Talk to me about your toddler's sleep routine - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 06-30-2012, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
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So, my little guy had a pretty decent sleep routine going for a while there. Beginning at 6:30, it was dinner, potty, bath, book, rocking with music (until *almost* asleep), then snuggling in the bed. All done by 7:30 or 8. Well, recently, that last step has become kind of a disaster. When I go to lay down with him, he starts crawling all over me, throwing (and then tearfully demanding) his lovely, walking to the door and pounding on it, running around, giggling, etc.


The thing is, he's pretty clearly *TIRED*, just not *sleepy*. He's fussy and frustrated with everything. He rubs his eyes. But he also has crazy energy. If we let him stay up later, he still wakes up at 6 am (I'm just like this, too--it doesn't matter when I go to bed, I wake up at 7). He doesn't take a longer nap the next day either--he's just a cranky mess.


I've tried everything I can think of---we're outside running around almost all day, we have a routine that he understands. None of it seems to be working right now.


Also, we're expecting #2 in September, and I really can't handle this bedtime madness WITH a new baby. 


I do have a sleep tent for him (which we've used on vacation), and I've thought about putting him in that (after the rocking), with it zipped so that the screens are down but the opaque walls are up, with his lovies and a few books, and just telling him that I'll sit right where he can see me, but he has to stay in there and it's time for sleep. I think he might be big enough to understand that.


Two complicating factors: 

  1. We live in VA, and it is eleventy-thousand degrees here. We were having some trouble with the routine before this, but
  2. Car naps. Car naps are the devil. A lot of the time, I pick him up from the sitter's, and he falls asleep for the 20 minute ride home...and then feels like he's been sleeping forever


I'm desperate for any thoughts or advice from parents who have been there, done that.

Mama to Silas Anansi, born 9/9/10 and Petra Eadaion, born 10/1/12.

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#2 of 5 Old 06-30-2012, 08:34 PM
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How do you end the night? It sounds like you're not nursing-down or sleeping with him until he falls asleep, so what do you do at the end?


My son is a year older, but it was about this age (and I Still Use It!) that I found the external party.

We use Ernie. I don't know why, he doesn't love Sesame Street. He doesn't watch TV but for a few minutes here and there (even now!).
But he sleeps with Ernie. Ernie is sleepy; he wants to read books; we're going to have a sleepy party with Ernie... come join us!

Any time my son doesn't want to come to bed, all I have to do is crawl in his bed and start reading to Ernie and he there, instantly.


We will read books to Ernie, sometimes 1, sometimes 4.

Saving the one book that is Sesame Street, where he's actually on the page, so they can do that together 'later' after mommy is gone. It gives him a project.

And that's part of the goodnight. Goodnight son, goodnight Ernie. Kisses, hugs, snuggles. Now, read the book to Ernie and find him on the page.


I am not a fan of characters. I would be the last person to encourage that to you. You can make it whatever it relevant to your life.  But the tactic works. Don't just leave him in a room alone... give him a project. Read a book to his lovey, and then they go to sleep together.


It's what works for us.

My son is an anomaly though.. he's a great sleeper


btw... 3rd party also works for getting in the car-seat and going to daycare, there are times I use him for meals too... anything that is change. I know YOU don't want to leave the pool, but Ernie and I are having dinner... come join us!


and DARK. Find a way to make the room not so hot; and also dark. Even at 8pm.

single, WAH mom, to my only very kind & sweet lil man
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#3 of 5 Old 06-30-2012, 09:23 PM
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Oh wow. I LOVE the ernie Idea!! 


My son is the same age (also born 9, 2010) and he needs to be rocked most nights.... Babywearing also works wonders. I strap him on my back and go for a walk, and if its too hot out I do dishes or something in the house with him on, then when he's out or almost out I can get him off and into a bed. 

- Mom to Baby Mark (9/18/10) and 4 wonderful dogs!
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#4 of 5 Old 07-01-2012, 04:22 AM - Thread Starter
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That Ernie thing sounds pretty good--we do something sort of like that, with his lovey. I say, "*You* don't have to come rock with me, but Shelley wants to." Giving him a project for the end of the bedtime routine might be good. Right now, I'm laying down with him until he falls asleep--but he doesn't always stay down, and it's a lot of, "I need you to lay down with me now," and kicking me in the face. Thus, the thought of using the sleep tent to confine him a bit. I really want him to get to the point where I can stay in the room while he goes down, but I don't have to constantly be putting him back in bed. I might try finding something he can do with or for Shelley in the tent.


We used to take him for a walk to help him settle, but we live in a very exciting place, apparently--on the back corner of a dairy farm, near a river--so now he just wants to point out everything that he likes, and instead of him being nearly done when we get home, he's telling us about everything we saw.


And yeah, I don't know what it is about Sesame Street characters. They must be magic. My kid watches almost no tv (we actually don't even have reception, so we just watch DVDs), but he loves Sesame Street characters. I remember visiting a friend when DS was four months old, and he became fascinated with my friend's daughter's Ernie toy. Now, he loves the books (and, from a book, learned several of their names), and once in a while, we'll watch some classic SS on youtube. Hey, if he has to be into some licensed characters, at least they are ones I also like. 

Mama to Silas Anansi, born 9/9/10 and Petra Eadaion, born 10/1/12.

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#5 of 5 Old 07-01-2012, 06:57 AM
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My DD is younger (15 months) but we went through a rough patch with bedtime lately too. Because it's hotter than Hades so far this summer, we found that she needs about 30 to 45 mins to run around after her bath to cool down and settle enough to start stories and bedtime. If your LO isn't a super messy eater, it may help to do bath before dinner so he can wind down a bit.
I'm not a huge fan of air conditioning but on days of 35C without the humidex, we have to turn on our central air just a couple of degrees to take the edge off. It feels a little better but makes a huge difference in how well DD goes to sleep and stays asleep. She also needs dark so blackout drapes are a must when sunset is around 9pm. I also offer cold water in a sippy. Sometimes she can nure for 45 mins and still fidget but a mouthful of cold water does the trick instantly. One last thing is white noise. I always have a fan blowing when she's sleeping. I don't aim it on the crib but just have it in the background so our footsteps in this creaky old house are muffled.
I hope you find something that works for you :-)
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