11 answers

Toddler Refusing to Go to Bed

My 2 yr old has suddenly decided to kick in high gear the "terrible twos". The most challenging thing right now is her not wanting to go to bed at night. She is VERY persistent and has extreme staying power. She will not go in her crib or will climb out. We've left her in her room and she's at the door crying. We go in every few minutes to try agin to put her to bed with no success. She will stop crying the minute we walk in....PLEASE ANY SUGGESTIONS OR ADVICE would be greatly apprecited.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for everyone's suggestions....keep them coming! After a few sleepless nights, the crib is now a coverted toddler bed. We had planned on doing it but hadn't had the time. One thing I didn't mention "about me" is that I've been on full time bed rest for at least a month so ALL the work has been done by my wonderful husband. We've always had a consistent bedtime routine with no problems. The last week a lot of changes happend and I think everything came to a head....so we're trying some of your suggestions to make the transition. Hope it'll work. We'll keep you posted.

Featured Answers

Hey there, I hope I never go through this myself, but...I have read this amazing, fantastic book.
Let me google it. BRB. Ugh. I can't remember the author or the title, but it's kind of like a chicken soup for the whatever soul book, for parents.
This guy is a pediatrician, and his advice for this very situation is to get a split door, and lock the bottom half.
I know it's extreme, but so long as the room is baby proofed, what does it matter where she sleeps, just so she DOES sleep. ie, she may wear herself out and fall asleep in the middle of the floor. Just dress her warmly, and let 'er rip.
Take care, hope this makes you chuckle, and if you do it, let me know how it went.

More Answers

My son did this same thing. What's important is giving rules and sticking to them, even if she throws a fit (which is clearly a manipulation).

I would get my son ready for bed, read a book, get him a drink of water, etc. I would then give him a kiss and say it's time for bed and leave the room. He would get one warning that he was just going to be put back in bed. I would then carry him back to his bed without saying anything. One night I put him back in his bed at least 75 times over 2 hours, but he did eventually give up. It took a couple of days, but he soon believed that I was the boss. He would try this every few months for over a year.

You must be really consistant and not give in to any manipulations. Kids will try all kinds of things, even that something hurts when it doesn't. My son is now 5 and has been going to bed like an angel for several years. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

We had to go the route of putting our daughter back into her bed/crib every time she came out. I remember one night that I spent fourty minutes putting her back into bed, approximately two times per minute. She was fast. She finally got tired out and realized that we were serious about bedtime. As long as she stayed in bed and was reasonably quiet, she didn't have to go to sleep right away. We went through several periods of testing, though thankfully they were short. It was not an easy thing to do as she was crying and/or laughing pretty much the whole time until the very end where she gave up.

Good luck and God bless you and your children.

1 mom found this helpful

If she is VERY persistent, you have to be VERY, VERY persistent. It is a power of the wills and she needs to understand her boundries. She should be old enough to rationalize. Ask her how you can help her, what she needs. Talk about the day tomorrow, what you will do, etc when she wakes up. Then kiss her goodnight, explain she needs to stay in bed and leave the room. If that doesn't work after several tries, practice whatever form of punishment you have established; time outs, spanking, taking away something, etc. Good luck with the strong willed child...I have one too and we are in the process of establishing who is boss...in a loving and nurturing way. :)

1 mom found this helpful

It's not the terrible two's, it's that she's terribly intuitive and she knows a new baby is coming and she doesn't want to lose your attention. This is the last time she is going to have you all to herself. Take the time to snuggle, comfort, rock her to sleep and put her in bed asleep. Ease the stress for you and her by spending this precious few weeks with her. Go to a toy store and get her a new teddy bear to be her snuggle buddy. Let her pick it out. When you go to deliver, have a new baby doll for her at the hospital so she has her new baby to rock, diaper, hold and feed a bottle to. You're sharing this experience and keeping the over helpful hands out of the initial mix of things. I bet you've got the nursery all set up for the new baby and she's sensing some displacement coming. Reassure her by spending the time with her and including her on any preparations for the new baby. Get her some new things. It's happening to all of you, not just you. This new baby is going to disrupt her world as she knows it, and from the sounds of things already has because you are tired and getting short tempered. Take a deep breath. Pick her up and cuddle, snuggle, sing and let her go to sleep in your arms in her room. Small sacrifices with big dividends.

Hi S.!

Your two year old is awakening to the world and she finds it scary, especially at night. Can I suggest staying with her till she falls asleep? But she has to promise not to play if you do this. You can also try soft music while you sit and read a good book in the same room. She'll know you are there but also know that you are unapproachable. We had a hard time for years with our oldest till we put a loft bed above ours. Now she goes to sleep within 5 minutes and stays asleep all night. I bedshare with my son who is 2.5. No night time theatrics at our house. I expect you already have a night light? That can make a big difference too. Good luck on finding the right routine for your house!


We had this same problem when I was pregnant with my son. We went to the store and my daughter picked out a teddy bear that she could give to her brother for his birth day present. She also got to pick out a bear for herself.

Both kids love their bears and my son hates being without his.

Just make sure to spend time with your toddler now and set aside a couple of hours a week just for her without the baby. Maybe she can help pick out some activities you two can do together after baby. You could even start doing the special time now and let it continue after the baby is born. That way she will know it is there.

Congratulations and good luck,

She cries because she knows that it will get you to come into the room. She stops when you go in because she got her way. She is learning to manipulate you to get what she wants, and giving it to her will reinforce the behavior. If she is crying at the door, leave her there. When her crying gets her no attention, she will get bored and move on. You have to be very consistent and clear about what you expect of her. Be firm. If you have to, put up a baby gate in her doorway to keep her in, or two stacked if she can climb one. If she gets out of bed, just ignore her and let her play in the dark until she gets tired. You really should think about moving her to a toddler bed if she is climbing out of her crib because she can hurt herself climbing in and out. Plus, you need to have a place she can go lay down when she does get tired and decides to sleep.

Good luck. It only took my 2 year old a few days.

I agree with a lot of the other posts suggesting consistency. We just went through a similar situation with our little one (also two, and also very smart/strong willed). We did what another mom mentioned..

Very consistent, same time every night, bedtime routine. Advance "notifications" about what will happen next. "Lucy, in five minutes (not that she has any concept of that), it's time to go upstairs for a bath, etc." After "Books" and "story of the day/prayers" we put her in the bed. We both make sure to kiss her goodnight, tell her we love her and then leave. When she gets up and tries to get out... she cries for a few minutes, and then one of us goes in and the FIRST time only, reassure her gently. We don't ask questions, just tell her we love her, it's late, she is a big girl and needs rest so she can have a good day tomorrow, etc. Then leave again. All times after that, no talking, just put her back in the bed.

After about four days, she figured it out. Now it's only when she's very overtired or wound up that we have to go back to the "method".

Consistency, consistency, consistency!

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