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How do I get a toddler to sleep before 11pm?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Hi, I'm new today :)

I could really use some advice for my 22 month old who just won't go to sleep before 10:30 or 11pm. (She wakes up at 7am, and naps between 1:30pm and 3:30pm.)


I nursed her to sleep since birth (she wouldn't accept anything else) until I had to wean her at 13 months due to her biting me a lot and being unable to keep it up physically due to pregnancy (got pregnant when she was 10 mos. old.) She wouldn't accept rocking or other parenting to sleep, so she would just snuggle and rub my growing belly at night. For naps, I'd give her a car ride.


Now, I have a 2 month old. I still have to use the car to get her down for naps. At night, she wants to rub my belly or have me rub her back (my idea, to get the emphasis off of me) which is difficult because I am lying on my side nursing her brother down. She carries on, tossing and turning, wanting to sleep on top of me, then asking for water, wandering around the room, etc. until 10:30 or 11pm, keeping me and often her brother awake. It is challenging! She screams if I put her in her crib, and can get out of it by herself anyway. She is extremely strong minded. Should I cut down on her naps? Any advice on helping her learn how to go to sleep on her own? (I've read Dr. Sears books, and the NCSS.)


Thank you!

post #2 of 27
My dd also is 22 months old and a night owl who was constantly up until 11 or later. I read the no cry sleep solution for toddlers and started doing a bed time routine that has really helped. Now she goes down around 9:30. Our routine looks like this: snack, we put away her toys from the day to signal that play time is over, change into pjs and night time diaper, brush, go back to living room to read night night little pookie and goodnight moon (same two books every night), then we walk around the house and say good night to various things (daddy, books, dog, couch, light, etc.- I feel like this helps with the transition of going to bed), then we lay in bed and I nurse her and tell her a story about her day that always ends with "now you are nursing and pretty soon you are going to close your eyes and go to sleep." then I continue to nurse her until she's asleep. The whole thing takes about 30 minutes, but it has drastically improved our evenings since she goes down a lot easier. Granted, I don't have a little one to nurse as well, but maybe this is something dad could help with?
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks! We have a loose routine, but maybe tightening up would work. I should commit it to paper, since I'm not much for routines myself. smile.gifI will try that this week. 


She just fights sleep so hard and won't go until she passes out, and won't nap at all unless lulled to sleep in the car. Any more ideas out there? I am so exhausted and frustrated! And, I really want to help her learn to sleep.

post #4 of 27

Around that same age I had a lot of trouble with my daughter and how she went to sleep.  She no longer fell asleep to the bottle, so I'd lie next to her and rub or pat her back until she fell asleep.  That had worked for a long time, but around your daughter's age, she started to micromanage what I did to help her sleep in a way that was almost impossible for me to comply with.  I was essentially forced to start weaning her from my touch to sleep.  It made me sad, but there really wasn't a choice.  I lay right next to her, but did not touch her.  She'd cry and say "mommy pat me!!" over and over again, and I would repeat the same soothing night-time noise each time.  It was really rough at first, but she got the hang of it, and her night-time sleep really improved.  Not the naps, though :(.  We've been done with those since just over age 2. 


How does your daughter seem during the day?  Does she seem like she's not getting enough sleep? 


Another question - what time are you attempting to put her down?  My daughter can generally go to sleep for the night about 4.5 hours after waking up from a nap.  It's pretty predictable for her.  If your daughter is waking up from a nap at 3:30, that would make her ideal bedtime about 8 p.m., starting a routine at about 7, lights out at about 7:30 and allowing a hopeful 30 minutes for her to fall asleep, then 13 total hours of sleep for the day.  If you're starting later than that...could she be overtired? 


Also, is her crib in your bedroom?  A toddler bed (ours is sidecarred, and it's perfect) might help you to define her own space without it being as cage-like for her.  She might actually be more willing to stay in her own bed that way. 


Last point (I promise)!  Is there any way either you or her dad can do the whole bedtime thing one-on-one with her?  Having the baby there might be part of the problem for her.


Sorry for rambling.  I hope something in here helps. 

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the really thorough reply, Lizzy. I can use all the help I can get. I read this last night and talked it, and the prev. post over with DH.


Yes, my daughter micromanages, too. Ugh! I like the idea of weaning her from touch, or at least reducing it to a reasonable time. Last night, I worked on weaning from her having to sleep with her head on me. I kept repeating for her to put her head on her Pooh pillow (pillow pet) and it kind of worked. We'll keep trying. 


She seems fine during the day and not tired. We're going to try an earlier bed time (earlier dinner, and earlier bath) and see if that helps. We were putting her down at 9 or 9:30pm, and even then she usually doesn't seem sleepy, but could be over tired. I'm also not going to let her sleep past 3pm, and decided to commit a schedule to paper.


Crib is in our room. Will only sleep in it if placed in there after she falls asleep and always wakes up crying to be with us. My son doesn't seem to care where he sleeps smile.gif but his bassinet is right next to our bed so I can feed him easily. He usually ends up in bed next to me because I feed him without waking up too much. Sometimes if he is not too fussy, my husband takes him, which really helps, but he usually likes to be nursed down and wakes if I'm too far. Maybe we could get a toddler bed for her and move him to the crib. She might sleep in it... it is worth a try. (And yes, she's very jealous of him!)


Thanks again!

post #6 of 27
Originally Posted by PhotoJen View Post

Crib is in our room. Will only sleep in it if placed in there after she falls asleep and always wakes up crying to be with us.


This might be the issue. As a parent you get to decide the rules. She doesn't. So, it'll be a few weeks of hell but I believe that you need to set rules that create boundaries and distance, so that she can become independent in her sleep process. We transitioned our 23 month old to a toddler bed (her crib with the front rail down) because she was climbing out. We didnt let her come to our bed, we put a gate on her door. It's only been 1.5 weeks but she is learning. They are smart enough at this age to know they are getting what they want. But we are smarter. So, my DD now knows she has to lay in her bed, knows when it's bedtime, and we're slowly reducing the time it takes for her to go to bed we started at 3 hours and are now down to 1 hour. She still gets up in the middle of the night, and I do go in, but now she runs straight to her bed and curls up. So she knows what she needs to do. This weekend we will start telling her she needs to get back in the bed but not sit with her for 30/60 minutes to wait for her to fall asleep. Again, our rules, not hers. It'll be a sucky few weeks but SO worth it in the end.

post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply & I'm glad you have had success.


Was your daughter sleeping in your bed before this? My DD is in our bed now in our room, so that's a big leap (to a different room far away and her own bed) and I wanted to take it in steps. I know it will be difficult, though. Any help in what steps to take?


What kind of difficulty did you have? I'm prepared for the whining, being up later, and maybe tantrums, but I don't want her to cry for hours.


Thanks so much!

post #8 of 27
Have you tried putting her to sleep earlier for her daytime sleep? My 26mo would probably be up until 10 or 11 too if she slept until 3:30. She is usually up from her daytime sleep by 1pm at the latest and is asleep by 8:30pm.

I'd probably try gradually making the daytime sleep earlier. An active morning might help if you can get to a park or playground for a good hard play. We also try to do something fairly active in the afternoon too, to help wear her out. I know it's harder when you have a tiny baby as well though.
post #9 of 27

My oldest son is 18 months old and we had a terrible time of getting him to go to bed too. Maybe it is time to switch to a toddler bed since you have the baby? Also a routine can help a lot! With my son we got him a toddler bed and then for bed time he brushes his teeth, gets a cup of milk and he gets in bed then we read Goodnight Moon. This is always around 9pm give or take half an hour depending on his nap during the day. During the day he has been waking up between 5am and 7am and I cannot get him to be on a consistent nap schedule as hard as I try so I just let him fall asleep when he is tired. 


I got pregnant when my son was 8 months old and now have a 2 week old so I totally relate with the older one craving the attention. And that may actually be a bigger cause of her not wanting to sleep because she wants your attention. I know my son gets mad and starts misbehaving when he doesn't get undivided attention from me during the day. 

post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Katelove.


Good idea! I may try a slightly earlier nap and not let her sleep past 2:30 or 3. I shaved about 45 minutes off the length of her nap today and that seemed to help some. 


And, she did sleep better when we were going to the park, but we're in Arizona (USA) and it is over 100 degrees every day, so we don't go out as much. Looking forward to fall!

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Chellie.


We're going to look into toddler beds. It may work.


She is def. upset about her new brother. And, her comfort used to come from nursing, then rubbing my pregnant belly, and that's all gone, so she is struggling to go to sleep on her own. She is getting a bit attached to her pillow pet, so I'm hopeful, there. And, I realized I have never asked her to lay down and close her eyes, so I started doing that. (She usually eventually did that, but I never asked her to do it on her own... it always happened when she passed out. I guess maybe she doesn't know how to go about putting herself to sleep.)

post #12 of 27

I want to pick up on the idea that the baby may be what is causing her to want to "rebel" and make a fuss about bedtime. Lizzy asked the question and I wasn't clear if you answered it: can your husband take the baby while you get the toddler to sleep, or vice-versa? Or can you just let her play while you get the baby down in the crib or even in a bassinett in the other room (I mean so that for her bedtime routine he is sleeping not in that room, even if he is moved in there to sleep with you later), and then once the babe is asleep focus on getting your girl to bed?


You also might want to try a holistic approach and work on the jealousy issue separately, like by offering your girl "special time" (read about what this is here

or this article which addresses using special time to help solve sibling rivalry issues). It may work well enough that she feels special and like she's getting more undivided attention and therefore doesn't need to put up this drama at bedtime anymore.


Just some ideas. Hope you find a solution that works for everyone!

post #13 of 27

...and BTW our boy is 26 months and there are far too many nights when he doesn't go down until 10:00, and we don't even have a baby. That's why I opened this thread in the first place. I feel your pain mama!!

post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks, PJ.


Rachel has always fought sleep even before her brother came along. Even when she was 13 mos. and still nursing, it sometimes took me an hour to get her down. (She actually didn't get a nap today and still lasted until 9:30pm.)


She is def. jealous, though, which doesn't help. When I wrote the post, she had a cold, which made her attitude even worse. We have tried an earlier nap, which has helped. My husband sometimes takes DS if DS is worn out enough, but DS usually ends up missing me and fussing, and won't go to seep for his dad. I have nursed him down and he tends to wake up if I'm not near (husband says he is "strong in the force" because he can always sense when I'm not nearby.)


Thanks for the "special time" references. I've tried extra attention some, and she enjoys it, but it hasn't transferred to cooperation at bedtime yet. I will read the links and see if they have some ideas. And, thanks for the sympathy! At least I know I am not the only one.

post #15 of 27

What time do you want your daughter to fall asleep?  Because if you want her asleep at 9pm and it's taking 2 hours for her to fall asleep then starting the bedtime routine/tuck in at 7pm would get her asleep at 9pm (hopefully!).  Also, just a dramatic shift to an earlier bedtime (regardless of naptime) may help as well.  DS (28 months) goes to bed about 7:30pm when he naps (usually 1pm-4pm or thereabouts) and 6pm if he doesn't nap.  His sleep got TONS better when we went to early bedtime!  

post #16 of 27

hi - dont have any advice as I am looking for some too.  DD is 3+ and has always been  a night owl.  Its now 1145 and she is finally settling down.  She no longer naps and gets up at 8 or 9 am.  I am looking forward to end of daylight saving time as she seemed to never adjust to it and with light until 9 pm it seemed to disrupt her previous 10/1030 bedtime.  Lots of energy and not overtired.  if we put her in bed earlier, she talks, sings, tumbles, or cries until 11pm anyway.

post #17 of 27

I had the same problem,..my DD won't sleep as long as she can see anyone or anything she can play with..which is also affecting my part-time job. But, this past few days I had been trying this routine which is effective for few days now(with a side effect)..lol,. at night I would be cleaning and changing her clothes after eating and drinking her meds, then I would spend time with her, before I would watch tv with her until she gets to sleep but now the tv is keeping her awake so,. I will bring her to bed, lights out, hugging her, kissing and telling her how very good she is in that day. She fall asleep fast but wont let my nipples go,.thus often times I also fall asleep before I can get-up and do my work..lol that is the side effect...lol

post #18 of 27

I had some issues with DD getting up way too early in the morning and wanting to go to sleep late.  An acquaintance who is an osteopath suggested making sure I get her out in the daylight every day for at least 15-20 minutes before 10 AM.  Apparently it was the before 10 AM part that was key - though we got outside every day it generally wasn't until the afternoon.  Anyhow, that did the trick.  Whenever she starts to get out of whack, it's because I've been (generally for some time) putting off our outdoor time til the afternoon.

post #19 of 27

The things that helped us were:

1) waking her up in the morning; never letting her sleep in


2) waking her up from her nap after a certain amount of time, and always before a certain hour; like her nap could be 1.5 hours and must end by 3:00.


3) making sure she got a lot of exercise, especially in the afternoon.  An exhausting trip to the playground or walk in the woods can go a long way.


4) a bedtime routine, like dinner, brush teeth, bath, jammies, stories, bed.


Do you have a partner?  I guess maybe I missed that upthread.  With dd, who is very stubborn, dh and I would take turns gently taking her back to bed.  At first we had to do it like 50 times in a row, but soon she would stay in bed.  When the baby needed me, dh would take over.


Good luck!  I know it is exhausting and frustrating, but she will grow out of it.

post #20 of 27

here's what i'd do: take away the nap for one day. just find interesting things to do to power through the day, by hook or by crook. put her to sleep at 6 or 7 pm.

should be the easiest bed time ever.

see how it goes, and how you and kiddo both like it. see how the next morning goes. then decide if you want to do that again sometime. 

gradually start taking away the naps, on days that you can.




my son is a little older than yours, but i've definitely BTDT, so have every mom of toddlers, that's what makes it so hard. 


this seems to be the consensus: take away the nap. some 2 year olds stop napping.

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