Please - tell me what we're doing wrong with her nightime routine!

Beatrice - posted on 12/20/2012 ( 2 moms have responded )




I have a daughter who will be three in March of 2013 and I just had twins about 4.5 months ago. I knew there would be major changes, but I am/was at a loss at how to handle them. My toddler never had a strict schedule or bedtime but would always just go to bed with me and the hubby and then we would move her to her crib. We always tried to "let her lead" when it came to telling us she was hungry or tired, instead of trying to push food or sleep on her. Of course, when the twins were born, this type of parenting became unsustainable.

So, I am trying to get everyone on a schedule. At first, my daughter kind of got into a bedtime routine: bath pajamas brush teeth read book sleep. In fact, I had set a bedtime for her of 8pm (just seemed like a reasonable time) and she wouldn't even make it to 8pm half of the time. We started our routine about 1.5-2 months ago

Now, it seems as if she is rebelling against the bedtime routine. She doesn't want to take a bath anymore and getting her to sleep is so hard. She has stopped taking naps and when she does, she keeps herself up so late that the nap interferes with her bedtime. When reading to her, she tries to do anything to distract us and has gone back to telling us that she's hungry and wants some water. In the past, we did bring her a snack and she is thirsty and will drink quite a bit of water but I know this is not a helpful habit so obviously we are *trying* not to oblige. If I can get her to calm down, I can usually say "I'll be right back" and leave the room and she will fall asleep.

Is it possible that she is bored with the routine? How do I engage her in it more?

It doesn't seem like she cares whether I give her a lot of praise if she does something right - I find her doing so much that she knows she shouldn't be doing and am I supposed to not punish her? I feel like I'm always disapproving of her and giving her negative looks or telling her not to do something.

Any ideas?


Elfrieda - posted on 12/23/2012




To me it sounds like she might be grieving for her old life, even now 4 months later. It must be quite a change for everybody!

Maybe there's a mixture of things going on: the normal testing of new boundaries mixed with the feelings of being bumped from the throne of only child.

My son is 3 months older than her (just turned 3 last week) and we just had a baby, too. I found the same thing, he was much less helpful and way more likely to be "bad". It felt like I was constantly scolding him or letting things go that before baby I would have never allowed. Making an effort to reconnect has worked wonders for him, though. I'm enforcing the boundaries again (I'd been letting things slide because I felt bad for him, but it was confusing and alarming him not to have consistent rules) but making the effort to have fun with him, too. Now he's getting back to his normal self, almost 2 months later, I think mostly because I've finally convinced him that I really am pleased with him. We laugh a lot (it's an effort sometimes, but actually I do find him quite funny and charming so I try to let him know) and it's made a difference in his attitude. I imagine twins are more than twice the amount of work as one baby, and I'm wiped out from dealing with toddler plus baby. You must be exhausted!

For the bedtime routine, it sounds good to me. If she fights the bath, I'd drop it, but that's just me. I'm not much for forcing my son to bathe when he doesn't want to unless he's really whiffy. In my opinion if she's fighting the bath it's not a good idea to have a conflict built in to the bedtime routine. (there's already the tooth brushing, after all!) I don't think she needs to be more interested in it... it's meant to be soothing, not stimulating. My son's routine is potty-teeth-story (sometimes 2)-lights out-2 times of me throwing him onto his bed-find special blanket-pray-singing-close door.

I've heard that if your child is having difficulty with going to bed, the routine should only be about 15 minutes long. Also, never let her sleep past 4 pm. It seems horrible to wake up a sleeping child, but you're only making life harder for everyone if you mess with bedtime. I sometimes leave him to 4:30 (my son has a 7:30 bedtime) but that's risky.

As for the stalling tactics: if you give her a nightsnack before bed, you'll KNOW she's not hungry and it will be easier to say no. And as for water, you could leave her a sippy cup if she doesn't spill it all over the place. We always have a bottle of water for my son on his bedside table (and balanced on the foot of his crib before he moved to a bed) and he often has drunk the whole thing come morning. It kind of sounds like she's desperate for attention, even negative, with the whole interupting-during-story thing. Do you involve her in the story, like, "The sheep sees a butterfly. Do you see the butterfly? Point to it, where is it?" If it were me, I'd probably give a warning, "It's time for the story. Are you all done listening to the story? You are acting like you don't want to read it. I can be all done." and then if she does it again I'd tell her why and put the story away and be done with that part of the routine. She would probably cry and it would be a sad evening but likely the next time you warn her she'll comply.

Anyway, there are a bunch of my thoughts, based on what MY son is like. I don't know you or your daughter, so maybe it doesn't apply, but maybe you'll find an idea in there to make life better. Good luck with all your kids, and congratulations!


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Eva - posted on 12/22/2012




This is something I've recently added to my 2-yr-old daughter's night-time routine, since she finds it incredibly hard to fall asleep (an hour after being tucked in and we can still hear her chatting away to herself): about half an hour before bed I give her catnip tea (yes, catnip, they sell it as tea, it's a member of the mint family).

Depending on your daughter's tastebuds, you may need to add some milk and sugar. That's how mine drinks hers. After she's done we brush her teeth.

It has mild sedative properties. Every little bit helps! It's not "magic" but I find it knocks her falling asleep time in half.

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