2 1/2 Year Old Bedtime Routine - Are We Doing It Wrong???

Updated on September 27, 2007
N.O. asks from Park Ridge, IL
11 answers

Hi All,

Our 2 1/2 year old goes to bed at night in her own bed and stays there almost always. We have a "routine" including our family (Mom/Dad/2 1/2 year old/baby brother of 6 months). It has slight variations but is usually 1/2 hour to 45 minutes including teeth/jammies/stories/nursing the little one/bigger one to sleep....

My sister-in-law (51 and no kids of her own) was here the other night while we put our kids to bed. She had also been playing tickle games and we allowed a cookie b/c it was speacial to have auntie over. Needless to say it took us some extra time to get our daughter down. The sister-in-law called the next day and said "you need to just tell her to go to bed and that's that"...she is an extremely nice person and I love her to pieces - we get along great. I tried to explain to her the 2 1/2 year olds don't just go to bed on their own and she disagreed and insisted that she did when she was 2 1/2. Soooooooooooooooo...

1) Do any of you remember being 2 1/2?
2) Did you just go to bed when you were 2 1/2?
3) When did your kids just start going to bed on their own?

I never thought about this stuff...what we do works for us, but I'm interested to know if other people out there just send their kids to bed? Good grief Charlie Brown! Did I miss something?

Just wondering...

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answers from Chicago on

I have 2.5 yr old and 4 week old daughters. The 2.5 yr old goes to bed fairly easy with no fighting. All she needs is about 5 minutes alone with mommy (since the new baby is here) and I rub her back and then leave the room and she falls asleep on her own.

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answers from Chicago on


1) Uh, no. I barely remember what I did yesterday, lol.

2) I'd have to ask my mom, but I HIGHLY doubt it.

3) My son is 27 months and he actually DOES ask to go "ni-ni" at about 8:00pm. We have had the same general routine since he was an infant that was bath, lotion and jammies, bottle, bed. He doesn't get the bottle now, but gets his teeth brushed and a book.

That being said, I have a 6 week old that is a totally different baby than the 2 y/o was. He may have bedtime struggles. Who knows?

You aren't doing anything wrong and it's strange that your SIL would comment on it. Even when my friends ASK me for advice, I would never say something like that. But, oh well. I think there is a book out called "I Was a Great Parent Until I Had Kids" or something like that, lol.

The way I see it, if it works for you and you are happy with it - that's the "right" thing to do. So, don't fix it if it isn't broken in your mind.




answers from Chicago on

I'm not sure if it is really possible for us to remember when we were 2 1/2. I know my earliest memory was around 3 or 4...

I think 2 and 3 year olds need the wind down time and can't be told to just go to sleep...I remember having trouble with that when I was older, especially when I was at someone else's house or if someone was visiting.

And I agree that since she has no kids...she really can't comment on your parenting style...I HATE when people do that. Don't comment when you have no experience! Ok I'm done now.

I think you are doing just fine! Now if your kids were 18, it would be a different story.



answers from Chicago on

Sorry, but first of all that was very rude and ignorant of your sil. Beware....My guess is this she will probably profess to be an expert about your children with other things for years to come if you don't nip this in the bud now.....but that's not what you are asking so...

As for the comment, "you need to just tell her to go to bed and that's that.." could not be further from the truth. You and I don't do that at our age! We brush and floss our teeth, wash our face, maybe read for a few minutes, some people watch a little tv, perhaps some people pray a little at bedtime...point being...we ALL have some sort of routine and that is what helps us tremendously. The routines you are setting with your children will benefit them today and for the rest of their lives...even as they alter it as they grow up.



answers from Chicago on

do what works for you. what you do would never work in my house but i wouldn't pressure you to do it my way. my kids are 5&4 we say when it is bed time and they go. it has taken this long to get them to bed without a fight, especially the 5 y/o. like i said do what's best for you and don't worry about other peoples "opinions"!



answers from Chicago on

Hi N.-

It sounds like you're doing everything right! And if it works for your family that's great. We have the same similar routine at our house for our 18 month old. What you're doing is what most sleep training books recommend. It always seems to be those who do not have their own kids that want to criticize those that do. Until you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes...which she hasn't. So basically you'll have to nicely tell her it's more difficult than she thinks. Kids need structure and routine and that's what you're providing with your bedtime routine. If what she remembers of her own childhood is going to bed by herself at 2 1/2, then that's terrific. But realisitically, that's not what happens in most households around the world everyday :) Keep up the good work and good luck!




answers from Chicago on

It is very easy for a non-parent to be opinionated on how to raise your children. She would have a fit if she saw my daughter's bedtime routine, which is watching the 9pm news with her dad, possibly cartoons after, and eventually falling asleep in our bed anywhere between 9pm-11pm. Sometimes my husband and I are sound asleep and she will still be up watching cartoons. Do I like this spoiled routine that now we will have a very difficult time breaking? No, but it is what it is and as long as she wakes up a smiling child the next day it works for me. Now I just had my 2nd child 2 weeks ago, and this time we will do things differently --- at least that is what we both say now!! Isn't parenting fun?



answers from Chicago on

First off, however well-meaning they are, people without children need to stop telling people with children what to do. She can be the very best aunt in the world but is not the mother to your kids and doesn't know what works. My daughter is 18 months and needs the bath, books, water, and nursing to go to bed and still sometimes needs to be with us longer. Last night she slept with me. They are just babies and we should enjoy that for as long as we can. I'm not sure that there are very many 2 1/2 year olds that just go to bed on their own without some help. I think what you are doing is great and keep it up.



answers from Chicago on

Childless people do not get a say in your parenting style. End of discussion :-)
Until I shared a room with my sister (around 8) my dad sat in my room reading until I went to sleep.
I sit on the steps outside of my 3 year old's room until she's asleep. Kids have weird issues and sometimes giving a little is just easier. If we let her come downstairs and scream and fuss it takes three hours. If I sit on the steps and read it takes 20 minutes.



answers from Chicago on

Hi N.~
I have a 4 year old son, and I still have to keep his routine. Without it, he absolutely will NOT go to bed!! As of right now, he definitely doesn't just go to bed when I say to. His routine also takes some time too. We do the whole jammies, teeth brushing, 1 story, then he has to take turns with both of us singing a song, giving hugs & kisses, and we each have to tuck him in. My theory is whatever gets him to go to bed is what we will stick with, and that is really the only suggestion I can offer you--if it works, it works!!
Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

Hi N.,

My son will be 4 in October and he still won't go to bed on his own. I guess that could be my fault (and my husbands). I also have a 14 month old and he goes to bed no problem. I put him in his crib and it's done. Some nights he'll yell at me (not crying or screaming) for a couple minutes but that's about it. I think whatever works for your family. Of course on nights when they've had company over or something else to interrupt their routine they are going to be a little more difficult and I know my almost 4 year old has problems on nights like that, especially if it's a night where he gets some sort of dessert or sweet. I say if it works for you then it's great and it sounds to me like you have a very nice family bed time routine going on!! Good for you!!!

You are always going to have cridics and everyone does things differently, that's what makes the world what it is. Just thank your sister for her opinion and that you'll take it under advisement!! (HA) and continue on as you were!!!

Good luck!!!


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