seems to be waning now, but it proves we've been lucky & you do whatever you can to get them to go to sleep!

Girlsville Tue 11-Mar-14 21:17:34

Hi OP, I sympathise. My DD1 (just turned 4) used to cry herself to sleep. Was horrid for us Åland I dreaded bedtime this was in stark contrast to her younger sister who went to bed without a tear from day 1.

When DD1 was 2.5 I couldn't bear it anymore. I sat by her cot and stroked her back for 5 minutes until she was asleep. It was a much calmer and happier end to the day for us all and I felt much better, as did she. When she moved to a bed at 3 I told her I would not stroke her back any more but would sit in her room. I sat by the door until she fell asleep, again within 5 mins. After a couple of weeks I told her I would stay upstairs until she fell asleep, and also explained I always come and give her a kiss when she is asleep. She loved this idea and was happy fro me to not be in the room. Since then she has gone to sleep like a dream after stories and often asks now to go to bed.

I think for her she really needed the reassurance and by giving it to her she then felt secure enough to let me go without tears a few months later. It's not for everyone - and I am a routine monster- but I actually really enjoyed sitting with her as she fell asleep and seeing that she was calm . It was much more preferable to tears for an hour.

I also think all children are different and what works for one does not necessarily work for another, as shown by the differences in my dds.

Good luck!

TheresLotsOfFarmyardAnimals Tue 11-Mar-14 21:18:47

Ds always cried down for any sleep (inc. Pram and car) until a couple of months ago. Still get a cry for naps but not a peep at bedtime.

We do shower if needed then pjs, milk, teeth, book, cuddle and finally bed. He says night night, rolls over and I leave.

We're very lucky. He was overstimulated by us rocking him so we stopped this at 3 months-ish. Used shush pat and then left him to it from 5 months or so.

He goes through now but that was a different matter from 13-17 months.

minipie Tue 11-Mar-14 21:25:28

Ber2291 we too have a pretty rubbish/reluctant sleeper (16 months old) despite having done all the "right" things.

I think it's just her nature. She is a very active inquisitive child and just doesn't want to go to bed. So we often get a few minutes of protest at bedtime unless she is really knackered. (I leave her to it unless she is ill).

She also won't sleep through unless everything is perfect - so if she had a cold for example we will get at least one round of wailing in the night and she won't settle without cuddles.

Not sure what more we can do really.

elQuintoConyo Tue 11-Mar-14 21:28:17

Either on me or DH's lap, or in the pushchair while we're out.

We co sleep. When he falls asleep on either of us, we put him on the bed and he doesn't wake for about 9-10 hours.

He's 2.3. I couldn't give a toss if people think we're coddling him, spoiling him etc. We don't have the money at the moment to buy a bed for him. Plus we both like having him in the bed, we're all close and snuggly. DS won't be getting brothers or sisters, so we'll only experience this once.

He hates baths, so we bathe him once every three days or so, in the morning when he's not tired. He still protests, but less than in the evening.

Sharaluck Tue 11-Mar-14 21:35:31

I don't clock watch. I do bedtime routine, wind them down, keep things quiet and calm etc but wait until they are actually tired before putting in bed, then they go straight to sleep.

I can't be dealing with rapid return, patting a non-tired child etc so dh and I get on with our evening quietly (eat our dinner/ watch our tv etc) and just watch them for quiet signs.

Their actual 'bedtime' does vary from 7.30-8.30.

Sharaluck Tue 11-Mar-14 21:36:26

Quiet signs=tired signs

brettgirl2 Tue 11-Mar-14 21:51:42

You see I had the opposite problem. My two would never feed to sleep or cuddle to sleep even when they were tiny. They seemed to need their space and now 2 and 4 just go to bed and sleep. Don't knew why sorry...

brettgirl2 Tue 11-Mar-14 21:52:15

So when they were tiny this was a nightmare!

Nevercan Tue 11-Mar-14 21:55:14

Der Does your ds have a nap during the day?

stopgap Wed 12-Mar-14 01:13:23

I sleep-trained at fifteen months (Kim West's approach, which is gradual retreat). My son was already sleeping 7-7 by that point (fifteen months) but required 40 minutes of rocking, which was unsustainable.

Since six months I have given DS1 a bath with California Baby's Overtired and Cranky bubble bath, followed by three books, a lullaby, and into his bed. I think it's pure luck that he is so amenable to following his bedtime routine, as he is so headstrong in all other areas. He still gets a two-hour nap at 2pm, and I do everything the same, aside from the bath. Occasionally he'll cry out with a Mummy, but 90% of the time he just rolls over and either chats to himself or falls right asleep.

DS1 is now 2.7 and I plan on following exactly the same routine with DS2.

mostlyconfused Wed 12-Mar-14 01:32:58

My dd is just about to turn 3 and has just started putting herself to sleep over the last 2 weeks. Up until then, we cuddled her to sleep. To be honest, this was just easier all round for us. It meant she settled really quickly and bedtime was a good experience. Plus I loved a sleepy cuddle smile
We always have the same routine every night - 6:30 bath, 7:00 milk , 7:30 teeth brushed and pee , into bed for a story and sleeping for 8pm.
I also know other mums who's children have been left to fall asleep since about 2 years old so there is no right or wrong way.

If your finding bed time to be really hard, I don't think there would be anything wrong with cuddling your child to sleep or sitting with them. You might find that after a couple of weeks of this, they will fall asleep really quickly and you can enjoy the rest if your evening.

Every parent and child is different and will have a way that works for them.

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