quick intro - bedtime help — The Bump
Pre-School and Daycare

quick intro - bedtime help

Hi ladies

I am peeking in from the M15 birth month board.  I am pregnant with my 2nd child, DH & I have a 3yr old.

My daughter has always been a great napper/bedtime sleeper, never any issues.  In February (she turned 3 in April) we switched her from a crib to her big girl bed.  In the beginning she got up a few times a week & came in our room (we also moved into a new house then), but I would take her back to her room/tuck her in & she wouldn't get up again until morning.  Early June she started taking longer to fall asleep, almost 1-2hrs and bedtime is at 7:30pm.  From there it was back to getting up & coming to our room after about 2-3 months of not doing it.  Over the last month she has been of course taking much longer to fall asleep, but she also comes to our room 5+ times a night before she will finally fall asleep.  She has various reasons that she comes in my room & sometimes she doesn't say anything.  She still has a 2hr nap time during the day that I am thinking of doing away with because she doesn't sleep everyday, some days it's a fight.  I'm not sure how to stop her from coming to our room at night.  She also wakes around 3 or 4am and crawls in our bed and if neither of us wakes up, she will sleep with us.  Any advice anyone has is greatly appreciated!!!  I need my sleep back at night.  TIA!!!
BFP 6.27.14

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Re: quick intro - bedtime help

  • Your kid sounds like an amazing sleeper. I'm jealous.

    DS did away with nap time by 2.5 and I'm now discovering that he probably only needs 10-11 hours of sleep a day. I am working on severely adjusting our bedtime and wake-up time to accomidate this. So you're right to think about getting rid of the nap. She probably needs much less sleep then she's getting.

    We do a sticker chart where DS gets something he really wants if he earns 10 stickers. He has to sleep in his room all night to earn a sticker. (we started with five stickers).
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  • My son was also a good sleeper who went through a pretty serious sleep disruption right around and after his 3rd birthday.

    Although he couldn't tell us why he was having trouble sleeping, it turned out that he was just experiencing separation anxiety and typical older toddler/early preschooler fear.  Right around the time he was waking up at night, we also noticed that he went through a huge growth spurt in terms of imaginative play during his waking hours.  He had developed enough of an imagination to imagine scary things at night!

    I have responded to many posts from people on this board over the years who have dealt with a similar thing, and it would not surprise me to find that your daughter's sleep disruption is a result of having a bigger brain and more complicated/exciting/anxiety producing thoughts.

    Dealing with nighttime fears and anxiousness in a child this age is tricky, because you need to respond compassionately and sensitively, but if you're too compassionate and sensitive, it sends the message that there really IS something to be afraid of, or that they really DO need your help to go back to sleep.  The goal is to give your child the tools to manage their nighttime waking (whatever the root cause) independently but with your assistance.

    What finally worked with my son was helping him develop a game plan for how he could handle it on his own if he woke up.  We got a night-light, let him pick a nice poster that he could put next to his bed to look at if he woke up, put a water bottle at the head of his bed, read a few books about being afraid of the dark, and let him pick out a few awesome stuffed animals to "keep him company" while he was awake.  We also talked about a list of "happy thoughts" he could think about if he woke up.  He loved the original Cars movie at that age, and he liked to think about Lightning and Sally.  The first time he called for me, I would go to his door but not go in his room and ask, "Okay -- remember that you only have 'one time' to call for me.  Do you want this to be your 'one time' or do you want to save that for later?"  Usually he'd opt to save it for later.  "Alright, think about Lightning and Sally," I'd remind him, and then walk away.

    Sometimes, he opted to use is "one time" right away, and then the trick would be to remind him later in the night that he had already used his "one time" for that night without upsetting him.  If he was really upset, of course, I'd go to him, but just for a brief pat on the back to get him situated and then leave.  As much as possible, I held him to the "one time" deal.

    At the peak of his separation anxiety, he was calling for me 5 or 6 times a night -- ugh.  Using this method got him down to 1 or 2, and within a month he was back to sleeping through the night most nights without waking at all.  He also developed some other aggravating fears around this time, including fear of fires, dogs, and loud noises.  We handled them with the same sort of matter-of-fact, calm treatment, and it really helped him develop the confidence to face his anxieties.

    HTH and welcome to the board!


    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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  • My oldest went through this starting at 3 1/2..... Great sleeper, the type of kid who would say he was tired and go in and nap on his own! Then...WHAM!he started freaking out at night to the point we would have to sleep,on the floor next to his toddler bed...finally we got him a sleeping bag on the floor in our room....we never have in to letting him come in our bed....now at five he will,occasionally wake up and come in our room then we return him to his and if its a good night, we won't see him again until the morning...we had tried a sticker chart and " monster spray" and nothing seemed to work but time
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