Toddler Sleep HELP!!

I know I JUST wrote about this, but I figured I would try again and pimp the heck out of this post in hopes that I could get some advice here.

Here’s the scoop. Mason is 27 months old. He’s always been an awesome sleeper, sleeping in his own room and falling asleep easily since he was very young. Heck, sometimes he would  even ASK to go to bed. He’s always demanded certain stuffed animals to sleep with and as long as we’ve made sure they were present, he’s been a happy camper. Recently, bedtime has become a total nightmare and I hope you guys can help because I feel like making things worse instead of better.

Suddenly, he doesn’t want to go to bed and will cry and scream until he is hoarse and having trouble catching his breath. He will cry literally for HOURS if we let him. He’ll demand milk and water and certain toys. Sometimes he will quiet down and go to sleep if we bring him water or the toy he’s asking for, but sometimes not. It’s a total crapshoot.

Two weeks ago, he started waking up in the night saying he was “scared” and would be crying and shaking. Now, he says he’s scared the second we leave his room. He demands his light be left on and sobs for the light if we don’t. Nothing in his room has changed, nothing seems shadowy, and he can’t point out anything in specific that is scary. We tried adding an additional nightlight before we started leaving the light on.

But now, with the light on, he stays up PLAYING with the stuff in his crib. Take tonight for example – been over an hour, and he’s still sitting in bed playing with his tractor. I know the logical answer is “Don’t give him his tractor” but he will literally cry and scream “Tractor! Tractor!” for two plus HOURS straight if I don’t. He will scream til he’s sweating and choking and eventually throws up.  I’ve tried waiting him out many times, but between the chance of choking and gagging, the fact that 2 hours of screaming is really irritating, AND knowing that sometimes, he just wants to lay next to his tractor and will fall asleep within minutes, I give in.

When we’ve tried “doing things his way” to see if something is missing from the routine, he wants to watch TV and fall asleep on Daddy. So not going to happen. He doesn’t have tantrums like this during the day – he never gets anywhere near as upset about anything as he does about bedtime. Nothing is new in his daytime routine – same schedule, caregivers, etc. I’ve tried explaining things to him, negotiating with him, getting mad, giving hugs, everything I can possible think of.

He has to be up at 7 am for school. He’s super hard to wake up in the morning and very crabby. He absolutely cannot stay up past 10 pm playing OR sobbing and screaming. It’s not good for him and it’s not good for my sanity either – this is my only “me” time of the day and dreading his bedtime and having it be a 2-3 hour ordeal is soooo stressful. We’re going on 6 weeks of this behavior and it’s getting worse and worse every night…. I feel like I’m one step away from being featured on “Super Nanny: The Bedtime Special” but am at a loss for what to do. I really miss my well-rested little boy….

Help, internet friends! How do I fix this?!

This time last year – 15 Months

Two years ago – Love this Outfit

ETA – The days where he gets NO nap (twice in the past week) or an hour or less (on occassion at school), bedtime does not go any better….

11 thoughts on “Toddler Sleep HELP!!

  1. Cole Post author

    That sounds completely awful – no real advice here, just sympathy… Does he still nap? Maybe downsizing the nap or adjusting the time he takes it might help?

    *I* can’t really help since I kind of was opposite from Mason – I didn’t even STTN until 16 months – and even then it was not consistent… but now? Now I go to bed at 8:30 or so and sleep straight on until about 7.

  2. Miranda Post author

    i wish i could help you! but i also will comment about something cole said. Does he still take naps? My Mason has stopped taking naps and goes to sleep pretty good. But if he has a nap during the day (even if it just an hour) he will be up until midnight. I hope that you figure it out! I truly do!

  3. Colleen @ Mommy Panda Post author

    My only thought (since The Munchkin sleeps through the night really well, even if he’s reluctant to at first…) is to try having him sleep in a completely different room and see if that helps? Maybe put a pack and play in a guestroom or something and see what happens?

    Or, you could lie to him. When I was little, I was afraid of the dark, and convinced myself that my glow in the dark toys were magical and kept me safe in the dark. So, maybe buy him a couple glow in the dark stuffed animals and lie lie lie!

  4. LeeAnn Post author

    I can’t remember if I commented on your last post or not. I know I read it, and if I didn’t comment, I meant to…but I tend to forget things if I don’t do something right away. So regardless, I’m commenting now. LOL

    We have been going through some of the same stuff with Bryce. He doesn’t have nightmares and isn’t scared (that was the other kid), but he just will not go to sleep when we put him in his bed. This has been going on ever since we put him in his toddler bed. He also wants toys in his bed, and we fought him for a few nights, but we finally gave in. A war with a 2 year old at bedtime is not one you are going to win. EVER. So we let him have his toys and some nights he will sit in there and play with them for over an hour, but he stays in his bed and we can get our chores done. He eventually goes to sleep. I’m not saying that is the RIGHT way to do things, but that is what works for us. He also gets up every night around 1AM and sneaks into our bed. I know I should take him back to his bed, but again, I don’t want to fight a battle in the middle of the night, so we just let him stay. Is that the right thing to do? HELL NO. But I need my sleep.

    Rylie was the one with the nightmares. Well, make that night terrors. She still has them. From what I read, nightmares are common around 3 years old. They are learning so much and absorbing everything, and their brains just don’t shut down. Rylie’s bedroom is upstairs and the rest of us are downstairs, so that makes matters worse. She sleeps with her light on (we have a dimmer, so it isn’t bright…might be a suggestion for you) and if that is what makes her feel more comfortable, then so be it.

    I feel for you. I hope you can figure out something that works.

  5. Amy Post author

    Maybe this is a cop out but if things were this persistent at my house I would make an appt w/ the ped, just To make sure there isn’t a medical reason and mention you’d like to talk about sleeping issues, in case they want to make it a quicke appt! I always look to my ped for help! Sorry!

  6. Amanda M. Post author

    It may be night terrors. They tend to appear as your child develops an active imagination. It isn’t really something you child can control, but it may be worth talking to your pediatrician about. It is something that could affect sleeping habits when nothing else has changed, including a sudden fear of the dark and of falling asleep. I had a friend who had night terrors as a child and from what I understand can be very scary. It also seems to favor boys, for some reason. I’m not sure how to make it better, but like i said, I would suggest talking to your pediatrician. I hope he gets some sleep soon, no sleep makes the whole house cranky and from your descriptions is just making it worse. I hope this may help, I wish you the best.

  7. Amanda M. Post author

    Also, there are these turtle nightlights that show constellations on the ceiling. It might be comforting and give him something to focus on at night.

  8. Tammy Post author

    I agree with the previous post that it sounds like night terrors. Putting a dimmer switch on his light is a great idea. You also might try playing music while he’s trying to fall asleep. It might give him something else to focus on. Good luck!

  9. Amy Post author

    Try this book it has lots of ideas – The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers – it’s very helpful.

  10. Christina @ Northern Cheapskate Post author

    I have one boy who won’t go to sleep without some small toy or book with him. I don’t mind if he’s being quiet and it is something that calms him down.

    A few other ideas:

    Cut the nap time (if he still naps).

    Limit snacks, drinks, screens, and activity right before bed.

    It’s probably just a really frustrating stage, but you could also ask your doctor for ideas, too.

    I also recommend The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers – very helpful book!

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