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2 year old bedtime disaster - suggestions please!

(9 Posts)
naomilpeb Sun 19-Dec-10 20:24:44

We are increasingly struggling to get DD, who is 2, to sleep at anything resembling a normal bedtime. I'm hoping someone can give us some tips about what we're doing wrong and what we can do to make it better.

She has been in her big bed for about a month, after asking for it. We had planned moving her in January - as we'll soon need the cot for DS (10 weeks) - but she asked for it sooner. Initially it worked brilliantly, she loves the bed and would go to sleep by herself happily. Then she went through a phase of waking in the night, which I think was due to being cold, and DP stroked her hair till she fell asleep again. Then she suddenly started wanting him to do that at bedtime, and it's been getting harder and harder to get her off. Three hours last night, and as I type he's still at it now. We've tried rapid return but she's so quick he can't even get out of the room before she's at the door blocking his exit! She quickly gets really upset and screams to go downstairs, kicks and fights any attempt to put her back in bed, and generally makes rapid return impossible! There's a stairgate on her door but we're loathe to just leave her as she gets so upset.

I've taken to feeding DS in our room in the evening and making sure she knows, in case she thought we were all having fun downstairs without her. But no change. She never asks to come into our room.

I'm hoping someone has some helpful advice for us as it is really wearing for us all. She has recently dropped her daytime naps, and finds it hard to sleep later than half-six in the morning, so she's exhausted and ratty during the day.

TIA

ninjamummy Sun 19-Dec-10 23:33:26

ooh sounds tough.
does she have a bedtime routine?
does she go to bed at a fixed time?

stickersarecurrency Sun 19-Dec-10 23:45:03

Overtired/molars coming? I'd move bedtime forward, especially if she's dropped a nap. Do you have stories? I'd get to the library, let her choose, read a good few before lights out. Also avoiding tv in the last couple of hours before bed might help. I always found DS gave in and relaxed more if I resigned myself to sitting with him. I'd sit in his room in an armchair and play games on my phone (or MN obviously) but not look at him or talk - just "bedtime now, not talking time, night night".

If you've any tips on nightmares and persistent waking in 3.5 year olds I'm all ears!

naomilpeb Mon 20-Dec-10 00:09:54

Thanks for the replies!

She does have a bedtime routine of bath, goodnight to DS and I, story or two and milk, which has worked well up to now. Time isn't set in stone but she is usually in bed around 7.

Stickers I think you are definitely right about her being overtired as she really struggles to get to tea time most days since she dropped the nap. I have to admit that I'm loathe to bring bedtime forward as it'd mean doing it on my own during the week... But worth a go.

It's also interesting what you say about TV, as I've taken to often plonking her in front of a DVD towards the end of the day when she's tired and I need to cook dinner and somehow simultaneously feed DS constantly - we can try cutting that out and see if it makes a difference. I'd been feeling really guilty about it anyway.

And then again it could be molars (they're due...) and it could be a delayed reaction to DS's arrival... I find it so frustrating trying to figure out what is a problem you need to deal with, and what is a phase you need to ride out!

Thanks for your suggestions and good luck getting your DC to sleep better! From my experiences of nightmares with my nephews, it seems to be something you have to ride out. Not looking forward to it with DD as she just won't sleep in our bed! Good luck...

bumpybecky Mon 20-Dec-10 00:13:56

ds was like this at this time last year (just before he was 2). He was an absolute sod at bedtimes for about 2 months, screaming every night, was awful

Then it stopped! we didn't do anything differently (we'd tried everything we could think of and in the end stuck to what worked before he started the screaming). He still has odd nights that I have to go back in a few times, but vast majority of the time he's fine

PocketMouse Mon 20-Dec-10 00:16:51

Personally I would dose her with neurofen ( to make sure it's not teeth-related), I'd have a very calm bedtime, and get her to get about 20 mins early. Make sure she's full of food and there's nothing else wrong.

Sounds like she may have had night terrors or similar (perhaps just bad dreams) and just got used to being soothed back to sleep. She may be worried about the imminent arrival of DC2... best thing you can do (IMO) is reassure lots, loads of cuddles, loads of time with her, just to make her feel very secure. xx

Unwind Mon 20-Dec-10 19:37:17

You have to judge yourself whether it is anxiety or tantrums, because she'd rather stay up with you than go to bed. We agonised about that, before concluding it was definitely the latter, when we tried "Gradual Withdrawal" to the fury of our DD.

So I did rapid return and sorted her sleep out in four awful nights. We bought a bedrail for her very low toddler bed purely to slow her down as, like yours, she immediately leapt out again and made a dash for the door. It was horrible, but it worked, and I'm glad we stuck with it.

SmokinSanta Mon 20-Dec-10 19:57:32

I had this too. I brought bedtime forward - we went up at 6.20, stories and settled by 6.30. The drop of day naps and the early rising meant bedtime came forward and that 30 minutes really helped.

mdavza Sat 25-Dec-10 19:27:33

We decided to lie down with our DS until he's asleep. It is totally wonderful to be there with him while he falls asleep - I know, and so against modern 'wisdom' about night-time rituals. His sleep has not been better or worse because of it.
My nieces were both raised like this, and both slept well and through from a young age. Stay with her, if you can, take turns with your DH.
Good luck!

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