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19 month old takes over an hour to go to sleep, my evenings are non-existent

(15 Posts)
PrunesforElla Mon 18-Jul-16 21:03:02

DD has always slept in a sidecar cot next to me. It works well enough for me during the night. She wakes for milk (bf) but I don't mind as I like the closeness and cuddles.

However, it takes her ages to go to sleep at night. Because it's a sidecar cot I have to stay with her until she's asleep otherwise she will crawl or roll off my bed. Bedtime goes like this - bath (or not, neither makes it easier), into pyjamas, bit of quiet time together, supper and milk. Then we go up to my room and put her sleeping bag on, have a cuddle then I breastfeed her. Occasionally she's so tired she drops off immediately. That's rare though and the rest of the time, she rolls her eyes until nearly asleep, sits up and starts messing about. It takes around an hour of me lying there, trying to ignore her as she climbs over me, asking for more milk.

I know I've not done myself any favours for allowing her to feed to sleep for so long but I don't know how to make this better.

I'd like her to be able to be put down in the cot in her own room and be left to fall asleep, so she can have a fixed bedtime and I can claw back some evening time to myself.

Her room is tiny and there's not enough room for a chair for me to feed her in, so I'll either have to feed her while cross legged on the floor, or in my room then carry her to her own room.

It's so late - 9pm now and she's still crawling all over me on my bed, instead of going to sleep. She has an afternoon nap of between 1-2 hours. If she doesn't have that, she goes to sleep promptly and early, but is hugely cranky all afternoon and has to be stopped from falling asleep in her high chair at tea time so I think she still needs it. I've tried both letting her sleep as long as she needs in the afternoon and waking her after an hour, neither help with the earlier bedtime thing. She wakes around 6-7am most mornings.

I'm at the end of my tether. I do all bedtimes and all morning wake ups so I'm knackered and never have any time to myself!

I've looked into gradual retreat and like the idea of that type of method - I'd prefer something quite gentle as opposed to a cry it out type method.

Can anyone please suggest anything? I'm sorry my post was so long, wanted to pre-empt as many questions as possible.

AliceInHinterland Mon 18-Jul-16 21:56:07

Do you think introducing her to a cot with sides in your room initially will be less of an adjustment?
I think toddler sleep training is more of an art than a science, and you need to go with your gut to find something acceptable to both of you. We did some gradual retreat but found our presence made our son worse, he would be talking to us while we tried to ignore him, frustrating for everyone!
I found pottering in and out of his room worked better, but only when he was ready for it. I would leave, tell him I'd be back in a minute then do something in the next room. Wander back into his room before he got too upset. Pretend I was just tidying up. If he cried, tried to settle him in his cot with a mundane phrase like 'it's bedtime' repeated each time. There were some tears but I felt they were protest tears (not fear etc) and I could live with them. If he dropped stuff out of the cot I insisted he lie down before I have it back, and told him I would only do it once.
Anyway, that's just an idea, he surprised me how well he adapted to it, he was 22m and I think he could have coped with it a couple of months earlier. He now chats himself to sleep and it's the cutest thing. I do think gradual retreat might work for a less high spirited baby - horses for courses.

Artandco Mon 18-Jul-16 22:01:43

Can't she just sleep in the middle of your bed? At 18 months I would just read to mine in our bed, settle them under duvet, then say goodnight and leave them to it. They just climbed off feet first on stomach if they needed anything.

AliceInHinterland Mon 18-Jul-16 22:06:49

Also are you a lone parent, otherwise once you've fed, can't your partner take over the bedtime? It doesn't sound like you really are feeding to sleep most of the time, so maybe just move this forward in the routine. I started feeding my son before his book when I was weaning him so his dad could take over and we lost the feed to sleep association. You could do that even though you intend to carry on breastfeeding.

AliceInHinterland Mon 18-Jul-16 22:07:53

Artandco - yours sound very well behaved, mine would be motoring around the bedroom/upstairs if not physically restrained in a cot. No idea what we'll do when he can climb out!

Just2MoreSeasons Mon 18-Jul-16 22:11:08

Well, I'm no expert but I do have an 18month old. He's my second child so I've collected a few opinions on it now😂
If I were you I'd do 11.30 lunch (or decent snack if you've not got time) bed by noon for as long as she'll have. If she wakes after an hour I'd leave her if she's just grizzly on waking and see if she'll go back. If she's really crying obviously get her up though.
Then I'd do dinner at 5. Bath (every night whilst you get her into new routine) at 6 until say 6.20. Breast feed where ever you will be comfortable and it's quiet and not too bright, then (here comes the hard bit) kiss her, say night night and put her in her own room and walk out confidently.
I know you want a gentle approach but in my opinion just three days of trying your best to leave her to fall asleep on her own will pay dividends.
If you think she's scared or sounds like she may be sick, pick her up until she's calm, then kiss and walk out confidently again. But if she's just protesting that she doesn't want to go to bed, try to leave her to just settle. When you heard the rhythmic moany cry, sleep is a coming!
It's so hard to do. But happiness returns to all of you when she will settle and you get some down time.
Being playful at 9pm at night at her age and with a one hour nap is completely a case of over tiredness. Remember, sleep breeds sleep!

Just2MoreSeasons Mon 18-Jul-16 22:12:52

Sorry, loads of cross posts.
I missed out stories. I'd do it for just a few minutes at this age after milk.

Artandco Mon 18-Jul-16 22:15:57

Oh but I never started bedtime until 9pm. That way when they are asleep at 9.15pm it's a success, instead of 7-9pm faffing around.

Both mine slept in the middle of our bed together since youngest was around 12 months ( and his brother two). In together they still sleep together like limpets

AliceInHinterland Mon 18-Jul-16 22:24:50

That sounds very cute Art!
Prunes I would emphasise that the evenings are amazing once you get them back, just to give you a bit of motivation. You'll barely know what to do with yourself!

Acorncat Mon 18-Jul-16 22:31:19

Mine faffs about less if it's really dark, so I use a blackout blind and a black out curtain. No screen time for 2 hours before bed. I just keep laying him down and feeding him, eventually he gives up and falls asleep. I aim for nap at 12 for as long as he likes and then aim to start the falling asleep process about 7.30. On a good day it takes 10 minutes, though today was 45, no idea why. I wouldn't leave mine to cry, I quite enjoy just relaxing and cuddling for a bit apart from the repetitive head climbing and feet in face and I found changing my perspective made it much more bearable!

AliceInHinterland Mon 18-Jul-16 23:01:50

I don't know, cuddling is lovely, but wrestling matches were just exhausting me. I was pregnant though so it was right for us at the time. There were also times when his crying would have been real separation anxiety (from behaviour in the day time) and that was definitely not the right time to make sleep changes.

PrunesforElla Thu 21-Jul-16 21:02:29

Thanks all for the advice, it's certainly given me some ideas. I will definitely try to get lunch early and afternoon nap earlier, I definitely think that will help.

My partner isn't around for most bedtimes, unfortunately so it's definitely down to me. They are around for early mornings but I end up doing those too, but that's more of an aibu rant in the making. It does mean that I've been putting off the bedroom move for fear of being even tireder than already.

I can't just walk off and leave her to it in the middle of my bed because she'd be off and into everything! I could think about getting off the bed and sitting on the floor across the room but I feel like that's too gradual and the break needs to be made into her own cot.

Just2 I get what you're saying about 3 tough days of crying but I just don't know if I can do that. That's my mum's and partner's suggestion too but I think I need more resolve than I've got just yet.

Acorn the curtains are meant to have blackout lining but it's crap so I'm definitely looking into putting a blind up, I've noticed that makes a difference in our room. I can leave it down for light mornings too.

Alice, the pottering idea is great actually, her room is tiny so nowhere for me to sit and wait for her to fall asleep. And I always dump things to be tided later in and just outside her room. So I can use the time to quietly do that.

Thinking more about the timings - she falls asleep within seconds for her afternoon nap so that suggests she's more than ready for that one, so bringing it forward would help.

Thank you all for taking the time to read and give helpful suggestions, much appreciated!

LapinR0se Fri 22-Jul-16 07:56:11

At 19 months old she does not need feeds during he night and would probably quite like her own little space to sleep in.
I am all for the 3 tough days approach to get your life back. However you have to be 100% ready and committed or it won't work.
Just do it when you feel able and until then I wouldn't go for halfway houses as you'll just both get more tired and wound up.

0phelia Fri 22-Jul-16 08:18:13

OMGosh my son is also 19mo and I also stay with him untill he gets to sleep and this is also after 9pm quite often. It does mean morning wake time is quite luxuriously late, but I'm dreading when he starts at nursery because we'll have to be getting up much earlier and I'm really starting to worry about this too.

Thanks for posting OP. Sometimes I actually let DS fall asleep downstairs on the sofa he'll sort of wriggle himself to sleep there if there's too much I need to do. He has a favourite blanket, then I carry him up wrapped in his blanket. It's not ideal but you could try, it would give you a bit of time in the evening?

I'll go back and read through these replies and make notes thanks everyone!

PrunesforElla Fri 22-Jul-16 08:35:06

Lap no she doesn't need night feeds you're right. I think she just likes the comfort and it's a bad habit I've got into.

0phelia glad to hear I'm not the only one! Hope something works for you.

For those of you advocating the 3 day short sharp shock type method, are you suggesting I should let her cry it out? I feel very uncomfortable with that idea.

Also, Just2 mentioned sleep breeds sleep. I've heard this before, numerous times but I just don't find it works with my daughter. If she has lie ins or long day naps, she falls asleep massively late. I know it's true in some cases - my 16 year old DSD spends more time moaning about being tired the longer she stays in bed, haha!

One thing I think might affecting it, is she's only just started walking last week. So she's still at that wobbly tottering stage and not the stage of running about and wearing herself out. I'm trying to find a balance between encouraging independent walking and allowing her to use her walker so she can go fast and burn off energy.

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