Toddler Sleep Issues – my 2.5 year old won’t settle to sleep
“We can’t get our 2.5 years old to just settle down in bed easily at night. She turns into a flip flopping manic that suddenly has so many things to do or need 25 bedtime stories (not helped by the fact she can reach light switches and open doors herself). It’s been taking over an hour to get her to sleep the last few weeks.”
2.5 year old toddlers easily become over tired, hyperactive and fight sleep. They are experts in delay tactics, and their communication is often very well advanced and they are pro’s at making requests.
The fact that your toddler is becoming a flip flop maniac at bed time, tells me she is probably over tired, this is further confirmed by that fact that its taking an hour + for her to go to sleep. I would suspect there has been an accumulation of sleep debt over the last few days or weeks.
We know the best thing for an over tired child is an earlier bed time, and this is definitely true for toddlers!
When dealing with toddlers requests at bed time, try to out smart your toddler, chances are you have at least 20-30 years of experience over them, and 10-15 years of education more than them, so let’s start thinking smarter! If your toddler always asks for a drink, and a toilet visit, and an extra cuddle, and their favorite toy, make a list and start early!
An example would be starting at 6.30pm for a 7pm bed time. Include your toddler in this process and let them know you are getting them ready for bed now, so lets get your drink bottle and fill it with water… ok pop that by your bed. Now lets find your favorite toy to take to bed, explain to your toddler the toy they get now is the only toy they are having, so they need to choose wisely and pop it into bed.
Then choose the stories to read, and explain these are the only 3 stories you are having, so choose 3 and put them by your bed.
Now who do you want to cuddle before bed? Dad? Ok, lets find dad, have a cuddle, then go to the toilet one last time, and hop into bed with your favorite toy, 3 books and your drink bottle.
We are not hostage negotiators, no other requests will be considered once your toddler is in bed. You are not annoyed or frustrated by the new requests, they are simply ignored and the can be added to the following nights pre- bed time ritual. (don’t worry this will get boring real fast!).
Read your 3 stories, say good night and leave. If your toddler wants to flip flop on their bed and not lie down, that’s fine (well its not, but we are pretending for the toddlers sake that their behavior doesn’t bother us.) Just leave anyway, don’t argue about how they need to lie down, and beg them to behave.
You have started your bed time routine early so they have time to flip flop before its even time for them to be asleep! (see we are smarter than them!).
The light switch and door opening is a matter of impulse control and some toddlers don’t develop this until closer to 3 years +.
Genius idea for miss use of the light switch is removing the light bulb, or taping the switch up so it can’t be accessed. I have even had a client who switched the fuse to the lights in their toddlers bedroom. It only took a few nights before the toddler stopped trying!
Opening doors can be resolved with baby gates, removal of door handles, silent returns or Nigel Latta – famous child psychologist recommends using a bungy cord to bungy the outside of your child’s door handle to another door in the hall way so their door cannot be opened.
Any of these options are removing the impulse control issue as your toddler learns the light doesn’t work, and the door doesn’t open. No one is growling me, or begging me, or trying to convince me to stay in bed. I’m quite bored, its pretty dark and actually I am quite tired…… SLEEP!
The key message here is bring things down a level, react less, preempt your toddler so you can do less after bed time.
Think toddler survivor = OUTWIT OUTPLAY OUTLAST
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We are having terrible issues with our 2.6 year old. It’s now 9:30 pm and hes s=in a screaming match in bed with his daddy being held down to stay in bed. we dont want to put a gate on the door or lock him in. We have a 1 year old who will wake if we try to leave him alone. We dont know what to do. Please help!