I’ve written about how bedtime routine was shot to hell once we got bunk beds for the girls, but at that point, Harlow was at least staying in her bed, even if she wasn’t sleeping.
About two weeks ago, Harlow realized there was absolutely nothing stopping her from getting out of bed and it’s been nearly impossible to get her to stay there ever since. I’ve read that if your toddler gets out of bed, you just carry her back and quickly leave the room, doing that as many times as needed before she stays put.
I don’t think the person who came up with that plan ever dealt with Harlow. Actually, I know that for a fact, because I’ve never noticed some random parenting expert hanging out in my two bedroom apartment.
Harlow will get out of bed 100 times in a row. The second I put her down, she gets up again, practically following me back out the door. She pops up in the kitchen. She pokes her head in the bathroom. She’s suddenly standing next to our bed. She sidles up to the couch and asks what we are watching in the living room. SHE IS RELENTLESS. Like a horror movie come to life. “IT’S COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!!”
The only way Harlow stops getting out of bed is if I lie down beside her.
“DON’T DO IT!!!!” you are thinking. “THAT’S THE BEGINNING OF THE END!!!!”
I know, I know, but I really don’t know what else to do. I don’t want to lock the girls in a dark room with bunk beds. And there isn’t room to resurrect the crib. Threats of any kind (turning out the hall light, not letting her watch TV in the morning, etc.) don’t seem to get through to her at night.
For the record, I put the girls to bed at 7:30pm, the same time I’ve always put them to bed, even when everything was working just fine, so I don’t think I am missing any sort of window. Mazzy falls asleep by about 8:30pm, but Harlow stays up way leter.
Last night, Harlow didn’t fall asleep until 11pm, when I finally gave in and laid down next to her. After transferring her back to her bed about 50 times.
Now you want to tell me a story about a mom friend you know who started sleeping in her toddler’s bed and was never able to stop. “How old is the kid now?” I’ll ask. “HE’S NINE!” you’ll say, like my co-dependent future has already been determined. Harlow won’t be able to leave for college, unless she packs me in her suitcase. (Which actually doesn’t sound so bad.)
Once in bed with Harlow, I have tried all different things to get her to go to sleep. I have tried ignoring her, I have tried giving her my full attention, I have tried cuddling with her, I have tried sleeping opposite to her with my feet at her head, I’ve tried telling her stories, I’ve tried singing lullabies, I’ve tried making up relaxation techniques and speaking to her like I am leading a meditation class— none of it matters. I usually stay there a good hour before she goes down.
“You are not consistent!” you say. “You are giving her a reason to want you in the room!”
I know, I know, but I don’t know how to be consistent unless I have a foolproof strategy in place. WHO HAS A STRATEGY FOR ME???
When I lie down with my feet to her head and ignore her, Harlow just flips her body, crawls up to me, props herself up so her face hovers over mine and STARES AT ME. It is perhaps the most intense eye contact I have ever experienced. It would be kind of creepy if she wasn’t so freaking adorable. Sometimes, when we are lying facing each other, she will cup her little hand under my chin, like a tiny gesture of intimacy. HOW CAN I IGNORE THAT????? It’s the cutest ever.
Last night, I went to an event straight from work and it was Mike’s job to put the girls to sleep. I came home at 8:30pm. Mike accosted me the second I opened the front door, yell whispering with urgency.
“BE QUIET. HARLOW IS NOT SLEEPING BUT SHE IS STAYING IN BED. I DON’T WANT HER TO KNOW YOU ARE HERE.”
“OKAY,” I yell whispered back.
We went into the living room since I didn’t dare pass the girls’ room on the way into our bedroom.
“MOMMMMMMMYYYYY!!!!!!” Harlow screamed.
“She’s not here, Harlow.” That was Mazzy. She’ll often try to quiet her loittle sister so she can get some sleep.
“MOMMMMMMYYYYYYY!!!!!!” Harlow was persistent.
“You need to go to sleep, Harlow. If you stay up all night, you’ll be cranky in the morning.”
Oh, to hear your lessons echoed back from your eldest trying to teach your youngest. It’s the best feeling in the world. Unfortunately, Harlow is not a very good student.
Mike and I heard rustling and then little feet jumping out of bed and coming closer.
“DUCK!” Mike yell whispered.
I quickly tried to blend into the carpet on the floor, lying flat behind the chaise part of our couch.
“When is Mommy coming home?” Harlow asked.
“Late, Harlow. You’ll see her in the morning,” Mike answered.
I heard little feet padding back to her room and getting back into bed. I popped my head back up and gave Mike a sad puppy dog face.
“DON’T YOU DARE GO IN THERE,” Mike yell whispered.
I did not. And Harlow didn’t come back out or yell my name anymore and after a little time had passed, it seemed clear she had drifted off to sleep all on her own.
I think the lesson here is a need to put Harlow to bed and then leave the apartment for a few hours.
Anyone around for post-bedtime drinks?
I know some people will say this is cruel but my sister was having a similar problem with her toddler. Finally someone suggested that every time my niece didn’t listen she had to get a cold shower with her clothes on. LIke immediately. Lots of tears and “you got my Elsa nightgown wet” later my niece is cured.
She even tells her mom now, “I will listen to you because I don’t want to get a cold shower.” 🙂
My son…4 at the time…began crawling into bed with me at night shortly after his father left us. The therapist/marriage counselor said, “Don’t let him do that! Take him back to bed as many times as it takes! Or he might turn out gay!” (Obviously this was quite some time ago.)
I looked at my little boy carefully. Yes, I saw some of that Freudian possessiveness, but I also saw a frightened child who was afraid his mother might disappear too. I said, screw it, I’d rather have a gay child than a terrified one, and let it go. Part of my decision was a selfish reason: I have a chronic illness and missing that much sleep was impossible. He gave it up after a week or so.
He turned out fine. Has a little girl of his own now.
That’s terrible!!!!! That poor little girl 🙁
…and that is a reply to Rene, not Emily!
I agree. That is no less of a physical punishment than paddling/spanking with a belt or other object. A sudden, intense temperature change such as a cold shower is extremely stressful on the body and can cause all sorts of things like muscle cramping, dizziness, etc. That’s even before the mental stress! Punishment like suggested above causes the same sorts of anxiety, fear, loss of self-esteem, and so on that are so common among abused children. It seems to me that your sister has just found a way to inflict corporal punishment without the risk of bruising, cuts, scrapes, or other visible traumas. I would be completely surprised, however, if your niece isn’t traumatized in ways you just can’t see.
That’s messed up…….
That’s what I do! I leave the house right before bedtime. My daughter (24 mo) walks me out and gives me a kiss and it’s a whole big production. Bedtime is her time with her daddy, and she went through a crazy phase when if I was home, she wouldn’t let daddy anywhere near her – but if I was gone she was happy as a clam. She’s better now (after about 6 months) and I can occasionally stay through bedtime. But it’s nice to give them that time together.
What a wonderful way to make this a happy memory
I think you need to call that sleep expert you worked with before! Poor Harlow, she must be so tired during the day.
I put my son back in his bed 96 times one night(Super Nanny does not know our kids). I went from sitting in a chair beside the bed, to sitting on the floor, to sitting by the door. It was almost a year of long bed times but I can now tuck him in and leave. We also had to do a lot of daytime talking about what the expectations were at bedtime. Earning Spongebob was part of the deal too. I just couldn’t face the fights every night and I found the quiet time on the floor kind of peaceful.
That is exactly what I do. My younger son had trouble falling asleep when he was about six months old, and we stayed by his crib, then moved to the door, etc. for about two weeks until he slept on his own. Now we’re doing the same thing moving him into his toddler bed. It’s taking longer, but I can sit right outside his door with it cracked open so he can see me, and we’re down to putting him back in bed four or five times instead of 20. Progress. I’ll take what I can get.
How about a tall baby gate so she can’t leave the bedroom? Leaving the house after bedtime seems like a good idea too — walk around the block, run an errand, drink with friends!
I second the baby gate across the door. We first did it for safety reasons, with a partial blind cat we couldn’t baby gate the stairs all night (he could see to jump over it). It worked great! Also in the morning, she would call to us from the gate so we didn’t have to worry about her wandering around before a parent was awake.
A gate works if the child is not yet potty trained, but if they are, it can cause them to backslide due to not being able to get to the bathroom.
We went through the same thing with my oldest. If my hubby put her to bed, she was totally fine, but we went through a period where I was just tired of fighting it and I laid down with her until she fell asleep. She is 4 now and goes to bed just fine now. I just slowly tapered off the amount of time I laid with her until she was doing it all on her own. There is no wrong or right way to do anything, just what you are willing to do. I chose to lay with her instead of listening to her scream and yell for hours. LOL.
My son was the same way. He’d hop out of bed before I could even leave the room. Finally, I would put him in bed, shut his door, wait 5 minutes while watching him on the baby monitor, and repeat. Took 2 hours the first night, but he eventually fell asleep. After about 2 weeks, he knows he has to stay in his bed now. He doesn’t have to sleep, but he has to be in his bed. A basket of books beside his bed (to read in the dark apparently) also helps.
Good luck! I hope someone else has a miracle cure!
Our daughter and Harlow are a month apart. This is our life, every night. She’ll only fall asleep with me lately. Glad we’re not alone.
It’s like you are living in my house. I don’t have any suggestions…just commiserations! Keep us posted if you find a solution…
Sounds to me like you’re missing Harlow’s sleep window. I’m not a parent myself or a sleep expert, but I’m second of four siblings and all of us have had our fair share of sleep issues.
When my youngest brother kept getting up after being put to bed, there was a lot of trial and error. Eventually someone suggested moving his bedtime earlier or later. The idea is that everyone has a natural sleep window, which changes with age. Teenagers for example have a demonic sleep window which insists they stay up as late as possible and then sleep in as late as possible.
If you can match up bedtime to the sleep window, it should help cut down on the restlessness. If Harlow isn’t mardy or sulking in the morning, then she’s probably getting enough sleep over all, so I would suggest moving bedtime later by half an hour. Then stick to the routine!
We dealt with this with our 7 yo, and to be honest, I still stay in her room until she falls asleep, but now it’s just a short time, say 15 minutes.
For a whole year I did what everyone said, I walked her back to her room and put her down. That didn’t work. Then I started by sitting on the floor for a week, the chair for a week, and outside the door for a week. Without fail, within an hour she would wake up to come get me. I was spending my whole night just trying to get her to sleep. My whole nighttime routine was spent trying to get her to sleep. It wasn’t working for either of us, and that’s when I decided we’d just do what worked. Made both of us way happier in the long run. I just scroll through my phone once her eyes are closed so I don’t wake up in there at 2 am.
Our 3 year old just started doing the same. We tried many things, but what finally worked(ish) for us is that we put a child proof thingy on the inside of his door, and sat outside it. Everytime he called out to us or got out of bed we came inside and said, “Sleepy time sleep now, Xander.” We make zero eye contact and don’t engage at all. The first night took 2 hours, second night 1 and a half, last night was one hour, and tonight is night 4. I have big hopes for tonight. Once he is asleep we open his door a crack so he isn’t trapped. This is how we solved the not wanting to lock the kid in a dark room all night.
He’s gone from screaming bloody murder and trashing his room to allowing us to quietly lead him back to his bed a few times then falling asleep.
Maybe consider a baby gate? That way, you can keep the door open a bit, but still lock her in. Just be really secretive about how you open it – those dang two year olds are smart little boogers!
Mine is Harlow’s age and though she mostly stays in her room, she gets in and out of bed multiple times to get books or little toys. It’s only when I take it all away, threaten to take her baby doll and blanket, and make her melt down crying, that she’ll finally go to sleep. Threats and bribes… the only way to parent a two year old!
As a little kid, my dad laid with me most nights and would tell me stories because I had such a hard time falling asleep… eventually I started sleeping on my parent’s floor… then my sister’s floor. I probably didn’t sleep alone until I was in Jr. High!
So, the stories can be true, unfortunately. I’m not sure any of them really cared, but it probably got old! My sister used it as a bargaining chip though – “You can’t sleep in my room tonight, unless you make my lunch.” Now that’s love.
I think a previous poster suggested this, but how about a baby gate on the door that she can’t open? I know a few people that have tried this and it worked. That way if she gets out she will not be able to leave the room and the novelty of getting out of bed may wear off. This happened to us with our first daughter. She would sneak out of bed and lurk around the corner. Eventually she grew out of it, but we definitely had to re-sleep train. The thing that worked was letting her have a little light on next to her bed and she could look at books, as long as she didn’t get out of bed. Good luck!
We used a child proof cover for the inside door knob. If you are worried about the kids being in a dark room, just turn on a night light for them. They’ll be fine. There will probably be some crying and yelling at first, but eventually exhaustion sets in and she may just fall asleep on the floor. BE STRONG!
I am going through this same thing! Except the 3yo is screaming while my innocent, exhausted, 10-mo-old is desperately trying to sleep.
I’m sure you’ve tried it all though. And here is the best one I’ve got — THIS TOO SHALL PASS!
Anyone who has lived through it probably is only at the other side because their kid grew up. Not because they did some magic parent trick.
My daughter is the same age as Harlow and you’ve just solidified in my head why she will be in the crib until she’s 5. BEDTIME IS THE WORST!
I totally empathize that it is tough when bedtime isn’t going well. But sometimes, I think that you have to ask yourself who are you trying to help. And any answer is the right answer… I want my daughter to go to sleep and I don’t care how it happens because I am trying to help her sleep. So I lay down with her while some soft music plays and I let her choose how she wants to sleep (covers, animals, sleep mask, etc.). Sometimes she whines when I leave, sometimes she is fine with it, most times she will fall asleep right away because she knows the routine and doesn’t fight it.
On the other hand, if you are trying to help yourself to have a certain kind of evening – tv in the living room, no interruptions – then the gate or door suggestions might be the way to go. I am no expert and I only have one child, but my point is don’t train her to be a certain way because of how you want it to be perceived by someone else (i.e. your readers). Everyone chooses how they want to do it and there isn’t a wrong way. Keep at it and good luck!
Maybe put a wooden screen door on the door opening? No, then she stands at the screen like a neighbor kid when you’re eating dinner…
I dont have a clue. Good luck
Eh, I don’t think you’re going to ruin anything by cuddling with her. To be honest, it’s quality alone time with the one who practically NEVER got alone time with you, because she’s always had a sister with whom she had to share you.
I indulge my youngest’s requests occasionally. And then sometimes I say “not tonight, babe…but I will come and check on you in 20 minutes” and he’s okay with that.
Everyone has advise but you have to do what is best for you and your family. I wish you well as you navigate this challenge. I’m sure everyone will all be okay.
Here’s a couple ideas. I have put a gate up so the child has to stay in their room at least. I remove it before I go to bed. This was for 2 girls, toddler and 4.
Another idea is to tell Harlow since she’s such a big girl she may read in her bed (staying up later kids love this!) only if she stays in her bed. If she gets out of her bed…. You decide. There are timers that are for young children you could get to let her know when she has to turn out the light. You can add some soothing music that she can turn on when her reading time is over.
My son is 3.5 and he has always had sleep issues. He doesn’t go to school and I’m a stay at home mom so right now his sleep schedule is one that appalls most people lol. He goes to bed at 10:30 when I do and sleeps 11-12 hours. He has a loft bed and I have to stand next to it until he falls asleep, and he normally comes into my room in the middle of the night. So it’s far from perfect, but I figure if I keep putting him back in his rom eventually he will get it…hopefully. That said, I think you really just need to do whatever works. You know your kid best and you know what she needs.
Every kid really is different. I know someone who has the horror co-sleeping story with her kids. They slept in her bed until they were 12 and 10. Both of them in her bed every night. The only reason they stopped was because she put twin beds in her office. They got to sleep in there with the door open so they could see into her room which was across the hall. Even then she had to be in the room with them until they fell asleep and they still went in her room sometimes.
But I also know someone who co-slept with her son and would have kept doing it but around 4 years old he decided to sleep on his own. Just one night went to his own bed instead of hers and then stayed there all night. So you really never know how they are going to turn out. Just do what works for you and hopefully it will all work out the way you want in the end. 🙂
I don’t think I am ever taking my child out of a crib! Nope, this all sounds awful.
Until they learn how to climb out of the crib. Then all bets are off! I remember wanting to put a top on mine.
I got my 3 yr old one of those light up pillow pets and she loves it. It provides a little bit of light for her to see and it turns off automatically after 20 minutes. Also, we figured out that the “openess” of the bed did not give her the secure feeling the crib did so we got her a guard rail and it worked really well. She needed to feel secure to fall asleep. I’ve also heard there’s a clock that changes colors and the kid can only get up when the clock is a certain color but I feel like a kid would figure out a colorful clock has no real control over them….unless you come up with a wildly elaborate story about the clock’s “magical powers.” Either way, good luck. I’m sure every kid is different.
My boys are grown now, 19 & 21 but We lived in an Apt at that age as well and when my oldest first got his “big boy bed” He thought that that gave him free reign of the house..NOT! I put up a secure,sturdy child gate in the door way, reversed the locks on their bedroom door and started with the gate. He tried to climb over it once (and once only after his near fall and punishment) and when he was in a particular mood, I closed the bedroom door and locked it from the outside, (I had a baby monitor to hear everything and had installed a peep hole in the door) very cheap to do. I only had to do this a few times before he figured out that I was in charge and that he’d rather stay in bed and have the door open and no punishment the next day than fighting with me. I NEVER slept in either boys beds although occasionally a bad enough nightmare would earn them the reward of sleeping in our bed, but not enough for them to think it was o.k to try and pull all the time. The gate also kept them safe,in their own room and unable to wander around the house when everyone else was asleep and get into harms way. Good Luck, looking back, I was quite lucky because now I see how bad my granddaughter is at her moms house versus how well she does here..it’s all with consistancy I believe!
Baby gate on the door, ignoring all pleas… Might be tricky if they have toys in their room (we have just a few dolls and books and that’s it!). Also, we have a box of “morning toys” for when she wakes up and if she’s being really defiant about getting out of bed (say pushing on the gate until it falls over) I take one of the morning toys out of the box. Consistency is key!
Oh man. Harlow is a smart cookie. It took my eldest ages to figure out he could get out his big boy bed. Ages. We had one night after he did when he ran around like a nutter all evening but he seemed to get it out his system in that one night. No magic parenting just luck of the draw. Because it usually is.
Our next big kid bed transition took longer because girlie was not a happy sleeper. Ever. In that was still waking in the night when we moved her kinda way… I am a SAHM and my evenings are kinda precious – I need that hour or two with no one wanting anything of me – so I used to lie with her to settle her. I could guarantee that way it would be maximum 30 mins and then she was out and bedtime was done. Our rule was you want mommy to stay you lie still and silent and start to sleep. She agreed the rules to get the cuddles. To start I stayed till she was fast asleep but later left when she was drowsy and she was ok with that. It wasn’t a long process in the end. Now, 2 years on we have the same prayers, kisses, lullaby routine from back then plus a crazy rhyme she made up and I’m outta there no lying down, no fuss, plus she is my best sleeper.
The baby has another year to go in the crib and I’m sure will be different again.
All of which to say I think you go with what works for you at that moment and pick which battles you want to fight. I sleep trained all three of mine at around a year so not against that process but equally snuggling to ease a transition did not set me up for a life of co-sleeping. I think a small indulgence for a peaceful evening is totally worth the pay off – especially as its not like you let the girls rule in every situation – but that just works for our house…
Getting Dad to do the dirty work is a hit here for #3 – I put him to bed but he only gets Daddy if he wakes before 5am because he calms far quicker if I don’t appear. Total win for me! So glad the hubs is hands on!
You just have it worse because your kids are both smart and cute. Harlow’s face cupping would break me for sure.
Have you tried bribery? I am going through similar with my 4 year old, and we created a sticker chart. Every morning after she goes to bed well, she gets a sticker. When she gets 10, we’re going swimming. I did something similar with my older daughter, and the reward was ice cream.
The first thing my 4 yo asks every morning is “Do I get a sticker?” It hasn’t made anything perfect, but things have overall improved.
Our oldest is almost 4 and he still co-sleeps with us. I think we ‘re scared of what will happen if he has to sleep in his own bed. He is not a easy child. My other almost 2 needs to nurse to fall asleep. So I’m pretty much screwed when we have to change things here…ahhhhh
I’ve worked with kids a LOT.
My advice would be that if the picking her up and putting her back isn’t working, use a two step process.
Step 1) explain to her this: “Mommy will lay with you for 15 minutes. (then set a timer so she can see it count down, or explain mommy will lay with you until the clock shows a 4 and a 5)”. Tell her that once the timer goes off, you need to leave the room so that Harlow can go to sleep, because Harlow needs to sleep in her own bed like a big girl and mommy needs to go to sleep in her own bed.
Step 2) Use a reward chart! She is definitely older than that. It doesn’t have to be a chart, it could be a jar she puts a marble or pennies in. Explain to her that for every night she stays in her own bed, she gets a sticker on the chart or a marble/penny in the jar. Make it SUPER exciting. Let her pick out the stickers or the object to go in the jar. Have her pick out the jar or the color of the chart. Let the end reward be something she is REALLY excited about. Talk about it a lot and make a big deal out of it. “Harlow is going to stay in her OWN bed so she can get another sticker in the morning!!” “Where are we going when the chart is full, Harlow?!” Get her SUPER excited. Have Mazzy help encourage her. If Mazzy is jealous, she can easily have her own chart or jar as well and get a small prize when she fills it up. That may even help encourage Harlow!
Then, if Harlow gets up after the 15 minutes, say, “Oh no, Harlow, now you cant get a sticker in the morning.” Be firm. It may take 100 times of putting her back until 1 in the morning a couple nights before she learns! If you give in even ONCE she will be persistent.
Also, you can give her options at the beginning of the night. When you set the timer, tell her. “Harlow, when the timer is done, mommy has to leave the room. I expect you to stay in bed like a big girl. You may not get up, but you may call mommy in ONE time for ONE thing. But after that, mommy cannot come back in until the clock says 7 (You can put a digital alarm clock in her room and put paper over the minutes so only the hour shows. If the one time thing doesn’t work after a week of consistency, nix it. Some things just don’t work.
You can put a basket of books and a very dim night light next to her bed. Let her know that it is okay if she looks at books in bed, but she has to stay in bed. I’ve done that with kids before and they usually fall asleep on their own after reading a couple books.
I hope that helps!! There are LOTS of moms going through the same thing 🙂
Was going through this last summer when my kiddo was 2 1/2. She would not sleep without my husband or I in the room and our backs couldn’t stand it anymore. We ended up putting lock on the inside of the door – and I’d find her sleeping on the floor next to the door for a couple of months. Was the saddest thing ever but she SLEPT. She just turned 3 and now sleeps in her big girl bed, alone, door closed to avoid our cats getting in and waking her up. And no more lock!
I know the lock wouldn’t work for you with Mazzy in the room but when I was younger I had the same issue. It was around Chanukah and my parent’s had me open all my presents in my bed and I got to keep all the stuffed animals with me that night. When I got out of my bed my mother threatened to take them all away so I got back into bed. Never got out at night (when I didn’t need to) again. It’s one of my earliest memories so it was impactful. I was around 4, but Harlow’s a smart cookie and it might be worth a try with her.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! I’m just picturing you diving behind a couch and trying to blend into the carpet. Sounds like you and Baby Sideburns are in the same boat. And I will be keeping my nugget in his crib until he’s 7.
We place a safety gate on my 2 yrs’ door, so even if she can opens her bedroom door, she can’t come out of her room. I also gives her a clock and shows her she can only opens the door when it show 7:30 AM (if yours does not read numbers or letters, you can write it down and show him/her). She is 3 now, and she never opens her door. If kids share room, you can open/remove gate once both fall asleep (just in case they needs to get up and go potty at middle of the night).
Have you tried playing soft, soothing music when she goes to bed? (Don’t know if this would disrupt Mazzy at all since they share a room). A night light? My daughter has an Elsa and Anna nightlight that is projected onto her ceiling – we make a point to tell her that they are looking out for her while she sleeps. I think that helped a bit when we transitioned from sitting next to her bed until she fell asleep to NOT doing that.
I feel your pain. For a very long time my daughter would not let anyone other than me put her to bed. I don’t know if that’s because I nursed her for over a year so I was the only one putting her to bed or what the reason was (I’m assuming that had something to do with it). It took a long time to get her to a point where she would let my husband could put her to bed without sobbing uncontrollably OR I could put her to bed without having to sit with her while she fell asleep.
I hope things get better soon! I imagine both you AND Harlow are tired in the mornings!
My daughter Harper is a week older than Harlow and she does the same thing. We put a child lock on the inside of her door if she doesn’t stay in her crib (which she climbs out of easily) or her big girl bed. She either goes right to bed, cries for a little bit and then goes to bed. After she falls asleep I take the lock off.
Now can someone tell me how to keep her from waking up at 5:15am?! She goes to be between 7:15 and 7:30pm and takes a 1.5 to 2 hr nap during the day. We’ve tried earlier bed times, later bed times, nothing is working. 🙁
Baby gate. My son is three and he is NOT ready to be out of his crib yet. He would do exactly what Harlow is doing, and I don’t have the patience at night for that.
Thank you so much for posting this today. My daughter is just a few months younger than Harlow, still sleeping in a crib and we had a horrific night last night. Screaming to sleep in our bed, then was wide awake and then asked to go PLAY. Was up from 3 AM and never went back to bed…glad to hear were not alone.
If you do decide to lock them in at some point, video monitors are super great, we can talk through ours so I watch them and can say “lie down – back to bed!” if they decide to get up. Seems to work for them because it’s not the actual attention they want 🙂 Expensive investment though for a short term thing!
Get the Onaroo “Okay to Wake” clock. That thing is my savior. My son will stay in his bed until that darn clock turns green, no matter what. Even if he doesn’t fall asleep at nap, he’ll still lay in there and rest for the hour I have it set for. He obeys that clock like its his job. We are very consistent with it and it took some tears and some chocolate chips the first two weeks, but now it works like a charm. In fact, we’re going on vacation next week and I’m bringing it in my carry on. That clock is more vital to me than my underwear at this point. Lose my suitcase, but don’t lose my clock!
I mentioned Monkey Locks to keep her in her room but I also love the “when to wake” clocks! I think the two would make a great combination (keep in the room and keep in the bed)!
My 2.5 yo boy is so similar to the things I read about Harlow!! I always think experts and sleep training didn’t meet Luke. Won’t work. I did one long weekend of letting him cry it out at 6 mos old (maybe I started too late) for morning nap afternoon nap and bedtime old and he won!! Never worked so I gave up. I didn’t care though and will take my chances tyem sleeping on their own someday 😉 My routine and life allowed/allows it to not be a problem that I lay with him for bed time. To be honest, since I work all day, I wanted to. Was my time to catch up and be with him, snuggling. He usually falls asleep within a short amount of time (although it’s harder now that we took away his paci, doesn’t have that comfort) but my oh my some nights he won’t settle down and talks and talks and talks. If he is too hyper I will yell at him that enough is enough and it’s time to go to sleep and then bear hug him while he screams his head off – I swear it lets out some energy and tires him out. For the most part I ignore him, try to stay calm, and smile to whatever he says and say ok let’s go to sleep.
I also have moved back his bedtime. I still make him have quiet time by 8pm and sit and watch an episode on the iPad. Usually calms him down and/or he will fall asleep.
Good Luck on whatever you decide!!
It seems you have figured out the solution. Basically remove yourself from the bedtime routine for a bit and let Mike do the dirty work. You will probably need to leave the apartment, like you said. It seems like that could work and I bet in a few days would resolve itself.
But, I am no shining example. I stay with both my kids until the are asleep. My younger is 2, and I sing her to sleep each night. My older is 4, and after the younger is asleep, I lay with her until she falls asleep. BUT, I don’t let either of my kids nap, or they are up until all hours. When my youngest steals a nap (and when she does there is no waking her) I pay for it with an 11pm bedtime.
I personally don’t believe there is a science to apply to all kids. I know you have had success with a sleep coach, but all the books, drs, etc – they are conflicting, and never seem to apply to any real life situation I have heard of. I truly believe in doing what is best for the family, life stage, etc. New beds, new babies, new houses, new schools – they all take their toll and change things up. I believe it’s best to go with the flow and be willing to make changes and compromises that work rather than believe I am doing something wrong that will ruin my children or my own life. All the dire nonsense just makes me feel like a bad mom, and I refuse to let it get me down. Besides, if a child needs comfort at 9 years old, it’s really not the end of the world. I know I did as a kid, and my mom didn’t turn me away. I am a fully functional adult today 🙂
I used to be a by-the-book bedtime kind of mom, but kid #2 screwed that up, and I have decided that I am going to be more laid back for now. I guess my point is that you are doing a great job – this phase will pass sooner or later – and you probably won’t be invited to Harlow’s college dorm 🙂
Why not just buckle Harlow into bed like in the movie Mommy Dearest? I kid!
When my kids wouldn’t stay in bed I locked the door with a baby safety doorknob cover on the inside. I would often have to scootch her sleeping little self out of the way with the door and put her into bed.
Can mazzy stay up until 8 while Harlow gets 30 minutes to be locked in? If she’s bored enough she will fall asleep. Mazzy talking to her probably isn’t helping.
You could also try using “the voice”. If you don’t regularly use it, it might just work if you keep it reserved for bedtime shenanigans only.
Mike did an amazing job!! and Mazzy is such a good big sister… My husband and I always laugh when we see our first born teach something to our lil’ 1 year old (second born), we are always so amused and entertained.. and yes it is an amazing feeling!
Monkey locks! They are the best thing ever invented. Kids can’t slam doors with them on, they leave a gap for light to get through, you can place them at any height (so if you want to leave it on but let Mazzy reach it but not Harlow) but you can also take them off and on (put it on when the girls go to bed but take it off before you do). They really are a life saver. Just look up Monkey Lock on Amazon.
Didn’t anyone read that post on the NYT Motherlode blog a few months back? The one that questioned why we present sleep as a chore or a thing to dread. Something like “sleep has an image problem”. We need to present sleep as the best thing ever. Because every adult will agree that it is! How? After reading that piece, we try to talk with our 3yr old about how sleep helps her to grow, to have energy to play and sing, and to feel better each day. Kids should look forward to going to sleep.
Will be following this one closely. I have a little girl who Harlow’s stories so remind me of. We had this problem. It is much better now that she is 4, but it bedtime is still not the quick easy night night sleep tight and done that it is for our friends & family. Naps have required someone laying down with her since she was 18 months and climbed or of her crib. I remind myself that her perserverence, determination, and confidence in her own judgment will one day serve her well. I just wish that. For now, she wasn’t persevering over…us. 🙂
I have a little girl who just turned 3. After sleeping in her toddler bed for 2 years, she just got a real “big girl bed” (an adult full size that will hopefully last until she goes to college). It was quite the change for her, and every night she would keep me up for hours. She’d come almost into my room asking for things, telling me things, just being cute/annoying in general. I finally had enough of telling her to go back in her room, so I closed MY bedroom door. It stopped her immediately. Now I just have to tell her I’m going to shut my door, and she gets back in bed. I really, really hope this lasts.
Well I said enjoy the moment when your children are looking for you to accompany then. You will sure miss this moments later on when they grow up. Even as soon as early teenage years they will slowly drift away from you and getting more closer to their friends. You know what I mean…so just seek the moment and enjoy cause it will surely pass soon and just hope you provide enough good memories for your children to remember when they grow up 🙂
Why don’t you get a sleep plan from Erin Meckfessel of Pickles and Ice Cream Sleep Consulting again like you did when Harlow was a baby?
Hello ladies (and gentlemen),
Being a mom to be (and hopefully still far from this type of issues) I am not the most experienced person to give an opinion, but still I would like to add one thing.
Why not ask Harlow why she is getting out of bed? Will she say that she is not tired? That she misses mommy? That she doesn’t want to sleep alone? Afraid of something in the bedroom? So many options here…. This could help finding a solution.
Maybe Dr. B could also shed some light (for all of us!)
Your current situation is my future. My 14 month old already has a very determined spirit in everything she dies and despite sleep training has yet to sleep through the night. I say leave the house or start having Mike put her back in bed.
Does* in everything she does. Darn autocorrect.
Well I would tell her a little white lie! As you’re turning out the light, tell them both in a hushed whisper that the fairies come out at night but only once all the kids are in bed. Make it a wonderful mystery that you’re letting them in on. Can’t hurt to try and it’s simple!!
Mine is 4 and still falls asleep in my husband’s lap in the living room. We watch octonauts after bath and then change the channel. He is out in about 5 min after we change it. Sometimes before octonauts even goes off. Occasionally if he is REALLY tired he’ll say he wants to go to bed. My husband will take him to bed and read him a book. He’ll stay in there with him for a few min til he gets settled, then he’s good for the night. I had him going to sleep in his own bed once upon a time. He got sick and my husband felt bad for him so he let him fall asleep in his lap. He’s been in the lap ever since. My husband is going out of town for a couple of weeks here shortly so I’m gonna work on him going to sleep in his own bed while he’s gone. Fingers crossed it won’t be too difficult.
We are going through this same thing right now with our youngest son. I was literally in the doctor’s office this morning for his 2 year old check up asking what she suggested. It doesn’t seem to matter who is trying to put the little guy to bed, he just doesn’t want to fall asleep alone. He even crawls in bed with his brother and sometimes we have found him sleeping in the hallways outside of his brother’s room or ours in the morning. He just wants to be close to someone.
The ped said over and over again to not break our usual routine and not to promise to come in or even to lay down to comfort him. He will grow out of it. It’s sad and hard to do. We let both of our boys come in in the morning and snuggle with us. I guess we’ll probably have to put the axe to that as well as the time as been getting earlier and earlier…..12:01am counts as “morning”….right?
PS-That first comment is total child abuse. Did you not see that episode of Dr. Phil? That woman was charged by the state of Alaska!
You probably didn’t really want a bunch of toddler sleep advice. You’ve got this covered. And if I lived in NYC I would be inviting you out to drinks with this comment. But I don’t, so I have to give advice like everyone else. With my first headstrong daughter I remember being angry over this kind of behavior. Two things finally worked. I made a sparkly laminated “one time out of bed” pass that she could use for any reason. Only one thing though. It worked pretty well. Mostly to help keep me calm as I shuffled her back to bed. The other thing that helped was giving up naps. She stopped napping at age two few months and suddenly bedtime was no longer a struggle.
Now I have another headstrong two-year-old. My fourth child. (Somehow the two in between weren’t problematic.) I lie with her until she goes to sleep. Don’t even pretend like I won’t. I say lie with her if you want, but you might as well skip the shenanigans in between. And possibly try skipping the nap. Best wishes.
Aaaargh! I feel your pain – our first was a great sleeper but our secind… Well, it was definitely more than two years before we had (semi) consistent sleep. I can’t suggest anything but I can tell you what (sort of) works for us. It’s a combination of bribery/consequences. At the beginning of the night we chop up a lolly snake into however many pieces then out it in a clear container in their room – i think we started with 5 pieces. Everytime child gets up, we put child back and then eat a piece of snake. Child gets to watch us eating the treat and knows that that is one less for them in the morning. It took a few days (and some appreciative “mmmmm, yummmm, lolly snake….” Noises) after a while they seem to get the hang of it. This worked for us because my kids are majorly food orientated. We also do not insist that they are in bed, only in their room. The other thing that has been brilliant was the light up pillow pets someone mentioned. But honestly, i think you and mike have it cocere. Think of it as father/child bonding time!
Oh boy. I think it’s very clear that the problem is you!! What if Mike takes over bedtime. Let him do the tucking in and warn her not to get out. See how she responds to him. Have him take her back or talk to her every time she gets out. Sorry to say this, but she’s got you down. She knows exactly how to work you. Let Daddy take over and throw her for a loop. Obviously, she knows not to do that with him.
A little about my experience. My 9yo and 4yo love to go to bed in my bed and I have to lie there with them. Yes, I know, #parentingfail, but they’re not going to do that forever so I’m shamelessly milking it. When we do send them off to bed, my 4yo boy (who has me wrapped tightly around his finger) will run out anytime I go upstairs. The second I call Daddy, he runs back in. No one messes with Daddy. He means business. Mama, not so much, she means cuddles. And I’m ok with that.
My son was the exact same way. I started out sitting at the opening of the bed to literally block him from getting out. Then I was able to move to the rocking chair, where I stayed until he fell asleep. A week or so later I started sitting on a folding chair in the middle of the room and leaving when he fell asleep, slowly working my way to the door. Eventually I sat outside the door where he could hear me but not see me…then I could go in my room with the door open…it’s taken awhile…probably 6 months, but he’s back to staying in bed, asleep with his door closed. I do have a baby gate in his doorway so he can’t leave the room and venture into mine. I also got a Tot Clock and he knows he’s not allowed to get out of bed until it turns yellow. Hopefully this goes quickly for her…and you!
Ditto on the baby gate. We can’t put ours on the bedroom door though.. Or daughter freaks out of she feels confined. We have it set up so she can leave her room and run the hallway (access to the bathroom and baby handles on all the other doors) and she can see into our bedroom and see us sleeping and she just goes back to bed. At first she would fall asleep in the hallway looking in our room but that only lasted a week or two. Normally she gets up around 12-1, has a look around and sees if there’s anyone awake and goes back in her room. Works for us and keeps her away from the stairs as well as giving us some rest.
Our girls are 18months apart. The first four years were hell in the sleep department. We moved houses, not because of the sleep issue, and started alternating nights: dad layed with them for one night, i took the next. We told them we would stay three minutes. Three minutes lasted however long we needed it to. They immediately started to go to sleep without any issues. We did this for about four years. Realistically it took fifteen minutes out of our day. The advNtage is they tell us all their secrets at bedtime. They occassionally visit us in bed, but we don’t mind. It was short lived and we were able to learn some amazing stuff about our girls.
Have you tried using some lavender essential oil to help her relax and go to sleep more quickly? A little on the feet and/or chest can work wonders.
I know this is an old-ish post and nobody will read my comment (probably) but I have to say… that’s not a big problem for mexicans mothers (particularly those who became moms in the 80’s 90’s. I know every parent and child is different but this what usually happens in mexican households,, kid will be like “I dont wanna go to bed” and then the mother will patienly said “you have to because you need to wake up early tomorrow” and if the kid leaves his/her room the mom will drag him/her back in… this will repeat for 2 or 3 times. Then the mom will get mad (or just desperate) and she will say (or yell) “go to sleep now!! Don’t you dare get out of bed one more time,, if I have to come to your room and put ypu in bed one more time you’ll see what happens to you”. Of course most of the times the “you’ll see what happens” means “probably nothing big will happen” because just the thought of “shit… mom is angry now” is usually enough for yhe kid to understand he needs to stop bothering mom asap