Bedtime and routine for your toddlers

Cindy - posted on 01/03/2011 ( 16 moms have responded )

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hi moms,

As a working mom i must be quite honest that i am slack in regards to a very strict routine and bedtime.

yes my son does go to bed by 20:30 but i am not very strict on a routine. he plays when we get home, bath or showers, eats and then we try and do a quiet play and then lie on the bed together for a bit while we chat and read a book.

some nights it changes and some nights when we are out we will just get home and just put him down to sleep.

i am pregnant again though and find that at the moment, he will go to sleep fine inhis bed but then come about 1 in the mornign and he will call for me, i will then go in a get him and put him in our bed so as to get some more sleep. i am pretty sure that this is because he can sense change coming.

my son does still have about 2 bottles of milk during the night and we have watered these down. i know he shouldnt be having these bottles but look at it this way, i was told to give him water instead which meant that he would cry for a bottle - i would give him the water which would just wake him up and make him angry which meant that instead of being awake for 1 min and having his bottle i now have a child who is totally out of routine and awake for hours becasue he is distressed.

Please dont judge me. i know that what i am doing is not helping either of us but please understand that i have tried to stop the bottles and it just doesnt help and just causes other issues. the only issue with the middle of the night bottles is that it is costing us in regards to milk.

so here are my questions:

how old is your little one?
boy or girl?
were they breastfed or bottle fed and for how long?
what are their eating habits like?
what time do they go to bed?
what is your bedtime routine or do you even have one?
do they wake in the night and how often?
do they have bottles in the middle of the night or what do they drink if they do wake?

Thanks for all your help.

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Amanda - posted on 01/13/2011

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I have 2 yr old twin girls. They were bottle fed until they were 13 months, then we got rid of the bottles for sippy cups (they only use them during the daytime). They eat 3 meals a day, plus a morning and afternoon snack. They go to bed at 8pm. They really dont wake in the middle of the night, and when they do they go back to sleep on their own (they are still in their cribs). Our bedtime routine is bath when needed, but most nights we start getting them dressed for bed at 7:30pm, they get a sippy cup with milk in it and we read books until close to 8pm. Then they put the books and milk away, we brush their teeth and go to bed. We cover them with blankets and they fall asleep on their own and stay asleep all night. We also play a relaxing cd when we put them down for bed and it plays for about an hour (they have been listening to this same cd since birth when they go to bed). Good luck! Whatever you decide to do you should stick with every night, it makes it easier.

Becky - posted on 01/13/2011

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I have a 17-month-old girl and she was breastfed for 10 months, with a supplemental formula bottle twice a day for the last four months because I was back to work full time and couldn't produce enough for her.

She eats well at all three meals most times, though occasionally isn't in the mood, so kind of picks at her food. That happens rarely, though. She gets several sippy cups a day, some with milk, some with VERY watered down juice, and some with water.

She goes to bed at 8 p.m. except on rare occasions (for example, New Year's Eve).

Our bedtime routine isn't terrible structured; she gets her PJs on 20-30 minutes before bedtime, gets a sippy cup of milk (if she wants it - a lot of times she just takes a few swallows), reads a few books with Mommy and/or Daddy and then goes to bed. Three nights a week (typically) she gets a bath right after dinner, which ends up being around 7, so when she gets out she gets into PJs and then we do the sippy cup/reading/bed thing.

For several months she slept straight through the night (11-12 hours) with no problems, but over the last two months she has started waking up 1-2 times each night because she can't find her pacifier. This is odd because she's used a pacifier since she was about 3 months old and NEVER has it bothered her if she lost it at night. This is pushing me toward weaning her cold turkey, but I haven't done it yet. When she wakes, we go in, give her the pacifier, cover her up with the blanket again, and then leave. It's quick and easy, but it's still frustrating to have interrupted sleep every night.

No bottles/sippy cups at night. We used to give her one when she woke up because she's small and can use the extra calories. But we found that she wasn't necessarily interested in drinking anything, she just wanted to be up, so we stopped giving her anything and simply laying her back down. The night wakings stopped until this new pacifier thing.

Hope this helps!

Cassie - posted on 01/12/2011

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My little boy is 2 years old and stopped taking his bottle at about 10 months. He went straight to a sippy cup with no problems. We never gave him a bottle in bed, so I have no advice for you there. However, my son does use a Nuk and I am having the hardest time working up my nerve to take it away from him, so I can understand your frustrations with the bottle at night. We wake up about 9 and have a light breakfast (usually a bagel) and then have lunch about noon. We eat dinner about 6 or 7 and then he takes his bath. He lays down anywhere between 8 and 9:30. When I go tot lay him down, we cuddle standing next to his bed for just a couple of minutes and then I sit him in his bed. He then wants me to kiss all the parts of his face, which he points out and names (ears, eyes, nose, chin, etc.). Then we say "I love you" and then "Good night". We usually say "good night" back and forth a few times as I walk away from his room. He only wakes in the middle of the night if he has a nightmare and then I just go into his room and cuddle him for a few minutes and lay him back down and tell him "Good night" and "I love you" and he goes back to sleep.

I hope this helps you some! :)

Katie - posted on 01/11/2011

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It sounds like you have somewhat of a routine at bedtime - play/bathe/eat/chill out/sleep. It may not be the exact same every night but if they know what to expect next (dinner comes after bath, for example) then they are a lot more comfortable and less prone to tantrums, generally. The whole 2x bottles at night thing seems a little much. is your son still in diapers? I am assuming that he is because you didn't mention all the extra sheet washing that you have to do :) Try a really cool big-boy sippy cup for only the bedroom and only water at night. If it's cool enough and you make a big fuss about it, he'll abandon the milk bottles real quick. Good luck & God Bless!

Anne - posted on 01/11/2011

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I have a 2 1/2 year old little girl who also wakes up at least 2 times a night (~ 2am then again around 5am) and wants to nurse. She falls back asleep very quickly (within minutes) once she cuddles into bed with us and nurses a little. She doesn't nurse during the day unless she gets an "owie" or doesn't feel well- definately just a comfort thing now. My husband and I have tried to 'break her of this habit" and put her back in her bed and not let her nurse- but it seemed to just make her sleep worse (more frequent wakenings and a lot of anxiety and some daytime behavior issues too) as well as decrease our sleep significantly. I think a lot of toddlers wake in the middle of the night and need comfort from their parents. I decided just to roll with it, I know she'll outgrow it eventually.

Misty - posted on 01/11/2011

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Sounds so much like my little boy. He's 2 and a half now, but it started last year when I was pregnant with 2nd child. Waking up at night, demanding a bottle. And it had to be milk. My mother in law said I must try plain water but he refused it. He would taste the water and scream for milk, and sometimes he would even throw the bottle out the bed in disgust! My need for sleep meant that I gave in, especially once my little girl was born and I was up breast feeding every few hours too. But he seems to have almost outgrown the habit now. We are trying to modify our routine to look something like this:

5:30pm - Dinner, if he will sit down and eat
6:00pm - quiet play, although daddy arrives home from work and excites him a bit (sometimes too much)
6:30 pm - bath time, he usually loves bathing, but starting to protest, or refuse to wash properly.
7:00 pm - story time ( or TV time if I am busy with baby sister or just too tired) I have to admit he falls asleep to kiddies programmes. often.
7:30 pm - bed time (although this extends to 9:30 or 10pm some times, and by then my husband and I have lost our sense of humour)
My son was sleeping through, but wakes up a few nights a week now, mostly for a bottle or his teddy bear. I wish he would drink water, but he just doesn't and I don;t have the energy to enforce it any more. My baby girl is 6months and although she was sleeping through when she was about 3 - 4mths old, but now she wakes up like a new born and just wants to feed (breastfeed) every few hours. So my sleep is really interrupted and I think I really have to find a solution to this. Or maybe this is just how it goes?? But right now I'm feeling like my 'get up and go' has got up and left!
The only solution I know of is following a sleep training program. will try post some pointers asap.

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my kids are 14, 7, 4, and 3. All were breast and breastmilk/bottle fed. My kids eat fine like all other kids. My kids are all in bed by 8 or 9 pm depending on age. I have one that wakes in the night once, she gets 2 drinks of water and goes potty then takes herself back to bed. Mine were never allowed a bottle past 10-11 mos. as they had sippy cups and it causes bottle rot in the mouth. If my kids need a drink in the night they get a drink of water from the side of my bed.
Our routines are simple. Dinner, play for 30-60 minutes, showers/baths, clean rooms, finish schoolwork, read books, brush teeth, potty and bed. in that order every night. The older 2 get to stay up until 9pm reading or doing school stuff that they haven't finished or that they are going to get extra credit for. Though I don't always lay out extra credit work for them. A lot of times they get books from the book box and read more on their history subjects for school.

good luck and god bless

Jodi - posted on 01/10/2011

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No judgment - you are the mom and have to do what you think is best for your little one. I have a 15 month old. He was breastfed for 6 months with some supplementation. He started sleeping through the night without a mid-night feeding at between 4 and 5 months. He generally ate quite well as an infant. Now as a toddler, somedays are better than others. He usually eats well most days. Eating well means that he takes a few bites of the each of the foods offered. He goes to bed usually around 7:30 and 8:00 pm. We don't have a strict bedtime routine, though I try to bath him after dinner, let him play a little, brush his teeth, read a little before putting him to bed. I'm fortunate he sleeps through the night most nights unless he doesn't feel well. If he does wake in the night, depending on the cry, I will either see if he'll soothe himself (he uses a pacifier at night) or I will go comfort him. But he doesn't take a bottle or cup at night. You may want to try to let him cry for a few minutes (try 5 at first), before going to him to see if he'll learn to soothe himself without a bottle. Then increase those times to 10 mins to see if he'll soothe himself. That may help him get used to not having the bottle as soon as he cries, and hopefully he'll then learn to soothe himself back to sleep. Good luck!

Ria - posted on 01/07/2011

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My son is 21 months old, and just started sleeping through the night about 3 months ago!! I had to do the cry it out method, because I was getting NO sleep and had to work :( I still currently breastfeed him but only about twice a day. And am getting A LOT of slack for still breastfeeding him. He doesn't eat a lot, mostly snacks through out the day. I always say he will eat when he is hungary. At about 8, he has a bath, then he says goodnight to daddy ( if he is home and not working) then we put on his pajamas, read a couple books and I put him in his crib. He no longer cries when I put him down, he either falls right asleep or talks to himself for a bit. Everything that I have read or been told says just how important routine is, especially since you have another on the way. I know it can be challenging to stick with the same thing but it will pay off in the end, because they will know what to expect! And of course there will be special days when routine goes out the window,I just try to make sure it doesn't happen often. Hope this helps a little, good luck

Cassandra - posted on 01/06/2011

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I have 2 girls, 5 and 3. Both were breast and bottle fed due to supply issues. I weaned them off the breast at 12 mos an off bottles by 16 mos. My oldest is a very picky eater my youngest will eat almost anything. We start our bedtime process at 730 if it's bath night, 8 if it's not. We read, brush teeth, I tuck them in then my husband tucks them in. My youngest is going thru a phase where she wants to sleep with us every night and often wakes and comes into our room. I like you will often let her stay but make her sleep on the floor, which unfortunately she is fine with. I know this isn't the best approach but when I have to get up early for work I need to get some sleep. I feel your pain, bedtime is a struggle at our house too. The girls play in their room for at least an hour after we tuck them in, sometimes coming back downstairs several times for things they "forgot" to do or get. I think all kids go through stuff like this, my 5 year old was the same way and she grew out of it. All I can say is just do the best you can, try to be flexible as things will change for him in a big way when the new baby comes, the best of luck to you!

Kellie - posted on 01/06/2011

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First of it is so hard to be a working mom and not feel the "mom guilt" so that is why we do things we know we shouldn't or we know isn't helping the situation. We do our best with what we have. I grew up as an army brat so I lived in a strict house with lots of routine and I like routine. My husband and I work as a team and are always on the same page and back each other up which I think is VERY important. My kids are 7 (boy) and 4 (girl) Girls are harder than boys! I bottle fed both of them, we always from day one would get them in jammies, dim the lights and read a bedtime story and then turn on soft music to listen to (they still listen to it!) My son was sleeping through the night at 2 weeks and my doc said DO NOT WAKE HIM TO FEED HIM or he will start to want night feedings. My daughter was sleeping through the night at about 4 weeks, she took a binki and was waking up for it at 4 months so I simply took it away, it was a hard week at night but she finally found something else to soothe her back to sleep.I wouldn't pick her up to hold her, talk to her, rock her or turn on the lights, just re-wrap her in her blanket and turn on the music again. I never would give them a bottle at night to help them go to bed, we would stop all liquids an hour before bed time. I guess I just got lucky. I do know that sticking to a routine makes things so much easier, and if you make bed time too fun then it is harder on the child to sleep. Breaking him of the bottle habit at night will be rough, I do not envy you. You have to be strong and consistent. We also would never allow our kids to sleep in our room, if they woke up and came in we would simply walk them back to there room put them back in bed and turn on the music. No talking, no lights no nothing it really does work if yo ignore the behavior you don't want them to have. It is very hard and you have to be strong and your partner has to be on board with yo or it will not work. Good luck to you. I don't know if any of this helped at all, and I do not judge you, I am sure people reading what I don will say some of it is mean, at least that is what my SIL would tell me. But my kids go to bed easy and hers don't. LOL

Carissa - posted on 01/06/2011

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send me an email c_mccord@shaw.ca and i can send you an online book my girlfriend sent me... it helped a ton!!!!!!

Tshego - posted on 01/06/2011

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My son Kgato is 18months old, i breastfed him for 8months, would have loved it to be longer but work came in the way. He used to eat very well, but now he is a handful when you're feeding him,he has three full meals a day and in between he snacks with biscuits, yogurt, juice, fruits, chees,milk,etc.He sleeps anytime, but mostly naps late mornings,afternoons and at night sometimes he would go on until very late(11,12 pm0 Depending on how long the adults stay awake. He goes to bed with 2 bottles, one for milk and one for water, he feeds while sleeping for the whole night.

Nicole - posted on 01/04/2011

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My daughter is 19months. She was never breast fed directly, I pumped for all of 4 weeks after she was born but she was mainly on formula since day one. I can't complain about her, she's made everything easy for us. We just recently took the bottle away. We weaned her down to just the bottle in the morning but early November we stopped all together. She does have specific milk or water sippys and if the wrong liquid is in the wrong cup she wont drink it. She goes to bed between 8 & 9pm everynight and come 9pm, she is in bed, no ifs ands or buts! At 8pm we do the final diaper change for the night and get pj's on, bathtime usually around 7:30 if it's bath night(every other night). She has slept through the night since she was 6 weeks old with the occasional sickness issue which was dealt with in retrospect. If for whatever reason she did wake for no reason, all I would do is go in, hold her for 5-10minutes or however long she needed that night and put her back. Only when she was little little did I offer her a bottle with formula in the middle of the night, but that was something I didn't want to get into habit of when she was older. I'm thinking you just need to have the "no ifs, ands or buts" routine...it's 20:30 time for bed-do everything else before hand. If you don't get around to a book, promise 2 the next night. All I can say is good luck getting on routine before your next one comes. Try weaning off the bottle, it may help. My daughter is offered a full cup of milk before we know we are going to put her down and that seems to hold her over.

Amy - posted on 01/04/2011

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My son is 2 1/2 and I know how you feel. By 13 or 14 months we FINALLY got him to sleep through the night. It's not easy, and most nights he'll still wake up and play.

He was both breast and bottle feed, I pumped and due to supply issues couldn't make it past 6 months. After 13 months we switched to watter and for him that worked (he just used it to fall asleep). Our son actually stopped eating when we had the baby, but he in general is a VERY good eater, he'll eat anything.

We recently had a baby and switched a few things around and found something that worked well.

If my son wakes up we do not give him anything to drink. We'll check his diaper, calm him down then put him back into his bed. He only gets out of his room if he's sick. And I know what you mean about waking more, when I was towards the end he would wake up around 2 or 3 and crawl into bed and snuggle with me (He NEVER does that).

We moved both kids into the same bedroom by about 7 or 8 weeks. Our little girl is Breastfeed (But she drinks my milk out of bottled due to latching problems). If she wakes up she'll only wake once around 3ish.

What we do is by about 8 we'll swaddle, offer milk, then put our little girl into the crib (She's VERY good at falling asleep on her own). Then once she's in bed we try to spend a little more time with just our son, by 8:30 or 9 we'll change him and put him in bed (Most nights we have to put him back into bed a few times). We can't give him any bottles or anything at night because he'll open and pour out the liquid!

He is a light sleeper, although he'll fall back asleep pretty easy on those nights our girl wakes up around 3. Both kids wake up around 8am (So yeah, my little girl has been going about 12 hours with out milk since about 7 or 8 weeks!).

Also, we do keep a pack n play in our living room, we feed our girl in there, then put her into the pack n play so it won't keep or wake our son up.

Every kid is different, it sounds like you'll have your hands full! I do recommended having them in different rooms until you can figure out a good schedule. Especially with how your oldest sleeps.

Amy - posted on 01/04/2011

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My son is 4 and we have a 9 month old girl. Before my daughter my son slept in bed with us because of the fights we'd have trying to get him to sleep even at 10 at night. Once my daughter arrived it was all too much for me and decided that my "me" time was going to be after the kids were asleep. I slowly started pulling my sons bedtime back 15 minutes every 3 or 4 nights, and moved him to his new room which he helped decorate. For awhile he would wake in the middle of the night and ask us to lay with him, but I quickly found that didn't work either because by the time he settled back down and I got back in my own bed my daughter who is breastfed would wake. So eventually we started just bringing him into our bed when he woke so we could get some sleep. Now when he wakes in the middle of the night he just climbs into our bed and doesn't even bother waking us. He doesn't drink milk on a very rare occassion he'll ask for some juice in the middle of the night and I'll give it to him.
Our bedtime routine is if it's bath night the kids get a bath, snack, two stories, brush his teeth, and I lay with him till he falls asleep. I feed my daughter while laying with him and when she's done she goes into her room, when she's tired she does not want to be held. It was easy for me to get a more set routine while on maternity leave, I work retail so my schedule is all over the place so it can be difficult sometimes.
I would try to get a routine set before the baby arrives. You didn't say how old your son is but you probably want to break his bottle habit before the baby arrives because if you do it when the new addition gets there he's liable to make everyone miserable. Sleep becomes very precious once there is a newborn in the house and trust me when you're struggling to get two down at the same time it can be frustrating. Good luck to you and congratulations!

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