I came to post the same thing. My DS is 21 months, and the last month or so has been resisting bedtime like crazy.
In trying to figure out what to do, I think the first step is to decide as best you can which of these is the problem:
- LO is simply not tired yet and needs to either drop a nap or have a later bedtime. Look up the sleep chart on babycenter to see the "typical" sleep recommendation by age (for 2 years it is 11 hours at night and 1 2 hour nap in the day) to help figure out if this is really the category you are in. But really, it's not up to babycenter, it's up to you.
- LO is actually too tired and is harder to put down due to overtiredness. I've read a lot that says that kids who are going to bed too late often wake up too early, too. Is LO really cranky at bedtime? Probably is in this category, then. I think that if you look at your kiddo and you are mystified as to why they aren't going to sleep because they seem so tired... this is the category you are in.
- LO is perfectly ready for bedtime but is using delaying tactics because he/she has just learned that he/she CAN. He/she rubs his/her eyes, yawns, but asks for more water, more potty time, or more snuggling.
I think it has to be one of these three things-- would you all agree?
So... what to do about each one of these? (And help me out here- we can be the blind leading the blind, right?)
- Not tired yet: Try dropping a nap, moving nap up, or simply making bedtime later. Whatever you do, do it for as many days as you can to let LO get used to it and to see if you can discern any changes.
- LO is TOO tired: Try moving bedtime up incrementally each night by 15 minutes and see if you note any changes. Alternately, put to bed as soon as you suspect LO is tired after 6:30, and stick with it for at least a week.
- Delaying tactics... sigh. This is where we are, and I'm looking for ideas.
We have begun lying in bed with him for an hour until he falls asleep. It makes me crazy, and a couple of times I end up undermining my whole patient hour by yelling at him at the end of it to JUST GO TO SLEEP, which he does directly, but scared by the appearance of Mean Mommy. So obviously, this is not working for us-- everything in my parenting style tries to keep there from being a Mean Mommy, ever.
But it does make me crazy. What can I do? If I let him stay up until he falls asleep, he ends up cranky and I end up with no evening to myself, which I need to keep Mean Mommy away. I really just don't think this is an option for us.
So what else? Here are the three options I am debating between:
- Keep bedtime the same as usual, but when he won't fall asleep after 15 minutes of snuggling, get up. Make sure all toys have been put away before bedtime. Continue on with evening mommy activities; don't give him any special attention when he comes out to the living room. Don't force him to go to sleep, but don't make staying up fun. Bore him to tears, maybe even literally, and then offer to take him to bed and snuggle for another 15 minutes. PROBLEM: Toys in his room, if put away, are still accessible. Do I just let him play by himself if he so chooses? I think so.
- Change bedtime routine. He used to nurse to sleep, but doesn't anymore. This is ok since we have a new baby coming, and I'd kind of like to not have to nurse him down when baby 2 gets here anyway. But right now I'm still doing the same routine I did when he would nurse down in 10 easy, god-sent minutes. So maybe I need to move nursing way up in the routine and have daddy put him to bed. Maybe shaking things up a bit would cause him to reconsider. PROBLEM: I can't do this right now, as daddy is working late nights. We'd need at least a week of doing this consistently to see if he would catch on. I don't have that week.
- Keep bedtime the same as usual, but snuggle for the duration of 1 "sleep song" on his CD, and then tell him I'm leaving and he is going to sleep. I'd need to read more about this. I'm afraid of doing it.
Sigh. I'm really thinking out loud here. I'm going to try number 1, I think. We can even incorporate a new step into the bedtime routine-- saying "goodnight" to all of his toys before bathtime- putting everything away and trying to signal that playtime is over.
Oh, and I'm going to get some heavier drapes for his south and west facing windows as the days get longer. I think that may have something to do with it!