Posted in Sleep, Preschoolers

Toddler sleeping problem

I have a daughter who's about to be 4 in Dec. Every night it takes her about an hour to an hour and a half to go to sleep. Ive never been the parent to "sleep train" because I can't stand hearing my baby cry. It's never been a problem to lay and cuddle until she falls asleep, until recently. She does have a lil brother now who's 8 months and this maybe started a couple months ago. She still has one nap throughout the day that last 1-3 hours. But I am losing my patience with her. I can't lay with her for that long waiting and begging and sometimes yelling at her to go to sleep every night. For example we can start at 830pm and she finally falls asleep at 10-1030pm. It's driving me nuts. I have things to do to prepare things for the next day. I work full time as well. I'm just exhausted. We have a routine set:bath/story/songs/talk about fav part of day/ massage and she usually knocks out. But now I'm at a wits end. Does anyone have any suggestions??

  • J
    Sep 24, 2018

    I would maybe try dropping the nap. I had something similar with my son around 3 and dropping the nap helped. We made bed a little earlier to adjust for not having a nap so he then wasn’t over tired which can then backfire as well. Good luck, this too shall pass!

  • Cindy
    Sep 24, 2018

    My recommendation...don't drop the nap, you can keep that going for another year or two. However, I suggest some schedule adjustments. If you don't have a set meal schedule, especially with a baby in the house, establish one. If your daughter eats lunch before noon and goes down for her nap between 12:30 and 1, you should be looking at a bedtime of 7:00-7:30, assuming she eats dinner by 6 pm. That may sound like a pretty tight schedule, but try this: Whatever time you have at home around dinner, make it fun. Head out for some playtime or a walk after dinner, then do a calm bath time at 7 pm. Children are used to napping while it's light out, it really shouldn't matter if it's not dark at bedtime--and even if you've been at work all day, setting up a sleep schedule where she gets plenty of sleep at night will be a HUGE help when she's older! Prepare her for your expectations ... "After bath and teeth brushing, we're going to bed to read 2 books. Do you want your hippo or doggie to sit with you while we read?" Reinforce that AFTER the 2 books, she'll need to lay down and go right to sleep. "Doggie is very tired from the busy day, but he won't sleep unless you lie very quietly and close your eyes." My 4-yr old grandson told me last week that it was too dark when his eyes were closed, that he couldn't see anything! He was heading in the direction of being scared of the dark. He didn't expect me to respond and say, "That's PERFECT! That's exactly what your brain needs in order to rest so you can grow and bigger and stronger!" He liked that idea 😀! Finish the 2 books, lay her down and tell her again what's going to happen. "To make sure you and your doggie get a good night's sleep and feel WONDERFUL tomorrow, you need to lay down with your eyes closed. You need to teach you doggie how to fall asleep faster so he'll be strong and healthy too!" Sit with her for a moment, reminding her firmly that she's to lay down and keep her eyes closed as you, repeatedly if necessary, set her back to laying down calmly. I told my GS there was something cool he could try. For him to take a BIG breath and blow it out slowly--then asked him if he could feel how his body relaxed, and didn't that feel good? We did this two more times, each time with me showing him how tired and relaxed he was feeling by doing it with him and showing him how floppy my arms got. I kissed him goodnight, then I told him I was excited to see him in the morning and hear how great his sleep was! I left his room quietly, shut the door and didn't hear another peep out of him. We had already completed the needed rituals—some I learned that night, like moving his hamper, putting it on its side and facing it away from him because it was scary (kudos to his mom and dad for coming up with that solution!) and closing the bathroom and closet doors. I took care of all the requests and obstacles so he could focus on sleeping. The next night was even easier. We read stories and had a fun time, turned out the light and he went right to sleep. Another option, if the earlier bedtime doesn’t work, is to provide her with a nightlight and several books to read on her own. Tell her your expectations...that she's to stay in bed and read books, then without crying or fussing, she must close her eyes and sleep. Let her know you’ll check on her, but she HAS TO be asleep. I avoid threats like, “You have to sleep OR…“ It’s simply, “You HAVE to sleep.” I hope this helps. My oldest son understood that his bedtime allowed me to get sewing or cleaning done. We talked about how it was mommy‘s time and he needed to behave. This should involve minimal to no crying. Eventually, my 3 boys were so used to bedtime that the two younger ones would go to sleep at their brothers baseball game while in their car seats. This also worked great on cross-country flights when it was just me and three boys under 6 years of age. When it was 7 PM, they changed into their jammies and knew the time for giggling was (nearly) done. It didn’t matter what the other people on the plane were doing, it was their time to sleep. I had to remind them a few times to stop whatever silly thing they started to do, and go to sleep. It’s amazing what a small child can learn, and how quickly. If you waffle, or “ask her” if she wants to do whatever, she’ll know she can negotiate. Instead, firmly tell her what to do, and be certain it WILL occur. Even if you feel it, you can’t let her since YOUR doubt and reluctance. I hope this helps! Cindy. Mom of 3 adult sons +5 grandchildren (I edited this– – I’d written it so late that I struggled to stay awake to proofread! MY bedtime needs improvement!)

  • Brittany
    Sep 24, 2018

    Just as a middle ground option, maybe start a quiet rest time where she can rest in her room with books and puzzles (or other quiet toys) during what is typically her nap time. Hope you find what works for you!

  • Anonymous
    Sep 24, 2018

    I have a daughter who will be 4 in October. On days that she naps, she is absolutely as you describe! On days that she doesn’t nap, we do bedtime a little earlier (6:30 instead of 7:00) and she goes to bed like a dream!

  • Anonymous
    Sep 24, 2018

    I don’t know what time she wakes in the morning or what time she naps, but 8:30 bedtime seems really late to me. You could try moving bedtime earlier, and during that transition commit to making bedtime SUPER special with a loookg bath, stacks of books and snuggles, then gently ease back to a shorter bedtime routine after a few weeks.

  • Anonymous
    Sep 24, 2018

    Also — that nap length is sporadic. If you plan to keep the nap, Consider waking her after 40 minutes (one sleep cycle) or 80 minutes (two sleep cycles) rather than letting it go up to 3 hours! It sounds like she is at daycare during nap time, and they need to be your partners in ensuring she has a healthy sleep schedule, and ensuring your precious evening hours together are harmonious.

  • Megan
    Sep 24, 2018

    What’s the total amount of sleep per 24 hour period? She might only need a total of 11-12 hours (my one year old is a 10 hours night/2hours nap kid) per 24 hour period so if she is sleeping 3 hours during the day, and depending on what time the nap ends, she might not be tired enough to go down at 8:30. Like others have mentioned, it IS possible she needs an earlier bedtime, but it would be hard to say one way or another not knowing her whole schedule.

  • TrinaMo
    Sep 24, 2018

    Melatonin 2.5mg to set a cycle

  • Laurie
    Sep 24, 2018

    3 hours is a really long nap for a 4 year old - maybe she just isn’t super tired when you put her down at night? Shorten the nap and make sure it is earlier in the day. Make sure she is getting enough physical activity during the day, as well. It also occurs to me that you might actually be keeping her awake with your presence in her room? She might be keeping herself awake to talk and spend time with you (especially if you have a baby who takes a lot of your attention) She might be loving the one on one attention. Nothing wrong with getting loved on by mom, but if it isn’t working for you shorten your bedtime routine and gently but firmly tell her it is bedtime and you need to take care of adult things. A four year old is definitely capable of handling this. She might complain at first, but assure her that you love her, but she needs to get her sleep and you have to handle adult things at night. 4 years is way past ‘sleep training’ and can be reasoned with. If she still is having a hard time, get dad to go in and settle her after you have done your routine. All the best!

  • Cynthia
    Sep 24, 2018

    I give mine a .25 mg dose of melatonin

  • Dakota
    Sep 24, 2018

    Something weird that worked with my little one...she would get so upset when I would leave, but as parents we have things to do. So I started telling her that if she was good I would come check on her, and for some reason it gave her a sense of peace that I would be back and she would lie quietly in bed until I returned. At first I would come check on her when I knew she was awake to prove I really was coming back. Now she falls asleep peacefully thinking I’m going to check on her, and I don’t actually have to anymore. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Could just be my kid, but it might be worth trying!

  • Jamie
    Oct 04, 2018

    It could be the difference in parenting. My 3 yr old stepson use to do the same thing. Fortunately I recently became a SAHM for him as my other kids are in school and his bio mom (as we are both his moms) says that it’s got easier for her in the morning. At times when I do or say something he will say “I want my other mom or throw a fit” I just correct the behavior based on our rules and explain that our rules here are what applies when with us. I hope you find resolve.

  • Kimberly
    Oct 06, 2018

    Following up on what Dakota said👆🏼 I never liked the cry to sleep method so I did my own thing. What I was doing was putting her in bed and sitting in her room while I was in my phone ( just until she passed out) I would have to remind her that I love her and it’s time to sleep. At first it took 1 hour max. For her to sleep eventually she got better at soothing herself to sleep. Once she got good at that I would leave for 1-3 minuets and always return to see how she was. Slowly 3 minuets turned into 5 minuets and eventually i don’t ever check on her. But if she calls for me I go, I what her to know that she shouldn’t be afraid because i will be there ( I feel as if it gives her confidence to be alone)

  • Rita
    Oct 09, 2018

    Melatonin