2 Year Old Sleep Problems

Updated on November 04, 2006
D.B. asks from Maryland Heights, MO
8 answers

I have a wonderful 2 year old son, who has been having major issues with sleep. When I try to put him down for a nap, he will stand in his crib and scream and cry for as long as I let him. It has been up to two hours of crying. Then for the rest of the day, he is so crabby, will lay down and put his hands over his face or on his head. When we went out to dinner the other evening, he laid down on the concrete sidewalk and covered his face. Now it is starting to be the same with bedtime. We usually put him to bed at 9:00 (my husband works evenings so we try to have the kids wake up later), now its getting closer to 10:00 because he will scream and cry until I go in there. When I go in there to see what he wants, he always wants me to pick him up, sit in the rocking chair in the living room, and watch Thomas the Tank Engine. Then when I think that all is taken care of, he'll suddenly wake up screaming between 4:00 and 5:00AM. He'll either want to come into our bed, or he'll be up and wanting to play. I don't know what to do. He needs to get more sleep, and so do I. I have tried giving him a book or two in his crib with him at naptime, so that if he doesn't want to sleep he can at least look through his books. That has not worked at all. If anyone has any advice, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much.

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answers from Springfield on

Yikes two hours that a long time. I had the same problem and when you go in and pick him up you are giving him just what he wants and this will cause problems later. Why not try laying him down and patting his head, back, hiney, rub it whatever calms him down. But do not and I can say this enough do not pick him up. My girlfriend thought that I was being mean when I did this and she later confided in me that she wished that she would of tried it herself because a t 5 she still has major sleep problems. Maybe he is getting to much sleep at night or you are putting him down to early. Try keeping him up later for his nap. He will eventually get tired. It does get easier I promise as a mother of two boys and one was a horrible sleeper. I thought he dr was going to have to give either him or me a sleeping pill or something. Children figure out rather quickly how to get what they want and my guess is that you rocked him to sleep or simply held him to sleep it is so hard not too because they are so sweet and full of unconditional love. You can not give in to what they want every time or come teenage years you will have a major problem and no body wants that. Try putting him to bed at night later or even getting him up earlier in the am or both. Let me know how it all turns out.
Remember do not pick him up. Its okay if he cries which if you areletting him cry that long you are aware of that but you have to go in from time to time and let him know that you still love him and lay him down, talk calmly to him, caress him but do not pick him up. Its hard but it does work.Just dont let him stand there and cry because then he does not know if mommie is comming back and he does get scared. Be strong!!!!



answers from Rockford on

Don't feel bad my boy who is also 2 (he just turned in August) does about the same thing. Sometimes when I put him in his crib he'll lay right down and behave and other times he'll stand and throw a tantrum and cry for like 15 -30 minutes. I just close the door and let him cry. I also stick a few toys in his crib with him so that way if he wakes up early he has something to entertain himself with until we wake up or I put music on in his room and that usually does the trick.



answers from Tulsa on

Hello D. B.. my son is not quite 2 yet but we have had our fair share of sleep problems with him.. a few months ago we thought he may be having "Scared of the Dark" problems and left a light on for him, but that wasn't the case since he still wouldn't sleep and screamed when we tried to get him to.. We got some info from his PED about what to do and it seemed to have worked.. and to be honest he is "HAPPY" to go to bed lately.. almost scary for us.. LOL But anyway.. what we did was we let him cry for about 5 mins and go in and don't say a word, lay him down and tuck him in, leave the room.. then next time make it 10 mins and do the same.. walk in, don't talk, lay him down, tuck him in, leave the room.. the most time we left him was 13-15mins.. but would just keep that routine up and eventually he would go to sleep.. also we did that when he would wake up in the middle of the night.. YES it is very tiring for us when we had to get up at 5:30am to get ready for work but after a few days he was sleeping all night again and we got our extra MUCH NEEDED sleep... If you would like a copy of the papers I can fax or email (try to I should say) the ppwk over to you.. I really found it to be very helpful. GOOD LUCK!



answers from St. Louis on

Routine, routine, routine. Kids desire and love strict routine. Don't get me wrong, kids can also bend at times too, but as for the normal everyday they need absolute strict routine. That being said with there being a new baby it is quite possible your little guy is watching the extra routine that comes along with having a new baby...feedings, diaper changing, rocking, etc. I have gone thru bringing a new baby home with older sibling(s) at home 2 times. Perhaps you should try including him more if possible. For example, have him help out with the baby by getting a diaper, or lotion. If he is able to keep his hands out of his mouth for a while have him even help put lotion on the baby. Teach him how to sing to the baby. Then when it comes to night routine or nap routine start with both in your arms in the rocking chair if you can...sing a short story or even talking about your favorite part of the day. After that set the older of the 2 up with either his Thomas the Train show or books and let him know you will return after the baby is in bed. Finish your routine with the baby and then tell your 2 yr old it is time to say goodnight to Thomas and make him say goodnight so he feels like he has the power of the moment and is making the final decision to let go. Read another short story with him while snuggling or sing him a song and tell him it is time for bed. Be very specific and tell him you are going to put him in his bed and he is going to go to sleep. Wish him a fantastic rest and tell him you will see him first thing in the morning. You can even tell him "when you wake up I will come in and say Good Morning " and then say his name. If he cries offer him a one last big hug before bedtime/naptime and ask him to take 3 big deep breaths. Show him how and keep talking...in the nose out the mouth. Let out a little sigh as you exhale. It will calm both you and him. Tuck him back in and wish him a great rest and reiterate that you will see him in the morning or after naptime.

The other thing to keep in mind with routine is that even if you want his routine to start later or end later that is fine, but make sure it is the same time daily with only an occasional change if at all possible. Make the routine what works best for you and best fits your time schedule with your husband. Here is an idea of my daily routine.

I wake up 6am to get myself ready and start setting up breakfast.
7am - wake kids, potty, get kids dressed
7:30am - feed kids breakfast
10:00am - snack
12:45pm - lunch as soon as lunch is over the kids get down, wash hands, potty and go straight to nap
1:30 - 4pm nap
4pm - snack
6pm - dinner
7:30pm - light snack
8pm begin bed routine
8:30pm lights out

My kids are a bit older than yours (5, 3 and 22.5 months) so our bed routine started as I described above and has been modified to fit our needs. For example now we just do stories in my bed because it would be too difficult to hold 3 children that big in a rocking chair while attempting to turn pages of a book. Good luck, God Bless, and I hope your little guy starts sleeping good for you soon!

B. :)



answers from Wichita on

Hello D.! He might actualy be at that stage in his life where he believes he doesn't need as much sleep as his parents. My oldest went through that and I am sure that all my step-sons went through it as well. It is actually age approperiate for kids his age to test the sleeping habits. If youi have any questions please don't hesitate to e-mail me at ____@____.com. Sincerely your friend, Jen



answers from Kansas City on

I'm afraid I can't offer much help, but I sympathize. When our son was two (he's five and a half now), he began exhibiting similar issues with naps. We discovered that if we put him in the car he would fall asleep. So for about four or five months we put him in the car almost every day and took him for a drive so he'd fall asleep, then we'd bring him home and put him in his bed. This wasn't very fun but it was better than him not getting a nap. At this point he was in a toddler bed and wouldn't stay in it to nap, unless he was already asleep. It sounds like your son still needs a nap, so I would experiment to see what works. He's old enough for a sticker incentive chart, getting a sticker for taking a nap which gets him a privilage or a reward.


answers from Kansas City on

I'm going to take a stab in the dark that this is all about the baby. I'm going to assume that you sit in the rocking chair with the baby. Your son is feeling left out. He doesn't know how to express his feelings and or fears. So he's doing anything that he can to get an equal amount of quality time with you.

I can't say how to fix it really. But I have some ideas. If you could help your son to see himself as a big boy, big brother, big help etc.. Maybe he can concentrate on his role and his life and not think so much about the time your with the baby. Do you participate in any playgroups? Maybe you could find a part-time daycare for him to spend some time with other kids his age?

Everything in me wants to tell you to put a tv/vcr in his room and let him watch Thomas the Tank in his crib. Because I do 24 hour care, I employ any and all tricks like that to get kids down. However, later in life watching tv at bedtime is a huge no no and the reason why so many people suffer with sleep apnea.

Do you put the kids down at the same time? Maybe if you could sit in the chair with him while the baby sleeps, and then try and put him down when the baby is awake? Maybe it would help if he didn't actually see you sitting with the baby so much because he's having his quiet time at opposite times.

Do you have very dark curtains in the room and quiet music? If it was me, I'd just let him cry it out no matter what. Eventually, he will wear himself out. But as long as he knows your coming to get him, he'll have an amazing capacity to keep it going forever.

You could also try skipping naps all together. I know you can't take him out to eat if he's cranky. But you could just stay close to home for awhile. Skip his naps but let him sit in your lap more during the day. At least he'd be exhausted at bedtime and you'd get more sleep then.

Are you getting him out to do physical things enough? Boys his age need a LOT of physical stimuli. Walmart has an indoor sized bouncer like a mini moonwalk for $99. It would set up in the living room and you could allow him to bounce until he wears himself out. I like taking the kids to the McDonald's tunnels when it's not nice outside. But I hate getting into the fast food habit.

I hope you get some ideas that work for you. Could you offer to do daycare for another child his age? Then he'd have a friend at home.




answers from Topeka on

My 5 year old daughter had that happen as well. our doctor told us that she was haveing night terrors and that she was affraid to go to sleep. what we had to do was sit in her room till she went to sleep and each night we got farther away from her bed. and she finally stopped and sleeps all night long.

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