Need a New Bedtime Routine

Updated on November 28, 2009
B.B. asks from Clinton, IA
15 answers

My daughter recently turned 1. Since she was born I have always rocked her to bed with a bottle in her room, with no lights on and door shut. Until she was 11 months she was up at least 2 times a night (on a good night), so whatever worked to get her to bed was ok with me. She had always gone to bed fine, and sleeps well in her crib. One night when she was about 10 1/2 months I was putting her to bed and she wasn't acting tired (she's never had a set bedtime because she naps at all different times during the day). She got a little upset, and I didn't want to force her to go to bed if she wasn't tired, so I let her down and out of her bedroom to play. That was probably one of the biggest mistakes Ive ever made! Every night since then when I try to put her to bed she cries and cries until I let her down. Im kind of a softie, so I dont let her fuss for long, but I don't give up right away either. Im also not the type to just put my baby in her crib and let her cry, that breaks my heart. So we have been battling bedtime ever since. Im definitely not a night owl, but she will stay up until 11pm or after. When it gets to be later in the night I know she is tired but for some reason she fights sleep. I have no problem putting her down for naps (I follow the same routine as bedtime) and I never let her nap past 4pm. She does not nap often during the day (maybe an hour, 2 at the most) so I am pretty sure she's not over sleeping then. I have tried alot of different things like turning all the lights and tvs off in the house before I take her into her room, and follwing the same routine every night. She gets a bath every night at 7pm. I have tried the Johnson & Johnson soothing bath washes and lotions, which have not helped her. I have tried warming her milk, and letting her sleep with her blankie (which Im pretty sure is the only reason she sleeps through the night some nights now). Has anyone else gone through this before? Any advice on how to get her to fall asleep before 11/12pm, but without a huge struggle? (when she was 0-7 months old I couldnt get her to stay up past 6:30 or 7!!!) Any advice is appreciated! Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for the great advice! The problem I have with naptime during the day is that I worl part-time. On the days I work my grandmother watches her. She just lets her nap whenever she acts tired, and alot of time holds her the entire time she sleeps (because she will wake up crying when she puts her down). On my days off she sleeps fine in her crib, but I realize now that Im a push over during the day too. If I rock her to sleep for a nap and she doesn't fall asleep, I just let her down to play then too. Hopefully we can get a set nap schedule during the day and that will help at night! Thanks for all the tips!! They are very much appreciated!

Featured Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

Regular nap times will probably help, and you've gotten a lot of other good advice. My daughter was a challenge sometimes at naptime, but at bedtime we rarely had a problem, because I always slept with her at night. Co-sleeping worked for us.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Please take a look at the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby". I am afraid that you will have to put up with some crying to get past this hurdle, but it is possible! I believe that it is better for your baby to cry a little to earn the important skill of putting herself to sleep, rather than you crying a LOT because she doesn't learn this skill. Us mamas can only take so much. Good luck!



answers from Milwaukee on

Oh I feel your pain. When our daughter was about the same age, a little older, we had the same problem. We would rock her to sleep and it could take hours. It was so frustrating.
We eventually got a book called Sleeping Through the Night. We didn't follow it exactly, but it gave some good suggestions. We put our daughter in her crib and then would sit with her in her room while she cried and she'd eventually fall asleep. The crying was because she was frustrated at the change in routine and it felt okay because we were right there with her and reassured her that she was okay and needed to just go to sleep. It only took a couple weeks (the first couple nights were rough and after that she'd only cry 5 minutes or less). A few months after she was used to that, and when we knew she could understand us, we just told her we weren't going to sit in the room with her, that she would fall asleep on her own. It worked. It was a slower process than letting her cry it out, but we couldn't do that.
I hope this makes sense. Good luck to you!



answers from Des Moines on

I know a lot of posters have touched on this but I really want to strongly second an early bedtime. Children that age need about 14 hours of total sleep a day (between overnight and naps). My daughter is 2.5 and goes to bed no later than 7:30 each night (between 7-7:30). (She does get up at 6:30 since hubby and I both work but I think the idea is for a child your little one's age about 12 hours overnight sleep is a good goal to shoot for.). We also have the exact same 30 minute bedtime routine and have had for over a year now. Our DD sleeps through the night and sleeps well. She's also really well behaved and happy in general. :) I think the sleep just is the magic key to so much. I know for us, if she is up past 7:30 she goes into what we call "hyperdrive" and its a nightmare getting her down. She's also a total crank the next day. Check out the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. My hubby calls it the "owners manual" for kids!! ;) Best of luck to you!!!

(for sleep needs this chart always helped me!



answers from Duluth on

I just want to recommoend the Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. She will teach you a gentle way to help her sleep without crying it out.

it sounds to me like she could use some consistency during the day. More regular naps might help, better daytime sleep leads to better nighttime sleep. She sounds like an overtired little girl. I agree with the first response that you should try putting her down earlier. Then, when she gets up to cry, you can pick her up and comfort her, but AS SOON as she is calm, lay her right back down. You'll have to stick to your guns, you say you're a softie so you may need to get someone to help you. Just keep putting her back down. it may take 100 tries the first night but it won't take as many the second. Again, don't let her cry, you want to be there for her to help, be loving but firm. it may take a few days of this and it's a lot of work, but it will be worth it. good luck!



answers from Davenport on

B.- I am sorry to say, but there is no way for you to change the bedtime routine without the struggle. It is better for you to have that struggle now, then when she is 11 years or older. This is a harsh reality, and I wish I had learned it when mine were infants and toddlers ( now 9 & 7).

The best thing you can do for your child is to change your approach toward parenting. It is your job to teach this little person how to become a responsible adult, and you cannot do so by letting her convince you every night to stay up late by crying until you come in and let her have what she wants. It is a hard transition to make from providing for your child's every need and trying to make them happy so that you can sleep (infant) to a position of teaching them to be responsible for themselves (18yr old). You have to start now to help your child get to that point.

I say all of this to encourage you, not to come down on you. I would recommend a book by Dr. Kevin Leman, it is on the NY Times bestseller list: How to have a new kid by Friday.

I concur with the poster before me as well. However, don't let her get out of bed or pick her up. Instead, rub her back and gently reassure her that you are there and that she needs to go to sleep. As she drifts off, slowly make your way out of the room. If she gets up, put her back down and start the process over again. If you are consistent and don't give in, you will succeed. ( got that from Supernanny)




answers from Madison on

Oh boy...we had a similar problem with our boy and sleeping. He went to bed late and had little to no consistency and got to the point of waking up multiple times a night until he was 16 mo old or never got better only worse. Until we decided - enough is enough things are changing. I tend to be a pushover but my husband lays down the law and without that we would still have miserable nightimes! We set him on a regular nap schedule and then set a time and a bedtime routine and the most important thing is whatever you decide DONT GIVE IN no matter what!!!!!! Your child will adjust when she learns that you won't give in to her. It might take a week but if you just let her figure out that she needs to sleep, even if it means some crying, you won't regret it! Now he goes to bed at 8:30 and sleeps through the whole night. I'm not into letting your BABY cry it out, when her wants are her needs. Now however your childs wants are not the same as her needs. Sometimes you have to insist on something she doesn't want because you know she needs it. Right now, she needs 1) consistency, 2) regular schedule, 3) to know that she's not the boss. Our son is the most change-oriented and flexible child I know but he still needs a regular schedule. If you just let her have her way, even at bedtime, and give in to her she will learn she can get what she wants if she fusses enough so boy will you have a terrible brat on your hands!! Disciple begins at this age with stuff like bedtimes.



answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with the others--she's overtired (many kids, including mine, get a "2nd wind" when that happens) and she's trained to get what she wants after she fusses for awhile. Check out Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's book, "Sleepless in America." Mary and her local class in St. Paul were lifesavers for me when my boys were little and had sleep problems. I wish I had discovered her sooner though. She also has a website, Hope you're all sleeping better soon.



answers from St. Cloud on

I know what we did is not considered the norm BUT we co-slept starting when our daughter was about 1 1/2. We co-slept till she was 4.

The reason we stopped was because when our little guy got to be 1 1/2, there just wasn't room for 4 of us in the bed anymore! It was easy when he was a baby and small but he moves a lot when he sleeps and getting kicked in the face is only pleasant the first 10 times! LOL. We would have loved to get a Kind size bed so we could have continued but none of the bedrooms in our house would be able to fit one....

So, we moved the kids to a mattress on the floor of our room for about 4 to 6 months. Then my husband and I moved out of our room to another room down the hall. Our plan was to move the kids but we thought it would be easier on them if they stayed in the room they were used to sleeping in. Our kids are now 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 and sleep pretty good in their own room. Once asleep, they sleep through the whole night!

I do agree that you should have her on some sort of routine. My kids always napped at about the same time most days. Even now, our youngest typically goes down between 12:30 and 2:30 and will sleep about 2 hours. Bedtime is usually between 9 and 10 pm. Although we farm so the kids get their daddy time from about 7:30/8 till bedtime. So I would never consider putting my kids to bed at 7pm. Although I have a friend who does NO MATTER WHAT! If there is anything (parade, party, etc) going on after that time, they get a babysitter and go without the kids.

So we stay very flexible with their "schedule" to fit what is happening in our daily lives.

If you want her to go to bed in her crib without a struggle. It will more than likely take the crying it out method to accomplish that. We did not go that route but co-sleeping isn't for everyone either.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

You have an overtired baby. Good naps during the day equal better sleep at night. Our daughter is about the same age and during the day goes down for a nap every 2-2.5 HR. Then her bedtime is between 7-7:30. Any later than that & we've lost her sleep window & it's difficult to get her down. Highly recommend the Baby Whisperer book previously mentioned. Good luck!



answers from Rapid City on

You have trained her to be up. I understand how you don't let a child cry it out, that isn't for a good nights rest. What I think would help is go back to the beginning. At a set bedtime rock her to sleep and put her in her bed. Stick with the schedule because a body sleeps better with a schedule and a child needs the security of a schedule. Start with waking her up at 7am or 8am, put her down for a nap after lunch if she is on one nap (if she is on two naps get her up at 7, put her down at 10 and again at 2). At night play with her after supper then put her in the bath, brush teeth and read her a book. Then rock her to sleep or just about asleep and put her in her bed. If she starts fussing don't take her out of the bed, rub her back and sing to her or put on a lullabye tape. You will have a few nights of getting use to the routine but soon you will see that she adjusts to it and goes to sleep with no trouble.

Always remember when dealig with children, say no only when you know you are going to stick with the no. If you aren't sure if they can do it or not say you will think about it and if you don't want them to do or have something say no and stick to it no matter what behavior you see. We train kids to throw fits and to cry at night like this by letting them know if they cry or fuss they will get their way. It has to be one of the biggest mistakes a parent makes and one we all make at one time or other. All kids cry and act out more when they don't have enough sleep and that is why schedules are so important.



answers from Madison on

Have you tried putting her down earlier? More often than not, kids are awake and crazy even though they are super tired. I know every kid is different, but our 2.5 year old has almost NEVER gone to bed after 7pm, and he is a wonderful sleeper. I never wake him from naps, and even if he wakes up, eats dinner, and goes back to bed, it's never been a problem. Try letting her nap as long as she wants and making and keeping a consistent bed time. Letting her play may just be making her more tired, which makes her more crabby, which makes her cry, which makes you feel bad and let her stay up longer. It's a dangerous cycle. Teaching kids to sleep is truly the first thing we as parents teach them. For her natural circadian rhythm to kick in, there has to be some consistency.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Oh B.... you are going to get a lot of responses on this one! I'll let the others take over, but I think you are going to have to lay down the "Super Nanny" law on this one and get tough with an early bedtime! I bet by 11pm her adreneline is taking over giving her a second wind, thus also waking her in the middle of the night and early in the morning. She'll sleep good once you are able to firmly institute an early (Like 8:00) bedtime.


answers from Minneapolis on

What you need to do is set a routine. A 1yr old shouldn't be up at 11pm, a decent bedtime for a child that age is 7pm-8:30pm, somewhere in there. You need to start a bedtime routine about an hour before actual bedtime, so she knows its coming. Run a bath, put lotion on her, put her jammies on, give her a small snack and drink, then move to her bedroom to read a book, listen to soft music, snuggle a little with her in her chair, and then put her in bed.

At this point she knows you are a 'pushover' an will let her out if she throws a tissy, so you need to get past that. She will throw a fit, she will cry and throw her stuff out of her crib, but you need to just let her calm herself. Dont let her scream and get sick, of course, go in and comfort her, but just pat her back and shush her reassuringly.

And I always nursed my boys to sleep until they weaned (my oldest was about a year, my youngest was almost 2 when he weaned from nursing) and I've never had a problem putting them to bed, and now at 7 and 4 they are fabulous sleepers. So rocking/nursing to sleep isn't a problem, but you do need to have a routine set up, keep it the same every night, so her body can gear up for bedtime, so as the routine follows through she knows what is coming next. But you need to buck up and follow through, and get her to bed at a decent time. An overtired child will fight sleep. at her age she should be taking at least one long nap a day in the afternoon, and possibly a cat nap in the morning. And her bedtime should be around 8pm, with hte bedtime routine starting about an hour before her actual bedtime. Stick with it, and she will be in bed in no time. but you can't waffle on it, stick to it and help her adust.



answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with what others have already said: she's overly tired and she needs a regular nap time & schedule. I also cannot say enough things about Weissbluth's "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," which has also been recommended to you. It is hands down the best book I ever read as a first-time parent. You have to get her grandma on board with the same routine. It will be challenging the first couple weeks (grandma needs to be prepared for some crying during those weeks, and, like you, she HAS TO stay consistent and not go to your daughter when she cries.) Best of luck to you.

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