Sleeping Issues with My 2 Year Old!!!

Updated on February 08, 2007
C.C. asks from Albany, NY
13 answers

I am looking for some suggestions on getting my son to go to sleep at night and stay asleep. I seem to have created a monster when it comes to bedtime. I used to rock him to sleep until he was about a year and a half. Then I was able to get him to sleep in his bed he then went through a phase where he wanted sleep in my bed to break him out of that I put a tv in his room I would put on his elmo video and give him his sippy cup. This seemed like it was going to work... well now it has become a problem. I put him to bed and put on his video, give him a sippy cup of milk and leave the room. Sometimes he goes to sleep right away other times he will watch the movie 2 or 3 times before he goes to sleep. He has been waking up in the middle of the night sometimes a couple times, when he wakes up he asks for elmo so I put his movie back on he also wants more as he puts it "sippy please" So I do this just so I can go back to sleep. I have to get up quite early in the morning to go to work so as selfish as this sounds I do it so I can get my rest. I was hopin someone would have some suggestions on how to deal with this problem. I would love to be able to just put him to bed and call it a night. Please anyone with any advice please help!!!

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answers from Syracuse on

It's going to cause some sleepless nights at first, but it won't take too long to get used to. I would suggest taking the tv out. If you leave it there he will just cry for it. Replace it with a radio, maybe one with a CD or tape player. Play soothing music for him at night instead of the tv. Elmo is too exciting to fall asleep to.
With the sippy cup, don't take it away all at once. Slowly water down the milk every night until it's all water. He'll still have his cup, and it won't be something that is bad for his teeth. Good luck, and maybe you can try this when you have a few days off work all together.

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answers from Rochester on

Hi C.,
I also am a mother of a little 2.5 year old boy. I also had sleeping problems with mine. The best advise i recieved was put white noise in his room. It sounds like the Elmo video is sorta his "white noise". For my son I have put a goldfish tank in his room with a filter, so the running water is the white noise. You could also put a fan in his room....facing away from him. You can exsplain to him that his fish can be his night time friend to replace Elmo, like Elmo replaced you.

As far as his sippy cup problem, I would stop giving it to him in his bed. At night go into his room with him and sit with him on your lap slightly rocking( no lights) and allow him to have his sippy cup then. When he has finished his milk take the cup put him in his bed with a kiss. When he wakes up in the middle of the night and he will asking for his sippy cup take him out of bed and sit with him in the dark untill he falls back to sleep. This took quite a few nights of this routine with mine to work,or you could just tell him you know he wants the sippy cup but he can't have it. A few nights of this also will work. I like the gentler approch better. Remember 2 year olds love to control their worlds and he is controling you.

Children also love routines so you just need to set a new bedtime routine. Don't give up C. he will respond to the new routine. My son is bed sleeping for the night in 30 mins. I tell him it is nite nite and we put his jammies on (which I allow him to choose), brush his teeth read a story and then go into his room...Then bam out for the night.(8 hours) I hope this helps you!! Every mother needs thier sleep...don't feel selfish.
Sincerly, Tami

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answers from New York on

I can totally understand doing whatever it takes at night so you can get some sleep. I think we have all done something we know we shouldn't because we are too tired to do the right thing!
You may not know this, but watching TV before sleeping actually affects sleep (negatively). I don't know all the "scientific data" about it, but I have read numerous articles that say that you should not allow your child to watch TV before they go to bed. The video may actually be preventing him from falling asleep! The sippy cup of milk is also not such a good idea because it is really bad for his teeth.
I think the only choice you have here is to break these habits cold turkey, which will not be fun and will also cause several sleepless nights for all of you. But in the end, it will be worth it. I don't want to sound preachy, but sleep is so important for little kids and lack of adequate sleep can cause so many problems that can continue into his school years.
My advice is prepare him ahead of time for a few days that on Monday or whatever day, you will be removing the TV from his room. Since he is two, you can at least talk to him about it and explain that it is not good for him to watch Elmo at night. Involve him in choosing an "Elmo wathcing" time during the day so he feels like his has some say in the matter and just make sure the TV time is during the day or early evening.
Then, when the day comes, follow through and take the TV out of his room. He will not like it, but there are plenty of things we do as parents that our kids don't like! Put him to sleep and be prepared for crying. I was never a big fan of letting babies "cry it out," but a two year old is old enough to understand the situation. When he cries, the first few times, go to his room and tell him from now on, he has to fall asleep without the TV, just like you talked about. Tell him you need to sleep and you will not keep coming in to the room. After doing this several times, just stop going in to him. This will be VERY difficult, but eventually, he will fall asleep and after (hopefully) a few nights of this, he will stop crying and asking for Elmo or you!
I would not take the TV away and the milk at the same time.
Once you have broken him of the TV habit, I would do the same with the milk. Let him drink his milk before he brushes his teeth and then explain that he can't have food or drink after he brushes his teeth.
I know all of this is easier said than done, but I too have learned the hard way that what is easiest to do at the moment, often makes things more difficult in the long run. If you can stay strong for a few weeks and break these habits, it will be worth it in the end!!
Good Luck!

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answers from Buffalo on

Hi C., I had this same problem with my daughter. And I did the same with the TV. I found that she "needed" the noise to relax. So I started putting on somthing that would run all night. Her TV had a vidio repeat on it so once it ended it would rewind and play again. I know it sounds terrible but I am a single mom also and couldn't take getting up everynight with her just to turn on the TV. It took a few years, I started this at about 2 and is now almost 7, for her to get use to sleeping with out the tv all night. She broke the repeat so know she watches it to fall asleep and the tv turns its self off after a while but she finally stopped getting up to turn it back on around 5 or so.

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answers from Hartford on

Hi C.-
Well I hate to tell you this but you have to put him to bed and let him scream it out - no sippy cup- no tv - your only creating bad habits that you will have a hard time breaking down the road! With my daughter - we had no clue what to do - she always wanted to sleep with us and it was really starting to hurt my marriage.... we talked to her doctor and the advice she gave us.... put her to bed - she will scream and carry on but you have to make her goto her own bed... all the yelling lasted about 3 nights then she would go right to sleep. So i suggest if you get 2 days off in a row, start then... just think if you keep up the sippy cup, if he's not potty trained - you will be getting up in the middle of the night to change a wet bed or take him to the potty anyways.... the tv - just a bad idea. I got my husband (who is my 3rd child) into watching tv to fall asleep... now that we have kids, when I goto bed I want sleep - I want dark - I want quiet - this does not happen with the tv on.... so it became a very bad habit i am having trouble getting a 28yo to break - so I would nip that in the bud with your son asap... You might feel mean with him crying and carrying on but it has to be done! If you have a toddler bed/twin bed whatever for him and he can get up - just put him back to bed - don't talk to him - don't explain that your tired nothing - just put him back to bed - no sippy - no tv- no nothing just him and maybe a blankey or animal to sleep with all his own and let him scream - he will adjust - it's just harder for us then it is for them.....

Good Luck,
S. B



answers from Burlington on

i was having problems putting my 3 yr old to bed at night- he would repeatedly get out of bed and stall going to sleep. i thought i was going to lose my mind (it was keeping my 7 yr old up as well). well, i decided to have a "contest" each and every night to see who could be quiet and stay in bed (the goal is for them to stay in bed all night).....every so often they get a little prize for "winning". its worked like a charm. this type of reward system also helped my oldest years ago get out of the habit of coming into my bed at night.
hope this helps.



answers from Hartford on

If you find anything that works please let me know!!!!



answers from Albany on

I have the same problem only my son likes Barney. Sometimes he wakes up and just kicks and screams. Barney is the only thing to calm him down. Sometimes I just leave everything dark and give him his cup but he goes and gets on the couch and will cry if I leave so I end up falling asleep on the couch with him. I'll be watching your responses for help too!!! Good Luck!!



answers from Hartford on

Hi C.,

Boy, this is a tough one! Those bedtime habits are just so difficult to break.

I would try putting him to bed earlier than usual and watching the Elmo video with him while he has his 'sippy'. Try explaining to him that once Elmo is finished, mommy is going to her bed and it's time to sleep. If you stick to this routine for a while he may become comfortable with it and start to look forward to cuddles and Elmo before sleep. In terms of the night waking, do you have a gate on his bedroom door, or is he just able to come into your room to wake you? If you don't have a gate I would be tempted to get one, and when he wakes just put him back to bed, give him cuddles and kisses and tell him it's time to sleep. I think this is going to be the hardest thing to overcome, and will probably involve you getting up several times a night to begin with.

At the end of the day, as I'm sure you already know, this is not going to be easy to resolve. I remember when my husband and I decided it was time to let Thomas get to sleep without me next to him - we picked out a date and honestly I cried every day just thinking about it. When the time came, however, Thomas dealt with it so much better than I did! He cried for 5-minutes, then slept better than he ever had when I was in the room.

I think the important thing is consistency. Decide on a plan of action and stick with it. It will be worth it in the long term.

Good luck!



answers from New York on

First of all you shouldn't be putting anything but water in his sippy that your putting him to bed with. They fall asleep with milk in their mouths and the sugars in the milk will rot the teeth out of his head. Don't believe me ask a Dentist. Second, not that this helps but one of the reasons that he has a hard time sleeping is because there is a tv in his room. Have him wind down in the living room each night. Watch the elmo movie there. Tell him that bedrooms are for sleeping and that elmo will no longer be in his room. After the movie, take him to his room, read him a book, and get him ready for bed. Your son needs to learn to go to sleep on his own and giving him a tv isn't going to do that. You need to create a soothing night time routine that you can follow every night.



answers from New York on

Read to him and get his mind to wind down.A movie keeps the mind moving.Children at that age have an umteen amount of energy.Reading is th most soothing



answers from New York on

I has the same issue as you. I am also a single Mom so I totally understand in where you are coming from about getting sleep since I need to be up early for work. This is what seemeed to help for me: 1) Nightlights 2) Sound Machine 3)Following a bedtime rountine: warning him 5 minutes before that it is bedtime, brushing his teeth, reading 1 to 2 stories with him in his bed all by himself (I sit next to him on a chair or the floor), giving him hugs and kisses, I stay in the room for 5 minutes and when it is time to leave I tell him I will see him in the morning. 3) I also do a behavior chart where he receives a sticker in the morning if he stayed in bed. I hope this helps and good luck.



answers from Elmira on

Hello, There...I went through what you're talking about about six months ago...letting them into our bed is like the worst mistake...I have custody of my grand son who'll be two on Valentines day...Anyways, he had a similar phase such as your lil' one is going through and I was not getting any sleep at all...which is not healthy...I was a walking zombie with a really short fuse to say the's horrible to try and function on ten hours of sleep in a weeks time...I never had had this problem with my two kids, so this was all new to me...

Anyways, he wanted to be near me, but I refused him in my bed...yet, he wouldn't go to sleep when in his room...I know many may not agree with a child sleeping via in the parent's room...young grand parents in my case...but, I compramised the situation by putting his crib in the corner of my room and kind of made it his lil' nook...within two hours the first night he went fast asleep and has been every since...I am hoping to soon ween him back into his own room, but I feel our both getting our proper sleep is most important at this time...

I hope this helps some...

Hugz, Robin

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