What’s your toddlers bedtime routine?(26 Posts)
DD is 2.2 and has recently managed to start falling asleep without boob happy dance her bedtime routine consists of going upstairs around 6.30pm for stories, then bath, pj’s on and boob. We keep the lights on (low) and I chat to her quietly while she has her milk to keep her awake. She then goes in her cot and I hold her hand until she falls asleep.
However, it seems to take her ages. I know there will be a certain amount of wriggling and rearranging covers and trying to chat, but it’s as though she’s not calm enough for sleep. As soon as she stops messing around she’s out like a light.
Any suggestions how I can help her relax? I thought about maybe having her bath first, then milk and then a story last to help her wind down. I’m also keen on this idea as eventually I’d like to skip the breastfeed part of the routine. What do you do?
Have you tried moving things 15 minutes later or so? I find one of mine needs a later bedtime and it took me a while of getting frustrated because she wouldn't go to sleep, to realise it. Once I started things later, she fell asleep more easily. Does she still nap?
Will she let you leave? Mine jabber and turn and make their teddy dance across their tummies etc but Im not there so I just leave them to it.
I do bath, pjs then story. No milk as she’s not bothered anymore. I say night night, cuddle and kiss then sit by the door and she’s asleep within minutes. If she gets down I put her back and if she was chatting I’d just ignore but she doesn’t. Been doing this way for about a year and seems to work well, next step is getting her to fall asleep without someone there but I can’t bring myself to disrupt everything!
Milk downstairs whilst watching CBeebies bedtime story (he’s on cow’s milk now but did this when bf too, to try and avoid feeding to sleep). Then pjs, brush teeth, story, bed. I used to just leave him to it but recently he has asked me to stay and stroke his hair. He does sometimes mess around a bit and I think he settled quicker without me but that now results in either screaming or getting out of bed a hundred times... Just leave her to it and see what she does?
Bath, teeth, story, say goodnight, shut door - DS fell asleep - never bothered with milk last thing at night - surely it's not necessary at age 2? Actually I never bothered with milk at bedtime, thought it was a bad habit to get into and never 'fed to sleep'.
What do you do?
Our routine from about 1yo (now 3yo):
7pm bath about twice a week if not it starts with...
Brush teeth and wash hands/face
Into night wear
Choose and read one story
Into sleeping bag, given dummy
Kisses for everyone
Into cot, leave
Start to finish takes 5-15 minutes, done by 7.45. No sound from toddler after we leave, so I assume asleep very quickly.
Bath, teeth, pyjamas, into bed for stories, goodnight.
Sometimes he buggers about but I can't be arsed sitting with him anymore, and he usually falls asleep within fifteen minutes.
I'd advise removing milk from her sleep cues. When DS was still having milk before bed, he had it downstairs before his bath. And work on not holding her hand to fall asleep - you're missing out on your evening time! Does she need you to hold her hand every time she wakes in the night? Try sitting in her room but not touching her, and move further away slowly until you're not involved at all. I let DS "read" a book to himself as he falls asleep. It distracts him from messing around.
Thanks all. Just leaving her to it doesn’t seem to be an option yet- until two weeks ago she’d only ever fed to sleep so I think we’re doing pretty well to have progressed this far! I ultimately want to get to that point but think it will be baby steps for a bit. I did get up and leave tonight after she started blowing raspberries and she got really upset before I’d even made it to the door. I don’t want her to start disliking her cot. She tends to need a bit of time to get used to things so I’m sure after a few more weeks I could progress to this.
Moving her bedtime later isn’t something I’m keen on either. I didn’t come downstairs until 8.30 tonight and we’d had no dinner. I just can’t lose any more of my evening. She does still nap but only for 45 mins and never after 2pm. She can get through the day on 30 mins but any less than that and she’s either vile or literally dropping as I get her pj’s on. This happened the other night and she was so shattered she fell asleep on the boob which I’m trying to (gently!) stop.
peaceandlove- she settles much more easily if she wakes in the night. Cutting out milk is going to be a gradual process. I’m working on the handholding- it’s only been two weeks so we’ve already made big progress from feed to sleep. Don’t want to run before I can walk! 🤣
6:30 is quite early, maybe you need to move it back.
DS is 16 months old. We do dinner from half 6, get him ready for bed from half 7, milk just before 8pm, and he is usually flat out in bed by 8:05. We don't do baths every night.
You might find by moving her bed time back that she falls asleep faster. We were trying to get DS to sleep from half 7, and it was a nightmare. Trying around 8 works perfectly for him.
Depends what you mean by ‘necessary’ Ragwort. She’s been breastfed her entire life and I’m not about to stop all of a sudden. I also don’t agree it’s a bad habit, but that’s not really what I was asking so I won’t go off topic.
Moving her bedtime doesn’t seem to help. I’m just sat there even later! Although we go upstairs at half six, she’s not usually anywhere near her cot before 7.15. If she fell asleep in five mins like pp’s little ones it wouldn’t be an issue.
I'm just answering your question about what the bedtime routine with a toddler was; in your own OP you state that you would like to stop the breast feeding part of your DD's routine 'eventually' so I am assuming that is something you are at least starting to think about? In my opinion, children who are 'fed to sleep' (whether breast or bottle) find it harder to learn to self settle - that seems the case from reading hundreds of mumsnet posts on this subject over the years. My DS self settled from the day we got home from hospital - whether that was due to my strict 'routine' or just 'luck' I will never really know.
Sorry I didn't mean to remove it from the routine completely - just stop doing it last thing so she stops associating it with falling asleep. Feed her downstairs before you properly start the bedtime routine.
Sounds like you're doing very well if she was literally feeding to sleep two weeks ago!
That was my thought peaceandlove, I just don’t want to change too much too soon. If I can get her settling a bit better I can make a decision as to whether I should move it or if we’re ready to drop it. Thanks!
I didn’t come downstairs until 8.30 tonight and we’d had no dinner
Aside issue, but why don't you all eat a family meal together? Say at 5.30-6pm ish?
Usually we do Fate, but Fridays and Saturdays tend to be a bit different. She had eaten early today as was v. hungry after swimming and DH wasn’t home.
Try a gradual retreat then - holding hands, then just sitting next to cot (perhaps with your back to it), then sitting a few feet away, then doorway to room, then landing, finally kiss and leave. Will probably take weeks/months but doesn’t sound like your in a hurry? Does she have bear/blanket or similar to cuddle?
Yes Minty, she has a muslin square she’s used as a comforter since she was tiny. We tried story after bath tonight and it made bugger all difference by once she was ready for sleep I didn’t need to hold her hand tonight, just sat by the cot so maybe gradual retreat is the way to go I only get frustrated by the buggering around because I’m there!
DD is almost 2 (next week, eeekkk!)
Our routine is
5.30 dinner (usually all together)
6.15 shower every second or third day / quiet playtime
6.30 clothes off and story on the potty (she never does anything but she finds it really comfortable to sit on!), followed by eczema cream routine, night nappy and pjs
6.45 two stories whilst breastfeeding
6.55 teeth, gro clock, goodnight to the other parent
7pm lights out
Whichever one of us stays is usually out of her room around 7.30 and always before 7.45. Some nights she wants hand holding, other nights she just conks out.
I’m with you on the frustration. My eldest takes ages to go to sleep but he doesn’t need me there so it doesn’t bother me. But the small one won’t let me leave the room and it gets irritating when he is chatting/sitting up when I have things to do or haven’t eaten yet. Especially as I know he can be asleep in seconds if he will just close his eyes and lie still!
I stopped breastfeeding at 13 months, I had fed to sleep until that point but I started doing the last feed downstairs after her bath about a month before I stopped breastfeeding completely. We then went back upstairs after watching the Night Garden then I read her a story. I read the same story every night, then put her in her cot then stayed with her until she slept. TBH I think I just bored her into going to bed as eventually she started pushing the book away and pointed to her cot and just went to sleep without me staying with her.
She's 2.5 now. Routine is bath at 6, come downstairs, read books, some milk, watch what ever TV programme/play with toy she wants then upstairs at 7.30. She usually goes to sleep within 10 minutes. If she complains about me leaving I lie and tell her I'm going to the toilet and will be back and then leave.
I suspect this probably isn't the sort of routine for want but it works for us. I can usually have dinner before 8 (not generally possible to have dinner as a family during the week as DP comes home too late)
Just to clarify, when I leave and say I'll return I will return if she's crying but if she's just chatting to herself I'll go back down.
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