toddler sleep help needed

Two hours it’s taken me tonight to get the toddler to sleep. TWO HOURS and now I’ve got to somehow get my dinner, tidy up, get stuff ready for the morning and do some work and it’s already past 9pm. I don’t have a clue how to improve the situation and I’m mega stressed by it as James is away for a week on Saturday and I know how stressed I am with just one night of it on my own tonight. Sleep help needed!

sleep help needed

She naps fine in the middle of the day, after her lunch we take her up cuddle her for a few minutes, put her down in her cot drowsy and that’s it, she sleeps for at least an hour. If it takes more than 10 minutes you are unlucky. I have no idea why bedtime is so different. Getting her babygrow on tonight she was crying with tiredness wanting her milk, eyes rolling as she drank it and then it took two hours for her to finally go to sleep. She’s got into the habit of wanting to hold your hand, our own fault through nights and nights of sleep deprivation, sticking a hand through the bar of the cot to settle her. She likes to hold on in the day even when she has hurt herself or is sleepy and she sucks her own lip. I don’t mind this but sitting next to the cot for 2 hours with your hand through the bars every now and then lying her back down when she sits up is soul destroying. She doesn’t cry unless you leave her which we don’t like to do, can’t do as it breaks my heart. 

She wakes at least twice if not more in the night so we don’t even get a solid nights sleep and neither does she. We’ve tried the same routine every night, tried a sleeping bag, no sleeping bag a comforter, music, white noise pacing the room, pulling our own hair out and generally everything you can think of to get her to sleep. I don’t know if it’s to do with her allergies or if her reflux is still bothering her. We took her off her meds as the pediatrician said how bad they were for her long term. I don’t know if it is that though as she naps in the day ok. I really don’t have a clue on how to improve the situation and don’t know how much longer we can keep doing it for. When I’m on my own its extra hard as the boys need sorting out too, they end up going off to sleep with no story and me not saying good night as I’m trapped with their sister, my hand through the bars of the cot and a numb bum.

If you have any words of advice please, please send them my way. 

17 responses to “toddler sleep help needed”

  1. I wish I had a magic solution for you lovely. Thankfully Toby’s really good at going down, it’s staying there that he sucks at doing! We find it good to get Toby in his pj’s about 30 mins before his bedtime, then he can keep playing for another 10-15 minutes then it’s teeth, stories in his room and bed. He’s only a couple of months older and this has been working for us for a while now. Definitely worth exploring the possibility of her reflux playing up too, again we’ve had this with Toby a few weeks ago and a small dose of Gaviscon with his evening milk was enough to settle him. I hope something works for you, it’s so, so tough xx

  2. Becca Tooth says:

    Oh bless you! Like you say, soul destroying. We had a tricky patch of bedtime recently where T didn’t want me to leave. Our current answer is that’s she’s allowed to have one book in bed (board or cloth) to read to bunny and flopsy. It takes her between 1-2hrs to go to sleep but she plays pretty happily until she conks out! Hope it sorts itself out soon. X

  3. RachelSwirl says:

    Do you know what? You are an amazing Mum! I have to commend you fully on the fact that you are not leaving your little one, you are staying with them and helping them to find sleep. It will take time but EVENTUALLY it will happen and suddenly you will wonder what all the fuss was about. I can now hear my own little lady looking for her Mummy and so best go grab her and jump into bed myself (yes with my daughter too as thats how we roll)

  4. Emma Reed says:

    I came across this on twitter and just had to write to you! I can’t see how old she is which would help with an answer…..does she eat well? Is she teething?
    I have had the most awful time with sleeps/naps and so on with my son who is now 2. Our biggest issue was the teething. Even when they weren’t coming up they always seemed to rumble under the gum and cause so much pain. BUT her nap could be your issue. It may be that it’s now too late for her to nap or it could be for too long. Once my son started to hit 12:30pm nap time we had the most awful time at bedtime. I was at my wits end and he was up til 9pm but still waking early so we were both tired and it seemed to make everything ten times worse! He dropped his naps when we took his dummy away which was over 2 months ago now (he was 2 at xmas). It has been tough adjusting to having him up all day with me and there being no break but 7pm comes and he often asks to go to bed!!! To come from a little thing that has kept me up since being born who now sleeps and wants to sleep is amazing. With no teeth pain he does not wake in the night (these have also just all come so it all coincided, which was nice!)
    They also do just go through funny stages especially if shes growing a lot or hitting a developmental stage. I have a friend who now wakes her daughter after half an hour into her nap and she says that has solved their bedtime issue- again she is 2. So it may be worth trying a few things to see what works. Check how her teeth are doing, maybe drop the nap or reduce it and make sure she isn’t waking up coz of hunger.
    Good luck from one tired Mummy to another 😉

  5. Firstly you are a fab mummy and there is nothing you are doing wrong. You are giving your daughter all the love and support she needs. My youngest daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 17 months old and it came about from sorting out the naps. The saying goes ‘sort the naps and the sleep will follow’. I don’t normally give advice, as I think it can be seen as judgemental. But seeing as you asked, I thought I would let you know what I know. 🙂 I don’t think she is having enough sleep at nap time, an hour isn’t enough at this age, this will be mean she is overtired at night. The more tired they are the harder it is for them to fall asleep (they are the opposite to adults). Sleep breeds sleep, the more sleep they have in the day, the longer they will sleep at night. The night waking could be because when she stirs she is expecting to see you sat holding her hand and will cry out for it. This is not easy to fix, could you try replacing your hand with a teddy or something. Make it fun, says its mummy’s teddy and she will look after you or something like that. Good luck. Sleep deprivation is horrible, I’m going through it with my eldest and have been for a year! Xx

  6. Davina says:

    I have no advice, sadly. Because generally I’m pretty rubbish at getting my kids to sleep. BUT I am sending you so much love. I really, really hope you can get some sleep. X

  7. Lucy says:

    I’ve no amazing words of advice sadly, although I have been through this with my now 4 year old son. In our case it was my hair he used as a comforter (still does!). I had many nights of sticking to a solid routine (bath, story, bedtime..) and then I’d start off very close to him and gradually move towards the door, in sight as reassurance. A nighttime comforter helped, we had a fisher price sea horse which he still uses now, although not as frequently. It took some time but he soon settled down, I think if I remember rightly they have a few separation anxiety stages (?) so it may be that. Hang in there, it’ll pass x

  8. I know this feeling very well so don’t worry, you’re not alone!
    There is no magic answer though I’m afraid. My son never slept, he also has allergies and he would struggle to breath when laying down so he would be sitting up and down for hours until he just crashed!
    He just gradually stopped doing it, I know that’s no comfort for you now but it won’t be forever. #picknmix

  9. Fern says:

    I can’t remember how old your daughter is, but I know with midge who is 2 (3 next month) if she has a nap in the day she is up for hours at night. But I can’t offer you any help, between my 3, sassy is generally up untill 10, in and out of the bedroom to talk to us, midge will be up untill about the same time then will wake periodically through the night, and little L doesn’t really have a set pattern yet. Last night I went to bed at 10, and was up at 12-1.05, 2.30-3.20, and finally we got up at 5.55.. I really wish I could help :(_


  10. Crummy Mummy says:

    I’m the worst person to ask as Little B is 17 months old, rarely goes down without a fight and always ends up in our bed. You’ve got more staying power than me though – I end up just letting him stay up rather than crouch on the floor with my hands through the rungs of the cot! #picknmix

  11. Kirsty says:

    My little boy is 18 months old and is a pretty good sleeper, although I was one of the horrible mummy’s that did the whole crying it out thing from 6 months old…it may be that she is over tired so might need putting down earlier?? Or you may need to just continue what you are doing as it is probably a phase, if you can’t leave her to cry it out a bit so she falls off to sleep a bit earlier…sorry I cannot be more help? #picknmix

  12. I feel for you. My 10 week old is now sleeping between 6 and 7 1/2 hours a night, so I finally get some sleep. In the beginning she had relux and just wouldnt settle by night. I am sorry I don’t have any advice for you. My baby girl loves her sleeping bag as she used to toss all the covers off.

  13. Hi Eilidh, this is all many years behind me now but this has struck a chord with me as a friend who has had her first very late is going through a similar scenario. Every child is different but with mine I took my mother’s and Gina’s advice of having a set time every night for going to bed and the same routine of tea, bath then milk and put them down. I also found swaddling really helpful, where their arms are secured – but not sure if yours is too old for that? If they grizzled I would go back in after 5 mins to let them know I was there but not pick them up and leave again. If it continued I would stand outside and go back in after 10 mins. Leaving them to cry is hard but it worked for me and both mine slept through from 6 months. Good luck. #picknmix

  14. Sending lots of hugs your way. I am sorry I don’t have any helpful advice. Our second girl was a terrible sleeper, from approx 8 months to approx 2.5 years, screamed every night. We were in a similar situation to you, hours spent each night trying different ways to try and get her to go. She also dropped a daytime nap very early, so wasn’t getting too much sleep during the day. That was one of the hardest times we have had as a family. What changed? I went back to work, and she went to nursery and that helped a bit as she was getting more mental stimulation there than I was able to give her. But that was just 3 days a week. We also gave in and allowed her to co-sleep when she wanted. The most dramatic change came when the girls moved into bunkbeds. She was quite young to go into a single bed (2.10) but she seemed to settle really well with the extra space and big girls bedding. She now sleeps approx 7 to 7, although wakes for the usual stuff; a drink, wee, bad dream etc..and sometimes we wake up in the morning and she has crept in between us at some point in the night! Keep going, it will pass, I feel your pain though… xxxx Kathy #PicknMix

  15. Mum in Brum says:

    Aw hun this sounds pretty hard-going. If only there was a magic cure. Taylor’s just started to ‘play up’ in the mornings waking up at 5am now – but she does always go down okay on the night. If she doesn’t go down we tend to go in for a quick cuddle and leave straight away again but I know every baby is different and it’s so hard to listen to them crying. Hope things get better for you soon x #Picknmix

  16. I have no advice but I will say I have been there and it does get better. We tried everything with Finley but in the end I think something just clicked and he learnt to sleep. Sorry #picknmix xx

  17. I’m the worst person to offer advice as my two were good sleepers from 7 weeks old ish and even had lie ins. When one of them went through a stage of refusing to go to sleep at night though I hate to say it, but controlled crying was the only thing that worked.

    I hope you find a solution that works that you’re comfortable with.

    Stevie xx

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