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Help me teach my 22 month old to sleep

(46 Posts)
BananaPie Sun 23-Dec-12 21:40:50

Bedtimes have never been great, and there's no sign of them getting easier. Dd is 22 months now. It is 21:30 and I have been sitting in a darkened room with her for well over an hour. If I leave, she screams. This is normal. How can I teach her to go to bed happily and quickly?

I've tried leaving her to cry, but she's a tenacious little madam, and there have never been any signs of improvement over the course of a few nights. Also, really not convinced that it does much good - I think it makes her associate bed with being unhappy.

I've been trying to cuddle her iin a darkened room until she's dozey then put her down. If she's really exhausted, this can work in about ten mins. If not, like tonight, it's easily over an hour. I'm getting a bit fed up with it tbh. Dh can't help as she screams blue murder if he goes in, and demands mummy.

All ideas gratefully received!

Cool1 Tue 19-Feb-13 09:53:09


New to Mumsnet but I'm constantly on here looking for advice so I'm hoping someone can help.

My 22 month old boy has always a been a perfect sleeper right up until last week. He has a routine for bed which starts at 6.30pm ends at 7.30pm. All of a sudden last Wednesday he started climbing out of his cot in the early hours (1am ish,) letting himself out of his room and making his way into ours. Whenever we tried putting him back into his cot he started getting hysterical and refusing point blank to go back in. In the end we let him come in with us, something which rarely happens as he's so used to his own bed and never wants to come in with us anyway. Thursday and Friday were normal sleeping nights so we thought he'd just had a bad night. However Saturday he cried when he went down,climbed out of his cot, again inconsolable so I held him with me until he fell into a deep sleep and placed him back in his cot around 9.30pm. This was him until 7am Sunday morning. Sunday night down as normal but again out of his cot at 4am, refused point blank to go back in so again ended up in our bed!

Now because of the climbing out of the cot we decided he must be ready for the toddler bed so we introduced him to it yesterday and he seemed very taken with it and was even demanding sleepy before I had to put him down. So his routine went as normal, no problem whatsoever getting him down and slept soundly until 1.30am when he started screaming the house down. We tried persevering with the returning him to bed but then my partner gave in and ended up sleeping alongside him on the floor. The crying stopped and he stayed in his bed but only when he knew my partner was there.

So basically I'm hoping that someone can give me some advice on what might be happening. I'm trying to rack my brains as to what could be upsetting he now at the age where he is remembering things that seem scary to a toddler, is it the transition to the bed but i don't think so as his unsettledness started while he was still in the cot, could he be having nightmares, or is it purely just a phase that all babies around this age go through? And if so how to handle and continue?

Will also add that he's reluctant to have his nap now too since last week.

Apologies for the long message!! smile

NotGeoffVader Fri 25-Jan-13 22:43:07

We've actually had a few better nights lately.

Started doing a sticker rewards chart - at the moment, just accumulating stickers; one for staying in bed all night, one for doing nice things (helping tidy up, stroking the cat nicely, being good, etc.), one for eating meals up, etc.

Also have stopped getting DD out of the cot when she wakes in the night.

Night one Got up and gave her cuddles, reassured her, put her night light on, found dummy and told her she had to stay put. Much wailing, weeping and frustration all round, but eventually (after her making some fetching being sick noises) she did settle after about 45 mins. During this time we put on a bedside light, read, and tried to ignore the noise.

Night two - she woke up, wailed and wept a bit, we had a cuddle, nightlight on, and she settled down after about 35 minutes.

Night three - she woke up, grizzled a bit. I found the dummy, told her she had to stay put, nightlight on and she settled after about 30 minutes.

Night four - she woke up, grizzled a little. Nightlight on, cuddle, dummy. She settled after about 20 minutes.

Night five - a little grizzling, nightlight on, dummy. Settled after about 10 mins.

And night five has been the pattern for the last few nights. So we seem to be getting better. In fact, last night, I think settling was after about 5 minutes.

Stickers go on the chart first thing, before breakfast, with lots of praise and cuddles.

I must confess that I still feel as though I'm something of a sleep deficit, but it's better than it was.

Next thing to try to work with is the little tantrums that seem to occur every hour or so during the daytime... grin

BananaPie Fri 25-Jan-13 18:52:50

Should probably change the title of this thread to "teach my 23 month old to sleep".

A month later and things are no better. Can't remember the last time she went for 11 or 12 hours at night. She's been up since 5:30 today and refused her nap. We went for a 18:15 bedtime and she's resisting sleep (despite clearly being exhausted). No idea what to do sad

NotGeoffVader Tue 15-Jan-13 09:19:40

Noting this thread to come back to.

DD is nearly 24 months and since last Sept has woken in the night almost every night (I think we've had 5 in total where she hasn't). She then refuses to settle in her cot, so we resort to co-sleeping.

(BTW, cot is in our bedroom as we have only the one bedroom)

Unfortunately she can fidget for England, and I am not good with disturbed sleep. I'm beginning to reach the end of my tether.

Have tried warm baths before bed, stories, cuddles, soft light, music, lavender on cotton wool near cot. Nothing makes any difference.

Like a poster mentioned earlier, we're at the stage where speech (and coordination) are developing daily, so perhaps it's just her running on overtime.

Here's to it getting better before I go mad.

BananaPie Tue 15-Jan-13 03:20:45

glad you had a good night ukgrinch - sounds like a real improvement. I wonder if it was because he was exhausted after Saturday night though?!

I'm in the middle of yet another long night wakening. It really seems to be becoming a habit. Early bedtime was unsuccessful because she just screamed for 45 mins from 7:15 - 8!

TheUKGrinchImGluhweinkeller Mon 14-Jan-13 10:53:18

Banana sorry your DD picked a per work night to go back to poor sleeping!

We had a horrendous night on Saturday - he fell asleep fine at 7.30pm but woke at 11pm and screamed til 3am, a few times he seemed to have fallen asleep clinging to my hand but pinged awake and screamed hysterically for cuddles when I thought he was fast asleep and tried to get my hand free. In the end I lay with him at 3am and he went straight off to sleep and slept (restlessly and on my arm) for the rest of the night.

Last night though was really good, by the relative standards of DS2 - just a 10 min wake up at 11pm and then an hour between 1am and 2am - I was thrilled with the unexpected 4 hour block of sleep from 2am to 6am, bliss, and I woke to the sound of him and his brother playing in their room at 6am, not to howling and screaming smile

BananaPie Mon 14-Jan-13 04:17:07

How's everyone doing? We've had a couple of ok-ish nights but now back to the joys of two hour night waking (plus it's a working day tomorrow). Bringing bedtime forward does seem to have improved things a bit.

TheUKGrinchImGluhweinkeller Fri 11-Jan-13 11:30:19

Ooops pressed post too soon - how was your night Banana ?

TheUKGrinchImGluhweinkeller Fri 11-Jan-13 11:29:44

Banana yep I've been so sleep deprived for so long that I can fall asleep in seconds so I got lots of short cat naps I guess - people who say they can't get to sleep between their child's waking just aren't really, truly, long term, deep down to the bone tired enough yet smile Having said that 40 minute bursts of sleep seem to work for my toddler and he seems well rested in the morning, but it doesn't work like that for me - I read adult sleep cycles are a lot longer so I assume that although I get sleep I don't get REM sleep on the worst nights, as I'm not asleep long enough at any one time.

Last night was similar again unfortunately - bedtime no problem, straight off to sleep at 7.30pm, but woke for the first time at 11.45pm, then at about 2 and about 3, then he woke having soaked through his nappy (DH put him in the wrong one when he put him to bed while I was at work) and because I had to change all his clothes he was then wide awake, and didn't go back to sleep again til nap time (he's asleep now and has been for an hour)

smearedinfood Thu 10-Jan-13 22:15:56

Gilberte I've been lurking and I do like your tips!

BananaPie Thu 10-Jan-13 18:55:34

Oh no, ukgrinch that's awful - did you manage to get any sleep? I've brought bedtime forward by an hour today incase the waking up is caused by overtiredness ( not sure if I believe in overtiredness having said that - I'm overtired and have no trouble sleeping!)

TheUKGrinchImGluhweinkeller Thu 10-Jan-13 12:20:23

Argh last night he went straight off at 7.30pm and slept til 10.20pm - then he was awake every single hour for about 20 minutes each time until getting up time at 6.15am ...

BananaPie Thu 10-Jan-13 12:15:18

Good stuff ppl! we had another two hour long night wakening incident... The sleep deprivation is getting pretty bad!!

PPL Thu 10-Jan-13 09:05:47

And he's done it again! Slept right through after Daddy did bedtime. Actually he did yelp around 2am but just went straight back to sleep! Very odd...

PPL Wed 09-Jan-13 21:56:39

It is so weird that they settle for their daddies! Maybe its because they're not that bothered about daddy cuddles so they don't bother asking!

DH came from work early to put DS to bed. All week he has woken at 9 and one of us pops in to shush him back to sleep. TOnight, he stirred at 9 and rolled over and went back to sleep! Bizarre...

245-545 sounds like a killer - you have my sympathies. We had a 430 wake up call at the weekend (as in he didnt go to sleep until 1130 nap) and it was hideous..

BananaPie Wed 09-Jan-13 20:22:32

Welcome PPL! Glad your DH did a good job UKGrinch - really interesting that both of you have said that yours settle more easily for your DH's. I'm finding the same. If I'm there, she ALWAYS wants a cuddle, and objects to being put down in her cot. She went through a phase of not wanting DH at all, but now seems happy to lie in her cot if he's in there (and won't demand cuddles). If I am there giving her a cuddle, it almost seems to keep her awake for longer.

She was awake from about 2:45 - 5:45 last night. We didnt' handle it particularly well - a mixture of DH sitting by her cot, her being left to grizzle for a few mins, and me giving her cuddles (which is how she finally conked out). We probably have to decide on a strategy and stick to it, but at 5:30 when you've been up for 2 and a half hours and have to get up to go to work, any solution just to make her sleep seems appealing!

TheUKGrinchImGluhweinkeller Wed 09-Jan-13 13:54:13

Welcome PPL - sorry you're having sleep problems too! My DH only does bedtime 2 days a week (going up to 3 in Fed) in term time, because I am at work over bed time on those days (I only teach an evening class so I'm only out of the house 3 hours, but it exactly co-incides with bedtime handily smile ) He's never really tried putting DS2 to bed though, he puts our older 2 to bed (they are no problem) and then brings the toddler downstairs to fall asleep as and when in front of the TV - this is part of the problem, he is often still awake when I get home just after 9.30pm and some days DH then goes to bed and it still takes another 2 hours to get him to sleep... then he wakes countless times a night...


That was the past, I really think we are on the way out of the woods (touch wood and cross many crossable things...)

Banana DH did settle him in bed last night, I was gearing up to finding DS2 asleep on the sofa or still awake, and handling explaining to DH why it really, really matters that he put him to bed - but when I came home DS2 was fast asleep in bed!! grin I was so happy I could have cried smile As PPL said he had settled really quickly for DH, but that could also be because he had his nap really, really early yesterday and was already tired again before dinner, but obviously I didn't let him have a late aft 2nd nap.

He didn't sleep through but only woke at 11.30 (half an hour of sitting by his bed) and then again at4am - problem was at 4am his nappy had leaked and he was soaked, so I had no choice but to change it and all his clothes, which of course, despite doing in dark and near silence meant he thought it was morning... Took til 5.30am to get him back to sleep, by which point it was largely pointless as we have to be up at 6.15am... :/ Ah well, it's still an improvement on the countless wake ups we had until last week!

Banana sorry you had another bad night last night, how long was she awake for in the end?

PPL Wed 09-Jan-13 12:31:41

I'd like to join the party. My DS is nearly 19 mo. Having slept through the night since his first birthday he has been waking since early december. If I go to him in the night, he is awake for 2 hours. If DH goes, he'll go straight back to sleep.

Same applies to bedtime. Takes DH 10 mins to get him to sleep. If DH puts him to bed he'll sleep through. WTF? Unfortunately DH can only do bedtime on saturday and sunday.

At bedtime I have to sit in the dark while he mucks about for an hour. It is not that he isn't tired - like I said, he won't play up for DH.

He is learning a lot of new words recently and only started walking over Christmas, so development is probably a factor, but its driving me mad that he sleeps fine for DH.

Also, having self settled for naps since he was about 5mo, he has stopped doing that now too and I just spent half an hour getting him down sad

I guess 18 mo sleep regression isn't a myth and although I feel for you all, I am glad to hear other people going through similar trials!

BananaPie Wed 09-Jan-13 04:00:30

How did it go ukgrinch - did you persuade him to do it properly?

We're having a bit of a disaster tonight - dd has been awake for an hour so far and we can't get her to settle. I think I was lulled into a false sense of security by a couple of good nights...

TheUKGrinchImGluhweinkeller Tue 08-Jan-13 11:52:34

That sounds great Banana - I'd take 20 mins to settle and then sleeping thorough in a heart beat smile

DS2 took 1 hour 50 mins to settle last night, which is a big improvement but still felt like a long time sitting in the dark and silence! He then only woke once, stayed in bed crying when he did wake, and only took 20 mins to settle back - and then slept til 6.10am which for him is an amazing, incredible, fantastically brilliant night smile

I just hope my DH will do as I have asked and put him to bed at 7.30pm and sit by his bed til he falls asleep tonight, as I have asked him to - he was very grumbly and non committal when I tried to talk to him about it last night, but I have to work this evening and I am so worried he will put the older 2 to bed then bring DS2 downstairs with him and let him fall asleep on his knee in front of the TV, because DH doesn't want to "waste" his evening, and I will be back at square 1!

BananaPie Mon 07-Jan-13 21:09:40

Hello born and sleepdodger good to know that there's a few of us!

Glad you've seen some improvement ukgrinch, although it still sounds like a tough night.

Dd slept through last night ( after the 1.5 hour bedtime drama). Dh put her to bed today while I tried to ignore her screaming for mummy - it only took 20 mins, so feeling fairly happy today.

Hope everyone has a good night tonight!

TheUKGrinchImGluhweinkeller Mon 07-Jan-13 11:07:09

Hello banana , born and sleepdodger

How was your night banana?

born it must be so hard with twins who don't sleep! I get terrible sleep when I co-sleep, as my DS2 insists on sleeping on my head and wakes so frequently to check I am still there (and to climb back onto my head) if I sleep with him that its worse than getting up and down.

Ds2 got 6.5 hours last night in 2 blocks and I feel great even though I went to bed an hour later, needing some child free time, so I got 5.5 hours grin Although that does kind of show its all relative...

DS2 finally settled at 10pm, slept til 1.30am (he did get out of bed and cried at the bottom of the stairs up to our room - our house is spread over 3 floors) but he only took 10 mins to settle back.

Then he woke again at 4.40am, took 45 minutes to settle, and only slept for 20 minutes before waking again at 5.35... I then fell asleep on the floor by his bad trying to re-settle him, so not sure when he fell asleep, but DH woke me at 6.20am (as we need to get up then to get ready for the school run etc)

I am actually feeling quite positive, but that is on the assumption this is the beginning of a positive change and it will get better daily!

sleepdodger Sun 06-Jan-13 23:48:33

Waves grin can I join in?
Typing this held hostage to ds cot
If I move he wake again
It been awful since 18mo and we're now at 21 confused
I used to have a 12hr baby
Now in lucky to get 4 hmm

BornInACrossFireHurricane Sun 06-Jan-13 22:31:39

I have always had problems with my twins (nearly 20 months old). They have never slept through the night, still want milk and are difficult to get to sleep if they nap in the day. If they skip their nap for whatever reason they go to bed much easier but usually at 6ish as they're shattered!

We have to co-sleep as it's the only way we get some sleep. Not any help sorry but you are not alone!!

BananaPie Sun 06-Jan-13 22:21:07

Good luck ukgrinch - 3 hours is incredible! I agree that consistency is probably the way to crack it, but life / work sometimes makes complete consistency difficult. I'm away overnight next week - dh is already dreading it as dd refuses to let him settle her. We've thought about a big girl's bed, but I'm pretty confident she'd stand up in it then topple out.

She's been asleep for an hour now. Hope your ds gives you a good night's sleep now he's finally settled.

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