Bedtime battles and torturous tasks now a thing of the past - 2 years old
We’ve all done it – found ourselves counting down the hours (or minutes!) until our children’s bedtime so that we can have some downtime.
But what if that bedtime routine didn’t result in your retreat into Netflix, but actually marked the kicking off of an hours-long battle with your toddler who didn’t want to go to sleep?
Unfortunately, the latter scenario had been the case for two year old Cindy and her mum Fiona.
“We had a good evening routine in place, with dinner, bath-time, winding down, a story and a bottle, and Cindy would go into her cot relatively happily, but then she would soon be standing, jumping and calling out. It could go on for more than an hour some nights,” Fiona explains.
“She’d created something of a game out of it and could be quite persistent. It was driving us a little insane and Cindy was keeping our son awake too, so we knew we had to do something.”
Fiona turned to what she had done a couple of times before – for both her son and during Cindy’s earlier years – and opted for a phone consult with Waikato-based baby sleep consultant, Becky.
“It was my husband initially that said ‘can’t we ring those people again?’ and I knew we’d had such miraculous results the other times we’d used them,” Fiona laughs.
“Sometimes as a busy mum, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees, but I knew there must be something I was doing that wasn’t quite right.”
Fiona imagined that there would be a simple solution to Cindy’s bedtime battles – and had previously seen significant behavioural changes from just small tweaks in the past – but admits that she wasn’t sure what the solution was.
“I had been experimenting already and what I was doing wasn’t having much of an impact,” Fiona shares.
“Not only was bedtime becoming a torturous task, but Cindy was waking twice during the night – once around 11pm and again at 1 or 2am. We were exhausted!”
Looking to the day to see you right for the night
Becky took some time to catch up on where Cindy was at now, before coming up with a plan for Fiona to try. The plan had two main pillars – tweaking Cindy’s daytime sleep, and reducing the volume of her bedtime bottle.
“When I ran through our day and routine with Becky, she sensed that Cindy was sleeping 30 – 40 minutes too long during the day, and having her nap a little bit early in the day,” Fiona explains. “The key was to create a longer gap in the afternoon that would see Cindy ready to go back to sleep at bedtime.”
Other than the timing tweaks earlier in the day, Cindy’s routine leading up to night-time stayed exactly as it had been – with the exception of a smaller night-time milk feed (and less heavy wetting overnight!) And the result?
“That very first day we changed things, Cindy went to sleep so much easier and slept right through,” marvels Fiona. “We’ve had moments of protest in the few weeks since, but they have been tiny in comparison to what we used to face. Previously, that evening stretch was just relentless and we were enduring this battle that seemed to go on forever, then dreading what else the night might bring.”
A more harmonious household
Now Fiona’s family is much happier. “We’re a much more harmonious household. Cindy is happier, so is our son – and my husband and I can have a bit of peace in the evenings now, which has made such a massive difference. Correcting things has meant that now everyone can wind down in the evenings, and we no longer have to face that tortuous task!”
Fiona also feels forewarned and forearmed, as Becky provided some extra tips about how to continue supporting Cindy’s sleep as she gets older. “I understand how and when to further reduce her day sleep now, as she continues developing.”
Toddlers sleep is quite uniquely different to baby sleep. Where sleep begets sleep when it comes to babies, over sleeping can cause bedtime dramas, and delayed onset of sleep in toddlers. Just as feeding to sleep works well for babies, but excess feeds can disrupt sleep whether through digestion or full bladders and lots of wet nappies. We often refer back to sleep strategies that worked for our babies and try to apply them to our toddlers when in fact they need a different solution one suited to toddler needs.
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