Friday, July 3, 2009

2 Year Old Sleep Problems


A month after Brayden turned two, he started taking a long time to go to sleep at night. At the time, I attributed it to several factors. One is that a month after he turned two, it is the longest day of the year where we live. The sun goes down quite late. As I have mentioned, Brayden is a sun riser. I figured it was hard for him to go to sleep since the sun was still up. Another possible factor was that he had a new baby sister. Another possible factor was that he was in a new room and his bed was right by the window, which looked out onto the road. Brayden has always loved to watch cars go by. At this time, he didn't cry or put up any sort of fuss about going to sleep. He didn't get out of bed. He just sat in his window and talked to himself.

Over the last couple of years, I have often seen moms post questions about their two year old suddenly taking a long time to go to sleep at night. After several of these questions, I started to wonder if there is something about a two year old that makes it hard for them to sleep. I wondered what would happen with Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn, most of you are aware, is and always has been a great sleeper. Kaitlyn loves to sleep. She doesn't mind naptime or bedtime. Despite this, Kaitlyn also started taking a long time to fall asleep after she turned two.

Kaitlyn had several of the same factors. She had a new sister. She had a new bed. It was the longest time of the year again. She was in the same room, however, and didn't have a window. But Kaitlyn is not one who needs anything to entertain her; she has a very vivid imagination even as a two year old.

One day I was talking with a friend about McKenna (unrelated topic) who told me her pediatrician says children need to learn to fall asleep about five times in their lives. She couldn't remember exactly. She knew one was at two months. One was at one year. One was at two years. She thought another was at 6 months and at 18 months. Then she couldn't remember the other. I have no idea where he came to this conclusion from, but I found it interesting. I often get questions about a 6 month old or one year old who is suddenly not sleeping well. There could be some truth to this.

Kaitlyn also doesn't cry and doesn't protest going to bed at all. She is also really quiet, but sometimes as I go to get McKenna for her dreamfeed, I hear Kaitlyn singing in her room!

So those of us with a two year old know that this is fairly typical, based on observation. The question is, what do you do about it?

There are a few ways to go about it, and your answer is going to depend on your child's personality. By this point, you know your child well. You know if your child responds well to you re-entering the room or not. Here are some options for this situation:
  • Leave Her Be: One option is to just wait this period out. It doesn't last forever. Currently, Brayden goes to bed soon after he gets there.
  • Go Stop Her: She might benefit from you going in and telling her to go to sleep. You want to be careful with this, though. She might start to figure if she stays up, she gets extra visits from Mom. These visits will likely include extra kisses and hugs, perhaps even one more song. So she might start fighting sleep in order to get some more face time with her parents. Also, if this is an issue of learning to fall asleep again, then your visit will disrupt the learning process.
  • Tweak Bedtime: I think it is possible that many two year olds are going to sleep a little too late. Going to bed too late can lead to it taking time for a person to fall asleep. I have seen that even with myself currently. Be sure bedtime isn't later than your child needs it to be.
  • Combo: My guess is that most families would benefit from a combo of these suggestions. Fix bedtime. For the most part leave her be. If she is getting rowdy or getting out of bed, go in and gently tell her to go back to bed, but try to be unemotional about it. Just be firm and matter of fact. Don't be mad and don't be extra sweet and lovey. Watch the results of you going in closely. If it seems she is staying up even more, don't go in.
In the end, don't stress out about this. Over some time, she will be back to going to sleep soon after her head hits the pillow.
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71 comments:

bethers21 said...

Very interesting post, Val. I think you're definitely on to something. I'm sure you remember a ton of posts on the BBC BW group in the past 2 months about toddlers and sleep. A lot of us went down to 1 nap around the same time, but several of our babies were having bedtime issues at the same age, too. I don't know whether it's a "daylight" issue (which I've decided is definitely part of our issue) or age, but I agree there are probably several contributing factors. It's nice to know that sometimes it's just an expected occurence :)

Jasmine said...

Wow! That is interesting and a timely response to what we've been going through. My daughter is a little over a year, and for the past month I noticed it takes longer for her to settle than before. No crying, just taking longer for her to actually fall asleep. It used to be 5 minutes, now it is like 20-30 minutes. I thought I had the wake time all wrong. But the pediatrician said that was normal at a year, that they are learning to settle. I thought she had already learned, but like you said, it looks like there are developmental adjustments.

celestevy said...

Thank you so much for this post. I got your response to my question in regards to this problem on Friday, being that I knew yesterday was going to be an off day (4th BBQ) and my usual Sunday off day due to church. I will start putting her down a little earlier tomorrow to see if it will work.

celestevy said...

By the way, it was a timely post.

Kelly Ford said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this site! Thank you so much for taking the time to do it!
I have looked at all the 4hour schedule posts but have a question. Breastfeeding didnt work for us (various reasons) so my baby is bottle fed. She is currently 10 weeks old and is doing great on babywise! But she is not very interested in waking up to eat every 3 hours. I've read the "combo schedule" posts but dont really understand how to do a combo schedule and still get her to bed? Is it really important to have a set bedtime for an infant this young or should that be more established when going to a 4 hour schedule? I also read Hogg's problem solving and she recommends going to a 4hour before dropping the dreamfeed which is opposite to that of babywise. thing is, i think rhyan would more readily extend her schedule right now b/c of being bottle fed but dont really know if she could drop her dreamfeed. We have to wake her for EVERY feed if we do 3 hours, but she doesnt seem to eat more if we extend to 3.5 or even 4 which makes her wake in the night to eat (keep in mind, i've not tried this since she started to sttn at 8.5 weeks...8 hours a night). So to be more consise, would you try to drop the dreamfeed and leave the day schedule at 3 hours and hope she eats more easily during the day w/o those ounces at night or try to extend the schedule during the day and leave the dreamfeed? And what to do about bedtime? Currently we do 3 hours starting at 7 and she takes her last feed at 7, bath, story/song/prayers (i know shes young for this but i like to make it consistent early) and then bed between 8-8:30 depending on her awakeness... she seems to be able to do longer waketimes recently... close to 1.5 hours sometimes!
And again, i just wonder how bottle feeding should influence my decisions for her. So many of my friends who bottlefed did a 4 hour schedule EARLY (way earlier than babywise suggests) b/c the formula lasts a baby longer...
Thanks for any help!

ps. my dr's office tole me of your site. thought you'd want to know how wonderful my dr's office thinks this site is... and its always encouraging to have a ped. support babywise!

Salina said...

So funny Val that you posted this about 2 year old sleep issues. I was about to get on here and see if I could find any info about it. James (only a little younger that Kaitlyn) has been taking longer to go to sleep at night as well for several weeks- no crying but talking and singing. Some naps have been messed up too though- he never fell asleep for his nap Thursday last week! He does have his 2 year molars coming through as well, so I was contributing the nap disruptions to that since he was fussier. I've stayed consistant with his 7:30 bedtime through out his life, but was wondering at this point if I should try moving it to 8:00. Did you ever change Brayden's bedtime? He is also waking up earlier by 6 or 6:30 instead of his usual 7am. But I contributed this to the early rising sun as well. I can tell this losing sleep is starting to take a tole though- he was trying to fall asleep at 10:30 am this morning in the car. I guess it's just part of having longer summer days. If you come up with any more ideas let me know.

PlageFille said...

We are currently going through this with my son. My daughter also had problems at two, and she NEVER had problems before. I guess it is the age. Letting them be does seem to work the best.

Leah said...

This is right on with my daughter - almost 2 1/2, new brother, new bed, light room.. and for the first time in ages, she's having a hard time putting herself to sleep. Thanks for the post... helps me feel "normal". :)

Ben and Jenny said...

I, too, was going to search for answers to this problem. We have been dealing with this for almost 2 months (beginning at 25 mo)and it seems to be worsening and has turned into crying after a period of time. We were quick to rush in b/c he's always been an excellent, predictible sleeper and we thought it would be a legitimate problem. It all seemed so abrupt. I attributed it to change in daylight, a new sister, learning to talk, a big boy bed, possibly teeth, etc...and it could be all of the above. We have toyed with his bedtime and naptime, but no matter what we do or what time it is, it takes him an hour to fall asleep. (He's also waking earlier than usual in the morning). He falls asleep very fast for his 2 1/2 hr naps. I just knew 9-10 hr of sleep per night was not enough for a toddler, but didn't know what to do. Thanks for the very timely post. It is a great encouragement in how to move on from here. I'd also be curious to hear if you find out what the ped. said were the other ages of the sleep disruptions. Thanks so much! ~Jenny

Lorri said...

I think a big point is to not stress out about it. I KNOW I do. I start to go-if he doesn't go to bed, then he won't get enough sleep, then when do I put him down for a nap, but the nap might be disturbed if I didn't put him down right and on and on and on. Shoot a late nap, a short nap, or the wrong bedtime and I can have the whole week ruined in 2 minutes time!

I definitely noticed Scooter having a hard time sleeping at 1 year. He would wake up at 5:30am and that would be it. We started putting him to bed earlier and that wouldn't make a difference, we put him to bed later and nothing, change the temp of the room. It was simply something that we had to wait out.
I am convinced that it was that he needed to relearn going to sleep because he started having a hard time staying asleep through the night. Just last week I told him through the monitor "Im sorry, but me going in is going to do nothing good."
5 mins later he was asleep and two days later he started sleeping in till 7:30 again.

Of course during that two week period, if someone told me not to stress I would break down and cry because I was tired. Its always harder in the trenches.

But Val is right on the money-things do change-what is happening one month will be completely different by at least the next month. Try your best to enjoy the sweet moments

CO Mom said...

This is such a timely post. My 12 month old started staying up an hour to an hour and a half after being laid down to sleep at night just before her first birthday. My husband and I were about to tear our hair out wondering what was going on with her. We tried not to be too concerned because she was happy, but when 9pm rolled around we started to panic. :) It lasted about a week and has only happened a couple of times since then. What a interesting theory - thanks for sharing! Wish there was more information on that!

Jenn Knierim said...

My daughter was always so easy to get to sleep until she turned 2. Like your kids, she had a new baby brother, a new room, new bed, etc. Over the past few months we have periods of time where it is easy to get her to sleep again and then all of the sudden she resists for a while. The hard part is that she is not just singing or playing, she screams and cries. My son's room is next to hers and I don't want her to wake him up so I don't want to just let her cry. Any suggestions for this?

Jenni said...

I agree that leaving them is probably best, but so far nothing has helped with my now 27 month old. It started when he was probably about 20 months old. He started taking about an hour to fall asleep. Not upset or crying, just not sleeping. I think he's an introvert that needed some alone time, but it still seems so long. We've tried to put him to bed earlier and later, but nothing seems to help. AND he's always been an early riser - usually 6:15am. So, now it can take him up to an hour and a half to fall asleep and then he only gets 9 or maybe 10 hours of sleep a night. His naps are fine. Any ideas? I've resigned myself to just dealing with it taking that long, but I would love it if there was another way...Thanks!

CO Mom said...

Jenn,
I offered this on another posting. We downloaded white noise from the site below. It is fabulous! We have friends over all the time, which can get loud in our little house, and we take her to large parties at friend's houses and she sleeps like a log! The download is free, but the dad who created the sounds does take donations. We put the CD on repeat and it works great. I don't consider it a sleep aid because she can sleep just fine without it.

Here's the site:
http://cantonbecker.com/music/white-noise-sleep-sounds/index.html

We use the one that sounds like waves (no heartbeat) and it's great! I think it'll come in handy when we have another baby who wakes crying in the middle of the night or naptime. :)

Plowmanators said...

Bethers, there definitely are common ages for these things. If I had nothing but time, I would sit and go through every comment and tally the ages of sleep problems and see what the result is. But I know I get a lot of questions for 4 month olds, 5-8 month olds, 12 month olds, and 2 year olds.

Plowmanators said...

Jasmine, I am glad another pedi says it is normal!

Plowmanators said...

I am glad it helped celestevy!

Plowmanators said...

Kelly,

I am glad you like the site!

As for the dreamfeed, my personal preference is to follow the recommendation of Babywise. It is what I have always done and it worked for me really well :) However, there are lots of parents out there who have done it the Baby Whisperer way and love it. I would say go with your gut on what you think is best for your baby. If you do extend the day and it creates night waking, I would definitely go back of course :)

I think consistent bedtime is quite important, but it isn't something I would stress about until 3 months (which is about where you should be by now). Things seem to get more consistent around 3 months.

Keep in mind with the formula, for a newborn, it lasts longer. But as baby gets older, it doesn't last longer. With Breastmilk, the number of calories per ounce changes as baby grows. With formula, it stays the same. So be aware of that as she gets older.

I am flattered that your DR told you about the site!

Plowmanators said...

Salina, we did move Brayden's bedtime back over time, but I am not sure what age it was at. I think around age two he sometimes didn't take naps randomly also. I can't remember that exactly either. So far, Kaitlyn has always taken a nap (not surprising though). But Brayden's bedtime is still about 8 PM--8:30 at the latest and 7:30 some days.

Plowmanators said...

PlageFille, Kaitlyn seems to be over it by now. I agree that leaving them be is best for most kids.

Plowmanators said...

Leah, it is always nice to feel normal! lol

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Jenny! If I find out, I will be sure to post about it.

Plowmanators said...

Lorri, I was such a stress case with Brayden. I am much, much better with McKenna, but I still stress sometimes! It is hard to not stress.

Kelly Ford said...

I followed babywise and dropped the dreamfeed cold turkey one night (the day had been a mess and her last feeding was coming right before i put her down which is not usually true). I fed her at 8pm, put her to bed and she slept till we woke her at 7am the next day!!! SUCCESS!!! I was sure it was a fluke, but she's slept every night since then. I did extend the a.m. schedule, as she will take longer naps then. So we start at 7am and with a 3-3.5combo schedule we end with a bottle at 8pm, then bed. Babywise is so wonderful! :-)

Plowmanators said...

CO Mom, I know, it would be interesting to study this further.

Plowmanators said...

Jenn,

One idea is to have baby sleep in your room or somewhere else in the house for a few nights so you can get this worked out. When you have a worry of waking a sibling, you won't be as consistent.

White noise for the baby is also another good thought.

Also, as they get used to each other, they tend to block each other out. When Brayden wakes up with a nightmare, Kaitlyn never makes a peep.

Plowmanators said...

Jenni,

If you have tried the different bedtimes and given them time to work themselves out, then all you can do is wait it out.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks for sharing Kelly!

bradysmom said...

I need help! Has anyone else experienced sleep problems at 16-18 months? Brady was ALWAYS an awesome sleeper at night. The only time he's had issues is when he was teething, he would wake an hour early in the morning. But for the past month or so, he's been waking somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 everyday and not going back to sleep. And the last month I've also heard him throughout the night. At night he'll go right back to sleep, but I hear him wake up with a cry throughout the night.
I have tried changing bed times and that didn't seem to make a difference. His room is pitch black. I know that his diaper had been pretty wet in the morning, but he's already in a size bigger-overnight diaper.
We have had some changes - about a month ago we went to 1 nap a day. 3 months ago we got a new nanny. And 5 months ago I went back to work full time. Although that shouldn't really matter because before I was only off every other Friday.
I really don't know what to do and I am extremely exhausted. One of my friends told me that her pediatrician said to put them on Benedryl for 2 weeks at night and that would solve it. But I don't really agree with that.
So- does anyone have any advice as to what to do? Should we go back to 2 naps a day? Is he not getting enough food during the day? Should I drop his last bottle (he gets at 7:30 before bed). He is 18 months, and goes to bed between 7:30 and 7:50 everyday. He used to wake no earlier than 7:00, but usually at 7:30 sometimes 8:00. Oh, and he's not teething. He's got all his teeth in now - except the 2 yr molars but wouldn't expect him to get those, especialy since he was a very late teether.
Please help!

And by the way -I'm so upset because my work has blocked all blogs, so I only read your blogs now on my blackberry, and by the time I get home from work, play with my little one make dinner and clean up it's time for bed! So I rarely make comments any more. I miss it!!

Thanks for the help!

Plowmanators said...

bradysmom,

My guess is that he might need two naps again. It can take some time for the sleep deficit to catch up to him.

If you don't do two naps, I would move bedtime up 1-1.5 hours.

Janelle said...

bradysmom,
I am in the same boat you are. At around 18 months, my son started taking a while to fall asleep. Then at 19 months he started waking early in the morning. Like your son, mine used to wake up around 7:30 am but now he wakes up at 6:30 crying. I think it might be too late to go back to two naps for us (he's been on only one nap for 3 months) but I'm trying an earlier bed time this week. I guess this really isn't any new advice, I just thought I'd let you know that we are going through similar situations. Good luck with your little one and your full time job!

bradysmom said...

Janelle - has anything worked for you? We have been dealing with this for so long now I have no idea what to do. Brady is now almost 22 months. It's 6am and I have been awake since 4:20am with him. The thing with Brady is that he goes to be just fine - no matter what time I put him down. I've tried changing bed times. Currently his bed time is 6:45, which my husband thinks is too early. I've tried to go back to 2 naps, but if we put him down in the morning, he rarely ever sleeps in the afternoon. Which then leaves me with a toddler that has been awake from 11am - bed time. I am really just completely stressed and sleep deprived. I'm not enjoying this much because all I do is try to figure this out and stress over it. I really don't know what else to do. We did move about a month ago - so I'm sure that adds to it. Today is Wed, since Monday his nose has been stuffy. But I think he's starting to teeth with his 2 year molars - he takes FOREVER to teeth. and when he's teething his nose gets really, really runny. I just don't know any more. I feel like I"ve tried everything. I'm sure that all of the lack of sleep is causing this cycle now - and he's not sleeping because he's so over tired.

So this is his "normal" schedule - up at 7, which until he was 10 months old was always 7:30. Eats, independent play time, free play time, structured learning time, coloring time, music time, lunch at 11:30, nap after that at 12:15. I would like to put him down later for his nap, but he can't go that long. So he usually wakes up from his nap between 2:30 and 3:15. Then we get ready for bed around 6:20 and he's asleep no later than 7.

So - do I need to change his schedule around? I just don't know what to do. The pediatrician isn't any help.

By the way - if anyone out there lives in Maryland and has suggestions for a pediatrician let me know.

I'm completely at a loss, and this has been going on for so long that I'm so frustrated and upset that I can't figure it out and get it under control. This coming from a baby that we never had night time issues with!

Janelle said...

bradysmom,
Unfortunately we haven't found anything that really works yet. My son is also teething and this might be causing the problems. We did let him CIO one morning when he work before 6:00am He cried for about 20 mins. then stopped crying but never went back to sleep. He just laid there. (We have a video monitor so I could see that he was awake) Your schedule looks a lot like mine. Logan is in his crib for his nap by 12:30 and is almost always awake by 2:30. Then bedtime is at 7:00. Letting him CIO that one morning did help a little because he is now sleeping until around 6:30am. It's just frustrating because no matter what time I put him to bed at night, he always lays awake in his crib for about an hour. So even if he is in bed by 7:00pm he doesn't go to sleep until 8:00pm. But he's not talking to himself or playing with anything. He is just tossing and turning so going in to him would be a bad idea. I wish I had more suggestions for you, but I don't. Just know that you are not alone! Maybe Val will have some more ideas for us!

Plowmanators said...

Bradysmom and Janelle,

I am posting your questions for the next "help a reader out" segment.

Some things to consider are the basic...hot or cold? Do you need to dress them differently at night? Is there some noise waking them? White noise might help.

Teething can do it as can moving--and those 2 year molars take forever (Kaitlyn has literally been getting them in constantly since the end of August).

Hopefully some readers will have some experience/advice for you!

Brandon Lee said...

My son has been doing the same thing! Crying hard before bed and naps and only naps for 1 hour. He is 21 months and has been down to 1 nap for a while now. We are at our wits end with what the problem could be. He is fed, full, and comfortable but also wakes up 1 hour earlier than he used to. I've tried two naps but he usually NEVER sleeps for the second nap. Even if we're driving he doesn't fall asleep. So I don't think he's tired but there is no way he doesn't need a nap at all. He's too tired if he goes 5-6 hours without one. We've been leaving him in his crib to CIO in the mornings until 7 but his afternoon naps aren't doing well.

our days look like:

6:30 wake up (Used to be 7:00-7:30)
Breakfast
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Play time
11:00 lunch
11:30 nap time
12:30 awake (Used to sleep until 1-1:30)
Independent play time
Park/outting
snacks
6:00 dinner
6:30 start bedtime routine
7:00 bed (he used to go right to sleep but now cries for approx. 15-20 min.)

Any advice or help will be much appreciated.

Plowmanators said...

Have you tried a later nap time? Most kids nap around 1 PM, so 11:30 is quite early. Did his night crying start before or after the shorter nap? If it was after, then he is likely just tired.

the Gardners said...

Aha! I love this post, thank you. It makes me feel a little better. My daughter just turned 2 a few months ago and just sits in her bed and plays once her brother goes to sleep (if he's awake he encourages her to run around and be a stinker around the rest of the house). Lately, she has been staying up until 11 or 11:30 pm and that is when she goes to bed at 7:30 pm!

Brandon & Kelly said...

My daughter is nearly 20 months. For the past 2 weeks her naps have been awful. At first I attributed it to teething knowing BW says pains start around 20 months. She's been chewing on her finger in the back of her mouth quite regularly. She's also gotten a cold, has bad diapers and isn't eating well. All typical signs for her that she's teething. I've been giving her Tylenol prior to the nap. Some days she takes her usual 2.5-3 hour nap but we have days she doesn't nap at all or takes a very short nap. For a while I tried sitting with her in a darkened room but she doesn't really sleep in my lap. She's still sleeping great at night. I know your kids still took good naps when you gave them Tylenol. Maybe others have suggestions. I'm not sure that sitting with her is getting us anywhere and I have yet to see teeth to know if she's really teething. Thanks.

Plowmanators said...

Brandon and Kelly,

If it is molars, those can take a really, really long time.

If it were me, I would just put her down. If she doesn't sleep, try to not stress about it. Put her to bed early if she is overly cranky in the evening. She should pass this phase, but also, from here on out she will likely not nap every single day. She will always have days she doesn't sleep.

Sargent Family said...

Hi... My son is 25 months and he's been having lots of sleep problems lately. He used to take a 2-2 1/2 hour nap everyday and sleep at least 12 hours at night. But lately he keeps using his independent playtime [about 1-1 1/2 hours] to nap, and then doesn't want to take a long nap [wakes up in less than 2 hours] or sleep as much as he should at night. He sometimes wakes up at 5:45am instead of 7, and will just keep being loud until I do something. I want him to take a 3 hour nap, but he just gets so loud if I leave him in there. Is he supposed to take 3 hour naps? And how can I keep him from using his independent playtime as naptime so he can take real naps and sleep well at night? Today he slept 1 1/2 hours for his independent playtime, so I don't know how his afternoon nap is going to be..... Thanks in advance! :)

Plowmanators said...

Is he consistently waking early in the morning? If so, that might be why he is napping at indepenedent play. I would try moving it to a different time of day. Do you have it in a playpen still or in a room? If it is in a playpen, I would move to a room.

I would also listen during indpendent playtime. If things get quiet, I would go in and wake him up.

He will only need one nap a day, so if he naps earlier, he won't need that second nap. With just one nap, the length he needs will vary from 2-4 hours with most around 3ish.

melissa said...

My husband and I are at wit's end right now. We moved our two-year old to a toddler bed just after his birthday. The first three weeks or so were great. Then, ... :( He now gets out of his bed a bunch of times before he falls asleep. We go in and either quietly put him back in his bed or tell him to stay in bed.

The mornings aren't going so well, either. He wakes up insanely early which leads to crankiness during the day. I've tried having an alarm set for 7am, when I'd like him to get up, but he just can't make it that long. I don't think I can handle starting our day any earlier than that. I've also tried having him look at books, but he gets bored doing that and then comes to find me.

Any ideas?

Plowmanators said...

Melissa,

One idea is to consider moving him back to his crib if possible. Or a crib (like a playyard). That could be his consequence if he doesn't stay in bed.

See the post "toddler/child getting out of bed" That has ideas for helping curb the behavior.

Stephanie said...

I have a toddler nap issue. My daughter is 2.5, and we just got rid of the pacifier 1 week ago. I know she should have had it taken away a long time ago, but we travel a lot to visit family, and that made the long car rides more manageable. So anyway, since not having her pacifier this past week, she has actually gotten worse with sleeping than better. She did the best the first night and the first nap the next day, but each day it's gotten a little worse. Bed time is okay. It does take her a lot longer to fall asleep than she did before. And she's been waking up crying at least 5-6 times throughout the night, none of which last much longer than 5 minutes and don't need tending to. My biggest concern is her afternoon nap--it's nonexistent! I know she's not old enough to not need a nap anymore, but she just doesn't fall asleep! She'll go down okay--she doesn't fight it. But she's in there talking, singing, imaginary playing, and not sleeping! I know she has to be tired because also this past week she has been waking up very early in the morning. She used to sleep until about 8:15-8:30, but lately, she's been waking up crying anywhere between 6:45-7:30, which is very unusual for her. I've tried to let her go and see if she'll fall back asleep, but 30 mins pass and she's still crying. Not only is it unusual for her to wake up so early, it's extrememely unusual to wake up crying. She used to be so happy when she woke up and lay in bed for a while singing or reading a book. So, just wondering if maybe time will correct all these issues?? I'm not about to say she doesn't need a nap anymore at only 2.5! Thank you yet again for your wise help!!

Susie said...

Val,
Thank you for your blog! I have recommended it to many people who are even remotely interested in a sane life with a child. :)
That being said, I'm going a little nutty with my 23 month old. In the past 1.5 months, she has been taking longer and longer to fall asleep for naps and sometimes bedtime. Today's 'nap' was over 2 hours and she was still awake! I finally just got her up and will put her to bed very early. That was after a morning spent at the pool so I know she was tired. When she does fall asleep, I always have to wake her up so she goes to bed at a decent hour and she is usually cranky because she hasn't napped long enough.
I don't think its teething because I have tried giving her ibuprofen and Tylenol before naps and that hasn't helped.
I've tried moving her nap time earlier which resulted in her taking even longer to fall asleep.
Is this just one of those developmental milestones I'm just going to have to wait out or is this the beginning of inconsistent napping?

Plowmanators said...

Stephanie, my guess is that she is having to relearn how to sleep without the paci. The options are to either stick it out or go back to the paci for naps and bed for another 3-6 months and then try again. I don't really have concrete advice with that because my kids haven't ever used it. I will say that at 2.5, I think it is fine in the bed. I wouldn't allow it out of the bed at all, but in bed, I think that is fine.

Plowmanators said...

Susie, I would say it is just one of those milestones to wait out. She should get back to some normalcy before too long.

Lana said...

Oh boy. I'm glad I read this. I am going nuts with my 26 month old and naps. She goes down fine at night. She is at least quiet, though I don't have a video monitor and don't know if she is exactly sleeping or not. I hear her at about 7:30 - 8:00 in the mornings (though again, she could be awake but quiet before then). Our issue is naptime. She used to sleep 3 hours from about 1-4, but since May things have been all over the board. She went through a horrible phase from end of My until mid July, (I think she was having issues due to allergy meds, though.) Took her off the meds and things evened out again from mid July to mid end of Aug. Then, started not napping at all. Would just lay in bed and sing/talk for two hours. Then, mid Sept. went back suddenly to taking good naps. Now it's been 3 weeks and she doesn't nap at all anymore, and it's driving me nuts! I thought she had her molars, but maybe theyr'e still working on her a bit? I've tried moving naps up/back. Every once in awhile she'll fall asleep if I put her down around 12:00 but that's not consistent. Lately she just jumps and jumps and jumps in bed and sings at the top of her lungs. She is not a very hyper child normally - except these days when I put her down for naps. She gets wild! She is still in a crib. I'm afraid putting her in a big girl bed would only be worse...getting out all the time and jumping/falling. But maybe she is feeling a bit "trapped" in the crib? I don't know. It also seemed to escalate when she became potty trained. She is pee trained (daytime) but pooping is hit and miss. Lately, she seems to wait until naptime to poop in her pull up, so that doesn't help. Also, when she is awake she has to pee during that two hours so I think she tries to hold it (not wanting to go in her panties/pullup) so she doesn't sleep and therefore jumps. If she does wet her pullup, she yells at me, "wet diaper" over and over. Okay, so sorry this is so long. But I am beside myself stressed out over this. She is way too young to not nap at all, right? I find she is also becoming SO super grumpy, and behavior issues are increasing. (And she's always been a very well behaved, mild mannered child.) Any help would be much appreciated!

Katie said...

I am writing because I am trying to find a place to ask for advice within a community of people who understand sleep training! (i.e. I don't just want to post it on any forum and get berated for [fill in the blank]) We have done sleep training with my daughter since she was about 4-6 months old (I read HSHHC), but she has always been a bad sleeper. She is happy as can be when she's awake, but as soon as I put her in bed, she screams. Sometimes it's for 20 minutes, sometimes it's for 2, but without fail, she screams. Now, she's two years old, and she still gets mad and cries EVERY time I put her down. I'm just wondering if she will ever grow out of this, if there's anything I can do, or if anyone has any advice. Thanks so much! My email address is katiejennings4him at gmail dot com. Anyway, love the blog, really appreciate the common sense approach!

Plowmanators said...

Lana, unfortunately, a lot of what you described is just normal.

You can try working with nap start time, but I would say my best guess is that isn't your issue. It is an age thing. If you do move nap at all, at this age you want to move it back not up--especially if she was sleeping well at the certain time.

I would make sure you have enough physical exercise and mental stimulation in the morning. Then it is just something to try to work through with everything else.

For the peeing, make sure she pees before nap. For pooping, work with her to motivate her to poop during her waking hours instead.

I actually had a similar issue with Kaitlyn for a bit and did a diaper for her until she could do panties for naps.

Then try not to stress. I know it is hard, but do your best relax about it. You give her the opportunity to sleep, but you can't force sleep.

Plowmanators said...

Katie,

I have heard that some kids will cry for a bit before naps for a long time, but I don't have any personal experience with it. Are you sure that you are putting her down early enough?

noblesvillemom said...

Hi Val, my DD has been having trouble with naps and bedtime for about a year. She gave up the second nap at about 13 mths (would just play in her crib for 2 hrs, but not nap), and then by about 16 or 17 mths she started taking a long time (1-2 or more hours) to fall asleep at naptime and at bedtime. Of course, I feel like I've tried a million things and at times, it's gotten better, only to get worse, and so on. Now, she will rarely fall asleep on her own at naptime and if she does, she usually takes 2-3 hrs to fall asleep at bedtime (meaning 9:30-10:30 asleep). For a while, she was taking about 3 or four naps a week (falling asleep on her own),, but about 2 weeks ago she went 6 days straight no nap. By the end of it she was waking in the middle of the night and up for 3 hours before falling back asleep. Waking in the MOTN has been yapping for months, but I don't know how often cuz I am not always awake. After that was happening, I was desperate, so the next day I rocked her to sleep at naptime and she was asleep in 10 min and slept for 2 hours. I have done that about 5 other times in the last week and those days she went to sleep, but the others, not. It's not that she isn't tired, but she'll lay quietly for about 5 min and then start singing, pretending, etc until there is no way she'll go to sleep. I've thought about the sleep rules but didn't know if she's old enough. Any ideas of how to help her self-settle (she's done it for her whole life, but seems to not work now)? Or any other suggestions?
Her schedule: if nap
7:30-8: wake
1-3: nap
7:30-8: bed
9:30-10:30: she actually falls asleep
Schedule:no nap
7:30-8: wake
1: lay for nap, but no sleep. Leave in bed til 3ish
6: in bed and asleep in 5 min

So, any advice would be great.
Thx. Laura

Plowmanators said...

Laura, I really don't know. If she is in bed happy but not going to sleep, I don't know what you could do.

Have you tried going in and telling her to go to sleep?

I can post this as a "help a reader out" question if you would like. Let me know.

noblesvillemom said...

Thanks, Val. Sure, you could put it as a help a reader out. I have tried going in and telling her to . . Lay down, close eyes, be quiet and go to sleep and have tried punishments too. It seems to help a little, but not consistently. Even though she has not been rocked to sleep in the past, that is what I have been doing recently and she'll be asleep in 5 min of rocking/singing (only for naptime). It's like she is tired, but won't let herself settle down unless u force her (hold and rock her). At least she has been happier and less grumpy since she's been napping more the past few weeks And she has been waking up less at night. Thx again.

Can I ask you a ? about my almost 11 month old? I CANNOT figure out his waketime! I feel like I have tried between 2 and 3 hrs in the am and nothing works well. At 2, he will go to sleep pretty easily, but then wake up 45-60 min later and be happy and ready to go. The problem is that it's still 2 hrs until his lunch. And if I put him down 2.5 or 3 it seems to take a long time for him to get to sleep (30-60 min). 3 HR waketime is usually pretty good in the afternoon, but sometimes he still takes a long time to get to sleep. Any ideas?
Laura

lnc6106 said...

Val,
I'm SO happy I found this post! My son will be 25 months old tomorrow & just started having trouble falling asleep in the last week at bedtime. I was wondering what was going on with him but this all makes sense now! We attributed his difficulty falling asleep to late sunset & early sunrise! We keep the same routine but are somewhat flexible on the start times of naptime & bedtime depending if we have an event to attend or end up playing outside too long! It's already 100+ deg in SE Texas so we don't go outside to play until 6-6:30pm. Carter's bedtime is usually around 8:30pm. He naps 2.5-3hrs & that start time is usually 1:15pm on avg. Those 2 yr old molars are a doozy.
For all those mom's with toddlers teething (molars are rought to come in)...I give my son Motrin (age adjusted dose per his pedi) before bed if he's super fussy & wanting to "eat" real often to help w/gum pains. I don't do it every night but if I notice his signs of pain I'm all for medication. I'm a RN also. Motrin seems to help MUCH better than Tylenol/Acetominophen for teething pain. Teething tablets (recalled) do not work at all on my child. Never did work.

Also, before bed try doing about 15 minutes of "wind-down" routine whether it be watch boring old "thomas the train" video or read them a book. Those kids who are "screaming & crying" for 20 minutes are trying to come off over-stimulation in my opinion & crying is the ONLY way they know the settle their nerves (as weird as that may sound). I read to Carter, turn on his box fan & give him his blanket. He still takes about 30-45 mins to fall asleep (started in the last week) but he's not screaming or crying, just talking sweet noise! <3

For those parents whose child takes a very early nap (1 nap/day kids)...try distracting them to keep them awake til at least 12:30-1pm. The "Witch Hour" is rough if they woke up early from their Only Nap!! When Carter was transition from 1 to 2 naps a day, I would take him outside (luxury of spring temps at that time) right around the time he was wanting to fall asleep. Then he slowly adjusted to staying awake that long. Goodluck!
Thanks Val for your posts & help! If you disagree w/anything in my post please feel free to say so. I only have 1 child to your 3 so I think you might know a few more things about being a wonderful mom than myself! God Bless you & your family!
Thanks~~ LaChelle C.

Plowmanators said...

Great tips LaChelle! I think a couple of things that really help if sleep is rough is 1)plenty of exercise 2)exposure to sunlight. But they won't necessarily cure :)

staceyg said...

What is the "normal" amount of sleep for a 2-2.5 year old? My daughter is almost 26 months old and have been at 1 nap since about 17 months. Wake time is 7:45am and bedtime is between 8-8:30pm. We currently have naps at 12:30pm. We had been doing well with naps. Some days were "off" with the time it took her to get to sleep, but not every day is going to be perfect :) Just in the last 2 weeks though we have just really been struggling to get to sleep-either an hour plus or no nap at all. No crying, just playing or rolling around! I have been wondering if we are getting to a point of just needing less sleep? Naps typically last until somewhere between 3-4pm and if she isn't up by 4 we wake her so not to mess with bedtime. Should I try moving naptime closer to 1? Any suggestions? Thanks :)

rachelp said...

I love this blog!!!!! after reading all the comments i feel slightly better. my dilemma is...i have a 2 yr old who just turned 2. she has been a poster babywise baby concerning feedings and sleep habits. she loves to sleep and has always loved her crib. she always seemed the happiest in her bed. lol however, out of the blue she has had screaming fits when i tell her its nap/bedtime. she begs for me to lay down with her. when i do stay with her, she seems totally fine. no pain due to teething and such. so i wait till she falls asleep and leave her room. but when she wakes or stirs at naptime or bedtime she screams blood curdling screams for me to "hold mama". i feel like i am creating bad habits by staying with her till she sleeps.

her "old schedule" was wake up time at 7-7:30. nap at 1-3, and bedtime at 7. but now she only naps for 45 min- an hour and of course is super cranky due to fatigue. she also is waking up at night screaming until i come in her room and shes fine. but if i leave before she falls asleep she will scream for hours. as you can see she is now super sleep deprived and cranky.

the only change i can think of is that she threw up in her crib about a week ago. and it really scared her. maybe she is just scared to be left alone in her bed and vomit again?? if so how do i resolve this? my husband and i are lacking sleep too and miss our old routine :) do we just let her cry for hours on end at nap/bedtime? is she just "relearning" how to sleep? any suggestions would be so helpful! thanks and Godbless!

Ellyn said...

Hi--I just wanted to share my succes story about my son's sleep issue. He's 22 months and all this summer he has not been able to fall asleep till nine when normally he falls asleep at 7:30. After trying so many things to get him to fall asleep, I think it really just boiled down to summer light. I just really think he falls asleep when it gets dark and rises when the sun comes up. That's just how it is I think. But besides that, we found instant success with music after trying so many things. I wanted to list out the things we tried that did NOT work for him to fall alseep:
darking room, white noise, later bedtime, earlier bedtime, more books before bed, massage, wearing him out before bed, and the opposite--having more downtime, milk before bed, --we troubleshooted like crazy.
In the end, something worked instantly. Music! When my son was an infant we never did music because it stimulated him. But for some reason I just thought to give it a try and it worked. Music with words and even classical didn't work because then he stayed up to listen. So then I downloaded Native American flute music for stress relief and it worked like a charm. He fell asleep right away instead of tossing and turning and crying for 2 hours. I am sooo happy that we found our answer after a very long time troubleshooting.

Sophie's Mom said...

Hi, thanks so much for your blog. We started Babywise around 6 months and it has been wonderful. Our daughter is now almost 3 (in Nov.) and has been a pretty good sleeper since. However, we are having some issues now. Long story short, it started with a throw up incident in her crib in early April, right before transitioning to a big girl bed. We went on an international trip about 5 days later so the combination of the incident and the time change made transitioning a huge challenge. Before all of this she was consistently going to bed at 8 p.m. and waking up around 7 a.m. I would hear her happy and talking to herself in the mornings. Since April, it's been a roller coaster of getting her from 5:30 a.m. back to 6:45 almost 7 a.m. We have had a lot going on this summer which as not helped either. I am due with our second child in about a month and my niece passed away a month ago which made for a few lax bed time schedules. Currently, she is waking up at 5:30 a.m. and ready to go. She does not seem to be able to fall back asleep. I know she needs more sleep b/c she falls asleep in the car on the way to day care. We have kept bed time at 8 p.m. We have tried many different tactics including a reward box connected with a moon/sun nightlight telling her when she can get up, taking away cartoons or toys and putting a knob on the inside of her door. The only thing that really seems to affect her is the knob. At first I thought it was a discipline issue, so we refocused on that and she seems to be minding well. At least she minds me well, but does have some issues with Dad which we are working on by using logical consequences. Recently I've started to wonder if it's all of these recent events and the baby coming any day. I also wonder if her schedule is somehow off, but I can't seem to reset it. I'm at a loss at this point and would appreciate any feedback! Some more sleep before baby would be great :)

Plowmanators said...

staceyg,

I would move the nap to 1 and see how that goes.

Plowmanators said...

Rachelp,

I would tell her she needs to sleep. I would not stay with her, but you can go in as you want to intervene.

You mentioned teething. Do you give her painkiller at all? I would suggest that.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks for sharing your story Ellyn!

Plowmanators said...

Sophie's Mom,

One thing is to not feed her breakfast until your desired waketime.

Work on getting your days consistent again. You can't be flexible without some consistency. Good luck!

BWinOR said...

A few days ago I posted a question elsewhere on this site about my nearly 2 year old having trouble falling asleep at night. I'm amazed to find out it's a common problem. I almost hate to ask this, but how long is this "phase" likely to last?? When can I look forward to my daughter falling asleep more quickly at night?

Plowmanators said...

BWinOr,

I think it is a few months usually :)

Robyn said...

My son is 19 months and has had issues with napping and waking early for a couple months now. His wake time has always been 8:30 and he would mostly wake up between 8-8:30. But for a while now he has been waking up between 7-8 and he only naps for like 2 hours during the day. I have tried doing two naps, like a short one in the morning and a longer one in the afternoon. I tried putting him to bed early and later. Nothing has made a difference. The hard part is when we wakes up at 7:30 it is really hard for him to make it to 1:00 for his nap. But if I put him down at noon or something, he may only sleep 1.5 hours, then is awake and tired so early at night. For a while I thought he was getting up when my husband would for work, but now he is waking up before my husband. I have no idea and I miss my 8:30!!!

Nadia Boulos said...

I've been having some similar issues myself. My 2 yr old used to take one nap at least in the afternoon and sleep through the night. Four months after her baby brother is born, she's now having a hard time napping (sometimes skips it altogether) and doesn't fall asleep at night until 9:30!!! Granted, it's still light out till 9 where I live but it's driving me crazy! She usually naps around 1:30-2 for an hour or two. It's bad enough I need to wake up at least once with my other child but now she's also waking up at night around 2:30-3. I'm really exhausted and not sure how to handle this...someone please help!

Kristin L. said...

So glad I found this post on two year olds having trouble falling asleep at night! Nathan, now 2.5, has been having trouble falling asleep over the past month or so. I've tried different bedtimes and most nights, it doesn't seem to matter when I put him to bed, he just talks/sings to himself until about 9pm!!!!!!! He usually sleeps until 7 or 7:30am, so at least he's still getting 10 hours of sleep at night. He also takes a good afternoon nap... sometimes from 1pm to 4pm, at which time I go in and get him up. I am wondering if I should limit his nap even more, though. Do you think shortening his PM nap would help him fall asleep in the evening? Or is it more likely that this is just a phase he will outgrow? Any suggestions you have on this would be great! Thank you!

The Gorins said...

My 2.5 year old has always been a great sleeper. Her usual bed time is 7:30 and she has normally slept until 7:30 am. Naptime was usually 1-3 or 3:30 without a peep. In the last month she has had a harder time going to sleep, staying in bed (which was never an isse when we first moved her to her big girl bed) and now naps are TERRIBLY short. She is also waking up between 6:15-6:30 and laying in bed awake longer at night to fall asleep. My question is, how do I handle the waking early from naps and bed? As an infant, I had a set nap time and she played and did whatever in her crib (a lot of times put herself back to sleep)-but in a toddler bed the only way to contain her is wig a gate in her room-so the mornings if she is up before 7 I have let her stay in room. Naptime she will sleep an hour and then cry at her door-she is visibly exhausted and is crabby and tired the rest of the day! How do I handle this? Today I discipline her a lot to get back into bed much like I would if she left her bed going to sleep at nigt-but that has never worked for getting her to fall back asleep for naps. Would love some ideas! Or maybe encouragement that this is just a phase???? How long will a toddler keep a two to three hour rest time? (Two has been her norm) help!!!

erin m judd said...

My daughter is 21 months old and was almost always a good sleeper unless there was something bothering her (new place, teething, etc.) We've done Babywise since she was 2 weeks old. We moved in with my mother in law about 4 months ago and it seems like ever since, she just keeps fighting sleep.

She wakes between 7:30-8:00am, goes down for naptime between 12:30-1pm, and goes to bed around 8pm. She is more obedient than the majority of other kids her age, a little ahead in her speech development, and has a great attention span. Still, she likes to test the rules a lot. We have our fair share of tantrums and time-outs. Often, I feel like there's just nothing I can do. This child is going to scream and fight EVERYTHING she doesnt want to do.

Do I just have an unbelievably strong willed child? Why are we still doing CIO at nearly 2 years old? I feel like I'm going to be listening to screaming for the rest of her life. I've been as consistent as possible and endure quite a bit of scorn from my in-laws for being "rigid," although I'm actually fairly flexible. We're expecting #2 next month, and I just can't imagine what I'm going to do if I have TWO children crying all the time. It's enough to make me throw out everything I stand for and just do whatever will make them be quiet. Because it will drive me crazy.

Any advice would be helpful. I've always liked and appreciated your blog, but to think that you've had 4 children and never experienced this seems a little... curious. How did I land one like this on the first try?

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