How to get toddler to fall asleep in less than an hour!(48 Posts)
I have a 21 month old daughter. At the moment bedtime is a real struggle. We do, (and always have since weaning from bf) lie with her in a double bed until she falls asleep, then transfer to her cot, which used to take 15-20 mins and neither of us minded at all. However, she is taking longer and longer to fall asleep (up to 2hrs), and seems to be regressing in that she needs to be lying almost on top of us, whereas she used to toss and turn for a bit then roll off and fall sleep with no contact. She will lie for a few minutes and sound like she's falling asleep and then suddenly start chatting or singing or hitting us or crying. She is very very fidgety so I wonder about restless legs?
Does anyone have any advice on how to get her to wind down and fall asleep more easily? I have no problem with staying with her til she's asleep, conversely I'm wondering whether it'd be easier in the long run to go through a few nights of pain trying to get her to fall asleep without us? I've always felt that sleep training wasn't right for us but I would love to have a situation where we are both downstairs not long after 7 rather than one of us being trapped for what feels like a large portion of the evening. Any help gratefully received!
how many naps and how long is she having during the day?
how much exercise outside?
does she have a good satisfying meal before bedtime?
She naps after lunch for 1.5-2hrs. I feel like she gets enough exercise - she was in nursery today and they spend most of the day outside when it's not raining. When I'm off with her on Friday I'll try wearing her out outside though (we usually do playgroup/gymnastics in the morning and chores/errands in afternoon).
She eats loads but has tea at nursery early, 4ish and just milk before tea. Friday-Monday tea at 5-5.30ish.
We put DS in his cot after a bath, give him a bottle and read him a story (or three normally ) then leave him to it, normally around 7pm. He can take up to an hour to settle (can be gone in 10 mins though) but we have left a few books in his bed and sometimes he'll just look at those until he tires himself out! We do still have the video monitor so I can keep an eye on him and occasionally he'll get upset so we go back up to him as don't like him crying it out! Might be worth a go OP, get your evenings back!
Try pushing her bedtime forward an hour. She might just no longer be tired at the time you want her to go to bed!
Very frustrating I know. I have a DC who usually goes to bed at 7 but is currently sat up eating Cheerios 🙄.
No point sitting upstairs for hours every evening getting annoyed about it. It will pass xx
Probably needs a short nap, sorry!!!
2 of mine had stopped their naps altogether by their 2nd birthday.
Ive started bath, in to bed with a bottle of milk. She has a slumber buddy and that plays same music every night. While she is drinking bottle I read a story or 2 and then just say goodnight. She then falls asleep no problem within around 15 minutes. I was in the same position as you. I started off lying on her floor after doing the above but it was taking her an hour some nights, thats why I have started leaving the room. Hope that helps. If you had asked me 3 months ago I didn't think i would be leaving her alone and she was asleep no problems.
Honestly, that sounds insane to me and I would sleep train.
I'd limit the lunchtime nap to 45 mins. Just enough to replenish her but not enough to charge her up for the rest of the day. I'd also be brisk about bedtime and reassuring her but after 10 mins you use shush pat and leave her in her room. You could try having a low light on in the corridor and tidying up so she can hear you moving about close by?
Tha for for all the suggestions. Interesting about possibly needing less sleep. I feel like she's tired from 6ish, especially on nursery days she seems super wired when we get home. I'd definitely take a shorter nap to make the evenings easier though.
Unfortunately as she's always fallen asleep on the bed she would fully freak out if we put her in the cot and left. Or put her on the bed and left. And the moment we have hysterics - to the point of gagging - if I even try and sit by the bed instead of lying in it.
User101 - did you have crying when you left the room? Any other tips for the transition you made? At the moment, if I left the room after stories she would get off the bed and hysterically cry at the door which I'm not really comfortable with.
I feel your pain - both of my boys have taken an age to settle at night - but my first could be left to it and my second absolutely will not, and like yours seems to have regressed and likes to lie physically touching me. I’m rolling with it for now but it is very frustrating!
I wouldn't cut her nap to 45 mins at that age, especially if you're saying she seems tired by 6ish. Maybe cut it to 1.25-1.5 hours. I think the problem is that she's more distracted by your presence now she's slightly older. I would be starting to try to get her to fall asleep on her own in her cot. She could well still take an hour to fall asleep but at least you aren't having to lie with her the entire time.
Sorry it's the nap and there is no easy way. My son is exactly the same (it often takes 2 hours when he's napped) - if you can manage a short nap that's perfect.
DS is deliriously tired without his nap but he's asleep at night within 10 mins now!
We were exactly the same as you and I was exhausted.
DS was sleeping in our room as well. We got his room sorted, decorated etc and made a big deal of his new room, then started a routine of one story cuddled up on a chair, then a few songs and then sleep. I started off by saying goodnight and sitting on the chair not interacting. If he cried I would say "its bedtime" or something similar. After a few nights I sat on the floor outside his bedroom door with the door wide open, then another room with the door open, now I close the door.
It took about 3 or 4 weeks to get to where it is now (story, songs, say goodnight, I leave and he goes to sleep) but it's a massive improvement from 2 hours on my bed waiting for him to drop off.
I never let him cry it out, always reassure him if he's upset, but I never take him out of the cot again once he's in it.
Hope you find something that works for you soon.
Oh sorry, meant to say, DS wakes up at 7, naps for about 1.5 hours 12:30 - 2, then goes to bed at 7, asleep for 7:30 with no night wake ups since he's been settled in his room.
I dont think it's your DDs nap that's the problem, I think it's your bedtime routine.
The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers is very good. I would try reading that and see what is suggested.
This sounds like a child who has built up a lot of anxiety about the idea of either going to sleep or being left. That's why she can't fall asleep and why she reacts so strongly to you trying to reduce any of her comforts.
I would personally not want to do sleep training in terms of rapid return, sssh pat etc as I think this would potentially make the anxiety worse. I'd try and go back to how things were before when it only took 20 minutes, even though in the short term that will mean it takes even longer.
How is her language? Can she talk to you about how she feels at night? I would guess not (very much).
Restless legs is very rare. I don't think it's likely to be that. But as it's related to vitamin deficiency, a gummy multivitamin for children isn't likely to do any harm and might help. If you can get one with Vitamin D (if she isn't already taking that) I'd recommend it.
Could you move her to a single bed rather than a cot? Maybe a mattress or futon if you are worried about her falling out, or just use a bed guard. Then start her off in her own bed. You could still lie with her if you need to. I used to tell DS at that age if he started chatting or moving around "Ssssh, I want to go to sleep, I can't sleep if you do that."
When he was a bit older it was a clearer "You need to lie still and quiet." I explained to him before I tucked him in that if he started to make noise or move around, I would count to 3 and if I got to 3 then I would leave. I found that he simply didn't know how to relax into sleep so I had to explain it to him. FWIW other children may need to move or hum to themselves etc to self soothe - pick things that work for her.
If you do choose to move to a new bed you could use it as the start of a new routine. Instead of lying down you could promise to stay close but do something like a sleepy time massage instead. You could try a "magic sleepy spray" (few drops of lavender essential oil in water in a spray bottle) It might also help to have some kind of audio cue for sleep as well, either some calming music (try new age or meditation music on youtube/spotify) at a very low volume, or books on CD, again at such a low volume that even moving in bed rustling the covers would obscure what is being said. That encourages her to lie very still to listen to the story. Over time once she comes to associate this music/story with the calming presence of you and the massage/cuddle and as she will be older you might agree to shorten the massage and sit with her for a while instead, eventually getting to tucking her in and leaving.
Not sure what the answer is (as I'm in a similar position with my 23 month old!) but I've done some research and the general consensus is that actually you don't want to encourage them to drop naps during a sleep regression as they are likely to still need the nap (but fight it during the regression as they're more tuned in to the world around them and therefore they worry about missing out so refuse to sleep). It's taken me an hour to get DS down to sleep tonight. Funnily enough the days he naps for 2.5/3 hours at home are days he's more likely to go to sleep better at bedtime. I wish there was a magical cure but I suspect time will improve it for all of us xx
MrTumbleTumble - How much protesting did he do initially when you put him in the cot? I'm wondering whether we should do similar and get her a toddler bed to completely shake things up...
Why are you starting off on double bed? DD should be going straight in to cot. You can lie on bed but she should be in cot......just saying. In addition is she tired enough i.e too long day time sleep?
I know it’s hard but I think you need to be firm and put her in cot and leave her to it. Good routine (bath, story, cuddles, bed) and then go in at 5 minute intervals. No picking up or long chats just ‘sleepy time mummy and daddy love you night night’ and repeat x 100 first night, x 50 second etc etc until it’s normal. Consider limiting naps to 1.5 hours max or else push bedtime even 30-40 mins. Essentially your child needs to learn to go to sleep alone which will be harder at her age now than at 3/4 months and will need time spending but it’s worth it for your tome as a couple. Plus if you have more kids it’s not sustainable!
My DS (now 20!) was a horrendous sleeper. The only thing that worked with him was to play relaxing music on low volume. Over time he began to associate this particular CD with sleep and would drop off quite quickly when it came on.
No, no problems when I leave the room. She sometimes shouts for me and I just go in reassure her and lay her back down. Some of it was helped that she now kicks off if I try and hold her to sleep or be in my bed which is what she has always done. She has just turned 2. Other thing ive done is make sure she doesn't sleep past 2 if I can
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