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OMG, please please, how do I get DD to stay in bed????

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I'm about to lose it.  Please please help!!  My DD is almost 3 years old.  She won't stay in bed at bedtime.  At all. No matter how many times I walk her back to bed and tuck her back in.  She can be falling asleep downstairs but as soon as she goes up to bed, I lie with her for an hour but then I HAVE to get up, I HAVE to get some things done around here.  She won't stop talking, it's like she's recharged the second she gets in bed.  She has a favorite doll, a favorite stuffed animal, pillow, blanket, water, she has it all.  What do I do, is this just a losing battle, should I just lie down with her every night for 90 minutes until she falls asleep, then I fall asleep too, in clothes, without brushing my teeth, with my house in shambles since I can't get anything done when everyone is awake??

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thank you!!

post #2 of 30

I have zero experience, so take everything this with a grain of salt, but could you just let her fall asleep downstairs on the couch or something?  I'm a pretty laid back person, to me it wouldn't matter where she slept.  If she won't stay in her bed, I don't suppose she'll stay in her room?  Like if you get her all ready for bed and tell her she can stay in her room and play if she likes, but that she can decide when to go to bed...or does she need to cuddle to get to sleep?  Does she say why she doesn't want to go to sleep?  Not tired, wants to play, wants to talk, etc? 


Here's what I would probably do:  if she's actually falling asleep downstairs, I'd let her.  Maybe get ready for bed right after dinner, so you've got the pajamas and teeth brushing out of the way.  Let her chill out on the couch while you do dishes, clean up, and get ready for bed.  Then I'd transition her, and if she wakes up and needs you to lie with her, you're already ready for bed yourself and don't have to worry about cleaning up or brushing your teeth.


When DS randomly shifted his bedtime back two hours to 11pm, we had to get used to cleaning and doing dishes before bed rather than after he was asleep, because we were too tired afterwards. 

post #3 of 30

I could have written your post, uncertain!


I had a couple of threads here & on the sleep board because about a month or so ago I was at my wits end with DS's inability to stay in bed.


We are definitely still in the thick of it & so I have no true answers to your question... just commiseration.


We have tried what a couple of mamas suggested to me -- letting go & letting DS set his own bedtime. Most nights, we go through our bedtime routine as early as we can manage & then leave him with a reading light on & his books. He will sometimes turn of the light himself & go to sleep, sometimes within 40 minutes but more often it's an hour or more.


In fact, we're just sort of going through the process of reevaluating the current system because I am really thinking that he is not getting enough sleep (plus after a trip he was back in bed with us for a week & now wants someone to lay down with him in his room).


So we haven't hit on one thing that is working consistently yet.


BUT letting him read to himself (& by read I mean flip through his favorite books) has given me the space & time I need to let go of anger & resentment that was building up previously. I still have nights where I can muster more patience than others, so I too am still a work in progress.


Bedtime is so, so, so hard. I can almost deal with anything my son throws my way at any other time of day, but at night I just can't do it. It is so frustrating when he comes out of his room within seconds of me tucking him in for the 30th time! I can't even brush my teeth some nights!


But I realize that it's also my job to listen to him & really figure out what he needs to settle down for the night. Like your DD, my son is often half-asleep right before we actually get him in bed & then wakes up & won't settle.


I think it could be the age. Fears can be really clear & strong right now (from my limited observations) & DS's ped. just confirmed that they can go through another attachment phase right around 3. Is your DD new to her own bed/bedroom?


I tried just talking to DS one night as I lay with him to help him unpack his day & that seemed to help marginally.


Good luck!

post #4 of 30

My daughter is a bit younger, so I know this suggestion may not be applicable, but... Have you tried singing to her while you're lying in there?  Or playing an engaging CD?  My daughter totally short-circuits at bedtime (i.e. she talks and talks and talks and talks....)  It seems to help if I can get her mind to focus on something.  We've always done singing to sleep, and that still really helps her to fall asleep faster.  But for your daughter, if you don't want to start relying on a new "parenting to sleep" method, perhaps a CD or book on tape would help.  I really love "The Gift of the Tortoise" by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. 

post #5 of 30

3 yr old bedtimes are really hard IME!


Here's what worked with my dd at that age (now 10 yrs old, great sleeper):


Before bed = potty, water, snack offered, favorite stuffy etc.


I would lay down with her but she had to have eyes closed, be "still", and in bed, making no noise. If she didn't follow those rules, I'd get up. 


One time...she followed all my rules but put her arms straight up in the air so she wouldn't fall asleep! I had to add that one on :)


If there was any talk of being staaaaaarving she could have a banana - that was her only choice. It was a good gauge for whether she was really hungry (which she was maybe once in the couple of years she spent insisting she was starving at bedtime :))


I just kept the boundaries really consistent and clear. She would often still manage to keep herself up for a looong time. I would set my own time limit on it (1/2 hour to an hour) and I would tell her Mommy has to get up to finish dishes or whatever it was and that I'd check on her in 5 minutes. Often, in that time, she would fall asleep. It wasn't deceptive, exactly...but teaching her how to fall asleep by herself.I think it was actually harder for her to fall asleep with me in the bed, but she needed to get around the mental block of thinking she needed that (or just wanting it, from habit or otherwise). 


I tried to keep it pretty comfortable for her, and never went too far out of earshot.


Oooh, just remembered books on cd was the next step...I'd read to her, snuggle etc. then we'd put a book on cd in and she could wind her mind down listening to it - I'd come back and check in on her and she'd be snoozing!


Don't worry - you WILL get there!

post #6 of 30
I can so relate, uncertain! My son recently turned 3 and he just will not go to bed at night. I'm taking some of the advice here to just let go. I read the thread earlier this evening so I told my son at bedtime that he could play with his cars or look at books and lie down when he feels tired. I'm pregnant and kind of cranky in the evenings and feel like I just want some time alone. With him constantly getting out of bed I was becoming not the nicest mom. The problem is, he just wants to be with me, which is flattering and all, but I'm an introvert and need my quiet time.

He also climbs into our bed almost every night at about 2 in the morning. I don't really mind as long as he goes to sleep. My resolve is pretty weak at 2 in the morning when I have to get up for work at 5! I feel mean for saying so, but as my pregnancy progresses and once the new baby arrives I don't really want him in our bed. We ordered him a big boy bed so at least we can start taking him back in there and cuddling with him in the middle of the night, instead of having him in our bed. He's In a toddler bed right now and it's too uncomfortable to lie down with him in there.
post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 

Sigh.  Thank you so much for the support.  It helps to know that I'm not the only one going through this.  I wish something would help, but nothing is helping at all and I'm growing so angry and frustrated and I'm beyond tired and I'm turning into super mean mommy.  She's not cognitively advanced enough yet to understand things like "I'm going to leave then come back and check on you in 5 minutes", or "if you get out of bed one more bleep bleep bleepity bleeping time, you will lose every priveledge you've ever had", or to want to listen to a book on tape (she won't even listen to me reading a book, just talks over me all.the.damn.time (but that's another story altogether..).  I've tried the whole, "I'm going to sit on the end of the bed now", thing but then she won't lie down, she just wants to sit down there with me.  She just won't settle, she is driving me rapidly insane and apparently I'm going to just have to buy all new clothes and dishes because there is never a single moment of the day that she doesn't need my full and complete attention so I can never get a single solitary thing done around here!!!!!!! (I have two other kids as well, one older, one younger, but they are fine all around at the moment)

Ok, sorry for the vent.  I guess it helps to get it out.

post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 

Oh, and I can't just let her stay downstairs until she falls asleep.  Reason A, I truly believe she actually would not ever fall asleep.  Maybe by 4am or so?  Possibly, but at this point I really believe she just wouldn't.  She would just spin around and around and around and spill more stuff and make more mess.  Reason B, I can't let her ruin DS's sleep too, especially since we have to get up by 7am at the latest to make sure he gets to school on time.  This is driving me bananas.  Sorry for the double (triple?) vent!!!!!!!

post #9 of 30
What I did with both my kids is to lie down with them, and then say something like, "Oh, I need to quick check the dishwasher" or something. And then go and quickly come back. And I'd slowly start doing more things that took longer and longer and eventually they were OK with me being away while they went to sleep. But it took a while.
post #10 of 30

What are the things that are downstairs that help her feel relaxed enough to fall asleep? Can you recreate any of that feeling in her room? I'm a fan of "whatever works" and thinking out-of-the-box has often saved me. Can you make her bed like a couch? Does she need a video to fall asleep? (seriously, this would not be my first choice either but certainly better than huge struggles every single night). Something PBSish like Kipper could be soothing. It sounds like maybe you need a stop-gap until she is developmentally ready to try some of the other techniques. The kitchen timer was my best friend when my dd was that age though it might not work as well at bedtime (?)

Most importantly I think you should do whatever works for now and get through this phase - it will get better, I promise.

post #11 of 30

another work in progress here. We've been working on this a LOONG time....it's getting better. The thing that helped me the most with my sanity was separating out the issues: issue 1: DD will not let herself settle down enough to sleep. Issue 2: It makes my frustration level go through the roof, and turns me into an angry mommy because I just want her ASLEEP so I can do some of the chores that I simply cannot figure out how to do with her and her 10 month old little brother awake. Anyways, issue 2 is the only one I can really fix. I can't force her to go to sleep, and trying to make it a "lay still, don't move, no speaking" situation just made me crazy and built my frustration even more, because she wouldn't/couldn't do it. My first goal is now to manage my frustration/anger level. We are all in a famliy bed, so I can't just leave her with her sleeping brother while she's awake, and DH is almost always at work at bedtime. What is working the best at the moment is to tell her she has 10 minutes to go be silly in the playroom (while I get DS to sleep). then, I will lay with her and snuggle her and we can talk for a few minutes. Then, I will sit next to her and rub her back while I read. I will only rub her back if she's laying still and quiet, but otherwise, I try to ignore everything that is not unsafe behavior. I tell myself she is winding down. Unsafe behavior gets time out.  One other thing I have done if she still really can't settle down is to tell her, okay, I have to wash dishes. You can come downstairs and sit on a chair and watch me until you're ready for bed. She's only wanted to do that a couple of times, because it was really really boring. I kept interaction to a minimum, and told her we had to be really quiet because it was the middle of the night. But, I got the dishes done :)

 A couple of times in the last few weeks, she has fallen asleep within 15 minutes. Most often it's around 30. It was an hour to an hour and a half. The most important thing to me is that I've been able to let go most of the anger and frustration. We still have not such great nights, but it's nothing like it was. My house is in a shambles, too. I think that's normal with little ones. It's frustrating to me that the little one that makes it impossible is the 3 1/2 year old, not the 10 month old, but really, it's just who she is and what she needs. My mantra is that the kids are my most important job, anything else that gets done is gravy....

Hope something helps soon! I feel like this has been one of my hardest challenges as a parent, and I think it is for so many people.

Oh, just popped into my head some random other stuff that helps ....the baby's waking, so to be brief....enough exercise- we play red light, green light in the back yard and she goes to sleep much quicker. She needs a TON of exercise to be tired out. Minimal sugar- any special treats we do, are after lunch, not dinner. Lots of veggies/fruits. If she's constipated, she'll be awake forever. And one on one time before bed. She really needs a few minutes of snuggly buggly lovey dovey stuff to be able to relax. I try to remind myself that it's my job to help her learn how to relax and sleep, but I can't make her.

post #12 of 30

My kids are a bit older now and I can tell you, if it's any comfort at all, it's a phase.  A 3ish-year-old thing.  She'll gain so much understanding in the 3yo year about mommy having to do something for 5 minutes, etc.  The advice above about first trying to let go of the frustration is a big step.  It was maddenig, I know, I yelled a lot at bedtime when ds was 3 to 4, until I got a handle on it and changed my attitude.  3 is sooo young.  She still needs you.  But, you have your sanity needs too, of course.  Expect bedtime to take an hour, make your rules really clear before bed, as a pp said, like - I'll stay as long as there's no talking, lying still, etc., be firm about them and leave the room briefly if you have to before coming back to "try again at a nice calm bedtime" with her.  Around that age (maybe a bit younger) I used a little musical stuffed animal as a "timer" where I'd pull the string, it played the song for about 1 minute - and the deal was I'd be back when the song is over.  I came back over and over again, ds got upset sometimes (and sometimes I had the baby AND ds1 crying at me at the same time at bedtime!  Fun!) but at least it was a very short time that he could get used to the idea of me "checking on him". Over the months and years I could check less often, or use a CD instead of a one-minute musical toy.   The other suggestion about letting her stay up down in a boring, dimly-lit downstairs while you do your thing, that's a good one too.  I did that a few times myself.   He got bored of it.  ;)

One more question - is she taking a nap during the day?  IF so (I doubt it?) could be time to try to drop it. Maybe she'd not tired enough by bedtime?

post #13 of 30
Originally Posted by uncertain View Post

Oh, and I can't just let her stay downstairs until she falls asleep.  Reason A, I truly believe she actually would not ever fall asleep.  Maybe by 4am or so?  Possibly, but at this point I really believe she just wouldn't.  She would just spin around and around and around and spill more stuff and make more mess.  Reason B, I can't let her ruin DS's sleep too, especially since we have to get up by 7am at the latest to make sure he gets to school on time.  This is driving me bananas.  Sorry for the double (triple?) vent!!!!!!!

I'm where you are and my DD is yours....she would never go to sleep if I let her choose her bedtime.  Luckily for me she usually falls asleep quickly.  If you ignore her does she stop talking?  After we do a story, kisses, and lay down, the first time she speaks to me I tell her that I'm going to sleep and not talking anymore, and I don't respond to anything she says.  That sounds awful, I know, but she stops talking to me and just talks quietly to herself or her dolls.  Unless she's had a nap (rare, but even 30 minutes in the car can be a bedtime catastrophe), she's usually out pretty quickly.


ETA: she wasn't always like this...it used to take hours every. single. night.  During that completely shit period, the only thing that saved me lowering my expectations to nothing (I brushed my teeth when she did just in case).  It helped my sanity a lot.  Good luck!

post #14 of 30

I haven't been able to read responses so I will just share what we do, lol. My son is almost three and a half and my DH puts him to sleep, he lays down with him and they fall asleep together. I handle bedtime with my almost 1 year old daughter right now and we sleep in another room, which isn't ideal but my DH and I get more sleep if we divide and conquer, lol. Can anyone else handle bedtime with your DD? I was just thinking last night how grateful I am that DH handles it, because sometimes DS takes a while to fall asleep, like 40 minutes. If no one was in there with him I am sure he would do the come out 100 times thing too and at the end of the day I can't imagine having the patience for it. Anyway, good luck!!!

post #15 of 30

Same age and same issue here.  I may be trying some of the suggestions in this thread, thanks!


For now, what has helped me manage my own frustration is I just expect to go to bed when DD1 does.  I brush my own teeth and get in my PJs while helping DD1 do the same.  If the baby is not already asleep I will just nurse her to sleep as well at that time.  It still takes DD1 1-1.5 hours to go to sleep but if I fall asleep next to her at least it is useful sleep time for me and not just wasted sitting-there time, and I don't fall asleep in my clothes with dirty teeth. 


I deal with the mess in the kitchen in the morning when I get up (DD1 sleeps later than I do and likes to chill in bed with some milk in the AM as well).  I had to let go of my own irritation with that as well, it used to drive me nuts to think about gross dishes in the sink all night but now I am OK with it because this works better than getting frustrated at bedtime trying to stay awake so I can go wash dishes.

post #16 of 30
Does she still nap? Ds dropped his nap a little before 3 years old and that improved bedtime dramatically.
post #17 of 30

Ds will stay in his bed if he has a book on CD playing, he will listen to it and then pass out.  It takes him (and me) forever to fall asleep, at least an hour, and that seems to work best. 

post #18 of 30

we are still working on transitioning DS1 from cosleeping with me to his own bed. So far my strategy has been he comes upstairs and falls asleep with me and the baby as usual. then I get up and go do stuff. Right before I go to get I pick him up and tuck him in his own bed. It at least makes sure that he is good and asleep by the time he ends up there and will generally sleep 6 or so hours in his bed before he comes back up.  

post #19 of 30
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

What I did with both my kids is to lie down with them, and then say something like, "Oh, I need to quick check the dishwasher" or something. And then go and quickly come back. And I'd slowly start doing more things that took longer and longer and eventually they were OK with me being away while they went to sleep. But it took a while.

I would do that too, usually I'd go to the bathroom and linger, which wasn't hard for me to do.  And sometimes she'd fall asleep, and sometimes she'd start calling for me. Sometimes I'd put her to bed early enough and actually fall asleep with her like a 9 o'clock nap, and then I'd wake up and leave.  Nothing more frustrating than waking up to leave and have her wake up.  I think at that point I just kind of got mad and told her she had to stay in bed, I was leaving.  And then she'd start crying, so I felt like I couldn't do much anyway, but I could stay I'd stay for a certain amount of time and at that point it usually worked.


I don't remember what really worked.  I remember listening to stories on CDs and making her CDs of music, and I'd stay for a certain number of songs, or I'd stay and tell her stories and then for a song or two, and eventually she grew to accept it.  Honestly, though, this was older, like 4 and 5 when I needed her to get up in the morning sometimes.  At 3 I was just transitioning her to her own bed, so I would lie with her and nurse her to sleep, and then when she woke up, I'd go in and nurse her.  She night weaned between 3 and 3.5 and the going to sleep seemed to take even longer then.  Eventually she stopped complaining about me leaving, I guess.  Part of what helped was when her sister was 2 or 3, she started sleeping with DD1, who was about 7 at the time.  And eventually they started going to bed on their own.  And now they are 13 and 8, and they are still sleeping in the same bed, although they each have their own double bed in their room.

post #20 of 30

My DD1 was this way at 2.75.


I put her back to bed.  The first time i sat with her for 5 minutes then said i had to go check something and i'd pop back.  I always hid outside for like 45seconds then popped back.  If she got up again i'd just take her back, say a few words then leave again.  After 3 times i just picked her up and put her back in bed.  One night i counted and it took 94 times before she stayed in bed and went to sleep (i only mention that because for some kids "over and over" is 5 times, and for some it's 100 - mine was pretty determined).  It was hard to stay calm/loving all that time (about 2 hours) but it made it so incredibly boring to get up over and over that she did, after a few more weeks (of gettings-up getting less and less numerous) just stay in bed and go to sleep the first time.


My DD2, just turned 2, has started doing it now!

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