Help! How can I wind down my VERY active one year old at bedtime? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 06-25-2012, 06:14 AM - Thread Starter
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DD is only 11mo, but she's walking like a pro so I'm posting this here.


We cosleep at night in our bed and DD has a floor bed for afternoon naps. We usually nurse to sleep, but for the last month or so I haven't been able to keep her in bed long enough to fall asleep (she can get in and out of both beds by herself). I know she's exhausted (she can't yet put herself to sleep, and melts down if I leave the bed), but she just will not lie down and nurse long enough to fall asleep. In fact, sometimes the more tired she is, the longer it takes!


This can go on for an hour or two every night, and I'm losing patience... I'm a SAHM and I need some time in the evening to just chill out myself. Any thoughts?  How do your little ones wind down? What are your bedtime routines/rituals? Help!


Also: Often we will wear her to sleep in a carrier, since that DOES work. But as she gets heavier, I'm in need of other ideas.

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#2 of 8 Old 06-25-2012, 07:52 AM
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Both my kids have resisted early bedtime. For my family I get my me times in the morning.

mom to 14yr dd and 4yr dd
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#3 of 8 Old 06-25-2012, 08:03 AM
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I have the same problem with my 14 month old. He will roll around, get up, and run around. I've found that shutting the bedroom door helps because there are few distractions then. It also seems to help if I sing to him and rub his back, but that only happens if he is still. :)  Would it help if you took your daughter out in the evening? 

Sometimes I take DS to a park to run around an hour before bedtime and then he falls asleep almost instantly when we get home.

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#4 of 8 Old 06-25-2012, 12:15 PM
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I find my DD winds down better if I'm winding down myself. If she's not sleepy enough to put her head down and fall asleep, then we have a tickle game, then read a story or two, and then I let her look at books by herself. If I'm desperately needing some unwinding time (for me, that's at my computer) then I put her and the books on the couch next to me, and I turn the lights off everywhere except next to our bed and where we are sitting in the living room. Having it dark everywhere makes it so she doesn't think she can go play in another room, so it's easier for her to get bored and embrace her sleepiness. Once she is truly sleepy, she climbs in my lap and put her head on my shoulder. From birth, she's been the kind of kid that will go to sleep anywhere as long as she's on me, though. 


I also make sure she's not hungry. When my DD was about a year old, I started giving her a bit of yogurt right before bed and a sippy cup of water in bed. We weaned at 14 mos due to my medical issues, but now she's 2 yrs old and we still follow that routine pretty closely. 

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#5 of 8 Old 06-25-2012, 03:27 PM
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At that age, I found I had to match the winding down activity to my daughter's state of restlessness.  So....soothing lullabies, stories, etc. were completely useless unless she was already wound down quite a bit.  Instead, I'd lay her down on me, or sit her on my lap, and sing rhythmic, repetitive songs, while thumping her on the back, or perhaps jiggling her, mimicking the action of the car.  I'd sing quite loudly at first - it had to catch her attention and keep it.  Another thing that helped was very firm massaging, or tickling/cuddling.  Kissing her around the face a lot.  Like I said - I had to try to match her energy level and kind of ratchet her down. 

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#6 of 8 Old 06-25-2012, 04:14 PM
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One thing to keep in mind is that once they stop moving, their weight gain slows down.  WAY down with an active kid.  DS has only gained a handful of pounds in the year and a half plus since he started walking/running.  So the carrier may work for you longer than you think.  Obviously, you don't want to be doing that forever, though.  :-)  But I've found that sometimes all it takes to get past a phase where things aren't working is to do whatever it takes to avoid the difficult situation.  Meanwhile, they get older, go through the next developmental leap, etc., and forget what they were doing before.  So it might help to just plan to put her to asleep in the carrier every night for a few weeks, then start a new bedtime tactic.  At about that age, I used to put DS in the carrier, turn off the lights except for a couple LED tealights, put on my iPod headphones and sing along to music I liked and dance in the dark.  Really energetic dancing, actually, which goes along with what the PP said about matching her energy level.


If you're at all interested in getting her to fall asleep without nursing, she may be providing you with the perfect opportunity to move the last nursing a little earlier in the bedtime routine.  After all, bedtime is already difficult and the nursing isn't helping her get to sleep, so if that feels right to you, you could get it over with now.


Another thing that comes to mind is that DS seemed to start needing less sleep and dropping naps in conjunction with starting to walk.  A later bedtime, earlier nap time, or shorter nap might help.


Otherwise, I'd try to wear her out awhile before the bedtime routine.  Plan something very high energy, and keep it going for awhile.  Then make bedtime fairly low key and uninteresting.  At one point, I realized bedtime was the MOST exciting time of day, because I was trying to pack in all these great things into the routine.  While none of them were high energy, they were interesting, and when I simplified the routine it helped a lot.  Now that he's older, he usually prefers to read after meals rather than as a wind down before bed, and once it's bedtime, it's time to go to sleep.  It seems to work for him.

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#7 of 8 Old 06-25-2012, 07:59 PM
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Dd (now almost 15 months) had us tweak her bedtime routine every few months . Lately, she needs dark, so blackout drapes worked wonders. The other thing was moving bathtime away from bedtime. So here is our current routine to wind her down:
6:30 DH gives her a bath and let's her splash and play as much as she wants
6:45/7 DD is out of the tub, walking around and playing with daddy on dry land
7:15 they move into her room and start reading, usually she's still walking around for some of this and has water available
7:30 or a little later I swoop in to nurse and daddy leaves after a lullaby.
Usually she is asleep around 8.
She gets too warm in the bath and needs time to cool off. I second the recommendation of fresh air in the afternoon or evening. Even if we went to the park at 3 pm, there is a noticeable effect on bedtime.
With nursing, if she's restless I offer a small soft toy to hold and focus on and it helps. Since the weather turned warm, she also often needs a couple of sips of cold water before she will relax enough to fall asleep

I hope bedtime improves for you soon. Don't be afraid to change things up a bit, that has helped us figure things out... until the next hiccup :-)
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#8 of 8 Old 06-25-2012, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you mamas for the great suggestions... I think you're right about helping her get her energy out well before the wind down and possibly tweaking her afternoon nap schedule. We will try this. And it may indeed be that we just need to keep wearing her in the carrier until we clear this crazy phase... these little ones definitely keep you on your toes as they grow and change. Thanks for giving me some new strategies and reminding me that this won't go on forever.
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