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New bedtime battles

507 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  familylove
DS (27 mos.old) has never been a good sleeper, but lately it's gotten worse. As soon as we announce bath time he runs to bed and says "night night". If we try to get him in the bath, he fights it and arches his back while we try to get him to sit in the tub, so of course, for safety reasons, we have to give in. Not that we would want to force him to take a bath, what I mean is that we can't try to negotiate or calm him down while trying to put him in. So no bath most nights (even though since he was born this has been his bedtime routine)....

If we are lucky and he takes a bath, as soon as we get in bed and try to put his diaper on, he jumps, flips, rolls around, crawls off the bed and runs out of the room (or tries to). It often takes 10 minutes just to get that diaper on, and by then we are so exhausted and at the point where we feel like just yelling, that it's hard to continue with a loving calming routine, such as lotion massage and story and nursing, like we used to do. We just hurriedly get his pj's on and practically beg him to go "night nights". I often feel so frustrated and mad, that I "punish" him by not letting him nurse-
I know this sounds mean, but we are slowly trying to encourage weaning process, so what I do is mostly postponement, asking him to wait to nurse until he is calm down. After much fighting, his eyelids droop and he falls asleep with me rubbing his back...all this process takes 1 hour usually...and that's on a good night.

On a bad night, he refuses to even stay lying down in bed, I start losing my temper, so DH takes over and has to close the door so he can't run out to get me and so they're in the pitch dark, and after DH telling him repeatedly to lie down and go to sleep, he falls asleep in about 15 minutes.

This is NOT the loving and peaceful night time routine I envision...there's too much yelling and begging on our part, DS goes wild with excitement because of the tension in his environment. He doesn't fall asleep until 11pm, DH and I don't get time alone, DH gets 5-6 hrs of sleep most nights, and we both feel like guilty parents at our wits ends.


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oh I wish that I had some great words of advice but I wanted to just say that it will get better. DD had a very hard time with bedtime when she was little, around that same age. It was almost 6 years ago, and I was pretty young so I don't remember what all I did to get through it. But mainly (((((hugs))))) to you cause I know it can be rough.
*HUG* i couldn't read this and not reply...i wish i had some advice, but it sounds similar to many of our nights. the only thing that has helped us is time, really...he's getting older...he's understanding more...he's getting used to our 'routine' (which isn't always consistent but we do sort of rotate among 3 basic routines)...some nights we just let him stay up until he crashes on our couch. some days he hasn't napped and will drop off early. some nights he needs us more and i hold him and nurse him for a long time.

hang in there. it will get better...have you tried adjusting naptimes? does he still take a nap? when does he wake up in the morning?
Part of the problem might be his naps (or lack of them). He does seem to be outgrowing the need for a nap- if he naps, then he has a very hard time falling asleep at night. If he doesn't nap, he can usually stay awake (though somewhat grouchy) until 7pm.

He used to wake up at 7:30 ish every morning regardless of his bedtime, but this past week that has turned into 9am, which means that on days when he does choose to nap, it's not until 2 pm. The thing that gets me is that he either doesn't nap at all or naps for 2 whole hours! I've been trying to wake him up after 1 hr of napping but he won't have it. I thought maybe he's not quite ready to cut out naps altogether, yet can't nap so long that it affects his abilty to sleep at night. Does that make sense?
LOL ahhh yes...that is our issue as well. though he never sleeps in until 9am!!!!! LOL so my next piece of advice:

run him ragged in the morning. LOL playdates, walks, running in the yard, fun kid-places, etc. then drive in the car at around 11:30 until he crashes.
that is, if he's a car sleeper. mine is. then when you want his nap to be over, get out of the car and bring him inside. that's our strategy. if it doesn't work, i fight like the dickens to keep him awake. i have been known to use chocolate at around 4pm. LMAO!! not the best thing, but it works.

alternatively, take him outside when you see him getting in the dirt, plant flowers, go to a playground, give him a non-chocolate snack LOL

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My ds is 27 months old and sleeps for three hours in the day. He gets up at 5am though. UGH. But anyway, in saying that...I would give up on the bath at night. He is anxious about this, and it is poss affecting his wind down time. Tell him new bath time is in the morning. It takes the pressure off. Also, I would make him lie down at a SET (ish) time every day.Say, after lunch about 1pm. Even if he doesnt nap, he can have a *rest* time. He will usually sleep though, if he thinks it is rest time only, he will relax and probably fall asleep. You can let him have one and half hours of sleep, then put him to bed at say 8pm. Wake him the next morning by 8am at least. Try this for a few days and I am sure he will start resting better.
I could have written this post myself
Here's a couple of things that came to mind while reading your post:
* what about nixing the bath? sounds like this is where the fight begins. Maybe he could bathe during the day?
* Like you said, bedtime had also b/c a very tense time for all of us, and it showed in our voices and actions. I would tersely say it was time for a bath, and would stiffen in preparation for the fight to ensue. Now, we really try to make bedtime just like any other time of day (even though DH and are dying to have some time to ourselves
). We pleasantly (almost in a sing-song voice) say its bathtime and then bedtime. We keep our voices quiet and relaxed. If he protests, we just keep repeating that its bedtime. A lot of times I will say, "I know its hard to end your day. But bedtime just means that you rest, get strong and healthy and wake up for a whole new fun day tomorrow." I often feel like Mary Poppins saying this, but, what they hay, it seems to work.
*Our DS is a real bedtime gymnast too. We tell him that he has to lay down b/c its bedtime. The sooner he lays down and gets his pjs on the sooner we will read books (which he LOVES!).
*The last suggestion I have, and I totally understand it may not be acceptable to you, is to let him nurse during this period. Maybe this will set the stage for him being calm and you can try giving up that before-bedtime nursing in a few weeks. I think you can still work on night weaning, just maybe nurse before pjs go on and books are read. Perhaps he is a little distressed by the cutback in nursing? I don't know...just a thought that occurred to me while reading your post.

I wish you the best of luck. Hang in there and know that many of us have the Bedtime Battle Royale every night
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