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DS just turned 2, becoming a nightmare at bedtime - help!

(21 Posts)
PoisonToadstool Mon 02-Nov-09 09:10:54

DS has been in his own room for about 6 months now and it has been fine for the most part - his bedtime routine is bath, stories from each of us, then I leave him with DP who settles him, and until now has been leaving him awake and then we were not hearing anything from him really.

The last three weeks though DS is a) waking a few times in the night - usually just needs his covers adjusting so not a major problem but also b) being a complete PITA after leaving him in his room - crying out for one of us, standing in his cot, and ends up being re-settled 10 or more times before going to sleep.

He still naps, but it has got increasingly late in the day - currently about 2.30-4 but he won't nap before then, even in the car. Yet, he does still seem to need this sleep, by the time he drops off his eyes are looking dark and creased. But then he is waking up so late I wonder if he just does not want to go to sleep by 7.30? Should I try not to let him nap? Sometimes it's not a case of 'letting' him as he will climb on the sofa or my lap and snuggle in and go to sleep - occasionally he takes persuasion but that seems to be more about breaking the cycle of activity than convincing him to sleep, IYSWIM.

I feel like the whole evening is taken up with trying to get DS to sleep and by the time we have done that I am ready for bed - as a SAHM I feel like I don't get a break from him at all and I am just fed up. We usually eat with DS and I like that we do, but once a week or so we like to eat when he is in bed, have a bit of peace - but if that is spent going up and down the stairs, what's the bloody point.

Any ideas, advice, opinions v welcome.

PoisonToadstool Mon 02-Nov-09 09:12:13

Forgot to add, re-settling lately has worked by singing to him but I wonder if he is crying repeatedly because he wants more songs?

Also he is not talking much so can't tell us if he is thirsty, cold, wants a cuddle etc so we go through this routine of different things and the whole thing feels like a palava...

soupmaker Mon 02-Nov-09 11:25:32

Hello Poison, I could have written this! Our DD is nearly 21 mo and we are having the same bed time palavas. I have stopped letting DD sleep past 3.30pm - anything past that and without swimming or a lot of running about in fresh air there is no way she will go down at 7.30pm. Yesterday she didn't nap at all shock. I think this is the beginning of the end of daytime naps every day. I am sure this is just another phase for us to go through. I work full-time, but if I was a SAHM I might try a lot of fresh air and exercise in the morning,and a short nap after lunch, IYSWIM.

PoisonToadstool Mon 02-Nov-09 14:58:01

Hi soupmaker, sorry you're having difficulties too...

We get out every morning, either toddler group, swimming, the library/park etc or even just a walk. He just seems to need a long nap as if woken after less than an hour he is completely grumpy for another hour - in which case he might as well have had the sleep!

I suppose we're quite limited in the afternoon as once he is up and had a drink etc we go to collect DP from work, then it's dinner bath bed so the afternoon feels short and wasted.

that said it's 3pm and he's still up - although laying on a bean bag - I might see if he can do without and just have a bit of quiet time instead. Trouble is that last time this happened he went into meltdown by about 5pm and still woke during the night/early the next day.

ches Tue 03-Nov-09 03:02:39

Is it 2yr molars, by any chance? They're a beast. We've been dealing with this intermittently for NINE MONTHS and they're still only budding on the gum.

Re: the late nap, I can see how as a SAHM you need that quiet time. With my DS, if he has the nap he's up until 8:30/9pm hmm and if he doesn't he crashes at 6pm, but it's v. hard to keep him awake from 3pm-6pm.

PyrotechnicToadstool Tue 03-Nov-09 07:22:12

Thanks Ches, I have wondered if it's his teeth, it's just so hard to tell isn't it? We had this nice little routine going but can't help wonder if it is DS fighting it because he wants attention, or feels he is missing out.

We have always taken the very gentle approach and I don't intend to change that but worry that we might be making things worse.

He seemed okay without a nap - until we went to collect DP, where he promptly fell asleep in the car. He had about 20 minutes and then was a nightmare, and still didn't sleep till about 8pm. So I feel really unsure about what to do today.

girlsyearapart Tue 03-Nov-09 07:33:52

we had the same problem with our dd when she was about 23 ish mo. Has he started potty training by any chance?

PyrotechnicToadstool Tue 03-Nov-09 07:55:29

Hi girls, no he hasn't - we have two potties in the house as he got interested at a friend's house and he has used them a few times, but lost interest - as he is only just 2 (literally last week!) I planned to wait a few months before seeing if he might be interested again - but they are both still accessible if he wants them, not hidden out of the way or anything.

girlsyearapart Tue 03-Nov-09 08:18:23

Oh thought may have worked it out for you!

Dd1 was a dream at bedtime going to bed 7pm awake reading/singing to herself then sleeping till 7/8 not a peep.

After we began potty training though she suddenly turned into a nightmare at bedtime screaming and crying for ages. Could've been a coincidence but I don't think so.

We were really worrying about it as so out of character but in the end we said to her when we put her to bed 'It's night time. Mummy or Daddy will come and check on you in a little while but only if you're quiet.'
We only went back if there was no fussing and ignored any crying (hard work!)

After a couple of nights it was sorted.

She's back to napping in the day after lunch again and sleeping 7-630/7. She's 2.1.

PyrotechnicToadstool Tue 03-Nov-09 08:36:45

Oh, I see! Glad it was short-lived for you.

The trouble is, if we leave him grizzling for a minute to see if he will settle or calm down, he gets more and more worked up, nd then takes longer to settle. Also his speech is very minimal so it is very hard to know how much of 'mummy will be back in a minute' he quite understands - on the whole I think his understanding is good but then his distress says otherwise.

I am taking him to soft play so maybe he will want a nap today, but if so I will wake him a bit earlier.. we'll see I suppose. He was up at 6.40 today - which is exactly when DP woke me up - so it is really draining not to have even 5 minutes to myself.

Snowtiger Tue 03-Nov-09 08:54:13

Don't have much advice to give but lots of sympathy - my DS is 2.2 and also a complete PITA at bed time. He naps 12:30 to 2:30pm and then I spend the afternoon trying to wear him out but that doesn't seem to have much effect on the fact that for him, getting up out of bed (we've taken the sides off his cot in preparation for him moving into a big bed when DC2 comes along early next year) and running around / refusing to settle is great fun!

I read Dr Christopher Green's 'Toddler Taming' book and he says that if bedtime is characterised by little one getting up repeatedly and refusing to settle, they're playing a game. The only way to stop it, he says, is either shut them in their room (not something I'm going to do) or try the 'no eye contact, no speech' approach to putting them back to bed.

Currently we put DS back to bed about 5 to 10 times in the evening, and like you poison I'm a SAHM and it drives me effing NUTS because I get little to no time to myself, and would love half an hour to cook dinner in peace before DH gets home. Recently, we've ignored DS when he's stopped shouting "mummy" and started crying, leaving him for a few minutes and then putting him back to bed (no eye contact, no speaking etc) when he then usually settles quite easily. Don't like having to let him get upset but if that's the only way he'll learn that Mummy isn't playing that game, then I'm going to give it a go.

I decided last night that I'm going to be consistent in that approach for the rest of this week. Will let you know how I get on!!

BTW on the subject of molars etc, my DS has acted up like this when his teeth have been bothering him and also when they've been fine, so think it's more a behavioural / getting attention thing than teeth-related.

PyrotechnicToadstool Tue 03-Nov-09 09:06:21

Thanks snowtiger - without wanting to delight in others problems there is some reassurance in knowing it's not something we've done, and it is ultimately a phase - just one that needs handling perhaps rather than enduring.

I have read some of Toddler Taming and find it useful in part, but extreme in others - like you there is pretty much no way I would shut him in his room and leave him to it - I am pretty sure if I did that he would end up being sick, for a start.

No eye contact, no speaking - is that rapid return? I worry that not hearing reassurances like goodnight, mummy loves you etc wouldn't help the crying stop. But maybe they would after a while - I think you're right, the main thing is consistency. It is just hard as while I don't want to be harsh, neither does DP and one of us has to take the initiative to say 'this is what we're doing' or we will end up spending the whole night in his room (not that I think this method is harsh, at all! just that it is hard to change whatever it is you're doing - from lots of singing etc to none is a big change).

It is SO tiring isn't it, because of course then the problem is by the time they have gone to sleep, WE are knackered and want to go to bed too! It kills me when I have no peace during an entire day - whether that's a daytime nap or evening break I don't mind.

Good luck and do let me know how it goes.

Nikna Tue 03-Nov-09 10:15:32

Hi, I am in the exact same situation! Feel like crying this morning but am literally too tired. 2.5 yr old DS refuses to stay in bed at bedtime then is up in the night into our bed. Whined for a cuddle from me from 4.30am this morning, even though he was in our bed and I was cuddling him!?

We have tried all sorts. The rapid return, sitting at his bedroom door when he can see me. But like you it takes up the whole evening, and I feel like I get no break, and should probably go to sleep once he does in order to prepare for the night ahead!

I started a sticker chart yesterday. A sticker for being a good boy at bedtime, and one for staying in bed all night. Once he has a row of five he will get a "prize". Have talked it through with him... interesting to see when he actually gets a sticker! He wanted one this morning, so at least he is thinking about it.

If anything, it is a relief I am not the only one dealing with this. it feels so out of the blue. zzzzzzzzzzzz

TheMightyToosh Tue 03-Nov-09 10:24:07

"re-settling lately has worked by singing to him but I wonder if he is crying repeatedly because he wants more songs?"

We had this with our 2.7 yo DD. She kept getting out of bed and shouting/crying for us at bedtime. We tried being nice, getting angry, everything.. but nothing worked apart from the old supernanny trick of showing absolutely no emotion/reaction whatsoever.

We just calmly walked her back to bed and tucked her in. First time we explained it was bedtime, said goodnight etc, but after the first couple of times, we then said nothing, just placed her back in bed.

After a couple of nights of her getting no attention/reaction from us, she gave up.

I do believe that it is an attention thing, so if you take away the reaction, they realise it is futile and give up.

TheMightyToosh Tue 03-Nov-09 10:25:37

Obviously if you think they are teething or genuinely upset, this won't work, but if you do think it is an attention-seeking thing, it seemed to work for us.

Snowtiger Tue 03-Nov-09 17:03:47

That's reassuring to know, Toosh. My problem is consistency; after returning DS to bed with no attention / reaction ten times I often lose my rag and shout at the little bugger love, then get really annoyed at myself for having given in and shouted! Or I'll do the no reaction thing and then DH will go up to him and talk to him while putting him back to bed! Gaaah!

Definitely need to try three or four consecutive nights of the no attention / reaction approach and see if it pays off.

TheMightyToosh Tue 03-Nov-09 17:30:27

Snowtiger - I know, had the same problems. Had to give DH very clear instructions when it was his turn to go upstairs grin

It's hard but I found that having a 'you will not win this, you can try all you like but you will not break me' attitude actually helped me to stay calm (albeit with a slightly smug look on my face that I hoped was not premature and would eventually pay off!)

I hope it works for you. I think it is a 'nip it in the bud' situation, before you are like those poor families you see on S'nanny where the child tries it on 156 times before actually going to sleep. Avoiding that was my main motivation!!

HappyBump Tue 03-Nov-09 17:30:53

wow! it is so interesting to see that others are going through the same thing.

My DS is almost 23 months and he has just started to resist going for his afternoon nap. When he goes down he sleeps for about 2 hours. The nap time has moved from 12.30-2.30 to more like 1.30 or 2ish - 3.30 or 4ish. He has missed a few daytime naps in the last week or two and actually been fine without them. I am dreading he might be dropping his daytime nap.

I persuade him up to bed by letting him choose a couple of toys to play with in his cot with his favourite stuffed animal. I usually hear him chatting for about 20 mins before he passes out which by that time is more like 2.30 ... which then of course impacts his evening bedtime. The only upside is that now instead of waking up at 6.30am he now wakes at 7.15am which is great.

Today I woke him after an hour, so I am going to see if this will work to try and get him back on track, but he ended up still wanting to play until later than his normal bed time.

Aarrgghhh! I had really hoped that he would keep this nap for at least another 6-12 months. I am expecting our second baby in January.

I haven't exactly started potty training but DS has started asking to use the potty fairly regularly now ... I am trying to build myself up to potty training ... I am worried about DS reverting to nappies as soon as the new baby arrives. Plus I wanted to move him into a new bed ... so many changes!

Snowtiger Wed 04-Nov-09 16:13:19

Happybump I'm in exactly the same situation, give or a take a couple of months - number 2 is due in April and DS has started showing interest in potty but isn't yet at the stage that I feel he's ready to be properly potty trained. He'll be moving into a big bed and new bedroom around Christmas which I hope will give him plenty of time to adjust to it before number 2 arrives.

He's also able to do without a nap some days and I dread the prospect of having him up all day and me not getting a break at all! But on the days when he doesn't nap (which isn't often, because I don't let it happen if I can help it!) he passes out at 6:30pm so at least I don't have the bedtime issues. It's a bit of a rock and a hard place isn't it.

Last night I put him back to bed 4 times with no speech / attention and he then went to sleep which was a result.

I forgot to mention, he has a particular trick up his sleeve. The moment you put him to bed he then forces out a poo so you have to change him (therefore getting attention). Last night he did that, I changed him, put him back to bed and he then did another one, then came and found me and said "Mummy, another poo!" so I had to change him again.

I'm not sure what to do about this - obviously I can't ignore him, he has to be changed as I don't want him lying in poo. And I don't want to shout at him / tell him off for pooing as we've had constipation issues in the past so congratulating him for doing a poo is a must. But is there a way to encourage him to do a poo earlier in the day, or discourage him from doing it as a way to get attention when he should be going to sleep? At the moment all i can do is change him as quickly and quietly as possible and hope it's not much of a 'reward' for him.

Any ideas?

girlsyearapart Wed 04-Nov-09 19:24:04

Ha! my dd2 does the poo thing too!she's nearly 14mo. She does it if I put her to bed and cries to be picked up. I go back in every 5 mins to give her back her dummy and lie her back down if she's still crying but try not to pick her back up again. She's done it a few times now- I just bring her down change her without talking then put her back to bed. As far as I can see it's the only thing you can do..

Snowtiger Thu 05-Nov-09 14:56:52

Thanks girlsyearapart that's reassuring to know it's not just my DS who does it. Sneaky little sods poppets aren't they?!

Think you're right that a quick change with no attention is the only way to deal with it. Am happy to hear otherwise if anyone else has good ideas though....?

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