How to help my 3 yo fall asleep? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 05-11-2012, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DD is just about to turn 3, and all of a sudden she can't fall asleep at night. Last night she didn't fall asleep until after 11. I plan to try some guided relaxation with her tonight, but wondering if there are also some homeopathics I could use to help her relax. She naps at daycare, though she's starting to drop naps on the weekend. 

 

I think it may be anxiety about sleeping alone - she starts the night out in her bed, and then joins us later in the night. We've always stayed with her until she fell asleep, and lately my husband has been doing the "I'll come back and check on you in a few minutes" thing, and then doesn't go back (it's hard to go in and out of the room w/o waking her up). She's become fixated on this, though, and every night says, "don't leave while I'm falling asleep". We talk it through with her, and try to stay until she's asleep, but it's taking SO LONG. Last night I did start going in and out for just a minute or two, to reassure her that if I say I will come back, then I will.

 

I really want to help her, but starting to wear on us! We get no couple time, and some nights I just give in and bring her to bed with me  (I'm 13 weeks pregnant, so of course exhausted by the end of the day!).

 

Thanks for any advice.


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#2 of 8 Old 05-12-2012, 12:34 PM
 
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It could be that dropping the naps would help a lot, it really depends on the child, though.  My older one benefitted from a nap until he was about 3.5 and would still go to bed at night pretty easily.  But with my younger one I had to start NOT letting him nap a little before he turned 2 because he was staying up until 10:30 or 11 at night and that was even with me nursing him to sleep.  Once I cut out his naps he would pass out easily around 7.  

Once he weaned from nursing, I just take him in to bed and lay down with him (I bring my ipod with me and listen to an audio book so I don't go nuts thinking of what else I should be doing) until he falls asleep.  This usually takes anywhere from 15-30 minutes.  He's a really high energy kid so he literally moves around in the bed until the moment he falls asleep.  I find the best thing is for me to lay on my side with his back to him, so he knows I'm not going to interact with him.  Sometimes I'll scratch his back if he requests it, but mainly I just remind him "it's time to lay down" or "you don't have to sleep, you just have to lay down" and ignore any kind of silly thing he's telling me to keep himself awake.  I use the second phrase because sometimes he tells me "I don't want to sleep.  I want to stay up all night!"  So rather than arguing with him I just say "okay, you don't have to sleep but you do have to lay down".  And of course, he's never ended up staying up all night.  ;)

 

Not sure if this will work for you, but just sharing what works for us.  I agree with your thought that it could be anxiety about sleeping alone.  My older one definitely fought sleep when we went through a phase of having him sleep in his own room.  We all sleep together now, so DS knows that even though I'm going to get up and hang out with DH after he falls asleep, I'll be back to sleep there.


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#3 of 8 Old 05-15-2012, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for sharing - it is helpful to hear what works for other families. I wish I was in control of her naps, but since she's in daycare and the group still naps, I can't imagine they'll stop napping anytime soon. Last night I was in there for over an hour waiting for her to fall asleep. And with another one on the way, I can't imagine taking this much time with one child! I just have to trust that it will work out...

 

Thank you!
 


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#4 of 8 Old 05-15-2012, 09:14 AM
 
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Something that really works for us (my ds is almost 3.5yo), is I have changed up our bedtime routine. I try to give choices wherever I can, within reason. He chooses whether we start bedtime by brushing teeth or reading stories (he just chooses the order, both happen every night), then he goes in our bedroom to read by himself (looking at pictures in his books with a lamp or nightlight on), and then when he's ready to sleep I lay down with him while he falls asleep. Sometimes he falls asleep by himself, sometimes he really needs me to lay with him. It works really well for us because it gives him some control over bedtime, and it keeps me from getting too frustrated.

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#5 of 8 Old 05-15-2012, 10:22 AM
 
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I'm having the exact same problem with my 3 year old son which started when my newest son arrived 8 weeks ago.  Not only did he get a new brother, he also had to start sleeping in his own bed.  (We tried continuing co-sleeping with both kiddos for about a week.  A queen bed is just not built for 4 no matter how small 2 of them are and our bedroom is too small for an additional mattress, crib or co-sleeper.  UGH!!)  I started reading the book "No Cry Sleep Solutions for Toddlers" and have implemented quite a few of the suggestions from that book.  We found two things that have been most important.  The first was talking with my son during the day and getting his input on how night time should go and the second having an incredibly rigid schedule for nap and night time.  I sometimes feel like I'm tied to the clock around bed time, but he is finally falling asleep in about 15 to 20 minutes of me patting his back now as opposed to 2 hours of tossing, turning and general frustration.  The other thing that really helped was creating a large posterboard named our "Bedtime Routine".  He helped me make/decorate it with pictures of him doing each step (7:00pm - Watch Train shows, 7:30pm - brush teeth, go potty, 7:45pm - read books with mommy and daddy, 8:00pm - Lights out, Night, Night).  It hangs on his bedroom door and we refer back to the routine throughout the night and I ask him where we are through each step.  Then we talk about how I'll stay with him for a little while but then I have to go check on baby brother.  I stay for exactly 20 minutes and then sneak out.  Not only is he going to sleep easier, but he is finally staying in bed throughout the night.  Some nights are better than others, but for the last week he has only called for me one or two times at night.  That is a HUGE improvement from our 2 hour fight to sleep and 5 or 6 night wakings.  

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#6 of 8 Old 05-15-2012, 11:45 AM
 
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I had forgotten that we also did the written out bed time list with my older DS.  I kept thinking, why in the world would this make a difference since we do the same things every night before bed.  It totally made a difference.  


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#7 of 8 Old 05-22-2012, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all this input! It's really helpful to hear, especially as we are expecting #2 later this year, so getting on top of this will certainly help. We have a picture chart for the morning routine, but it would be helpful to start one for nighttime, too. And I like the idea of working in things she can do on her own... I imagine the more we can support her routine as this big change comes, the more it will help her.


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#8 of 8 Old 05-29-2012, 10:34 PM
 
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Yes, good to get on top of it now, but don't fret too much if it doesn't all get ironed out.  It may iron itself out just out of necessity because you have the baby to get to bed, too.  That's kind of what happened with our daughter, for better or worse.  DH was out of town, so it was just me getting the kidlets to bed, and I had to feed baby DS, and so I told DD, "Look, I'm right across the hall, I have to feed the baby, I can still hear you if you need me." and she went to sleep by herself.  Dropping the naps does help, though.  She hasn't been a napper in SO long.  Early bedtime - 7:00 pm and she is out like a light. Good luck to you.  Maybe your partner/DH can help out with the bedtime thing? Or alternate nights?  Oh, another thing I started was sitting further and further away from her bed, towards the door, and just sitting and surfing the internet, no singing, patting, talking, etc. etc.  That seemed to help.  We also did the "I'll be back to check you" and that helped "wean" her a bit from needing someone RIGHT THERE all the time.
 


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