Thursday, July 9, 2009

Everyday Life: Bedtime tips, please?

The toddler was a terrible sleeper from the day he was born. He used to fight naps and bedtime, only nurse to sleep, only sleep in our arms or snuggled up next to one of us and only sleep for two hour stretches. Luckily, his sleeping habits began to change after we night weaned him at 15 months and began helping him learn to sleep alone in a bed for naps at about 12 months.

After he night-weaned (which was highly successful!!!), sleeping around this joint became existent and wonderful again. He mostly sleeps through the night in his bed every night now, and he sleeps 1.5 hours for naps in his own bed daily. That's wonderful, and I cannot even begin to sing the praises of this relatively new way of sleep for him and a return to feeling well rested for me.

But now bedtime routines are getting a little, well, tiresome. Whereas he used to snuggle down in his own bed in a matter of 15 minutes after we changed his clothes, read his Bible and prayed, he's now milking the snuggling to sleep out to about an hour. Tonight he had me in there for an hour and 15 minutes before I had to ask John to step in and snuggle him to sleep.

So here are a few questions for those of you who have used gentle-parenting methods regarding sleeping:
*Am I expecting too much of him at two years old to be able to lull himself to sleep in his own bed after we've read, prayed and snuggled for 10 minutes or so?
*What methods do or have you used to help your child learn to put himself to sleep? (like, how do you help them to NOT run out of their room crying to "snuggle mommy" ten seconds after leaving?)
*How many nights did it take to help your little one learn how to soothe himself to sleep?

Please, flood me with your comments. I cannot promise I will commit to trying anything soon, but I would like to start mulling this over before the new babe arrives and I'm completely inundated with sleep deprivation and issues.

As always, I will update with what worked for us after we see some positive results!


  1. I wish I had some good advice to share. I always used to nurse my kids to sleep when they were babies. As toddlers, I would read with them and stay until they fell asleep. I know that I fail when it comes to "letting the kids sleep on their own". But I do have older children now who have no problem falling asleep. I think I enjoyed the snuggle time too much! When they are little, the kids go through so many stages, developmental, emotional. Nightmares kick in around 3 so they tend to wake up. Sorry that I'm not much help in this area. I wish you good luck. I think that you're off to the right start with nighttime reading and prayers.

  2. My wee ones are great sleepers and haven't been in our bed since I moved them permanently to cribs at 6 months.

    But I'm probably not the gentle you're talking about.

    I had a talk with them about what the expectations were, "I'm going to do X then Y then one hug, one kiss, and it's time to go to sleep. No peeps from you tonight (which elicits giggles)? What are the bedtime rules (which they recite -- no getting out of bed, go straight to sleep, no turning on the light, no jumping on the bed)?

    If they call, they know they have one shot for mommy or daddy to come upstairs without repercussions. After that, they start to lose privileges for each trip upstairs - the door closes and they lose the privilege of having kitties sleep with them, I take away a stuffed animal, etc.

    Again, it isn't "gentle" parenting perhaps, but it's been super effective for us -- from far younger than what you describe.

    Also, a highly recommended book: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. He's a ped who practices in the city.

    Good luck!

  3. A few things:
    --my little boy took at least 45 minutes to fall asleep until around 3 years old or so
    --I told him that he needed to lay still, close his eyes and go to sleep (this has helped ALOT--who knew I had to explain the basics?)
    --No nap in the afternoon made him tired in the early evening, it is still hard around 4 before he gets his second wind. I think we started that after he turned 3 and a few months.
    --Kept bedtime very short (5 minutes or less), the story reading was too invigorating
    --It's hard in the summmer with it being light.

    Weissbluth might have something helpful. Being he doesn't have a problem with crying it out I believe.

  4. Hi: It really helped us with E. if he went and got to pick out a new stuffed animal "to help him sleep." Get one that is washable. Put photos by his bed of you to look at for comfort. With E. for a while we used a timer for everything, even now. OK, E. 10 minutes until the timer goes off...and we are done playing Legos, 5 minutes until you have to brush your teeth, etc. Good luck!

  5. Hmmm, around here it's dinner, wash and brush, then a little playtime. Pretty quickly I get them into their jammies. After that, they pick out one or two books, we read them. Everyone gets kisses and then it's up the stairs and into bed. With G he lies down and picks a couple of friends to snuggle with, and then we sing our songs. ABCs, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle, Twinkle, and sometimes just the first verse of Bingo. lol. I don't think that he even knows that there's more to it. ha ha. Then hugs, kisses, squeezes, and noseies. It kind of sounds like a lot now that it's all types out, but really, after dinner he's in bed and I'm back downstairs within 45 minutes of dinner being over. :) He's had almost exatly the same routine since I weaned him after E was born, so he was only a little older than your little guy is now. :) HTH!

  6. We've been through several stages of trying to get Monsoon to sleep, as he was never a great sleeper, either. When we did put him to sleep on his own, we usually allowed 30 - 45 minutes for reading/quiet snuggling because it took him SO long to settle down with his big old wild self. Now, I'll admit, we rock him - but mostly because I want to, and I have no fears about him wanting to be rocked at 16. Also, we don't have another child on the way, or I'm sure we'd be trying some other things. I'm no help at all. Sorry.

  7. Ben is 3 years and 3 months old. Every night for the last year, I have changed his clothes, brushed his teeth, read him a book (or two) and then kissed him goodnight and left the room. Almost every night for the last year he has wandered back out into the livingroom for "one more kiss" or "I need you to tuck me in with my blankie" or "I can't sleep that long" (a new favorite).

    Here is what I do: walk him back to bed, tuck him in, kiss him and say goodnight.

    Rinse, lather, repeat.

    If it gets tiresome (e.g. more than 5 times in one night) then I tell him "last time, after this I won't walk you back to bed." If he comes out again, I kiss him and send him back to his room by himself.

    Some nights it takes 1x and some nights it takes 10x. There is never crying and his requests are usually reasonable.

    Good Luck!

  8. We've had issues with B since day one and it took what seemed like forever, to get her into her own room. We found she did best with music of some sort. From the thing hanging in her crib to an Ipod playing classical music, now the thing hanging in her sister's crib.
    She now shares a room with her sister and we've had no problems with her going down.
    Good luck Hy. I hope things get better for you.


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