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3 year old can't 'switch off' mentally at bedtime

(6 Posts)
GentlyGentlyOhDear Wed 10-Jun-15 22:34:27

I'm struggling at the minute with my 3.2 year old dd's sleep. We are in the unfortunate stage of dropping naps, but some days still being really tired and dropping off late in the day, which leads to dd being awake until 9/10pm.

She seems especially shattered the past couple of weeks, despite few naps and earlier bedtimes. I've noticed that after the bedtime routine of milk, teeth brushing and stories, we put her nursery rhyme cd on by about 7.30pm (done since birth) and she lies awake for at least an hour reciting the alphabet, singing songs, talking to her teddies, 'reading' her books. The other night I overheard her reciting the seasons and days of the week, which I didn't even know she knew! She just can't seem to switch off and unwind.

I'm wondering if there is some sort of 'developmental stage' around this age that she is maybe going through which is affecting her sleep? Or does anyone have any suggestions as to how to help her unwind? I think the light and heat probably don't help, but we black her windows out and put her to bed in vest and pj bottoms and she doesn't complain of being hot.
I'm 36 weeks pregnant and not sleeping great myself at the minute and struggling to deal with an overtired and whiny 3 year old in the day time!

teacher54321 Thu 11-Jun-15 07:08:48

Ds is exactly the same age and we're also struggling at bedtime/nighttime although with him it's related to separation anxiety. He's found potty training quite traumatic and distressing and been withholding and it has made him so clingy. In the past we could stick him in bed after a story and that would be that until morning. Now we have terrible tears and tantrums at bedtime and night terrors. Am exhausted. So no advice and a slightly different scenario, but lots of empathy about the whole situation!

GentlyGentlyOhDear Thu 11-Jun-15 08:26:33

Glad I'm not the only one going through it, though sorry you're suffering too! I'm struggling to switch off myself with it all, so we are all on 'high alert' in this household!

lazyleo Thu 11-Jun-15 09:35:30

hi there, I think you are right in that she is going through a lot of development, physically, intellectually and indeed emotionally. With a new baby due in a couple of weeks she is bound to be excited, or nervous, poss even worried. The dropping naps thing is tough, I've been there with my 5 year old and my almost 3 year old has just finished that stage. What I found with my daughter was allowing sleep on a couple of days worked well, sticking to the same times as previously. With my son it happened after we'd been away seeing family and nap times were jsut non-existent! Some days I found a 15 min drive would see him off to sleep and it might be 20 mins it might be 2 hours. I am generally happy to leave him in the car as I can see it from the window. So long as its not too hot it works well for me.
I did also find with my daughter and to a lesser degree with my son, her sleep was seriously interrupted right before a big development stage. When she was younger it was physical - before crawling, walking etc. i used to blame it on teething! When she was older it was right before she made big leaps with her reading, or became able to do much bigger jigsaws, hold longer conversations. It is really hard but you are not alone, and I think its normal developmental behaviour which is a great sign smile
I'd try not to let her sleep after 4pm for example and see what happens. If she does fall asleep at 5 or 6 I'd put her in bed and see what happens. But I'm sure others will have similar experiences and ideas to share smile

My DD'S nearly 10 now but used to be just like that as a toddler! She actually used to say her head was manic (a word she'd picked up from me as I used it to mean really busy and rushing about, nothing more serious!)

I had to stop reading to her at bedtime (read on demand earlier in the day instead) as she had and still has a very vivid and active imagination indeed and even a bedtime story woukd over stimulate her imagination.

I'd stop the CD or replace with soothing music without lyrics, and move story time to earlier in the day. Otherwise there's not a lot you can do except make the last hour of the day as calm as possible.

If she's happy chatting to herself and not getting up in the night it's not the end of the world and she will grow out of it (dd is out like a light these days unless she has something specific on her mind). But overtired is not fun so I'd try those things.

GentlyGentlyOhDear Thu 11-Jun-15 12:19:43

Thanks for the ideas ladies.

I have relaxation and meditation cds on to help me drop off at night (apple doesn't fall far from the tree!) so I might switch her nursery rhyme ones to those ones and see if it helps. I'm going to have a word with DH about him not doing songs and stories before bed. He doesn't get in until 7pm and loves to do the final bedtime routine with her, but I think he probably overstimulates her with his voices and rhymes!

I hadn't thought about it being to do with the new baby coming, but that is probably obvious! She is just so 'busy' in the day with lots going on at the minute and I can sometimes see the 'cogs' turning when she does something new or we have a chat about something she didn't know about, for example, so I suppose it's no wonder it all takes a while to process and for her to wind down.

Fingers crossed the phase ends before newborn night feeds arrive!

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