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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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