Bedtime. Again. Again.

I think this is my fourth post on the subject of Spencer and sleeping, but I’m really too lazy to go back and hunt them all down. Clearly SEO and inter-linking is a huge priority, no wonder I am totally cracking into the upper echelon of blogging. Like a bullet. Ahem.  So, bedtime. It sucks.

I really thought that bedtime wouldn’t still be a problem at 2 and a quarter. I’m not sure what I thought would have happened, but I thought this would all be worked out by now. I honestly think one of my biggest parenting mistakes (up to know) is not sleep training Spencer when he was younger. I mentioned this on twitter during a little bout of bedtime rage and someone countered with, can you just do it now? Honestly, I have no idea.

We have a routine. Bath and jammies downstairs with Dad and then I take him up pretty quickly. Spencer turns on the lights. We read books: Otis, Click Clack Moo, Goodnight Gorilla, Brown Bear, counting book, puppy book, and the mirror page from Pat the Bunny. Spencer turns out the light. We cuddle up on the chair for a sippy of milk and quiet time. And here is where it gets variable.

He may fall asleep at this point, but it is unlikely. If he is tired, he’ll ask to be transferred to the crib for some back-rubs hand-holding and drift off to sleep. Or, I might sing Puff the Magic Dragon, Barges and Twinkle, Twinkle over and over again for 20 minutes only to have him ask for more milk in the crib. Lather, rinse repeat. For up to two hours.

I have tried ever so briefly to leave him in the crib to see what happens. Mostly because sometimes in our 2 hour bedtime-a-thons, I have to pee. What happens is standing, angry crib rail shaking and much, much yelling. Once I hid in the bathroom for 5 additional minutes to see what happened. The yelling just got louder.

So, I have questions. People who never sleep trained, did your child just magically figure out how to go to sleep one day on their own or do you coddle cuddle them to sleep until they leave for college. Should I wait until his imminent switch to a bed to try anything? Help me, internets.


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11 Responses to “Bedtime. Again. Again.”

  1. Cole says:

    Okay, so Mommy *totally* was not into CIO or sleep training at all. Not even a little bit – until I was still not sleeping through the night at 16 months.

    I was waking up at about 4AM for a teeny tiny little sip of milk (it’s not like I was hungry) or a quick snuggle, and then going back down. We didn’t really have a bedtime routine; Mommy would snuggle me until I was asleep and then put me down.

    One morning, after a week of 4AM wake-ups where I refused milk – literally *just* wanted a hug – Mommy was too, TOO tired to try to read my mind and get the magic steps to get me back to sleep. She came in, picked me up, offered me some milk (which I didn’t want) and put me back down. Then, she LEFT and closed the door.

    I was SO mad! She waited outside the door for about 45 minutes while I yelled and screamed and cried, and *finally* went to sleep. The next night, I only tantrummed for 20 minutes – and that was the LAST time I woke up. Those 2 nights taught me to help myself fall asleep, which translated to bedtime as well. Now, I brush my teeth, read a story with Daddy, and go into my crib awake – without a problem.

    Bottom line, we don’t think it’s too late for some sort of sleep training – whatever way you feel comfortable with. Good luck!


    Amy Reply:

    Thanks for your story. Glad to hear it isn’t too late. Now I just need to do some logistical planning.


  2. TMae says:

    O still isn’t a “put him in his bed and say night night” kid, but I did significantly reduced the bedtime stress over many many weeks. There was crying involved. I really don’t think there was any way around it with O. He won’t sleep if there’s ANY human stimulation around.

    I have a few friends that have kids around Spencer’s age that go to bed when they seem tired. So sometimes that’s 7, and sometimes that’s 10. Because it makes the bedtime process easier for the parents. It would drive me crazy to now have kid-free time, but spending 2 hours putting O to bed would also drive me crazy. I know you’ve done this for a long time – and I know it has to take a toll on you.

    We did a few goofy things when we were trying to make bedtime easier – we would read to him in our bed. It was something special and could only be accomplished at bedtime. And then we put his play tent up in his room and read to him in it. As soon as there were signs of sleepiness, (yawning, rubbing eyes) THEN he got milk, and into his crib before he was asleep, and then out the door I went.

    I never went back in. I got a stopwatch and timed it. Made me feel better that my “been crying for 30 minutes” was really only 8, and by 12 he had stopped. Some nights he would play in his crib for another 30, and then fuss for 5-10, but over time, he figured out that he was supposed to be sleeping, and stopped fighting it. Bedtime is now a miraculous 5 minute endeavor. (Though it still rests on mama’s presence, so I don’t know how it will play out with a babysitter in a few weeks.)

    I know you asked for people who *haven’t* let their kid CIO, and I know I did let O CIO, but I *do* think it was necessary at 22 months. And also, I wouldn’t have been able to let him cry if it had gone on, non-stop for 25 minutes. We got lucky that he would have bursts maybe, but nothing that lasted over 15 minutes (continuously).

    I had considered moving him to a toddler bed a few months ago, precisely because of the bedtime drama. I thought that the crib had bad karma. We were able to make a change – but who knows? Maybe a bed would help.


    Amy Reply:

    I’m not sure I have ever really seen Spencer yawn. He just doesn’t show tired signs. It is a mystery. He can climb out of his crib if he wants to and open doors. I don’t know how I would contain him. Locking him in his room seems so draconian.


    TMae Reply:

    Yeah, locking him in does seem pretty…not fun.


  3. Suzanne says:

    I wish I could bottle up whatever it was that made my kid an easy bedtime sleeper. I’d make a zillion dollars and also you would appreciate it. Evan was 15 months before he EVER slept through the night so we obviously didn’t do early sleep training but somewhere between 15 months and 24 months he became a “bath time, book, say goodnight, put him in the crib, DONE” kid. Then we moved him to a toddler bed at 24 months with exactly the same results. Even if he’s shouting “NO! NO NAP!” I let him pick out a toy and take it with him and he falls asleep on his own. LIKE A REAL HUMAN.

    (Of course, I am falling asleep as I write this because he was awake for 2 hours last night from a bad dream and refused to go back to sleep unless I lay next to him.)

    I think the key was to just stop caring whether or not he was actually asleep. It was TIME to sleep, so he was in the crib. He could play with his toy, he could read a book, he could do whatever he wanted…but he needed to be in bed. Eventually he fell asleep, even if he shouted first. At 2+ years you can easily explain that concept and if he screams and cries it’s his choice. You’re not neglecting anyone.

    P.S. The quick & silent bedtime is PRICELESS if/when you have a second kid.


    Amy Reply:

    We’re finally on track with sleeping through the night, so I think he is just a slow learner with sleep which fine. I think there is a give in take with kids, maybe non-picky eaters don’t sleep. Like mother nature’s little joke. I think I need to decide how to keep him in his crib room. When my mother in law babysat the other night, she couldn’t keep him in the crib, so she made him a little bed on the floor and he was snoozing happily when we got home.


  4. Cheri says:

    I was never a fan of CIO, my babe was in my bed with me until he was over a year and still nursed several times every month. Once he went into his own bed we night weaned and he was STILL up. In the last 3 months my 2.5 year old is still getting up at night, but going to bed has become my FAVORITE 10 mins of the day! I started by laying in his toddler bed with him reading 2 stories. Then I would sit next to him in a dark room holding his hand until he started to drift. When his grasp loosened I would move myhand out of his. Usually he would re-grip my fingers tighter and I would say good night. So I slowly inched my hand free saying good night 1000 times. Once he would fall asleep with out my hand in his hand, I started walking to the door and saying good night and turning off the light but not leaving until he was asleep (because the hall light would let him see me leave). in the last 3 months it has transitioned to a super simple I hug him, read a story or sing to him (his choice) and then I lay him down tell him I love him and good night. We also through out the days would talk about how we were awake because the sun was and when the sun went to sleep we did too. Bed time is a dream, now if only the child would saty asleep until the sun comes up! S sounds like a smart kid, he will understand the concept of sleeping when it is dark. I totally also threatened my child that if he couldnt sleep all night then we couldnt do fun things the next day…he still doesnt sleep all night most nights, so that worked! Good luck!


  5. Leah says:

    Calder has been one long bedtime challenge from the beginning. Once he could get out of his crib we switched him to the toddler bed and then nothing could contain him. I had to gradually work myself out of his falling asleep process by slowing increasing my distance as he fell asleep until he was able to do it on his own. Like, first nights in his room until he’s asleep, then another couple sitting in a chair right outside his door and then a few more sitting in the room right next to his. When he got up, the first two or three times we’d indulge his requests (potty, water, fans) but after that we’d just bring him back to bed and say “It’s time to sleep.”

    Because nothing is ever easy, at 3.5, we still have to retrain him every so often which is why he spent two hours yelling at me from his bedroom the other night.


  6. Brigid Keely says:

    Once upon a time we had a baby who slept in a crib. Then one night we had a big, busy day and on the way back home, he screamed and cried for 90 minutes. He screamed and cried in the house. He screamed and cried as I put him to bed. He screamed and cried literally all night. I could not settle him. He was also running a fever and was snotty and was sick with a cold for a few days, but he no longer sleeped in his crib.

    I tried. Oh, how I tried! I stayed in the room with him until he fell asleep, but then he’d hear me creaking across the noisy floors or opening the door, and he’d scream. I tried sleeping on the floor next to him. I tried putting him down and just going in there periodically to calm him, but that only resulted in him screaming and crying so hard he almost puked.


    Eventually we relented and he started sleeping in our bed, which I hate. I hate it with the passion of a thousand burning suns. I especially hate that until recently, we had to stay with him until he fell asleep for naps and night time sleeping, and if he woke up and we weren’t there he’d wake up all the way and scream and cry and panic.

    Then one day he just would not settle and I threatened to leave him in the room by himself, at which point he basically kicked me out in a huff. So I left. And he was quiet. Further investigation revealed that he’d fallen asleep by himself. When I went to put him down for BED, I told him that he had to sleep by himself. When pressed for an answer, I said I had to clean the kitchen (which was true).

    So, mostly, I think he just got emotionally to a state where he could sleep by himself. Which isn’t helpful, I know! All kids are different! They progress at different rates! And I’m still frustrated that he won’t sleep in his own bed but… he’ll get there eventually.

    One thing that I think does help us is that we have a pretty strict bedtime routine. He has his elephant, his blue blanket, his pacifier, and at night time he has a chewable pill (singulair) that he likes the taste of and demands at nap time as well, so at nap time we give him an M&M, and then we read exactly two stories and have some kisses and cuddles and tuck him in, and that’s it. He knows exactly what’s going to happen, and we don’t let him tack on extra stories or whatever and extend bedtime.

    Another thing that helps is that he can open the bedroom door, so he doesn’t feel trapped and isolated in the bedroom. He can get out when he’s awake.


    Amy Reply:

    Thanks! I think we need to tighten up our routine a bit and decide about crib vs bed. I imagine it will work itself out and your story gives me hope!


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