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I need to re-teach my 3yo how to go to sleep at bedtime. Very soft and gentle approach needed.

(12 Posts)
allhailtheaubergine Fri 29-Jul-11 17:47:06

Does anyone have any experience or tips on how to v e r y gently and softly encourage my 3yo into a nice bedtime routine?

At the moment he goes upstairs at the same time as his big sis, we do teeth and wees and pajamas, put them both into bed, have stories, kisses, night light on and "goodnight". And then he comes downstairs again and potters about until he falls asleep on the sofa or beanbag, and we lift him into his bed.

Simply putting him back into bed when he comes down will not work. This is a child who has had various medical issues and it is only now I feel he is ready to be gently encouraged to fall asleep in bed. I am NOT looking to take a hard-line approach. Just wondering if anyone else has any nifty tips to help us help him with this. He is getting overtired in the evenings, and I know he would benefit from falling asleep in his bed about an hour earlier.

RhinestoneCowgirl Fri 29-Jul-11 17:53:08

Will he go to sleep in his bed if you are sitting with him? It doesn't have to be forever, you could gradually withdraw as he gets used to it.

LynetteScavo Fri 29-Jul-11 17:59:31

I would sit with him while he falls asleep. If he's really tired it shouldn't take too long.

You can gradually sit further and further away until he can fall asleep independently again.

allhailtheaubergine Fri 29-Jul-11 18:50:11

Thanks both. I have tried sitting with him but he tends to view me as someone to argue with about bedtime! The silly thing is, if I can just get him to lie down quietly in his bed for 3 minutes he will go to sleep. We are so close! And yet so far...

We have occasional success with "Okay, you lie quietly and I'm just going to go and [do something eg have a wee or make a cup of tea] and I'll be right back" and then he stays and of course falls asleep.

I want him to want to get into his lovely bed at the end of the day, not view it as something to fight against.

amIbeingdaft Fri 29-Jul-11 18:53:30

Have you tried reading him a story and getting him to close his eyes so he can imagine the characters? You could make it into a game, and he might drop off by the time you've finished reading.

allhailtheaubergine Fri 29-Jul-11 18:57:57

That's a good idea daft. I will give that a go.

LynetteScavo Fri 29-Jul-11 18:58:55

Tell him a made up story with his eyes closed..yes! Refuse eye contact with him....just look away, and refuse to engage, but sit on the bed and hold his hand if he needs it. Sing a lullaby (or 10!) and let him know in no uncertain terms, without actually saying anything, now is the time for sleep. If you need to, snuggle up with him and pretend to be a sleep. We had to do this with DS1 for years. It's a pisser, (for want of a better word) because you often do end up asleep in their bed fully clothed. He's now 12, and would be horrified at the thought of us getting into bed with him grin. So it doesn't last forever.

allhailtheaubergine Fri 29-Jul-11 19:08:38

Made-up story! Yes! I used to tell dd all sorts of made up stories.

I am wary of him becoming dependant on me being there to sleep. He was breastfed until his 3rd birthday (I know, late, but as I said, medical issues and it was something that helped him so I didn't want to take it away) and he has done a great job of learning to sleep without breastfeeding. It's just that now the next step is to sleep in his own bed without mummy.

I am going to put a chair in the room and tell a story or sing a song with the understanding that they are both in bed with eyes closed or the story ends. I will try that tomorrow.

afussyphase Fri 29-Jul-11 22:52:28

We had great success with a sticker chart with DD1 - she got a sticker the next morning if she did the essential parts of the bedtime routine (without a screaming fuss). The last part was lying down in the bed while I read a story and then sang a song....

beachavendrea Sat 06-Aug-11 19:42:09

this is a bit old but my sister had exactly the same problem. he got to 3 and never self settled. in the end she said if you go to sleep by yourself three nights in a row you get this hideous helicopter toy and it worked! she was amazed.

also someone suggested to he a ipod with relaxing music.

lowercase Sun 07-Aug-11 09:42:02

cant remember where i read it, probably MN, how about the kissing method?
put him down, give him a kiss, say you will be back in a minute to kiss him again, go back immediately and kiss goodnight, saying you will soon be back, wait 30 seconds, go back and kiss, wait a little longer, go back and kiss, and just extend the time between kisses.

im going to be trying this myself when i return home from summer hols.

yawningbear Sun 07-Aug-11 10:29:44

Having some success here with the help of the 'sleep fairy'. DD is really into all things fairy like just now though which I guess your DS might not be but it could be something else that would appeal to your DS. Bedtimes had turned into a battleground so I told DD that the Sleep Fairy visited children who were learning how to go to sleep camly in their own beds. I pretended that one of her favourite soft toys had spoken with the SF and the toy then spoke to me and explained that the SF wanted to visit during the night and leave a treat for the morning but she could only come if DD went to sleep calmly as she was easily frightened away. It has worked brilliantly. I still have to stay with her but she is much calmer and hence falls asleep much more quickly. I have then hidden a smartie for her to find in the morning and pretend to be amazed when DD finds it. Once she had managed this for a week I printed off a certificate for her from the SF and explained that the next lesson was to learn how to fall asleep on her own,after story/song, and used the same toy to tell me that the SF said I had to do the ironing outside DD's bedroom whilst she fell asleep. DD found this hilarious although we haven't actually managed this yet. I probably just tried to move things along too quickly. I actually think explaining to DD that we all need to 'learn' how to fall asleep just like she is learning to swim for eg, really has helped. Also using the toy to have the dialogue with seemed to make the SF more real for her. I expect you already have it, but if not the No cy sleep solutions for toddlers has lots of good, gentle ideas. Goodluck.

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