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nj001 08-28-2014 10:20 AM

Laying with toddler until they're asleep..taking a loooong time!

How long does it take your toddler to fall asleep, if you stay with them (I assume many moms do stay with them, on this site?)

DD is now 21 months and recent weaned and is only co-sleeping part-time. She is on a floor bed in her room. Aside from her bed, she as some books and stuffed animals in her room. I've always liked the Montessori floor-bed idea. You know, to give her independence to choose when she's tired and put herself to bed. Well, it is taking her on average 1.5 hours to fall asleep and she usually gets herself overtired before she does!

We do have a routine where I giver her a bath, jammies, snack, brush teeth, say and say goodnight to everyone. Then she and I go into her room, sit in bed with her nightlight, read 2 books. After that is bedtime (sleep is about 1.5 hours later!) This is when she proceeds to tuck in all of her stuffed animals (super cute, she las them all on their bellies and rubs their backs). She tucks each one in about 1,000,000,546 times, then starts to jump up and down on her bed over and over, then reads books, then comes over to me and starts "flopping around" trying to fall asleep. So about 1.5 hours from the time we start reading books, closer to 2 hours from the start of bath time.

She is one who has had company falling asleep her whole life. I don't feel comfortable leaving her to herself at the beginning of the night because she doesn't seem to like it much and I really think it will stress us out unnecessarily, but I do wonder if my presence is what keep her up so long.

I do enjoy the time with her, she's super sweet and loves playing with her books and stuffed animals before she falls asleep. But 1.5 hours seems like an awfully long time and I'm wondering if any other moms have suggestions about how to teach her to fall asleep a little more...swiftly. Any ideas?


WindyCityMom 08-28-2014 10:45 AM

My youngest will be two next month. Either myself of my partner will lay down with her to get her to fall asleep. This only works if the lights are completely off (I'm talking pitch black darkness) and requires us to physically relax. Relax to the point of almost falling asleep yourself. No kidding. My little one can sense when we are awake and if she thinks we're tired she decides "why bother" and passes out.

WindyCityMom 08-28-2014 10:46 AM

Oh... And that being said, sometimes it does take 45 minutes, but that's usually a day where she's had sugar or eaten too close to bedtime or is restless for some other reason.

SweetSilver 08-28-2014 01:30 PM

We never had reading in the bedroom, always on the couch. If she takes that long to go to sleep, why not change up the routine a little to include some quiet *family* reading time? You don't have to be in the room 100% of the time if she's organizing and putting her stuffies to bed and looking at books. You can do your evening "chores"-- getting jammies on, brushing teeth, feeding pets. You can let her choose between quiet time on the couch with you (don't get on the computer! Books or crosswords or writings are best) and when she is ready for you to lie down and turn out the lights, then you go in.

Been there, done that, I have always prioritized my girls' needs, sometimes over my own and that led to a lot of frustration on my part. What saved me was when my sleep needs (long) started matching their sleep needs (shorter side of normal). It also helped to dedicate myself to simply going to bed with them, and trying to wake up earlier in the morning. They started trusting that I wasn't going to leave them, and when I did decide to stay up with dh after thy drifted off, I was able to without fuss on most nights (occasionally one wouldn't feel great or sleep well). I had very, very few problems with them waking up after they feel asleep, ever, even when they took some time to drift. It was mostly my tiredness that kept me in bed.

I admire your devotion to your daughter's needs. There's a solution in there somewhere. If it's not a problem with dedicating your undivided attention to her sleep routines, then why not let her have that time, if she winds up sleeping soundly afterward? DH and I are now faced with our older girls (7 and 9) staying up nearly as late as we do, and curtailing our video choices as a result. Eventually, the kids intrude on our once-private evening hours!

IdentityCrisisMama 08-28-2014 02:40 PM

My first was like that. Now that we have a second and a different lifestyle, I attribute a lot of her sleep resistance to us keeping a pretty crazy (though very child-friendly) schedule. We basically just worked around her need for sleep and didn't do much routine. It "worked" but it often meant that sleep was pretty random.

My younger child is on a much more regimented routine because of life and school (we have a much more mainstream existence this time around). She falls asleep SO much better but by the end of summer as the routine has worn off, she can take a long time to get to sleep as well. That's why I think it is a routine issue rather than temperament.

If you want a change (and you don't currently do consistent morning and nap routine), I suggest trying that. A tip to make the night-time sleep go faster is to use a laptop while you wait (if you have one). I agree that a tweak in what is welcome in terms of play at bed-time may be a good idea too. But, that's only "fair" (IMO) if your child is truly tired.

VocalMinority 08-29-2014 08:51 AM


Originally Posted by nj001 (Post 17961298)
She tucks each one in about 1,000,000,546 times...


Rigorous exercise right before the bedtime routine? Run around chasing fireflies, go on a bike ride or see how high you can count as she jumps on one of those mini trampolines.

I don't know if this totally conflicts with your family's diet, but a carb-y snack like a bowl of cereal might have more of a soporific effect than, say, a plate of carrot and celery sticks (or, obviously, something more sugary than cereal).

You might consider waking her up earlier, to make her feel tired earlier. I know that can be tricky, because you may need her to sleep in the morning even more than you need her to get to sleep, at night!

nj001 08-29-2014 10:57 AM

Awesome suggestions, thank you all so much!

My own sleep needs are well-met these days now that she doesn't wake frequently, so my tiredness is a non-issue. But 1.5 hours seems like a terribly long time compared to what other mother's say about their children, and it's clear she actually should fall asleep earlier in the process. When I used to rock her all the way to sleep, she would be out in 15 minutes, but then woke frequently through the night. This way, she at least sleeps good chunks which I prefer and think is better for her. She is definitely not chronically sleep-deprived, so it's not a dire situation. However, it would be really good if I could spend that time in the evening either doing chores or with my husband. Plus, I do think this would be an impossible set up when we have our next child but I'm not even pregnant yet so we have a long time to work on it.

Last night, I tried laying down and relaxing like I was falling asleep. This didn't help and resulted in an hr of sit-on-mom's-head type games.

I'm going to try SweetSilver's idea of letting her play in her room by herself until she is ready to lay down and go to sleep (the couch isn't an option because my other "child," ie husband, is not good with things like quiet time rules) . I've been tempted to make this rule before but was cautious because I wasn't sure she was old enough to understand so much that I could enforce it. But I tried at nap time, and low and behold, she went right to sleep. But naps have always, always been easier with her so we shall see what a happens tonight!

And as far as routine: I love routine. She is happier with it and when she is happy and feels safe, my heart is full. We have a morning wake up routine, lunch time routine, nap routine, and evening routine starts with dinner. Like most families, we could probably be even more consistent than we are when vacations happen and visitors come, but we do a pretty good job! She loves bath time and happily runs to bed at bedtime. squealing, "NIGH NIGH!! NIGH NIGHS!!!"to everyone and everything she passes! It's just that she doesn't quite make the good decision to go to sleep soon enough!

nj001 08-29-2014 11:01 AM


Originally Posted by VocalMinority (Post 17964626)

Rigorous exercise right before the bedtime routine? Run around chasing fireflies, go on a bike ride or see how high you can count as she jumps on one of those mini trampolines.

I don't know if this totally conflicts with your family's diet, but a carb-y snack like a bowl of cereal might have more of a soporific effect than, say, a plate of carrot and celery sticks (or, obviously, something more sugary than cereal).

You might consider waking her up earlier, to make her feel tired earlier. I know that can be tricky, because you may need her to sleep in the morning even more than you need her to get to sleep, at night!

Thanks!! She does not do well with rough play before bed! Perhaps after nap, but when she gets wound up, it takes a loooooooong time to unwind her.

EnviroBecca 08-29-2014 11:28 AM

I think that having her play in her room for a while, and call you when she is ready to lie down, may be a very good solution and is certainly the first thing to try.

My son did not accept being alone in a room, awake, until he was 4 years old. Because this meant that his dad or I had to stay with him until he was sound asleep, we started the bedtime routine fairly late in the evening and had some rules: Stay in bed, lying down. No bouncing or kicking. (He was not allowed to jump on the bed at any time.) After we read 3 stories and say our prayer, no more talking.

We were able to keep the bedside lamp on so that the parent could read silently; it didn't seem to keep him awake. A relative who has preschoolers now told me that the lamp does keep them awake, but if he sits in the rocker in their room and reads on his Kindle, that works well.

nj001 08-29-2014 11:31 AM

Thanks, I haven't tried reading while in the room in months. My being active has always seemed to get her excited, but it's worth a shot. My guilty pleasure is reading and if I could get away with that while she falls asleep I'd be especially happy to stay in there for an hr and a half!

Maria2513 08-29-2014 03:19 PM

I stopped reading as part of the bedtime routine and having books in the bedroom because they would get DS too worked up. He would just want to read them over and over and take forever falling asleep. This happened with stuffed animals, too, to an extent, so I tried to keep the stuffed animals out in the living room at bedtime, too. (Now he does sleep with one stuffed animal, though, and doesn't try to play with it.) When I know he is tired, I try to make the bedtime routine as quick as possible--change diaper and put on pajamas, brush teeth, nurse. He goes to sleep fairly quickly that way. (He's 27 months.)

Viola 08-31-2014 09:06 PM

It always took my first a long time to fall asleep, and I'd have to lie with her until she was asleep, or she'd get up and start crying and look for me. Sometimes I could tell her I was going to the bathroom, and then she'd be asleep when I came back. There were times I'd actually fall asleep with her and nap for an hour or so before getting back up again. Then my second fell asleep easily as long as someone was with her. She had to sleep with her sister for the longest time. She is almost 11 now, and she still will stay up in her room for a long time.

mommy68 09-10-2014 02:59 PM

All three of my children co-slept in the early years and my youngest still does and she will be 5 at the end of those month and I have no plans to get her out of my bed. :) I usually go to sleep at the same time she does because I'm extremely tired! Lots of times I wake up after a bit and do some things and check on my older children to make sure they go on to bed - - but usually my 4 yr old and I go to bed at the same time.

Do you have a good routine in place? I do winding down and discussing what we will do before going to sleep. We do a book or two or three before laying down and we talk and enjoy time together and then lay down and go to sleep. Usually she is the first one these days to say lets go to sleep now mommy and turns on the sound machine and is ready to fall out! So she's very used to our routine now.

Yaliina 10-21-2014 09:03 AM

Sounds like you're getting a lot of great advice. I don't have much to add that hasn't already been said- like changing up the routine somet to see if something else works better, etc.

Mostly, I want to convey a BTDT & you're not alone. My oldest would take that long on a regular basis, and I would usually be asleep before he, even though sometimes I was sure he was very sleepy, he just fought it. We aren't routine-type people, though, and didn't really impose a schedule, so maybe we were contributing to the issue, but nevertheless, it passed. He was sleeping pretty easily by about 3 or 4, & now, at 8.5 years old, he puts himself and his little brother to bed without any issue at all, though he's still a night-owl. Our youngest, by the way, was completely different. I think it's partly the novice parent thing of doing it somewhat "wrong", and partly the child's personality. Either way, keep doing what seems right to your family, looking for a better way when needed, & remember the parent's mantra: "This, too, shall pass."

nj001 10-26-2014 09:53 AM

Thanks so much for all the advice!! I just want to comment here for other people's reference in teh future, but the time it takes to fall asleep is only an occasional issue anymore. I think the fact that it's getting dark earlier helps a lot! These times really do pass, just when you think it's not going to. We've now gotten ourselves into a little other trouble, but I'm going to ask about it in a new thread since it's really a little different topic, though sleep related. Thanks again!

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