2 year old has never put himself to sleep

(34 Posts)
Carolinaa Sat 14-Aug-21 22:34:06

First post after reading tons of wisdom over the last 2 years.

My son is now 2 and 2 months and still can’t fall asleep himself. Every single night I have sat with him on my knee and breast fed / held him til he fell asleep then transferred him to his own bed once deeply enough asleep. It takes on average 2 hours, sometimes 3. If he wakes when I move him he won’t resettle and we have to start again. Now he’s older he often doesn’t fall asleep on the breast - once he’s ready he just lies quietly on my knee til he nods off.

He just will not let me put him in his cot awake. He stands up and screams the house down. I have never tested how long this could go on as I’ve always given in and picked him up first, but he has done easily 45 mins with me in and out, or 15 mins on his own.

We’ve never done real sleep training properly. I’ve tried bits and pieces from Sarah Ockwell smith and Elizabeth Pantley but never got anywhere with the gentle methods - essentially unless he is in a totally deep sleep so he has no idea he’s being put in his cot, he wakes up and screams. He’s got good language now so he understands what is said but will not accept he should lie down quietly and try to sleep in his own cot.

We’ve tried talking about it and reading books like good night moon and pointing out when book characters go to sleep in their own beds. He seems to get that but doesn’t accept it should apply to him.

However it’s not all bad. Once he’s down he does now sleep through most nights. But I really need to be able to do something with my evenings other than his bedtime. I’d really appreciate any ideas!

OP’s posts: |
CourtneyCox2021 Sun 15-Aug-21 07:28:29

Think at 2.... I would do some sleep training.... But that's me 🤷🏼‍♀️ I'm sure someone wiser on here will say best way

MujosMama Sun 15-Aug-21 07:43:08

My eldest was very similar and we sat/cuddled with him to comfort him to sleep until he was 3. At that point, I had number 2 and it proved impossible with a baby in my arms who wanted me to walk around or he would scream.

To be honest, I would have struggled to get him out of the habit at just over 2. It feels like they should be able to do it but I don't think he would have understood well enough. By 3, he was much more capable of understanding. I was just upfront "Mummy is going to go to sleep in her bed, we'll have cuddles and kisses but then I'm going to leave". I didn't bugger about with the whole "move further away from the bed until you're out of the door" thing, that was just more stressful for both of us.

We had a week of tears and protests, about an hour at first but less each night, then he went to sleep and slept through. Now we have no issues with story, kiss, night night and leave the room (he just turned 4).

I think it really depends how much of an issue it is for you. For us it was annoying but also kind of sweet and a way of spending time with him in the evening. When it became a real issue, we dealt with it then. Good luck!!

MujosMama Sun 15-Aug-21 07:44:03

Also I meant to say, have you considered moving him out of a cot? Mine slept a lot better in a bed by that age

OnlyFoolsnMothers Sun 15-Aug-21 07:46:26

Sleep training- but I won’t lie at 2 it will be hard. He will be stubborn, resistant to change and you will have to hold your nerve and remind yourself he’s fed, watered, and well.
Either use a light or mobile, and every night follow the same routine, perhaps the same saying “night night time” for example.

Kotatsu Sun 15-Aug-21 07:53:03

Mine was the same at 2. Then at about 3 and a half (thank goodness, just before I had his little brother) something just switched in him, and he started just rolling over and going to sleep after a story, and he's been no trouble putting to bed ever since.

And his good influence meant that his little brother was always happy going to bed (because he was never alone of course).

So I wouldn't worry that it'll never happen, just decide how you want to deal with it.

LegoCaltrops Sun 15-Aug-21 07:54:35

Sounds exactly like my DD. By 2 we’d already had to get her a full size single bed, due to escaping over the bars of the cotbed. It was actually easier in a proper bed, as it meant that we could take her up & just lay next to her until she went to sleep.


lovelybitofsquirrell Sun 15-Aug-21 07:56:01

I hate to be the bearer of bad news. My eldest is 6 and I still lay with her until she falls asleep !

20viona Sun 15-Aug-21 07:58:50

This is madness well done for surviving this long but some sleep training is required here. My daughter is the exact same age and I would of lost my head if I had to
Do this every night.

bananacrumble Sun 15-Aug-21 08:05:31

I won't lie my oldest is 5 and he still falls to sleep on the sofa with me- he has SEN so this works. My 4yo walks herself up to bed at 6.45 and my 18mo takes himself at usually around 6/6.15. He just gets his blanket an sits at the stairs to tell me he's goin bed. He waved everyone night an he's gone. I learnt my lesson an did this from him been a baby! My 4yo only started when she was just turned 3... wish I did it sooner x

CrabbyCat Sun 15-Aug-21 08:11:33

If he's taking 2 to 3 hours to go to sleep, is he tired enough at bedtime? Does he still nap, and what time is bedtime? Do you have any other sort of bedtime routine to start winding down to sleep e.g. a bath or a story?

I have to wake my just turned 2 year old after about 45 minutes of nap, or he's not ready for bed until 9 pm ish - if I try earlier bedtime takes ages and goes nowhere just like you describe. I still feed him to sleep but it doesn't take over my evening.

LemonRoses Sun 15-Aug-21 08:29:32

It’s your choice entirely.

GalaxyGirl24 Sun 15-Aug-21 08:41:14

This is a bit what DD is like (11 months) - breastfeed to drowsy nowadays as she won't be asleep at the boob. But at soon as I put her in the cot starts crying and shouting but then literally within 1-5 mins she's laid down to sleep. We don't leave her crying more than 5 mins but we know that if we go in she gets playful and wants to jump about the cot and have fun.

We did the shhhh pat and PUPD training around 7/8 months when our backs could no longer take the rocking/bouncing to sleep and it had started taking 45 mins of rocking we felt we'd have enough and needed her to be able to sleep independently. Was hard work for a couple of weeks but it's worked - I think she's one of these kids where she doesn't want to miss out at all and so will kick off at all naps and bedtime and then realises that yes she's actually tired and then rests.

ThatDreamSheep Sun 15-Aug-21 08:47:56

My 2 year old was very similar. We've moved her into a single bed, and started with lying next to her until she fell asleep and now I sit on the end of her bed. Hoping to eventually move further and further out the room!

FATEdestiny Sun 15-Aug-21 10:09:35

If solving this isn't urgent, if wait until past 3rd birthday. Then move to a bed, at an age where toddler is more emotionally intelligent to cope with it. Then you can shift the cuddling/settling to her lying in the bed. This removes the need to put her down already asleep.

Carolinaa Sun 15-Aug-21 17:32:27

Thanks so much for all the replies, I really appreciate them.

My plan for the last year was that once we got to 2 we would make a change. It sounds tho like this isn’t the best age. What you’re saying definitely chimes with what he’s like - incredibly stubborn and just wants what he has had every other night. So maybe I need to decide if we will push through the upset now or wait another year. It’s not urgent to change but it would be nice to be able to make evening plans and to catch up on work in the evenings, which would let me pick him up from nursery earlier.

His current routine is roughly awake 7.30, nap 12.30-13.30, bedtime 8pm (bath, books, then feed on my knee with white noise) and sleep somewhere between 9-10. He’s definitely tired enough by 8 but can’t seem to switch off. Some days he doesn’t nap but then he’s so tired and grouchy by 5pm I feel like he still needs it. Also it means if we need to go in the car after 3ish he’s guaranteed to sleep which is worse than an earlier nap! I could cut it to max 45 mins tho.

The bed is an interesting thought. I had assumed I had to teach him to fall asleep by himself first because we’d have no chance once he’s in a bed. Did those who found it helped not find that their DC got up in the night more, as they could physically climb out of bed?

Nice to hear I’m not the only person doing this - irl it seems unusual and I always feel a bit weird explaining why I can’t make evening plans! But also good to hear it gets better eventually!

OP’s posts: |
Forstarters Sun 15-Aug-21 19:01:33

Do you mean you’ve sat with your child until 10pm every night for two years? What about your life, friends, social life, relaxation time? This sounds untenable to me…

OnlyFoolsnMothers Sun 15-Aug-21 19:11:53

Sounds over tired to me- i would personally sleep train at 7pm

Wornoutmumma18 Sun 15-Aug-21 19:12:04

This is my first post and probably a hugely unpopular statement. My little boy is 2 and 10 months. He's never fallen asleep alone. We made the choice a while ago to change him to a floor bed(that is, a double mattress on a slatted base). It, along with a good red nightlight made all the difference. Sarah ockwell Smith recommended the lumie bedbug and we got that one and it's great..
There are few things a toddler can control in life, one of those things is sleeping. I csnt see how a human can be trained to sleep. I know I couldn't personally be.

I just do bath, story and then with the nightlight on red/sunset mode, we lie down with the white noise on and calmly cuddle untill he falls asleep. Once he's asleep then the monitor goes on and I make my escape. He's quite a lively boy that struggles to switch off, so half an hour outside before bath and bed does seem to help too.
Good luck with your journey. It's really tough sometimes xx

OnlyFoolsnMothers Sun 15-Aug-21 19:31:40

I csnt see how a human can be trained to sleep you train them to self settle, not for everyone but it does tend to work.
I don’t wait for my 4yr old to pass out to know she’s tired.

BobbleWobble1 Sun 15-Aug-21 19:33:55

DS 2yrs9mo still doesn't fall asleep alone unless he is beyond shattered. He was a hideous sleeper in cot so we did a floor bed set up from around 15 months to save our sanity as I wasn't comfortable with sleep training. At around 2 we put him in a toddler bed and he had been mostly sleeping through and that's mostly been the case since. We have recently moved him into a full size single. No issues. If he does wake in the night or early morning, he will come straight through to us but I don't see any difference than if he's in a cot screaming. I just take him back to bed and he usually settles easily.

At bedtime, he gets into bed himself but just needs the comfort of someone lying with him. Usually takes half an hour max to settle him but at least I'm comfortable while I'm doing it. I would say if it's taking 2 hours to settle at bedtime, he's either over or under tired.

Paulinna Sun 15-Aug-21 19:36:06

Every couple of months we attempted to put DC to bed alone with a goodnight kiss and a nightlight. It always resulted in crying and we ended up returning to the old routine of sitting there cuddling to sleep. Then at 3.5 something just clicked and suddenly it worked with no crying. Maybe your DC isn’t ready yet.

pancakes22 Sun 15-Aug-21 19:38:45

We had similar. With the eldest we moved from a cot to a double bed so that we could read and then lie with her to go to sleep. That then naturally progressed to her being comfortable with us leaving after a book and a song after a while. My youngest we have the cot off the side and after he gets sleepy in arms I can lie him down and sit by the side with my head on his pillow too or hold his hand and he is starting to get a bit better with that too. Xx

Lazypuppy Sun 15-Aug-21 19:41:40

I would make his room safe, move to a bed, make sure there are some books and toys etc, pop a stair gate on the door, do bedtime routine and read a book etc, then leave him in there. You get more of your evening back and he can either play/read or go to sleep. May be easier than full on sleep training as at 2 it is probably going to be tough.

We've done this with my dd since we put her in a bed as she feels like she is in control a littlez but i just tqke her up to bed earlier than i would normally to allow some play time. 8pm sounds quite late, maybe he is actually getting overtired which makes bedtime harder

Tablow Sun 15-Aug-21 19:52:27

Audiobooks worked for us eventually but probably more like 3 years old.

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