Toddler sleep terrible, new baby due. What would you do?

(18 Posts)
MsFrog Sun 29-Nov-20 01:48:25

As the title says. It's entirely my own fault, but my DS (2.5) wakes every night at some point and comes in with me. He's always been a horrendous sleeper and this became the best way for us all to get some sleep. Previously, I spend hours in his room trying to settle him.

Anyway, his sleep is really bad atm. He keeps skipping his nap but he needs it, but too long a nap means a very late bedtime and then he's an early riser. He needs me with him to fall asleep or he cries and cries. He's waking up earlier and more frequently in the night. I'm exhausted and 34 weeks pregnant.

We've had a lot of change recently. We moved house 8 weeks ago. He changed nursery 4 weeks ago. New baby due is obviously a huge impending change. I want to put him in a normal bed, so I can stop bringing him in with me and go in with him (then hopefully creep away) instead, and DH can start sharing the nights (another change for DS...).

Am I kidding myself that this might help? Any experience of what it's like moving them to a proper bed - they can just get out, so is it worse? Is it too much change at once? Am I not being strict enough, had he got me wrapped around his little finger? Did it help anyone's toddler sleep better? I just can't bear to keep bringing him in with me, won't be able to when the baby is here, and I (and soon DH) can't sit on the bedroom floor by the cot trying to settle him for hours.

Any words of advice welcome!

OP’s posts: |
HarryHarryHarry Sun 29-Nov-20 02:04:50

We’ve had a bit of this with our son. He is 2.5 and his baby sister is 1.

My advice is not to put him in a proper bed yet as he will just get out whenever he wants and run into your room and wake the new baby up.

Let your husband/partner take over the bedtime routine with him. I find that my son is less inclined to make a fuss with his dad.

You do need to be a little bit stricter but in a gentle way. My son often asks me to sit with him and I tell him that I will stay for 2 minutes only, or I tell him that I can’t tonight because I have something specific to do. He just accepts it now. He can and will fall asleep on his own.

I also think you might need to reinforce the daytime nap again as the crying sounds like it might be caused by overtiredness. We’ve tried letting our son skip his but he is always a wreck by bedtime. So after lunch we give him plenty of warning (“Naptime in 10 minutes” etc) then let him calm down by reading a book or playing quietly in his cot until he falls asleep naturally.

OnlyFoolsnMothers Sun 29-Nov-20 02:17:07

What time and length is his nap?

MsFrog Sun 29-Nov-20 07:31:31

Thanks so much for your replies. I feel like a totally crap mum with all this. @HarryHarryHarry, thanks for the advise. He definitely still needs the nap, as evenings and nights are much worse without it (although bedtime is usually lovely and easy!). I will try to be a bit stricter all round. I didn't think about him coming in and waking the baby.

@OnlyFoolsnMothers, it varies. I never let him sleep after 3pm, because then bedtime is 9pm or later, and it knocks everything out of sync. But those days are hard. It's usually around 1/1.30pm, for an hour max.

OP’s posts: |
MsFrog Sun 29-Nov-20 07:34:25

@HarryHarryHarry, on re-reading your post, your son sounds fab. Did it take a lot of work to get him falling asleep on his own for naps and bedtime? My DS just shouts or cry or carries on being daft if I leave him. He'd never just drift off!

OP’s posts: |
GlennRheeismyfavourite Sun 29-Nov-20 07:50:35

It helped us - I was really sick at the beginning of my pregnancy so just started bringing my toddler in with me - set up a terrible habit.. what changed it was buying a full sized single fir toddler (she kept telling me her bed wasn't comfy!) We made a big deal of her new bed and now I go in with her to get her to sleep and slide out. It's still not perfect as I'm still lying down with her st the start of the night every night but it's better than it was!

Sunshine1235 Sun 29-Nov-20 08:07:00

If I were you I’d get your DH to take over the nights with your toddler now. I’d say much better the struggle now than when the baby comes are you’re hormonal and sleep deprived. Also it’ll be much harder on your toddler if baby suddenly appears AND mummy no longer sleeps with him


NameChange30 Sun 29-Nov-20 08:16:00

Your DH is going to have to do bedtime and nights from now on. Don't leave it any longer. You all need as much time as possible to adapt before baby arrives.

Because it's DH who will be doing it, you need to discuss it with him and see what he prefers. But my suggestion would be for DH to stay in DS's room to begin with but work towards not being in the room. To make this easier and more comfortable for him, you could get a small double bed (so DH can sleep in the bed with DS for some or all of the night if necessary) or single bed with trundle bed underneath, or cot bed (with sides still up to keep DS in there) and a fold/roll out mattress on the floor for DH. I think you need to eventually get to the point where DH is leaving the room before DS falls asleep, then it should hopefully be easier for DS to settle by himself if and when he wakes in the night. I sleep trained DS when he was much younger so I'm not sure how it would work with a 2.5 year old but some people suggest things like sticker reward charts and things, I don't know if that would be helpful.

I do know that the most important thing is consistency, being reassuring but firm about what is going to happen, so you and DH need to agree on it and then stick to it, I think.

MsFrog Sun 29-Nov-20 08:21:13

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the outside perspectives. I think I'm just a bit lost in it all, and feeling so anxious I decide what to do, and so tired I can't make decisions. DH has been pretty crap at being involved in nights so far, so it'll be a big change but I'm trying not to feel guilty because I know it's not "my job" and I know I can't do nights with two of them!

OP’s posts: |
Itsalwayssunnyupnorth Sun 29-Nov-20 08:21:33

Things that helped my toddler were:
-single bed with a toddler side on it-turns out he liked the space to starfish and a thicker duvet and pillow.
-gro clock he loved the story and seeing the moon go to sleep
-a bit or bribery (sticker reward chart, every time did a full night in bed got a sticker)
-strict with it put him to bed said night night love you mummy/daddy has to go and do some jobs but will check on you’ within a couple of nights he was settled at the first check in.
-my DS cut his nap out just after turning 2 so nursery suggested quiet time instead of a nap so after lunch we would have quiet time on the sofa with a story and some tv with a blanket and cuddles, a couple of times a week he would drift off during this.
These worked for us! Iv also got a 4 month old (DS has just turned 4 now) and so far we have been lucky and they aren’t waking each other so there is hope!

Isadora2007 Sun 29-Nov-20 08:22:22

Is your DH on board to take over gentle sleep training with DS? Could you get a quality single bed or small double so DH could sleep with DS to help the transition?
If he’s not on board then he can sleep in the single and you can always still have ds in with you and the new baby. That worked for me when my DH needed sleep for working and I had newborn ds and 3 year old dd in with me. Night feeds didn’t bother her.

NameChange30 Sun 29-Nov-20 08:25:52

"-strict with it put him to bed said night night love you mummy/daddy has to go and do some jobs but will check on you’ within a couple of nights he was settled at the first check in."

We do this with our 3yo when he doesn't want us to leave him at bedtime. I say I need to go to the toilet / tidy up etc but will come back in 5 minutes to see if he's asleep. Occasionally he's still awake when I go back (in which case I just repeat but stay away for longer) but he's usually asleep by the time I go back.

idontknowaboutyoubutimfeeling2 Sun 29-Nov-20 08:27:39

Yeah, time has come to hand over to dh. When dc1 was 2 she was a crap sleeper and I had dc2. Dh fully took over the bedtime routine and night wake ups and I focused on the baby. Her sleep improved loads actually and now at 3.5yo she is a pretty good sleeper. It's a good time to do it because the baby isn't here yet so you can help if things get really tricky and, more importantly, you can get in some much needed rest/downtime as you are heavily pregnant and about to go back to the newborn sleep schedule.

NameChange30 Sun 29-Nov-20 08:29:52


Is your DH on board to take over gentle sleep training with DS? Could you get a quality single bed or small double so DH could sleep with DS to help the transition?
If he’s not on board then he can sleep in the single and you can always still have ds in with you and the new baby. That worked for me when my DH needed sleep for working and I had newborn ds and 3 year old dd in with me. Night feeds didn’t bother her.

Wow, I think I would resent DH too much if he had an uninterrupted night's sleep while I had to share with both children! It's probably not too bad if the oldest sleeps through but not if they are waking as well confused My DS woke up last night (very rare now) and I woke DH and asked him to deal with it as I've been doing all night wakings with the baby (breastfeeding).

OnlyFoolsnMothers Sun 29-Nov-20 09:27:42

Nap wise I would bring everything forward. So we used to do breakfast between 7.30-8.30/ lunch at 11.30/12- nap straight after for an hr and then bed at 7.30.
If he is dropping the nap that’s fine but instead set aside an hour of quiet time- either in his room with books or on the sofa with the tv, just some relax time.
As for not sleeping alongside him and getting him to sleep- sorry not everyone’s cup of tea but controlled crying for me.
Not the same at cry it out.
Your child won’t cry because they need anything (obviously check not teething, not ill, not hungry or wet), but they will cry because you are trying to change a habit.
I would do this before changing the bed itself.

Pearsapiece Sun 29-Nov-20 09:32:58

Get him a bed! Ds is 2. About 6 months ago he started waking up really early and after a lot of persevering trying to get him to stay in bed, I figured out he was rolling around hitting the sides of the cot and that was waking him. Took the sides off, best thing we ever did. He climbs into bed happily at night and sits in bed until we get him up in the morning. However he has always Loved going to bed, it's very odd but I'm not complaining!
2.5 is definitely time for a bed. Do it now otherwise when baby arrives, your hand will be forced and that's a worse time for change.

MsFrog Sun 29-Nov-20 13:23:32

Thank you everyone, this is all really helpful. I've done a lot of the suggestions, I've tried "I just need to pop to the loo/fold the clothes/tidy the kitchen" - he never ever drops off. He won't nap that early @OnlyFoolsnMothers but thanks for the suggestion - I try it and he's not ready to sleep. I've also tried a quiet hour, which again sometimes helps keep the tantrums at bay but doesn't stop the restless nights, which are a result of overtiredness. I'm relieved to hear these suggestions, because at least I've been trying the right stuff.

I think those of you who say a firmer, consistent bedtime routine (that will involve some crying) are right, and I know it's time for DH to step in and start to take over. I guess it's up to him how he does it, but sooner rather than later can only be a good thing. I've had it in mind for months, but with one thing and another it's never seemed the time. And now we've nearly run out of time! We need to talk about it properly - he's said he's dreading it, but what can I do? I can't have both of them every night, although I will do some nights if he needs sleep for work.

OP’s posts: |
Elopelo Sun 29-Nov-20 16:46:51


Sorry no advice here, stuck in the same situation and started my own thread about it a few days ago.

DS is 2.1 and just moved into his own single bed in his own room. Always been a bad sleeper. Can self settle first time around but is then can be up 4-5 times throughout the night.

I'm 22 weeks pregnant and had a good old cry this morning. An added issue for me is I can't let DH take over bedtimes because DS is actually more attached to him, he can let me leave the room to do my imaginary chores but would just cling on to and start screaming for DH. Plus DH works 7-7 5 days a week sometimes 6 so I feel like I never get a break.

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